Steel Notes Magazine December 2016 - Page 125 Steel Notes Magazine One of the first things I wanted to do was get some Kerala grass. I don’t ever remember anyone smoking marijuana in the North, just hash, or charras, as it is called, but weed is prevalent in the South, and Kerala grass is famous. It didn’t take me long wandering around down by the docks and the network of canals known as the Cochin backwaters, before I found a friendly young Indian who could help me get a kilo of ganja for about 200 rupees, which was then about $20. The next item on my agenda was a visa extension. At that time an American could get a three-month visa and then extend it for three months. I found out that I had to make an application for that with the Police Commissioner, which I planned to do the next day. But first, I found a tailor to make a shirt and pants for me out of the raw silk I had purchased in Varanasi. I had him make a sort of a shirt-jacket, which buttoned up the front and was collarless. The pants had a drawstring waist and were slit up from the ankle with button and loop closures. The latter was to make it easy to roll them up when I would have to wade through puddles or navigate muddy streets. I had sold or traded almost all of my clothes for hash when I’d first arrived in Kashmir. My wardrobe now, in addition to the raw silk clothes I just had made, was mostly local garb, such as kurta-pajamas, lungis, other loose cotton pants and shirts. I didn’t have many clothes. I had no need for them in India, and I had to keep and carry everything in the Tibetan backpack I had bought in McLeod Ganj. I had kept one pair of decent khaki pants and, of all things, a cowboy shirt with pearl snaps, which was cotton polyester and looked pressed without having to be ironed. I called those my embassy clothes, since they were reserved for the times I had to face officials and not appear as a drug-addled hippie traveler. So the next day I put on my embassy clothes and went to fill out an application and leave my passport with the Police Commissioner. When I came back to the hotel, the manager told me the police had been in my room. They were checking me out because I’d applied for the visa extension. Oh shit, I thought as I walked up to my room since I had that kilo of grass in the top of my backpack, which was on the floor beside the bed and was just about the only thing in the room. What else would they look at? The room seemed untouched; I walked over to the backpack and looked inside. The grass was still there. A few days later my visa extension was approved, no problem. I was born Jewish and consider myself Jewish, but I’m not religious in any way. I’m not an atheist or agnostic, but I certainly don’t have a fixed conception of whatever power produced or governs this Universe. There were times, especially on LSD and other psychedelic drugs, when I’ve had profound spiritual experiences, and there have been times that I’ve been captivated, to an extent, by varying mystical beliefs. Yet I am as leery of organized spirituality as I am of organized religion. For the sake of honesty, however, I must confess that due to the fact that at this writing I’ve been sober for more than 18 years, I can now comfortably say that although I don’t believe in God, because if I did my mind would talk me out of it, I have experienced God by following certain disciplines that have let me experience a different life. Enough about that, since the point here being nothing more than being Jewish and growing up as a minority in Steel Notes Magazine 125