Kalga without Elinor and Misha now felt different. Still, here I was at the perfect hideout. And I had a plan. I was going to try a Reiki treatment with Shiva. If that would go well – whatever that means – I would stick around for a few days to do the Reiki Level 1 course. It has been some six years since the first time I had Reiki. Both times in my life was with the same girl. It was a profound experience, the first in the Rajasthani desert next to a big bonfire in the middle of the night, the other one in Goa. She was self-taught, she had been doing it since she was five. Only recently she had come to know that all these years she had been practicing Reiki. She did it only to close friends and relatives, and she never wanted to go commercial with it. It was just too intimate for her.
Shiva was a very different case. Shiva is now an ex baba, something like a fallen angel. He is in his early 50′s, but he looks like he’s in his 30′s. Thick black hair, muscular, strong and slender. The first thing I noticed about him was his eyes. Eyes of fire, sparkling and shining. Maybe he is stoned or plainly crazy I thought. Or maybe he is the real deal.
I was very intrigued about his life story. It is very uncommon for a baba to abandon the holy life and live amongst the rest of us, lead a common life, a life of sin and struggle. Was I about to start training in harnessing the life-energy force by Darth Vader himself?
Shiva has been a baba (a holy man or guru) since a very long time. He used to travel India and give teachings everywhere, blessing and healing people. They would come back to him with gifts, food, money. He had chosen the spiritual way and he was determined to follow his path. He was happy, following his own intuition and natural gifts, and people loved him.
Then one day he had an accident, a serious one. It was his own time for reflection and understanding of his life. He saw he had done some wrong things in his baba life. It was like the self-realization of a baba. And then one day, not much later, as it happens in the fairy tales, he met a girl. She was from Ireland. She helped him heal and took care of him. Shiva cut his dreadlocks, an immensely painful experience for a baba, put away his lungi (traditional Indian trousers) and started living a normal life, together with his girl. They stayed together for 7 years. He tells me the moment he quit the baba life many of his mystical powers were immediately gone. He used to heal people in so many different ways, so simply. Now, familiar with many different techniques and schools of thought, he has chosen Reiki as the universal, most effective way to heal, and to teach others to heal as well. In a very nutshell (and being borderline simplistic), Reiki is the transference of energy from the universe or cosmos, through the healer acting as a conduit, passing through the person to be healed, unblocking and flushing all negative energy into mother earth who accepts all, good and bad. Shiva never refers to “patients”, but to people. He is himself one. In Reiki, every time a healer is called to heal a person, before starting he must first heal himself. Only if you are clean yourself you can cleanse other people.
I asked him why he doesn’t go back to the baba life. “I would be a fake, I can’t cheat people. I understood I have been sometimes wrong. And now it is time to make things right. I’m not pure enough to be a baba”. Says a guy living with no possessions, with only a change of clothes and his holy books and his mallas (holy beads). I utterly admire people with no possessions. They are so free. He is strong, healthy, with a clear mind and a pure heart. Having spent a few days with him now and having completed the course, I know he may be even more pure than a baba. But he is humble and content. “Every man has to pay for his deeds”. And he purifies his karma by teaching Reiki and healing people. Living it day by day. Shiva says that healing people cleanses him even further, every time more and more. When he doesn’t do Reiki on others, he feels bad. These days he does Reiki on himself daily, before each treatment. He passes his knowledge wholeheartedly, and that’s what he has done with me. I never intended to do this, but when you meet exceptional people you reshuffle your plans very, very easily.
I’m in my third day in Kalga and the storm is gathering as I’m writing this. Thick clouds, cold gusts of wind and rain summoning from everywhere. Hands are freezing but the view and the spectacle are impossible to miss. These have been my most quiet, simple, relaxing days in India so far. Good wholesome food, Reiki practice every day, good chats with people and fresh air everywhere to breathe. But as in everything, every paradise has its own dark side. Shiva says there can never be only good, good and bad coexist. Always have, always will. Some times too much bad, sometimes too much good. They are both necessary as they are both part of existence. I have my troubles with this theory myself sometimes.
The dark side of this paradise is chiarras, most widely known as hash. The entire Parvatti Valley is world famous as one of the best qualities of chiarras in the world. And here I am, sitting in the middle of it. Drugs and the massive money behind it often attract some pretty dodgy characters that are after the fast profit because they want to live the fast life, and many of them will stop at nothing. In the 4 hour trek between here and Kirriganga that I’m starting tomorrow, more than two dozen foreigners have “disappeared” in the last ten years or so. In the whole of Parvatti valley, no-one knows the real number. This is why it is often known as The Valley of Death.
Why do people disappear? Sometimes it’s simple accidents. Two weeks ago a Russian traveler slipped and plunged to his death over a waterfall on a trek outside Kasol where I was a few days ago. His wife and his two year old son were waiting in Kasol for him. They found him after several days, when the crows had already started working on him. All his money and possessions were found intact. But no-one knows for sure. The local police stations are fast to classify these incidents as accidents.
Then there are more complicated disappearances, where people have been missing for years and are still to be found. Some possibly lost their way, run out of water or were immobilized somehow. Others may have by accident walked into a chiarras plantation. But the most spooky of all, is foreigners out in the wild looking for the perfect chiarras, the cream of the cream as they say here. Others do it for the personal use, and they end up talking to the wrong people in the wrong village. Some weird people up here. Some travelers however look for the perfect stuff, and they will buy the best stuff in large quantities, in the KG’s, to sell in Goa and the South. They are usually looking to cover the expenses of their trip and get a bit of pocket money in this way. The locals of course don’t like that. Cutting out the middle men is not welcomed in any part of this world, especially when we are talking drugs trade. It is widely believed in these mountains that some of these foreigners have met a very violent and grizzly death.
And so I have been given many friendly reminders not to do the trek on my own tomorrow. I will either go with a couple of Israelis or a German guy. Failing both, I think my fallback plan is to take the village dog with me. He loves a nice walk and he knows the way better than anyone, so no chance I will get lost.
The rain is by now in “full-power” as they say here and the thunders are continuing in ripping the valley from side to side. Tomorrow I know it will be sunshine again. And the trek to Kirriganga will commence. Shanti.
Who Runs The Drug Trade In the Parvatti Valley:
A) The Italian Mafia
B) The Russian Mafia
C) The Indian Mafia
D) The Indian Army