I wrote this text for the meeting of the Shanghai Writing Workshop next week. The prompt I chose was to write a text featuring a dangerous yoga position. Enjoy!

The fan on the ceiling feebly swirled the hot, stale air around the room. I wiped sweat pearls away which ran from my temples into my hairline. I laid on my back in somewhat smelly hotel bedding, over which I had pulled a thin sleeping bag, as my paranoia about bugs and bacteria wouldn’t let me get a wink of sleep if I tried to sleep in that washed out bedlinen.

Jenny sang along with Ariana Grande from her small speaker in the bathroom. She probably just got into one of her short skirts and a Top with spaghetti straps, and according to the pungent smell, renewed the purple nail polish on her hands. Together with her thick-soled white sneakers, she always looked as if she was just waiting for someone to challenge her for a tennis match. I pulled my shirt, that had slipped up a little, over the small, but undeniable rolls of fat on my belly and looked at my phone which told me the temperatures in Lombok, Indonesia would not drop below 32° for the next few days.

My stay in Lombok was the consequence of my latest life circumstances: exactly five days before, I had packed in my job after I broke down in frustrated crying on a Tuesday evening in front of my house because my damn key just wouldn’t – fit – in the -fucking – door.
After 5 minutes of furious feet stomping and coarse insults directed to my key, I realized I had tried to open the door with my car key and stepped sobbingly into my small apartment. I could barely suppress the need to kick Jack, my cheerfully tail-wagging Beagle, into the corner of the room, and then, I finally decided I had to quit.

I could not stand any other day in that badly lit office with the only pleasure each day being awkward conversations over an overpriced lunch and a coffee in the afternoon which I nervously downed in one, only to burn my tongue and increase the tense feeling in my chest.
I could no longer put up with my chauvinist boss whose hand landed to often on my shoulder or my hips and who asked me every evening just before I was about to knock off if I could just take over this very important video call with a very important client. I could not stand a -five-days-work-two-days-breather- rhythm in which the weekend was always safe, but the next Monday was even safer.

So I quit, and to compensate myself for all the ordeal I had endured in the past few weeks, I had booked the first flight that would take me very far away, to a very sunny place and would somehow fit into the budget I had scratched up – it was to be Lombok, Indonesia.

I had met Jenny outside the airport, where I stood with a jetlag and a small trolley suitcase in my hand, a little overwhelmed by the heat and very fact that I had come to Indonesia without looking up a single place to stay or to visit. An Indonesian taxi driver pulled my arm and tried to drag me into his car, yelling at me in a language of which I did not understand a single word. I was flabbergasted.
 

Jenny had perceptively noticed my emergency situation, stepped in between and dragged me aside:
“Do you need some help?”
she had asked me, looking deep into my eyes and gripping my arm a little too tight.
“Yeah, maybe… I need a hotel.”
I had muttered, and she nodded resolutely, and sat me in a taxi, saying:
“I know a good place, come with me!”.

From then on we shared a hotel room. In the daytime, we took taxis around the island and photos for Jenny’s Instagram Account, and in the evening, we went for dinner somewhere at the beach.
Jenny was a Blogger with 200.000 followers on YouTube and the mission to visit every country on earth before her 30th birthday. As South-East Asia was still a blank space to me, I was quite relieved I had, at least for the beginning, an experienced traveler on my side.

Jenny switched off the music and came out of the bathroom, holding her vlogging camera in her hand.
“Hey guuuys, it’s Jenny from JennyTravels again! What’s poppin’! Did you notice my new nail polish? Beautiful no? Hey Kassandra! We’re going out for dinner now, right?”
She laughed at the camera and then turned it to me:
“Let’s get some fried beetles or squid skewers right, he-he-he…”

I forced myself to smile and wave into the camera, hoping no one at home would follow JennyTravels and get to see the wretched picture of me sweating in an Indonesian hotel room.
Jenny never asked if she could film me, she actually never asked anyone – she babbled into her camera all day, held it into street vendors’ faces, filmed kids, taxi drivers, people on the beach and was always too busy fixing the light settings – “the sun here is so much brighter than in Vietnam!” –to notice the irritated faces around her.

“Are you ready to go? I’m so hungry, I didn’t eat anything after that disaster with these fried bats yesterday, I REALLY need something right now!”
she told me excitedly,
“Let’s go to the beach and see what we can get there! I’ll invite you!”

Jenny recklessly tried every local food she could get her hands on. Chomping fish cakes, fried grasshoppers or grilled rats, she stressed how important this dish was for her authentic, local experience. However yesterday she had pushed the limits a little too far when she tried a grey, tough mixture apparently consisting of bat mash, coconuts, and chilies and spent the rest of the day in our bathroom.
I had given her some of my DiaStoppex, the strongest Diarrhea pills I had found in the pharmacy back home, and visited the beach for the first time alone.

Not very surprisingly, I ended up in a bar where I ordered three sweet Cocktails that exceeded my budget as well as drinking ability, but as they were served to me by an extraordinary handsome waiter, I just kept them coming. Jenny on principle ordered nothing but sparkling water when we went out and met the cigarette I indulged in every evening with a soft smile.

“Are you readyyy! Let’s get some dinner, you gonna come?”
Jenny had already slipped into her sneakers and put on her white visor cap that completed her tennis-player look.
“Yeah, I’m ready.”
I muttered and sat up, annoyed that I always said the opposite of what I meant.

Outside, the evening sun dazzled my eyes that were used to the dim light in our room, and a flush of hot, polluted air filled my lungs. Only under my biggest efforts, I could hold Jenny back from hitting the smoking lamb skewer stall on the street of our hotel and convince her to find something proper in one of the restaurants on the beach.
We walked towards the beach, me trying my best to avoid the Tuctucs in their rush hour and wondering whether I had put the pack of cigarettes in my bag. Jenny talked to her camera and introduced her Followers to “the crazy traffic in the streets of Lombok, haha guys I’m nearly getting KILLED here, this is just insane – oh look! They got these cute birds just across the street! Kassandra do you SEE that? Why don’t we take a look – wait, there’s a car coming…”

It was exasperating.
She was lost like a puppy on a summer meadow, and I couldn’t even really be mad at her. I closed my eyes, clenched my fists in my pockets and went straight ahead to get her out of the danger zone on the streets to the Beach.

My flipflops sank into the warm sand. Local kids screeched and laughed in the warm waves, next to tourists in tight bathing clothes roasting in the sun. I smiled benignly at Jenny, who stood with her arms on her hips and closed eyes next to me, taking a deep breath.
“Haaaaaa…”
she made, “you know when you’re traveling as long as I do, it’s sooo important to take a break sometimes before it gets too much. Just lay on the beach, do nothing, just enjoy the moment…”
I nodded silently and looked at the waves swaying peacefully in the golden evening light. For a moment, even the mosquitos in the air seemed to possess a simple beauty, with a perfect right to exist just where they were.

“HEY!” Jenny’s hand slapped on my upper arm, and my eyes widened startled.
“You see that rock over there? Can you take a picture of me? I just noticed I didn’t post anything on Instagram yet…”
she pointed her arm to a big, grey rock a few meters away.
“It’s just puuurfect for a yoga snap!”
she warbled, pressed her phone into my hand and climbed up the rock in a matter of seconds.

Jenny got up every morning at the crack of dawn, when I had just fallen asleep a few hours ago. When I once inquired during breakfast why she did this to herself in her vacation, she beamed at me and explained she was accomplishing a 30 days yoga challenge at the moment, which made her do 30 minutes of exercise and meditation every morning.
It really helped her to calm her inner disquiet and against her tight hamstrings, she explained. After that, she mixed a smoothie from bananas, leaves, and berries in a portable hand mixer and enjoyed the break of day on the terrace on the second floor. I usually got up late enough to have the lunch buffet in our Hotel for breakfast, and my exercise was restricted to our daily beach walks.

However, Jenny was up on the rock and put her enviable slim leg against her left knee, lifted her arms, palms together, over her head and smiled ecstatically.
“Treeeeepose! Now! Take a photo! Take care that the sunset is in the left corner!”
With pinched eyes, I tried to arrange the phone camera in the right angle and was just about to tell her I needed her thumb to unlock her phone, as a heart-rending cry yelled over the idle beach scene …

Jenny had fallen off the rock and laid in a state of shock on the ground. Her face twisted with pain, she held her right ankle, while a cluster of excited locals and tourists alike gathered around her.
For a few seconds, I couldn’t see Jenny, until someone lifted her up, put her arms around their shoulders and together, they limped off. The crowd disbanded, and with dismayed faces, everyone returned under their beach umbrella.

Nobody took notice of me.

I picked up the visor cap and looked around hesitantly. Then I decided, this incident couldn’t be blamed on me, and that Jenny was old enough to sort this out by herself.

A few minutes later, I was on the beach and congratulated myself on the last free deck-chair.
“Miss?”
someone tapped on my shoulder. The handsome waiter smiled gently at me and put a martini glass with a sugar-coated rim on the table.
I lit up the lucky cigarette from my pack and watched the crimson sun sinking into the ocean.
The air was filled with the smell of salt and smoke, and a pleasant wind carried the fishermen’s calls from the shore along the beach. Local children cheerfully chased each other home, and a bunch of stray dogs sniffed eagerly on left-behind skewers and plastic bags.

I licked the sugar crystals from the glass and buried my toes in the warm sand, anticipating the martini-induced sedation of my senses. My head fell back on the deck-chair, I closed my drowsy eyes and listened to the composition played to me on the waves and the wind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *