Shekhu, Chola and I were sitting at a rooftop restaurant in Leh when we met Julie.
Here’s the back-story
Every story has a back-story.
One summer, Chola & I decided to go to Ladakh. I mentioned that to Shekhu (who is my friend from college and now lives in Shimla.) He said he wanted to come too. So I said “Sure.” And so, I met him in Shimla & the two of us headed to Manali & Chola was supposed to meet us there the next morning.
Shekhu meet Chola
Random conversation about weather, flight… ummmm lets go eat.
Dinner was fun. Stunning open air restaurant in Old Manali… lots of food… lots of talk.
But this story is not about our trip. It’s about Julie
Let’s skip to us at that rooftop restaurant in Leh.
So there we were… soaking up some sun… eating some ThukPa… wondering how we’d leisurely waste this fabulous afternoon, when we spotted this girl sitting on the next table eating by herself. (Now there are various versions to this part, about how we got talking, but we’re just going stick to my version because I am writing it.) and in a few minutes she was sitting with us. On our table. Her name was Julie. She was American. She was traveling with a whole bunch of peeps, but somehow had gotten lost/didn’t like them, and so was wandering about by herself for the day.
Julie ordered some soup & told us where all she was planning to go in India. Julie was very inked. I noticed she had all these ravens tattooed on her right arm and shoulder and on the back of her hand and wrist she had ‘Sooner or later everything is going to be more or less ok.’ So simple. And so true. Her friend who was just starting out as a tattoo artist had done that for her. So the script was a little shaky but I think that just added to it.
We spent quite sometime just chatting at that restaurant. After a couple of hours we figured we should move and I remember walking down the stairs and Julie saying something about magic. Chola and she were talking and then as soon as we reached the ground floor, Julie asked one of us if we had a pen. We didn’t. So she asked this guy standing next to her, he said yes, she took the pen, opened it up, pulled out the little plasticy inside of the pen with the nib and then said “Now you see it.” (and we saw the pen), and then swiftly took that nib and jabbed it into her nostril and said “Now you don’t, and hit the pen swiftly into her nose with her palm. Into. Her. Nose. It couldn’t be seen. By now Shekhu had turned away, I was wincing in imaginary pain and Chola was all smiles.
Julie had a big fat grin pasted on her face. I bet she’d done this a dozen times before and got similar reactions. Apparently she had a medical condition where the inside of her nostril was a little larger than normal. Whatever. I don’t really care. I just remember being all shocked and awed.
We spent most of the day together, she came with us to a couple of monasteries, had some tea and then in the evening we said goodbye. She was going to go meet up with her friends. I don’t think we saw Julie again. But I’m glad we met her. I don’t think I’m ever going to be in Leh without thinking of Julie….. or Zee.
And Zee…. Lets just say Zee is a completely different story, which I’m sure I’ll write about soon. But, till that happens I’m going to sign off with Julie’s ink ‘cos it’s stayed with me all these years – Sooner Or Later, Everything Is Going To Be More Or Less OK