Matthias London

Downhill

1. Like, Share, and subscribe, Motherfuckers

Red, yellow, green, or white? Two pieces to pick, totaling ten possible choices. Not that it mattered. The effect of 100 micrograms of LSD per gummy bear would unfold all the same. But these kinds of decisions are important, goddammit! Deliberation is key. No choice left arbitrary. Making the illusion of full control complete. Green and yellow are the ones, it seems. Thoroughly chewed, and they disappeared inside of me. 7:30 a.m. in Munnar and I was ready. Stepping toward the Chokramudi peak.

20 minutes down the road I hitched a ride because the street was busy, and I did not intend to spend my coming up among the sudden coming and leaving of blowing horns and engines of bypassing vehicles. The first car stopped, seating me amid four middle-aged men with long grey beards. They were swift to explain that one of them was a YouTuber. Seemed to be quite a trend there in India. Every other person was a YouTuber.

Bizarre: The frequencies vibrating through the front man’s front row teeth seemed to reach my ears with an unsettling delay. Something was off. His facial expression and lip movement didn’t correspond to the sound. Although he just grinned at me, the words kept echoing. god. Why now? It was way too early for the acid to kick in. I felt the men’s eyes rolling over me like unnerving massage balls. Eerie vibes thinned out the finite air within the car. Sweat pearled down under my visor and stained my specs, blurring my vision even further, making it seem like the walls were coming closer, and with them, the two men engulfing me. I did not intend to spend my come up on the uninviting road, and here I was, spending my come up among wholehearted paranoia.

“You can leave me here,” I finally gasped and pointed to the bridge to our right. The gentlemen halted the car and unloaded themselves with me, each taking a selfie.

Not that the situation was uncanny enough, one of the group pointed at the YouTuber, and commended, “Say ‘This is my friend Cuki: like, share, and subscribe.’”

The YouTuber put his around my neck, smiled at me, and pointed back at the mobile phone camera. His smile melted downwards, off of his face, and I turned toward the camera, grinned maniacally, and stumbled the words down, uncertain if what I articulated in my mind came across my lips as properly pronounced words in language. The delay between my supersonic thoughts and lazy jaw made me doubtful. I panted for air after the sentence. In the same sound distorted manner, I heard myself say the sentence, I ended the filmed section with a “mfcker” to the camera.

It didn’t seem to bother them much, judged by the many “Thank you! Thank you!” they howled at me, after which they hurried into their car and zoomed off.

2. Peak acceleration notes

8:45 a.m.: The rock formations on the mountain opposite to me resemble sub-Saharan masks lying flat on the vast mountain range in portfolio. One of the rocks resembles an elephant.

9:13 a.m.: I take out my handheld sound recorder to capture the soundscape. The device resembles a queer cat with a proud nippy afro crown who is out for a ball in New York of the 70s.

Handheld recorder

09:37 a.m.: I’m trying to figure out where the voices come from. Trynna pinpoint them. I can hear them, but I cannot seem to find the faces to them within the undercut. Just to be clear, they aren’t voices in my head. Are they?

“Hi,” he says. I respond, and it quickly becomes clear that this was where his English perished. Despite the absurdity of the scene – the inside of my backpack is scattered around the pile of sand, my cigarette has funky greasy stains of sunscreen, the camera focuses on nothing, and I, shirtless – the stunning view makes comfort sit in the silence between us. There is just one word to say, “Beautiful,” and it doesn’t require the man to share my tongue to understand the meaning it carries.

What he fails to understand are my eyes, though. That the landscape is panning like a lullaby. The distant mountain rig, the mid-range trees, or the close-up tea plants, macro tea leaves: Within the brink of a second of focusing my gaze on anything, the outer edges of the object under investigation escape their material form further outwards, like the little waves running from the center of a single drop into perfectly still water, just with infinite momentum, staging the mountainous scenery in an eternal ecstatic dance.

After some time, the man nods, bids farewell, and leaves. Fathoming that I am over the peak, I follow his confident footsteps and leave the peak base behind, asking myself the classic acid question: “Am I on the right way?”

3. Path

The reason why the viewpoints of Echo Point or Top Hill Station were so incredibly underwhelming wasn’t due to the lack of astonishing views but rather because they were the final destination of a car ride that merely served as a transit. Manik and I jumped into his 4×4 and made our way uphill, passing the biggest dam in Kerala, through a mountain jungle, home to monkeys who like to fuck. An hour later, we arrived, walked to the viewpoint, stayed for ten minutes, took a picture, “Should we bounce?” I asked, “Yup,” Manik responded, bored.

Then I was on my way to Chokramudi peak and asked myself how it had been possible that I was trying to climb a mountain, going further downhill with every step I took? Something didn’t fit there. Google Maps told me that I was still on some path, the same path, the one that encircles the mountain, where I hoped to find an ascend. 12:43 p.m. I scratched my head and manifested to no one, “Damn, this is gonna be such a pain in the ass situation to get myself out of,” well-aware that I had been on the road for almost five hours, that you needed to calculate as much time for getting back home on a hike as you needed to reach the destination.

Later, I became the bystander of a family making memories. They were bathing in a river on the opposite side of the stream, and I could peer at them through the protection of the thick wooden undercut. The many kids threw water at each other, while the mother held a baby in her arms and sat hip-deep in the water, while a big man held an action cam into their faces. They were all laughter and tenderness. They were enough and eternal. And I was ashamed, feeling like a pedophile, secretly observing others without giving them the chance to see me. I wanted to leave but found myself incapable to move, captivated by the scene. It made me feel complete.

Surprise: It was 3:50 p.m. and the ground started vibrating again… Visually.

Further Impressions (Click)

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