Chapter Three: Third Trip to India
Since I and the Kirtan Woman had been to Berkley in the fall, neither of us arrived back in Mysore until January. When I got there, she had booked a room for me at the Green Hotel. I needed to recover from my flight, and she filled the room with fresh flowers. I had never been treated so affectionately. I stayed there a few days until she found me permanent accommodations, which was difficult because everything was already booked for the season. I was flying on auto pilot and was so deluded, I thought I was going to achieve moksha or enlightenment just by being there.
This is the year everything went to hell. The kirtan woman booked me a flat from Shiva, which was a converted garage at the end of a driveway. It was a listing by a rickshaw driver and not Shiva, and this created tension. Soon after I moved in, my travelers’ checks, and paper airline ticket were stolen from my backpack which I had left in the room. When I discovered this, I freaked out and had a rickshaw driver take me immediately to the police. This was a mistake. He was not going to stop at the local station but kept driving. I practically jumped out. When I went in to report the theft and gave my name and address, they immediately started treating me like a suspect. At which point I went out of my body and realized it was the rickshaw drivers who had taken my possessions. They had keys to my flat as it was their listing! The next day the items miraculously reappeared.
It was shortly after this I was walking by the Shala with the Kirtan Woman, and someone went running by and shouted, “A western yoga student had been trying to solicit young boys.” A chill went up my spine as I knew I would be a prime suspect as I was older and single. Sure enough, a young boy started appearing at the door of my room in the evening. I knew this was a set up and his father, a detective was waiting outside ready to burst in and arrest me. I was horrified and should have gone to Guruji and Sharath and told them or confronted the police. Either the Social Studies professor from the college across the street from the boy’s school where I was taking tabla lessons the year before had turned me into the police or the police sexually profiled me and wanted to blackmail me and get baksheesh.
At lunch the next day at a restaurant downtown called Dash Prakash, I told the Kirtan Woman who I met daily for lunch that the police were trying to frame me. She giggled. The police must have given my name to the school, and she thought I was sleeping with young boys because I was not sleeping with her. After several nights the boy stopped showing up at my door and I thought it was over. I could not have been more wrong.
The senior male students started saying to the Kirtan Woman in my presence, “maybe he’s homosexual.” This first happened when I was with the Kirtan Woman at Joy House Tea where she held court daily after lunch. I was completely shocked and got up and walked down the hill back to my flat. I should have packed up my bags and got out of there immediately, I should never have been there to begin with. But instead, I hid out and read an eight-hundred-page novel called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
There were a couple of young boys who sold flowers on the street. I preferred them to the children begging on the beach for coins in Kovelam, whenever I would see them, I would give them five rupees for a little garland which I would put on my puja table. I became one of their best customers and they would visit with me. This did not help my image, but for some reason I wasn’t concerned. They hung around where all the yoga students were in the restaurants and in front of the Shala. They liked my attention, and I thought it was because they were fatherless. I was that way when I was young. Guruji was one of the first strong males who had accepted me, and I was trying to pay it forward. A couple of times one of them came to me in the afternoon and said he was tired and wanted to take a nap. I let him on my scooter and was going to take him to his home but always ended up dropping him off in a vacant lot. In hindsight I think these little boys were turning tricks on the street and the rickshaw drivers were their pimps. I am sure I was seen letting them on my scooter and this is where it got started there was proof.
The neighbor who lived in the main house on the driveway became concerned I was spending all my time in my converted garage and invited me to go to the pool with him and his girlfriend at the Southern Star. I really needed to get out of my room, so I agreed to go. The Southern Star is an upscale hotel with a pool and a pleasant courtyard. There was an area beyond the pool where all the yoga students hung out and I went there and sat with the guy and his girlfriend. Two’s company, three’s a crowd, so I went for a swim. I started coming back occasionally in the afternoons and it was very awkward. I felt like a black attending a Klu Klux Klan meeting. In hindsight I can’t believe I put myself through this. It would have been much easier to have left or not have been there to begin with. The price I was paying was far too high and in the long run it was not worth it.
I continued going to yoga in the morning, having lunch with the Kirtan Woman, chai at Joy House and playing every Tuesday and Friday night. A friend of the Kirtan Woman had come to Mysore to practice at the Yoga Shala and take sitar lessons. He soon began playing Kirtans with us on sitar and we became a trio. There was no way I could abandon this. I should have handled the accusations more diplomatically and confronted the police or gone to Guruji and Sharath and told them, but I made matters worse by hoping it would all just go away.
After the year where I took tabla lessons at the boy’s school, I started going with the Kirtan Woman to her music teacher who everyone called Auntie. She was a talented woman and would come to the Kirtan Woman’s kirtan plus have one at her house once a week. She recognized my musical ability and took me as a student. This was strange because I was older than everyone, but it didn’t bother me. Most of her students were yoga students and she taught harmonium, tabla, and Indian Music. I would accompany them with my limited ability on tabla when needed. On this year she organized a talent show with all her students and I participated.
I believe it was before all this happened the Kirtan Woman arranged for me to have a Jyotish Astrology reading from Acharya, her Yoga Philosophy Teacher and Astrologer. She said I could ask him any question. I had a dream years earlier I died when I was fifty-four. In the dream I was lying in the backseat of a car and a physician was attending to me. Someone asked how long he had to live, and the physician replied, “until he’s fifty-four”. I was fifty-three and be turning fifty-four soon. Acharya assured me I was not going to die. He said to have the dream I would have to be able to go into samadhi.
I told him I would wake in the middle of the night, get up, meditate, and go back to sleep, and it was during the second sleep cycle I would have the dreams. He told me I should not meditate in the night, but should meditate during the day, as I needed the sleep to process the day. He also said I was good at keeping secrets and I should be living in a house alone and not with tenants. From the remark I was good at keeping secrets I inferred he was aware I was gay. I took it to mean he was telling me I should not keep it secret. Which was not necessarily what he meant. I did not understand why he said I should be living in a house alone. I thought it was for a better environment to meditate but realized later it was to quell gossip I was sleeping with tenants. Indian Astrologers are very intuitive.