The final straw of Arab Jerry Seinfeld’s behaviour breaks the camel’s resistance. The camel’s back breaks, legs buckling and folding spastically beneath it. Only you are the camel, and rather than your back breaking, you are strangling a Saudi Prince over a bar in Tbilisi.
Simultaneously, yet through space, time, crumbling continuums, misshapen magnitudes and distorted dimensions that land you in another continent, Hutch has his ear to the dormitory door, his eyes carrying the empty, frazzled energy of a man who hasn’t slept for 72 hours. He’s hearing voices outside. Security, police, more. And they know. They are coming. Barricade the doors.
Back in the alternate dimension, Jerry the Saudi Prince’s eyes balloon in cartoonish terror as he claws at your unyielding grip. Asphyxiation is not what Jerry had in mind during the early glimmers of the night. He might not value decency, but even the worst of us value oxygen access. Being punched has a distinct beginning and end; not fun by any stretch, but at least defined. Where does strangulation end? Release or death.
It is a strange, primitive instinct you have to go for the throat, but your vision is clouded by booze and blurred by red mist. The Tbilisi dive bar you are in fades, the volume of reality turned down until it’s muted by the rage of attack before you are pulled apart and the room rushes back to you. The Georgian police have miraculously already arrived, pouring into the bar to source the menace.
Said troublemaker is you. The session has struck again, this specific bolt of lightning landing you at the mercy of the capricious Georgian law.
In the other dimension, you are scrambling, the room moving with a broken energy, a firework with a damp fuse. You don’t know whether or not you believe there is indeed any impending interference from the law, because logic has long since departed the Anjuna shores, but action trumps thought at this stage. It has been hours since you trusted any of your thoughts. You don’t trust Hutch’s either, but action trumps thought. You think. Do you trust that thought itself…?
You cling to reality, narrowly evading the downward spiral of the accelerating paradox. The drugs must be hidden, troops must be awoken, Sunday voices accessed, the frenzy silenced, move, Figo?, move, quieter, is he choking? move, shutup, please, they’re not, is Beef awake? they are, are they hidden? you’re hallucinating, you idiot, Djibouti, not now, ahhh jaysus, they can hear us, don’t!
The Georgian police are fixed on you, moving towards you.
You see Hutch carefully ease the door open, the hostel’s prison theme an accidental irony, the weight of the universe on the outcome.
The session has found you once more. The consistency is metronomic. You are home, basically, although home can sometimes feel foreign, as it might if you heard footsteps on the landing upstairs when you thought you were home alone.
That is the case on those parallel, disparate days in Georgia and India, the only two countries you can think of that are legitimate names for girls, you think, in a completely irrelevant tangent. You allow it. You’re an idiot, after all. Which is why your first-born daughter will be named Turkmenistan.
After years of chasing the session, the roles change and it chases you. Mostly, admittedly, to your glee, but sometimes to your detriment. The session is a cold, hard bastard who does not know feelings. And like a prison warden, the session most certainly does not account for yours. The cannon is loose, you are inside it. The softness of the landing is at this stage ambiguous.
All is going swimmingly hours earlier, when you and your American friends meet Jerry, who is the sidekick of the Kazakh girl your friend has arranged to meet on Tinder. It’s a bizarre situation, augmented by the dizzy Chinese engineer who she has brought as a second associate, but the strange and normal are no longer separate entities, just a Venn diagram with accelerating overlap, so you embrace it and accept the shots of chachaka that Jerry is buying. Despite the fact he’s wearing a cardigan, a garment you thought to be either fiction or myth, he’s not bad this Jerry, you think, as the session unlocks you once more.
And in Anjuna, the session is a most convivial host, too. The people, the music, the booze, the crystals all coalescing into something greater than us. You ooze the session, the session oozes you, and you are now a train without a station, a plane without a landing strip, but without a care, for the skies are vivid blue and you are gliding, floating, firing on cylinders you didn’t even know you possessed, defying physics and the known capacity of the human body with the pure dynamism of the shapes you are cutting on the dancefloor, every conversation effortless, kinetic, effervescent, vibrant, hilarious. Nobody has done it better, you have mastered the session. It is you, one hundred times yourself. Amplified, perfected, forever.
The session grins, almost in acknowledgement of your mastery, but there’s a malevolent glimmer in there, too. The session’s eyes are still dancing, but the beat is more ominous.
For you are Dr. Faustus, and in a blur, 24 years have passed. The session, Mephistopheles, reclaims what’s his. Damnation beckons. You danced with the session and stood on its toes.
The plane collides with the first bout of turbulence. The wheels of the train shudder and groan.
And in an instant, it starts falling to pieces. We’ve all been here. Storms, thunder, lightning. The plane has disintegrated around you, and you find yourself walking on a tightrope wearing clown shoes. The imperious to the perilous. The session that goes up, must come down, and you better believe the session won’t help you now. The session is a skydive without a parachute.
And then, like the camel, the Tbilisi night begins to fold. Jerry, having grown up in Mayfair pissing inherited oil money around and living in Marriott Hotels across Europe, is a privileged chap. Being one yourself, this isn’t a problem; we do not choose our parents or hereditary status and access any more than we choose the session.
But we do choose our attitudes, and seeing an increasingly drunk and belligerent Jerry abusing the lovely Georgians trying to aid our passage to the next bar – from taxi drivers to off-duty police officers to other civilians – is something you must take umbrage to. The session doesn’t tolerate the intolerable.
But your friend is hitting it off with the Kazakh girl, so you hold fire. You have a word with him, a warning shot for now, but nothing more. One for the team, you might say, even as Jerry slurs taunts at you in the taxi, “you fucking Communist! Fucking Socialist, sticking up for little man! Ha! I love it, man, so great.” His tone makes you want to remove his eyes, fingers, toes and tongue simultaneously. If you climbed his ego and fell to his IQ, you wouldn’t be dead yet as you’d still be falling. But you swallow the swirling, simmering fury. Your friend fornicating with a Kazakh girl is something the session considers to be important.
In Anjuna, day and night is now a distant concept. Once oil and water, they are now one and the same. A sleepless blur, decision making falling apart beneath the spastic strobing of the psytrance night, your attempts to dance resembling a corpse floating down a muddy river. You are mangled. Buckled. Obliterated. The surrounding folk who are melted by acid probably in a better state than you.
But the drinking continues and Jerry’s taunts do, too. Under the command of the session, you no longer have a choice. You grab the fucking syphilis repellent by the neck and get squeezing, forcing him back prone over the bar for good measure.
Everything is suddenly one; divergent dimensions amalgamate, two disparate worlds find fusion in their chaos. Hutch’s dancefloor gyrations are on fast-forward, all zeal, vim and vigour, an impossible, cartoonish blur eroding the ground beneath him. Jerry’s eyes boggle as you squeeze tighter. Your ring finger is bleeding from bottle opening, Figo is convinced the spliff has been tampered with, a neverbeforeseen hallucinogen. Jerry claws at your arms. Bongos, blue tack sacks, camels, Djibouti coups, valium possums, more crates of Kingfisher, thoughts crystallised by impure glassy shards. The woman behind the bar calls the police, you squeeze on. Wild dogs are chasing you. Caught in a compromising position, naked as the rising sun, a security guard forces you to redress under torchlight. People pull you off Jerry. You realise you’ve failed to eat or sleep for two days. The Tbilisi police are piling in.
The two dimensions collapse towards uncertain conclusions. You are at the mercy of the session once again.
A minute later, when the police are leading you outside, you’re thinking, warily, that the situation is a bad photocopy of a bad photocopy of a deeply questionable blueprint in the first place.
Similarly, in Anjuna, Hutch glances out of the doors, the screaming paranoia now pervasive throughout the room. Is the window jumpable?
The session doesn’t negotiate, it dictates. Invisible, intangible though they may seem, your limbs are held by strings. You are the puppet in the session’s nefarious hands.
All is lost. The dogs of consequence growl at you from the shadows. But just as it taketh away, the session giveth once more.
In Tbilisi, the session has equipped you with friendliness, the urge to welcome and show interest in strangers. Your doors are open. Join, drink. It’s a saving grace. An army of Georgians you’ve been drinking with come out with you to translate to the police, providing alibis and lies that see you evade the beckoning handcuffs. Jerry, who has been an arsehole to them, too, is ejected. The Kazakh girl, wailing and screaming the truth, is dismissed too. Your friend forgives your untimely intervention. The session rushes back to you, more celebratory and less violent now. You drink on.
In Anjuna, there is nobody outside. It is all an illusion of exhaustion. Fragmented, relieved, you climb back into the welcoming arms of the bedsheets, like a lover following the reunion of a first fight. It is time, finally, to go to sleep.
You recover, rehabilitate, revive, regenerate and reacclimatise to reality. Soon, but not too soon, you will launch again.
I will remember both occasions with the sort of wary love one has for the reckless friend who gets you into trouble just as often as they’re crucial to the best night you’ll ever have.
Vital to have, but best held at arm’s length. Until next time.