Tag Archive for 'chillum'

Ticketless Traveler

Dhobi - Ticketless TravelerThe Shivaratri Festival in Kathmandu is the destination of pilgrims throughout North India. What better way to spend “Lord Shiva’s Night” than by blasting chillum after chillum in honor of the blue-throated god of the high Himalayans. Bom Shankar! Dhobi spent two days camped on the railway station platform in preparation for the trip.  A sign in the depot warned “Ticketless Travel is a Social Evil.”  Dhobi purchased a ticket and watched the comings and goings of travelers at the station.  He wanted to be extra sure of the procedure before striking out on his own.  Third Class Unreserved was in theory “first come first served.”  In actual practice, however, those who pushed hardest managed to get inside the railway car.  All others had to hang onto the outside.

When the express train pulled in, Dhobi was prepared.  As planned he was among the first to crowd into the car — but at what expense!  No sooner had he sat down when he realized something was missing–his wallet.  A thief had picked his pocket in the stampede to climb aboard.

What a dilemma!  If he left to get a new ticket, he’d lose his seat on the train.  If he stayed without a ticket, he’d risk eviction from the car.  Then Dhobi remembered, his money too was stolen.  That settled matters; there was no way to procure a ticket before the conductor came through the car.  Dhobi sat still and rehearsed his appeal as the miles clacked by.

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Ram Giri & The Chillum Train Affair

A short piece on the attitudes & advantages of sadhu chillum-smoking & railway travel in India in the 1960s …. perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek.

Ram Giri - Eye of the Chillum

Ram Giri – Eye of the Chillum

Early Indian summer 1968. Delhi is getting hot & although Bombay & Goa are no cooler, it seems time to make a move.

Maybe we had outstayed our welcome somewhere. It may have been that summer when an Ashram on the Modi estate at Modinagar was lent to Ram Giri as a foreign-baba centre; didn’t last long – within a month we were all kicked out – too many hippies invited off the Delhi streets; no discipline & too much uncontrolled drug taking.

The Nagas like their rituals ….. not spur-of-the-moment hippy experimenting. Word got around quick & Modinagar finished. No money ……

So Ram Giri, Acid Michael & I decided to take the long slow sleeper train to Bombay ….. and to travel ticketless in third class, acceptable in those days. Third class was the poorest of the poor accommodation, hard benches, crammed luggage racks, overflowing toilets, as many passengers on the roof as inside.  Nobody would mind crazy Westerners travelling without tickets in third.

But third was full, no way of climbing on board; Delhi station crammed, bustling, hotter than hot. Things looked bad.

Continue reading ‘Ram Giri & The Chillum Train Affair’

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