“You want job?” Nenchook asked me, without looking up from the baby crib he was making.
“Aye, what do you need me to hold?” I asked, snapping out of my daze, leaning forward and trying to become more ‘manly’. Nenchook was the same age as me, but he was a camel safari manager that lived in a hut in the desert with his family. I was a metrosexual, jobless wonder surfing the wind, shoring up in any Indian town worthy of note in the Lonely Planet.
He looked up at me and smiled.
“No. You want job? Here camel safari. You work for me.”
I looked at him. I started laughing.
“Ehhhh” I said.
“You go to Jodphur and bring people to camel safari. No more hotels. Always taking money.”
He meant that the hotels that arranged the camel safari trips took a lot of commission. They would earn about the same amount of money as he would just for taking a booking. It was the way things worked in India. The price was never the price. And even if it was, it never represented value. That, like beauty, was very much in the eye of the beholder. If you thought that a sari was worth 2000 rupees then the person selling it to you was not about to tell you it was only worth 50. But cuts and commissions were a standard practice. Nenchook wanted me to help him cut out the middle man and make the business more direct, and in a sense, more ethical. He would get a fair price for a fair day’s work and his family would bring in more money. The hotel owners would cease to pick his pockets of the thread that held them together and everyone’s happy. Except the hotel owners. But they would just have to make their money the way they were supposed to. By renting jail cells to middle class hippies.
But I’ll be honest. I didn’t give a thought to any of the ethics. They would come later as I justified myself to various people. I was thinking about bragging about the experience.
‘Yeah darling, I spent a few months in a hut in the desert as the Senior Foreign Liaisons Office for the Thar Desert Camel Safari company PLC. Yeah, it was a wonderful experience. Shall we get out of here and go back to my place? I’ve got a bottle of white in the fridge and I can show you pictures of the family!’
So, without really thinking of anything other than how awesome it would make me, I said yes.
“Yes. Yes. I would love to!” I said to him. He smiled. We shook hands. He went back to making a crib. I went back to thinking about how I awesome I could potentially become.
I got way too stoned that night and spent the evening freaking out in my bed, listening to the fireworks going off in the distance from another camel safari trip. It was New Year’s Eve. I was lying in a hut, freezing my wrinkly little bollocks off, worrying that I was not awesome but that I was in fact a complete idiot.
I lasted a week as the Senior Foreign Liaisons Officer for the Thar Desert Camel Safari Company PLC and didn’t sell a single camel safari trip. I wasn’t good at selling camels and I felt guilty about it. I worried that I wasn’t doing my job properly and that I was instilling a sense of false hope in my wonderful, courteous hosts. But the real reason I left was because I ran out of weed, and in the chilling light of sobriety the reality of living in the desert was far shitter than I imagined.
This was how I ended 2010 and started 2011. I have no idea how I will end 2011 but I know that it is certainly going to be much more ‘normal’. I will probably be in an Irish themed bar in South Korea, stone cold sober counting down to nothing but a little bit of symbolism.
2011 was a fucking great year for me. But I have reason to believe that 2012 will be better. So with that, I give you my New Year’s Resolutions:
• I want to write a new book. It will be longer, better, and have a firm theme.
• I want to become a legitimate artist. Drawing is the one art that I have always lacked in but I am determined to change that and develop my own sense of style and, eventually, use it to assist my fiction.
• I want to quit smoking. I don’t want to die before I’m supposed to.
• I want to get involved in more acting projects. Filming with Sonny Side films tomorrow and looking to expand my acting portfolio.
• I want to keep this blog going. It has brought me so much pleasure entertaining you guys over the last year. I have told you a lot about my life and you have always listened and been so helpful in either giving me critique (Shawn) or in giving me undiluted, concentrated, free-based blind praise (Katja). It is the biggest outlet for me right now and I intend to keep it that way.
Thanks for listening to me this year. I have written, cried, laughed, thought, boozed, sobered up, smoked and drank coffee the whole way, and I’m still here. Still writing, still laughing, still looking forward, still talking shite, still improving, still moving faster and faster, still feeling Death’s cold breath tickling the hairs on the back of my neck, reminding me that one day I’ll be gone and the world will keep rolling on.
Happy New Year troops.