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