I haven’t been able to rest
my mind for weeks,
said the man
I keep thinking
about a problem
Thoughts occupy my brain constantly
They’re torturing me
I’m trapped
in the habit
of thinking about the problem,
lost in memories
of the past
and fantasies
about how the problem might be resolved
in the future

There is a way
to regain control of your mind,
said his friend
Today is Thursday
Stop thinking about the problem
until next Thursday
And every time you realize
that you are thinking about this problem,
ask yourself what day it is,
and if it is not yet Thursday,
stop giving energy to those thoughts,
don’t entertain them
Then when it is Thursday again,
feel free to think about the problem

I’ll give it a try
Thank you

And so his friend left
and the man began to think
about the problem

♫ ♫ ♫

 I’m thinking about the problem,
the man realized,
and so quickly he stopped
giving it his attention

A minute or two passed
and then he began thinking
about the problem again

And so it continued
throughout the day
and into the night:
The man would think about the problem for a while,
eventually realize what he was doing
and then stop thinking
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Friday came and went,
Saturday too,
and with each passing day
the number of thoughts
related to the problem
had become so few
and far between
that they commanded little attention

 Finally it was Thursday again
and the man was feeling well and rested
Wednesday had passed
with barely a thought
about the problem
passing through his mind

He considered giving some thought to it,
but then decided there was no need
and to wait
until the following Thursday
before thinking about it again

♫ ♫ ♫

night ride to hanoi

Night ride to Hanoi

 The sun was setting
and the dragonflies and bats
were out catching dinner
as the two friends approached the village 

It’s the blue house on the right 

They pulled up in front of the house,
got off their bikes
and greeted the beekeeper

They’re all back now,
he said
as he closed the door to the hive

 Thank you
We’ll take good care of them 

The men strapped the beehive
onto the back of one of the Minsks,
paid the beekeeper and said goodbye
and then began
the return journey to Hanoi 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

It began to rain
soon after the men left the village

They had already covered the hive
with a raincoat
before leaving the village,
so they stopped only for a moment
to put on their rain gear 

The moon had risen
and the stars were beginning
to show themselves
The men got back on their bikes
and continued on their way 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

The rain fell like a waterfall
and soon the road was flooded,
so the men kept to the center,
where it was not as deep 

The rain continued to fall,
and as they were passing through a small town
they came upon an especially long and deep channel
in the road

Think we can get through? 

It looks pretty deep 

Let’s try 

They put their bikes in gear
and began to cross,
revving the engines along the way
to keep the water out of the exhaust pipes 

The first bike made it across,
but the second one did not

 Drying the spark plug didn’t help,
and the local mechanics were unable
to get the bike going again
before they closed shop for the night 

We could have put your bike
on the roof of a bus,
but the last bus to Hanoi
has already left 

And without our passports
we won’t be able to check in
to a hotel 

Perhaps I could tow your bike
back to Hanoi 

And so Danny tied one end of a rope
to the back of his bike
and the other
to the handlebars of his friend’s 

Stay close
so that nobody tries to drive between us
They won’t be able to see the rope in the dark
And don’t allow too much slack
or your front wheel might get tangled up in it

 And then the two friends
and about ten thousand bees
resumed the trip back,
in the dark
and in the rain,
to Hanoi 

♫ ♫ ♫

ganesh and hanuman

Ganesh and Hanuman

 Morning, Ganesh

 Morning, Hanuman

 Nice lungi

 Kerala’s finest

Green with a purple stripe
A good combination

One of my favorites
Where did you get your kurta?

Women’s Cooperative

 Nice fabric
Nice buttons

Cotton and coconut

They go well together

Like chai and a chillum

Shall we have a chai?

An excellent idea

And a chillum?

Another excellent idea
Did you bring your Italian chillum?

Of course

And so Hanuman went to prepare some chai
while Ganesh prepared a chillum

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a good chillum

And this masala chai is just right
Cardamon, ginger, jaggery and cloves
and something else


Yes, of course
That’s the difference
between a good chai
and a great one

And then
with big smiles on their faces
and a twinkle in their eyes,
Ganesh and Hanuman
continued to enjoy their chai
in silence

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Hanuman took out his drum
and began to play,
and soon Ganesh joined him
on his trumpet

And after a while the neighbors
and other people in the streets
began to dance

♫ ♫ ♫

Where do you usually spend the winter?

They built me a temple for me near Hampi
on top of a cliff
just across the river
I have a great view of the ruins
and some of the locals make music for me
It gets pretty hot in the early summer,
so I often come up here for a few months

I winter in Kerala
I’ve got a small temple in the jungle
You should come visit

I will

And invite Parvati and Gayatri to come with you
if you meet them along the way


And then the two friends
parted ways
as Ganesh got on his Enfield
and rode away

♫ ♫ ♫

the cousin

The cousin

I’ve got a big problem
My cousin just called
and he’s in Manali with his family
I’m going down to see them now,
and I’ll have to invite them here
to see our café
Hopefully they won’t come
I’m going to tell them that I’d love
for them to come,
but I would hate for them to get stuck
in a traffic jam for two hours
If, however, they decide to come,
I’ll call and let you know
that it’s time to stop smoking
anything other than tobacco
And don’t talk to me about charas and chillums
while they’re here

Dude, when your family comes
I’ll ask you if I can borrow your chillum again

Nooo, Dude
They’ll kill me
I’m not the first sikh in the family
to cut my hair and stop wearing a turban,
but nobody knows that I smoke chillum

Hey, Mandeep
I’ll go home and get my t-shirt with the hemp leaf

And what if Kailash comes back
to pick up his weed?

And what about Sheena?
She might come and sit on your lap
and ask you to smoke a chillum with her

Dude, this is not a joke
Rohit, you’re banned from the café
while my family is here
Guys, make sure you tie him up
or handcuff him somewhere
And someone will need to stand guard
at the bottom of the stairs
to prevent Sheena from coming up
Do whatever is necessary
Take her out for ice cream or something
If she insists on trying to get past you,
tell her you’ve got a tola of Manala,
first rub
and that you’d like to give her half
Take her to your place
and find a way to keep her occupied

Okay, Mandeep
Just give us a call as soon as you know,
or send a text

Mandeep left
and Rohit said,
Let’s smoke a chillum

Are you going to go get that t-shirt?

No, man
We’ve got be cool for Mandeep’s family
Can’t get him in trouble

Does anyone have Sheena’s number?
Maybe one of us could invite her
to go eat ice cream or something

 I don’t have it

 Me either

One of us’ll have to guard the entrance then

I’ll do it

And I’ll take Rohit home
and tie him up

Let’s smoke that chillum

And so Anji and the guys smoked
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

He sent a text
They’re on their way

Put out the joints
Empty and clean the ashtrays
No more talk about drugs
until after the family leaves
Rohit, go home
Sai, make sure he gets there
and tie him up,
then get back here as soon as you can
Domanique, you stand guard at the bottom of the stairs
If Kailash comes,
tell him not to talk about his weed,
and if Sheena comes,
take her somewhere else,
offer her an Italian clay chillum
I’ll pay you back

Okay, Joy

Let’s go, Rohit

And so Rohit and Sai took off
and Domanique went down the stairs
to stand guard
Shantanu cleaned the ashtrays
and the others put away their chillums
Krishna went to get
some flowers for the tables,
and Anji began to prepare
some Punjabi dishes

♫ ♫ ♫

A chillum baba arrived
and tried to go up the stairs

I’m sorry, Baba
said Dominique
as he blocked the way
Mandeep cannot smoke with you today,
but he invites you to come back tomorrow
to smoke his Italian chillum

May I speak with him?

he’s not here at the moment

I’ll just have a chai
and then come back tomorrow

the café has just closed for the day
We’re not serving chai right now

A glass of water would be fine

The pump is off because the power went out

I’ll drink back at the temple

And then the chillum baba moved on

♫ ♫ ♫

They’re coming,
whispered Dominique
from his post at the bottom of the stairs

The others tried not to laugh
and took their places
at the tables

Guys, this is my cousin
and his family

Introductions were made
and the family was seated,
and soon delicious Punjabi food
covered the table
and conversation flowed

The weather is great this time of year

Yeah, it’s a good time to be here

Except for all the family tourists
that come and cause traffic jams

And defile the temple

Sorry, Mandeep

Maybe they didn’t hear you,
whispered Sai

And everybody acted
as if nothing had been heard,
except for Jerome,
who couldn’t stop giggling

♫ ♫ ♫

Jerome went into the bathroom
and tried to stop giggling,
and then a shout was heard from below,
Plan B!

Sheena had pushed her way past Dominique
and was running up the stairs
with Dominique close behind her

Mandeep quickly went up the passage to the roof,
just as Sheena got to the top of stairs
Sai tried to intercept her
but Sheena ducked and went under his arm and shouted,
Hey, Mandeep,
can I borrow your chill . . .

Jerome acted quickly
and began to play Shanti Song,
and before Sheena could finish her sentence,
She had turned into Shanti
and tuned in to the local vibe

♫ ♫ ♫

Good thinking, Jerome
said Sai after the family had left
and Rohit had returned

Yeah, man,
you saved me
Let’s smoke a chillum

And so Mandeep prepared
his finest chillum
and offered it to Jerome to boom

And then the friends smoked
in peace and silence

shanti space

Shanti Space

Good morning, Krishna

Good morning, Shantanu

What kind of soup are you making today?

Tomato carrot pumpkin,
onion, garlic, potato,
mint, cilantro, basil,
jaggery, salt, pepper, ginger
and love

My favorite

Is Manav here?

He’s up on the roof
mountain watching

Nice music

Debashis Bhattacharya
Hindustani Slide

Master of the Indian slide guitar

The right music
for the moment

I’ll be on the roof

And then Shantanu walked up the stairs,
sat down at a small table,
took out his sketchbook
and continued a drawing
he had begun the day before

♫ ♫ ♫

Shantanu liked to draw
the people he encountered at Shanti Space
and everywhere else he went

Mountain watching
is something I never tire of

It can be habit forming

A good habit

A healthy habit

Have you finished your drawing?

I have

Let’s have a chai

And so Shantanu and Manav
went downstairs
and asked for some chai

How much milk would you like?

Just a little

I’d like about half a glass

Ginger and cardamon?

Yes, please


A little

And then Krishna went to the kitchen
to prepare the chai

♫ ♫ ♫

Krishna served the chai
and a minute later came back and asked,
How’s the chai?

Just right

Right on the edge

Just enough sugar to offer a subtle presence

But not so much as to mask the other flavors

And the milk?

Just as I like it

Me too

Is there any soup left?

Enough for two

I’ll have a bowl

Me too

And so Krishna went back to the kitchen
to heat up the soup
while Shantanu showed Manav
some of his drawings

♫ ♫ ♫

They’re not all complete
Sometimes people leave
before I finish
and I’m left with a partial impression
of how they were

Which allows us to imagine

The soup arrived,
and the men began to eat

Salt and pepper?

I’d like a little pepper

I like mine just as it is

So Krishna brought out the pepper,
and then the men continued to eat
in silence

♫ ♫ ♫

There’s that flute again

I wonder where it’s coming from

Yesterday I heard it when I was on the roof
I looked around
but did not see anyone

A hidden musician

A hidden master

Someone who does not want to become famous

That soup was good

Sure was

Almost as good as yesterday’s

Or perhaps it was a bit better


Could I have a lemon tea?

I’d like one too

With sugar
or without?

Save me the trouble
and put in a bit of sugar for me

Just a little?

Just enough to be noticed

A mint leaf?

A mint leaf would be nice

And so Krishna went to prepare the tea,
and there was a subtle shift in the vibe
at Shanti Space
as the flute continued
and the men fell silent

♫ ♫ ♫

Manav, chillum?
offered Mandeep

A chillum would be great

And so Manav
went into the Chillum Room,
joined chillum circle
and sat down

Rohit prepared the chillum
and Mandeep boomed it

With flowers
in the center of the circle
and soft cushions on the floor,
the men smoked in comfort
and beauty

♫ ♫ ♫

After the chillum,
Manav returned to the terrace
to drink his lemon tea

How’s the tea?
asked Krishna

A very little bit of sugar
could be added

I agree
about 18 granules

And so Krishna added a bit of sugar
to each of their cups
and to his own,
and then the men continued to drink
their tea

♫ ♫ ♫

That extra bit of sugar
was just what the tea needed

And that mint leaf was a nice touch

Really nice
Next time I’d like try two leaves

Me too

Manav, chillum?
offered Mandeep again

An excellent idea

And so Manav returned
to the chillum circle
and smoked
his second chillum of the day,
and Shantanu began to draw

♫ ♫ ♫

Do you mind
if I bring a bit of my own food
to supplement
what you offer here?
asked Shekel

No problem

And may I keep some things in the fridge?


And so Shekel prepared his breakfast,
put his cheese in the fridge
and ordered a chai

A lot of milk,
no sugar,
a bit of cardamon
and some ginger, right?

That’s how I like it

And so Krishna prepared
a chai for Shekel

♫ ♫ ♫

May I have a chai, please?
asked Dominique

How would you like it?

Let’s prepare it together
And let’s add the ginger only at the very end


And so Krishna and Dominique
prepared a chai together
just the way Dominique likes it

 ♫ ♫ ♫

putting in the ginger
at the very end
was an excellent idea,
said Krishna

It’s the way it should be done

May I have black tea, please?
asked Abhi

Would you like a bit of lemon in it?

That would be nice


Just a little

A mint leaf?


And so Krishna went
to prepare another tea

♫ ♫ ♫

Krishna, chillum?
offered Mandeep

And so Krishna went into the Chillum Room
for the third chillum of the day

As Sai prepared the chillum
Shantanu came in and requested a chai

How would you like it?

However it comes,
but after the chillum
There’s no hurry

Manav then boomed then chillum,
and around it went
to the right

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a good chillum

The best so far today

And so it continued
throughout the day,
chai and chillums,
conversation and silence,
music and more

♫ ♫ ♫

May I have one more chai?
asked Shantanu


I see that you are tired
Shall I prepare it myself?

That would be great
Thank you

And so Shantanu went into the kitchen
and prepared his chai

♫ ♫ ♫

May I pay in tolas?

We accept Manala Cream and Lapas Jungla
What did you have?

A milk chai,
a black tea with lemon
and a soup

That’ll be ninety rupees

And yesterday I had
two bowls of soup,
a lemon nana
and a milk coffee

So ninety and one seventy
is two sixty,
or about a gram of charas
Only half a gram if it’s first rub

First rub it is,
my sister made this last year

And so Manav paid his tab,
Shantanu continued to draw
and Dominique returned
to the chillum circle

 ♫ ♫ ♫

the chillum museum

The Chillum Museum

Good morning, Sai

Hi, Mandeep

There’s a new exhibit
at the Chillum Museum
Dominique is in town for a month
and he brought his collection with him

Let’s go have a look

Let’s smoke a chillum first

Good idea

And so they prepared and smoked
their first chillum of the day

♫ ♫ ♫

How much does it cost to get in?

Half a tola for both of you
and anyone else you feel like inviting
to join you

Do you accept ganja?

No, sir
Here at the Chillum Museum we only smoke charas


Mandeep took out his charas pouch
and gave the curator half a tola

Thank you, sir
Enjoy your time
at the Chillum Museum

Mandeep and Sai went in
and began to walk around

♫ ♫ ♫

look at this one!

Italian clay

And check this one out
It’s got a carving of Shiva

What a beauty

This one over here
was made by Marco

And this one used to belong to
Maharaj Mahinder of Kulu


Here is a three-flower chillum!

And over here is five-flower one!

Which chillum shall we choose?

How about the one that Marco made?

That’s a really nice one

They’re all really nice

They sure are
Okay, let’s use the one Marco made

And so Mandeep and Sai
made their way
to the Chill Out Room

♫ ♫ ♫

We only use Malana Cream
with this chillum,
said the curator

That’s fine with us

The curator then prepared
their second chillum of the day

♫ ♫ ♫

Sai, please boom the chillum

Sai took the chillum,
said Boom Shiva
and then smoked
with Mandeep
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a good chillum

An excellent chillum

I love interactive museums

they’re great,
especially this one

Let’s smoke another chillum

Good idea

And so the curator prepared
another chillum

 Would you like to join us?
asked Mandeep

I’d love to

Please boom the chillum

And so the curator boomed the chillum
and then smoked
with Sai and Mandeep
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

element of chance

Element of Chance

shall we have a game?
asked Joy

if we can add
an element of chance,
a few additional pieces and rules

Tell me more

Before taking a turn,
a player must roll a six-sided die
that has two green, two blue and two purple sides


The player then chooses a wooden tile from a cloth bag
On each tile is written the name
of one of the sixty-four squares on the chess board,
for example B5
On the chosen square the player then places
either the green, the blue or the purple triangle,
depending on the roll of the die
If the square is already occupied,
the triangle is placed under the chess piece

What can these triangles do?
asked Joy

They have special powers

Shantanu then took out the bag of tiles,
the die
and three wooden triangles

The green triangle allows
the piece under which it is located
to move twice,
but the player is not required
to move that piece
nor is the player required
to move it twice
If the player wishes
to move the piece twice
and moves it to the square with the blue triangle
on the way to its final destination,
then either the second move option is forfeited
or the blue triangle will not effect the piece
I think both options are nice,
and the players can choose which rule applies
before the game begins


The blue triangle prevents the piece it is under
from moving at all

Like a magnet

The purple triangle requires the piece it is under to be moved
If that piece cannot be moved,
then the nearest piece must be moved
If two or more pieces are equally distant
from the piece under which the triangle is located,
then the player may choose
which one to move

I really like the purple triangle

Each triangle stays where it is
and remains in effect on that square
until its color is again chosen by the roll of the die
and it is moved to another square

Those are some pretty cool rules, bro

When two triangles occupy the same square,
the one that most recently arrived
is placed on top of the other and goes into effect
The one on the bottom remains inactive
until either it
or the triangle on top
is moved


If a player has a green triangle under one of his pieces
and a purple one under another,
he must move the piece that is on the purple one

Right on
Let’s play

And so the men set up the chessboard,
and then they played
Element of Chance

♫ ♫ ♫

These additional rules
are destroying my strategy

 They level the field

Joy looked at the board
and realized that for the first time in ages
he would have to lay his king down

♫ ♫ ♫