Friday, 11 November 2011

Freewheelin’ in India - Day 23: London Calling

My legs and back had had enough of the limited space in my sleepless seat, so I spent the final half hour standing around, pacing up and down the aisles, eagerly anticipating my arrival in Amsterdam, like a junkie whore monger who’d been locked in solitary confinement, holding only sixty Euros and perverse thoughts to see him through. I however, wasn’t flying there to indulge in the sex and smoke famously on offer, but to catch a transfer flight back to London.
We walked straight from one plane and got onto another after a short wait, feeling suitably shattered yet excited to be nearing our beloved hometown and comfortable bed. Unfortunately, we’d been given seats behind rather than next to each other, so I had to sit with the back of Sarah’s head to stroke as we took to the skies. I was sandwiched between two big men, and the plane seats were notably narrower than our long haul flight, but luckily it was only forty-five minutes and I had writing to continue which kept me occupied and distracted from the fact that I was currently the meat in a Troubadour sandwich. I felt soothed by my view of the sun slowly rising, as we flew between layer upon layer of fluffy candy-floss clouds, homeward bound. The guy to my left had ‘Mr Rock n Roll’ written on the screen of his phone, which really tickled me considering he was a relatively average looking forty-something cat, wearing an old Marks and Spencer polo shirt and beige corduroy slacks. Turns out Rock ‘n’ Roll is dead after all.
After what seemed like a few minutes, we landed at London City Airport, just in time to see the grey morning break above us, mist falling from the sky as I stepped off the plane screaming “WOOOHOOOO LONDON, THE KING IS BACK!” We collected our luggage with ease, and I thought for a second about going through the exit to declare something, so I could declare that I was happy to be home, but instead just went the normal way and hailed a taxi. Within thirty minutes we’d weaved our way through the growing morning traffic and arrived home. Excited, I opened the front door to instantly remember that which I didn’t miss, the house was in a right old two and eight, resembling a squat that had been ignored for six months. Still, it would probably equate to a four-star hotel in India and I soon found comfort, dropping our bags before flopping down on the sofa.
Sarah went up to my room, returning to state: “There’s a boy in your bed”, which would be Christian, my teenage pal who was occupying my bedroom in my absence. I went in and said hello, and he stirred for a while before chucking on some clothes and joining us downstairs, followed by Henry who had just woken up for work and came to greet us with a hug before stating “I have some really potent bud” and giving me a joints worth to roll us a welcome home present. It was around 8.30am by now and Sarah and I sat stoned and sedated, calmly chatting on the sofa as one by one the homies would arise, then come and greet us like royalty as we eagerly awaited the arrival of the next in line.
Once everyone was up and out we retired to my bedroom to get comfortable and have a little nap. I noticed that beneath the banister outside my door a white hand-towel remained on the floor, and I had a flashback that I’d seen it before. I asked Christian about it and he said it had been left lying there the whole time. It was there for a week before I left, and walked past literally hundreds of times by housemates in my absence, yet nobody had the thought to take or move it from its position. I laughed, thinking about how that abandoned towel is the perfect symbol to describe my housemate’s stoner slackness. Hilarious, nonetheless.

Cows are a sacred animal in India, Beef is God-like and cannot be consumed, therefore if you’re a big meat eater you’re going to have to make a few sacrifices. I heard that even Big Mac’s were made of chicken, but I never visited McDonald’s whilst there so didn’t get to try one. Regardless, I was now in London, and ready to eat some holy dinner to satisfy my shrinking stomach, so I went to my local butcher and asked for nine sirloin steaks. “That’s gonna be expensive, mate” he warned, but I told him I didn’t care, and how three weeks away had left me a desperate man. Back home, I chopped up a load of vegetables and put them to slowly roast in the oven, then Sarah and I hung out with my best buddy Brenno, housemate Henry, and his friend Emma, whilst awaiting the arrival of the other housemates. By 9.30pm, my hungry homies Kris, Tobias, Jared and his girlfriend Lizzie had all joined us and we sat making ‘mmmmmmnnnnn’ noises over dinner and catching up. I could see why cows are considered holy, my steak tasted like Heaven itself.

We had a smoke and spoke about our respective journeys through life over the past few weeks, our family felt complete again, and my housemates explained that my absence had a noticeable effect on the house and how they were glad to have me back. I felt touched by that, and confirmed that I’d been missing everyone too. Mike made his way home with a few gifts, and everyone else to their respective bed-spaces, and once again my lover and I were united under the clouds of my Heaven and Hell peace hole, our tired eyes staring upwards as images of the world we’d left behind continued to flash from our memory. The greatest test we’d so far faced had brought us even closer together, confirming the pure, brilliance of our uncompromised love and leaving us both happy and confident that it is true and for real.
There is a lot to be said for and against India, but I’m happy to say that there was a time and place in another world, and I existed within it, roaming wide-eyed, consuming the realness on offer and making it my own. Yes, my heart often hurt from the pain and poverty I’d witness, yes, I felt the stress of constant bombardment, which I learnt to let wash over me, and yes, I had walked through streams of shit and tempestuous thunder storms to reach wherever fate was leading me and my lover, but I lived to tell the tale, and put a full stop at the end of my story.

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