"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Buffalo Boy II–Chapter 4

The reception staged for The Mother at Shanagar was even more elaborate than the one giving to the returning Buffalo Boy.  All interested parties had been briefed on the importance of the visit and the likelihood of money, employment, and regional if not national renown from association with such an important religious figure.  There was a parade, floats featuring all the Elevated (most representations were grossly distorted because few citizens of Shahnagar knew anything about anything other than Lord Vishnu and some basic elements of Hinduism.  Someone had seen some of the more grotesque Spanish renderings of the Crucifixion but had mixed them up with those of St. Jerome, and had Jesus stuck with hundreds of arrows, darts, knives; and bleeding profusely from long sword slices.  The creator of another float had also heard the famous “This is my blood” refrain from Catholic liturgy, and had Christ gushing blood from a wound in his Sacred Heart, with a Wise Man catching it in a basin and drinking it. Yet another had Jesus standing calf-deep in cow-trough of sloshing water with the Tablets of the Ten Commandments in his hands.

The stage and dais were all festooned with the colors of the Church, the sappy, inspirational music that the Church sent Buffalo Boy every week was playing over the loudspeakers, and everyone who was anyone was seated behind the podium.  Whereas Buffalo Boy’s homecoming address was heartfelt but uninspiring, and his references to the Church and the Elevated pale and spiritless, The Mother showed why she was the greatest religious motivator in America.  She began with the usual warm welcome and thanks, but quickly moved on to affairs of the Church.  Knowing that this, her first sermon, had to resonate with the crowd, and knowing that this would be her most difficult moment, her time of trial, she drew upon every mote and iota of inspiration from Tamora, Pastor Luyck, and the great tele-evangelists of her youth.

She started slowly, waiting a bit impatiently for the interpreter whom she later realized she had not sufficiently briefed.  “The Elevated” had been translated as “The Tall People”, “The Church of Spiritual Renewal” became “The Church of Spirited Renovation”, and so on.  Perhaps she sensed this lack of context in the blank faces of the audience, or perhaps more because of brilliant tour de force, she dismissed her interpreter! Now she could really use her talents – convey her passion, conviction, and energy through her voice, her gestures, her very being.  This is what she had trained for.

At first the audience had no idea what had happened.  Probably a sound system malfunction which was par for the course at events in Shahnagar; but soon they were drawn to The Mother by the sound of her voice, by the rising and falling of her delivery, her outstretched arms, her smile, her confidence.  After ten minutes all faces were turned towards her. She felt a yearning, a desire, an inexorable movement towards her.  She had triumphed.

After the ceremony, flushed with success and the ego high that all great motivational speakers feel, she accompanied Shah and Buffalo Boy to the ashram.  There by the scum-free tank were twenty-five congregants whom Shah had gathered up, trained, and paid to act in this theatre of promise.  They were hungry street people, relatives of municipal workers, unemployed graduates hurting from no income.  In short, while not the total misfits, miscreants, and “registered bad characters” of the first roundup, they were still baitfish caught in Shah’s net, little different from those collected to cheer at political rallies.

The Mother was disappointed in the output of so many months evangelism by Buffalo Boy; but Shah interceded with words of encouragement.

“Not to worry, Mataji.” he said. “Takes time”, he added with the liquid fricatives of North India.  “Sri Vivekananda communed with only few souls at first.  Baba Ram Das and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi famous in America also for bringing Hindu wisdom, had as many few.  Jesus Christ himself had only 12 disciples.  What is there? An abundance of souls and an abundance of time.  Very good calculus.  Very good business model.  Don’t be discouraged, my dear”.

Baba Ram Das was an American dope-head, colleague of Timothy Leary and deuxieme for his LSD experiments at Harvard who got a devoted hippie following thanks to his belief in Enlightenment Through Drugs.  The Maharishi was a nothing bell-ringer at a temple in Rishikesh until George Harrison saw his Light.  Both were total frauds and deliberately chosen as examples by Shah.  He had Helen’s number even before she walked off the plane.

“I am thinking of roll-out, Mr. Shah”, replied Helen.  I need Bombay PR, and the same kind of advance work that Billy Graham has when he comes here.  With all due respect, your ashram, scummy swimming pool, and gaggle of rejects and cripples doesn’t cut the mustard.  It’s OK to use this place as the spiritual home for the Church, but not the political and business home.  Get my drift?”

The two bullshitters again connected.  The Mother saw hippodromes full of newly faithful filling virtual offering baskets with millions.  Shah saw a cut of same.  Buffalo Boy was befuddled.  “What is going on here?”, he asked himself; but Shah saw that The Mother was a true businesswoman who saw opportunity where little existed.  She was forward-looking, commercially visionary, and very, very savvy.  He saw it immediately – small venues with big publicity targeting the vulnerable.  For years the harijans (Outcastes) had been evangelized by Christians, wooing them away from an exploitive Hindu system.  There were still hundreds of thousands if not millions (India was a big country) of Outcasts and low-castes who would take to The Mother’s inclusive and communal message. Start with them, Shah reasoned, and disaffected youth and marginal middle class workers would follow. 

ii

“I am tired of this bullshit”, said Shah back at home in Bombay.  “The Mother is full of shit.  Church is full of shit; but as every farmer knows, there is money in shit, so I will have to abide and follow.  Meanwhile, what about some pussy?  In fact, I think The Mother would like some pussy too.  What I mean to say is some cock unless she likes pussy which I can also arrange.  I will test the waters and show her my miniatures.  See what comes to the surface.”

Shah had one of India’s most prized collections of Mogul miniatures, most of which were of sexual themes.  The 18th Century Japanese woodcuts of Samurai on swings, stiff whangs ready to plumb the depths of innocent maidens had nothing on Shah’s miniatures which were older, more erotic, and much more sexually explicit than anything from Japan.  In fact, Shah had organized them by sexual preference, so he had Missionary Style, Doggy Style, acrobatic style (a la swing sex), male-on-male, female-on-female, man and girl, etc.  He had carried out an exhaustive search in the historical archives of the National Cultural Trust for man-on-animal and vice-versa paintings, to no avail. 

“All people are sexual”, commented Shah.  “Only remains to find out what kind.  I think The Mother very conservative, only wants to take it up the ass.  No funny business”.

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