Location: Goa, India
0630 the morning following our insane 24 hour day of exhausting travel and learning at Hampi and Max was already waiting outside, it was cold crisp morning air, that was made magic by a gorgeous sunrise and red bulls and smokes as Max raced like mad, F1 driving the little toyota weaving in and out between lorries, rickshaws, scooters, sacred cows and people, flying through the bumpy streets to get us to our final stop, the Murdeshwar temple and giant statue of Shiva more than 3 hours to the south of us. We blasted through many tiny villages as he laid on his horn every 30 seconds or so as the km per hour climbed and climbed. I was worried that the hundred USD I was gonna tip him wouldn’t be enough. it was on my mind most of the day along with laundry, shipping shit home, how bad my sneakers neeeded to be washed and all the bullshit I had to prepare for my flight on New Year's Eve the following day.
Max hit traffic and I could sense his anxiety really ratcheting up. I had put him through so much in the last few days. Finally we arrived at the Giant Shiva in Murdeshwar and its towering temple, we stopped for milk tea, poor max was haggered, he went to bathe himself before entering the temple and returned refreshed and told me he would be my guide here so I wouldn’t have to pay one, I bought us tickets and we first went inside the 20 something floored temple tower in an elevator for a view from upper middle of tower on 18th floor. On both sides of the site were beaches and the titanous Shiva rose above it all with cobras all around him.
We went into the actual temple where this time I was blessed again, this time doing the ritual myself, having water poured into my hand then drinking some and rubbing the rest over my head, then dipping my finger in the red powder and putting to dot on my forehead. After catching a handful of photos and hearing some stories from Max we decided to leave a good two hours after arriving. Again I felt guilty about pushing him so hard, especially after the day we endured prior. But culturally it was worth every penny. On the way out I stopped at the pharmacy right down the street from the giant Shiva to stock up again on benzos and make sure the coffers were full. I left with handfuls of pharmaceuticals: Diazapam, alprozalam, tramadol and another bottle of codeine, i popped a handful of pills. To which max said, “man, too much medicines" he was right of course, and said it because he actually gave a fuck, which is what made Max such a radical guy. Still though, with the end of opioid access coming and the ability to walk into any pharmacy and hustle my way into schedule IV drugs; I figured I better enjoy it while I could.
It was 4 hours to get home. When my wonderful time with my friend Magnificent Max would end and I would start to prepare for the coming airport bullshit. We made it about 40 K’s from the finish line when we ran out of petrol on the side of the road, max hopped out flagged a scooter and in less than ten minutes was back had the car started and we were driving again. I looked at him like he was the Flash. I couldn’t understand how he had pulled it off so quickly especially since there was nothing for 20 minutes in both directions. Max pulled over once in south Goa and said, this is the best place to eat and turned off the car. It was a little roadside restaurant that I would never think to even remotely try where we enjoyed a joyful meal laughing and eating fish curry together. Proud of our accomplishment, I paid for lunch and expressed how much fun I had with him.
Finally our time was done, and still the sun was high enough overhead that I could sneak in a lay on the beach before it was gone. In front of the hotel I handed Max his tip, ten rupee and a crisp $100 US note, (10+1) he just said “serious!” in a bit of astonishment and considered not taking it, then after some convincing and some very sincere thanks for all his hard work, driving and friendship he very graciously and vigorously shook my hand and thanked me. I was stoked, my tip seemed more than acceptable even after he fucking earned it and then some. Once in the hotel it was quick action, I took a small handful of tramadol, a valium and made my way to the beach pounding my bottle of codeine, I laid out in the Indian sun for the last time, ordered a beer and just kind of existed for a while with the most lovely buzz until the sun slipped past the horizon and my mind just melted into the smoke of my cigarettes and thoughts of what future might lay before me.
I pounded a couple red bulls and a few more tramadol arranged a ride to the airport for the next day. I made a final swing through Benalaum and went shopping looking for an opium box for my cousin, I failed for the opium box but did find a box to ship all the fabric banners of Hindu gods back in. on the way back to the hotel I stopped at a little place that looked like it might have the opium box I was after. I failed on the opium box again but I stumbled onto a wonderful find, an amazing, slightly deteriorating vintage karma sutra paintings similar to my Hindu banners and then more sequinned gods for my tattoo friends. I bought a lot from the man who sat on the floor with me smoking cigarettes. Then, exhausted went up to sleep, sacrificing my yoga arrangements for errands.
I woke super early with a pot of Chai in morning while I caught up with the internet and wrote like a possessed mechanical, maniacal Demi-God fueled with a cocktail of provigil & Valium. I caught a rickshaw to the post office, it was a mess, customs forms needed filling, I had to run to make passport copies and ended up running all around two different towns to calculate size kg's and fill out all the paperwork. Normally I'd freak with a plane to catch but nothing could take what I had gained in 4 days in India, it was in my heart, and I couldn't wait to learn more about the culture and their gods. A final stop at the chemist, trying to dry undryable shoes and packing laundry that wasn’t dry, I mangaged to throw away enough stuff in order to fit my tattoo machines into my large lockable check in bag and finally pounded a bottle of codeine on way to beach, Swam the first time since being in India and laid on the beach with my last beer and soaked it all in.
My ride left hours early to go to the airport because I was anticipating trouble, I upgraded my ticket and found no trouble flying to Dehli. I landed a few hours later, where I rechecked my bags, hit the duty free, paid to hang out in the first lounge and while the sadness of leaving India set in it was met by the unenthusiastic cheers greeting 2017 while I sat sucking down cigarettes in the smoking area, a little depressed that it was the how ever many new years eve's in a row that didn't include a date. I'm not of fan of the new year celebrations, but still, as a romantic it would be nice to kiss a girl at midnight.
I didn’t bother to upgrade my next flights since no one was flying on New Years Day and I got a whole row to myself. I landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and waited about an hour before i found myself on a 777 on my way to Cape Town. I took a handful of downers and slept 90% of the way.
Note: If you find yourself in Goa and would like a world class driver, call my friend the Magnificent Max at +91 955 225 3876, he will not disappoint.