By ‘stupidest travelling story’ – I used her own words…the rest are my own paraphrases or perceptions of her story…I’ll try to be brief.
Over our vers de vin blanc the night before last, I asked her: what’s the stupidest thing you’ve done when travelling on your own? The question emerged as a consequence of my previous malakia, when losing my keys on the first night of staying alone in Gili Air.
She begins with a narrative of travelling in India…though I can’t remember where precisely she was. It started with her bank blocking her attempts to withdraw money from an ATM; at the precise moment in time when she was broke and desperately needing cash.
There was a random little old man with a telephone; she promised to pay him back for allowing her to use his phone, as soon as she had money…and he agreed.
Many phone calls later, despite having plenty of money in her account, and despite her pleas for a ‘Western Union’ solution to solve her money woes…the bank refused…and offered only the solution of wiring to New Delhi, which was at the other end of the country, where she was due to take her flight to return to France.
She had no money – even for food – and desperately wanted to avoid calling her parents for help, as she wanted to be able to survive on her own. She went 2-3 days without food…and eventually, ran into a man…who followed a particular tradition…(she told me the name, but I’ve forgotten…). As per her descriptions, it’s a tradition whereby an individual does anything and everything in the name of getting closer to Shiva. This includes walking, completely and entirely in nude… and also includes the regular practice of eating and smoking ghanja…with the aim of reaching a different ‘state of being’ and getting closer to the spirits.
Nonetheless, this peculiar and interesting local character helped her (albeit with potentially drastic consequences). He was void of any material…(bar his drugs in his pockets; and various narcotic foods, including cakes made with ghanja…for eating, for smoking – everything on him seemed to have ghanja.)
Sylvia was so hungry – she took everything and anything that he offered, without really asking what it was…During her journey, she ate half of what was offered to her. She said she was completely stoned before she even managed to catch her flight.
As a result, she didn’t actually think about what she was carrying..and the possible repercussions of what she was carrying when going through security at the New Delhi airport.
They went through their standard security measures…selecting people to search at random…selecting one of two bags to scrutinise at random. When she finally realised what was happening… and that, evidently, she was at risk of getting into a hell of a lot of trouble, she decided to keep calm, and whilst looking straight into the eyes of the security guards, put her hand in one bag, and moved the drugged items to the other.
She got away with it!
20 hours later…she arrived in Paris…having slept the full duration of the flight as a result of her own misdemeanour…to be greeted lovingly by her father, and for her to be carrying a complete air of nonchalance…fatigue…merry glee… and a bag of authentic, untarnished, Indian memorabilia – blue, white and brown ghanja, in cake form.
I dared her to tell me more… I suppose all malakies are relative, no?
- Solitary ‘malakies’: How to make the most of travelling alone (thirdkulturekidparis.wordpress.com)
- Gili, Gala, Gili, Gala, Gili Air: Where ‘Air’ means ‘Water’ (thirdkulturekidparis.wordpress.com)