Steel Notes Magazine September 2016 - Page 163

www.steelnotesmagazine.com Steel Notes Magazine lanes. We continued down the dusty road to an old stone house, which we entered and were then led down some stone steps into a cave, where we sat at a table and were served bottles of Chhaang by a wizened, stout, hunched and smiling Tibetan woman. I extracted the leather tobacco pouch that held my dope, rolled a joint of hash and tobacco, drank and talked to Peter. I told Peter, as I told everyone, that I was a writer. Of course, all I’d ever really written were poems, and lyrics, and I hadn’t published anything except some songs, such as “Come to Me,” which had been recorded by Juice Newton and later Kacey Cisyk and Jennifer Warnes. I had done almost nothing to promote or publish the poems that I loved to write. I think I may have submitted one or two over the years, and I had given a couple of readings, one accompanied by musicians, for the poet Kenneth Rexroth, at the University of Southern California at Santa Barbara. I’d been waiting to be discovered. Ironically, I was discovered that day, although not in the way I had been hoping. Peter and I left the Tibetan Chhaang den and walked through the village streets. He asked about my poetry, and as I’m wont to do I began to recite some. He was very complimentary. Suddenly he stopped and looked at me, “Are you Greg’s friend?” he asked. When I heard that, the light went off in my head, and I asked him if he were Peter. I don’t remember if I said Peter Cooper and his said, “Cook,” or is I said Peter Cook and he said, “Cooper.” I couldn’t remember his last name then or now. How incredible it was that I was in India, which at that time still had a population of more than 700 million, that I happened to be in Dharamsala and meet somebody who realizes who I am because of my poetry? It was after I’d gotten back to my hotel that I realized I’d left my tobacco pouch, which in addition to some hash also held the little bit of opium I had left from Lassa in Kashmir. Could I find my way back to the unmarked Chhaang house hidden deep in the twisting intestines of McCleod Ganj? Would my pouch be there? Uncanny as it may be, that’s exactly what happened. I went back to McCleod Ganj, found the house and was greeted by the old, hunched women who, smiling, handed me my pouch with its contents intact. Steel Notes Magazine www.steelnotesmagazine.com 163