Stories written by Paul Voudouris

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"The Adventures of King Prawn" (Journal Entries, October 1995)

10/15/95

Is extensive traveling nothing more than an escape? If it is, is that wrong? Is anything wrong? Suddenly, everything has been rendered neutral. No highs or lows. No matter what the environment, Paul remains Paul. So, has anything changed? Well, yes. Facing a clean palette of people and situations, I’m not reminded of who it is that I’m supposed to be. I can be anyone I want. The reflections are fresh. Now I see interesting people, versed in culture, who are brave enough to forge out into the world seeking experience.

Today, Gayle and I went to see a Balian (the Balinese version of a witch doctor, or white magic healer) named Tsokorda Rai. Though it took some time for the bemo driver to locate his house, it was well worth the trip. Tsokorda’s new wife, in her twenties, pregnant with their latest child, led us in. Tsokorda was in his sixties, and had a cigarette dangling from his mouth (how good it is to discard many of the western ideas of what a health practitioner should look like!). His treatment area was outside, under a thatched roof. Numerous patients were cross-legged on the floor. Some were waiting to see Tsokorda, some were accompanying the patients, some just seemed to be there. Tsokorda had a patient sit at his feet, facing away from him, and activated various accupressure points. From the expression on the patient’s face, this treatment was painful. On occasion, Tsokorda would chew various herbs and spices (which were growing on the compound) and then spit the mixture on the head or back of the person he was treating. At one point, he mixed a large bowl full of ingredients which he strained off into a glass. The patient was then asked to forcefully snort the dark liquid. He did, and it just about knocked him over. As he treated patients, Tsokorda continuously explained his procedures, or what the patient need do. Some patients later, Tsokorda motioned for Gayle to sit at his feet. He sprayed some masticated goo on her face and back and performed some chiropractic adjustments. That was it. It was my turn. As I sat at the Balian’s feet, he did some accupressure on my shoulders and then instructed me to lie on my back. Taking a small stick from the ground, he began to push it into the small toe on my left foot. The pain it produced was indescribable. He said that this represented the kidney, that I think too much, and that I must integrate my chakras. (Right, is that all?) To lessen the pain on my toe, he suggested I focus both eyes on one ear; to meditate on the ear and nothing else. I did, and the additional stabs were less painful. He continued, saying that it was important for me, for my life, to do nothing for a while, that I was fine and needed no therapy other than to relax.
As Gayle and I took the bemo home, I thought about the number of times I’ve been told to do nothing in the last few months. Another recurring concept has been that of the integration of the chakras. Tsokorda said I needed to balance my chakras (as if I need to be told this!) in order to find clarity. (This brought back memories of Hawaii, where a pain in my right knee almost incapacitated me. I found that I was leaning to my right, favoring the injured knee. I became aware of how it felt normal to favor the knee. Had someone not brought it to my attention, I would probably still be walking that way today. But that moment opened my eyes, and everything has begun to change as a result.) I forced myself to be conscious of the way I walk, drive, talk, and perform the activities of a day. Though I usually drive with my left hand, I started driving with my right. When lying on my back, in bed, I would always lift my left knee, and lean to the right. Now I catch myself doing that and lift my right knee, instead. When speaking with people I used to always look into their left eye. I now focus on the right. I’m hoping that this conscious approach toward balancing my physical actions will integrate itself into my inner process. I’ve always known that I live too much inside my head, and that it is important to express from the heart. I’ve been using my left brain too much. That’s a fact. It’s time to give the right brain some time.

10/20/95

Interesting that I should be going through the process I’ve been going through, lately; that is, the one dealing with left and right. Gayle had told me that she is an instructor in the Alexander Technique; a healing therapy I’d heard of but knew little about. Today, she gave me what is called a “lesson” or “session” in the Alexander technique. The technique deals with realigning the body. I laid on the ground (a table would have suited both of us much better) and she made slight adjustments to the positioning of my head, torso, and limbs. This was unlike massage or accupressure. It was more a gentle nudging of the body, reminding it of where it used to be, but had forgotten through bad habits, accidents, and trauma. I found the work very, very powerful-yet subtle-and look forward to having more lessons with an Alexander instructor.

10/21/95

Tonight, I went to a tremendous Kecak performance. But there was a non-stop stream of people getting up to take flash photographs, and two children who talked, screamed, and played throughout the show. This reminded me of my time in Kauai where, even in Kalalau, helicopters buzzed overhead every fifteen to twenty minutes. It bugs me. I begin thinking that there really is no paradise. That no matter how distant my travel destination, there will always be the encroachment of some bothersome element. I wish I could block out the negative and only see the positive. So far, that’s not the case.

10/23/95

I awoke at six, as I have been doing for some time now, and went for a long morning swim. The ocean was like glass. The perfect temperature; not too cold, not too hot. Later, I chartered a boat and went out to the middle of the ocean (well, certainly not the middle, but out there, somewhere) and snorkeled on two different reefs. The coral was abundant and diverse. A living organism. Thousands of fish of different varieties surrounded me and feasted on the plankton. What a feeling to be amidst nature’s creatures, watching them in their environment and, hopefully, not interrupting their daily routine. And what irony that I would return to the bungalows and have fish for lunch.

10/28/95

I’ve been sensing that “I’m done with this” feeling lately. Like a relationship that dissolves once the preliminary masks have been shed. Now I see the another face of Bali. The tourist is simply a means of generating income. Humanity is reduced to commerce. I’m ready for new textures. (Ironic I should be writing the lyrics to a song called “Wherever You Go, There You Are.)

The rainy season has begun, taking away the simple pleasure of sitting by the pool doing nothing. All the paddies and paths are flooded. I’ve written enough. The power is out, the fan has stopped functioning, the heat is oppressive, and the powerbook battery is low...I’m outta here!

10/30/95

Experiencing an earthquake in Pemuteran (northern Bali) and seeing numerous automotive accidents has had a strange effect on me. I’m trying to understand what it means; why I must face death-and near death-so often. Is my old self dying?
The two minor accidents I’ve had while staying in Bali have been to my left leg. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, perhaps not. Am I thinking too much again? Or is my linear, logical, cerebral side finally being forced to minimize its exertion on my being? The right side of my neck has been sore for almost two weeks. Is this the result of the body work I’ve received. Or am I activating my emotional side and forcing the body to adjust, accordingly? Maybe, after all is said and done, it really is sore muscles, and my musings nothing more than intellectual, metaphysical masturbation.

11/3/95

Made, who works at the reception, and who is the most genuine and friendly of the reception personnel, commented yesterday that he thought it bizarre how westerners are so drawn to sunbathing. He said he’d asked some women why and that they responded that they wanted darker skin. He says most Balinese want lighter skin.

Not one (and I do mean not a single one) of the Balinese I’ve seen wears prescriptive glasses. (An optometrist would starve here.) I’ve only seen one medical clinic, and happened upon it purely by chance, late one night. From what I’ve seen, this culture is not as captivated with medicines, drugs, doctors, as other parts of the world. But television will change all that. It’s already begun. Indonesian advertisements promote products of western origin. Deodorants, hygiene aids, they’re all represented. (It’s interesting to note which companies have enough money to pay for advertising: Pharmaceuticals!) It’s only a matter of time before the brainwashing is complete, and the Indonesians are wondering if their breaths are minty fresh, and their clothes white and disinfected.

Entry #1, originally added on Wednesday 6th June, 2012

"The Adventures of King Prawn" (Journal Entries, October 1995)

10/15/95

Is extensive traveling nothing more than an escape? If it is, is that wrong? Is anything wrong? Suddenly, everything has been rendered neutral. No highs or lows. No matter what the environment, Paul remains Paul. So, has anything changed? Well, yes. Facing a clean palette of people and situations, I’m not reminded of who it is that I’m supposed to be. I can be anyone I want. The reflections are fresh. Now I see interesting people, versed in culture, who are brave enough to forge out into the world seeking experience.

Today, Gayle and I went to see a Balian (the Balinese version of a witch doctor, or white magic healer) named Tsokorda Rai. Though it took some time for the bemo driver to locate his house, it was well worth the trip. Tsokorda’s new wife, in her twenties, pregnant with their latest child, led us in. Tsokorda was in his sixties, and had a cigarette dangling from his mouth (how good it is to discard many of the western ideas of what a health practitioner should look like!). His treatment area was outside, under a thatched roof. Numerous patients were cross-legged on the floor. Some were waiting to see Tsokorda, some were accompanying the patients, some just seemed to be there. Tsokorda had a patient sit at his feet, facing away from him, and activated various accupressure points. From the expression on the patient’s face, this treatment was painful. On occasion, Tsokorda would chew various herbs and spices (which were growing on the compound) and then spit the mixture on the head or back of the person he was treating. At one point, he mixed a large bowl full of ingredients which he strained off into a glass. The patient was then asked to forcefully snort the dark liquid. He did, and it just about knocked him over. As he treated patients, Tsokorda continuously explained his procedures, or what the patient need do. Some patients later, Tsokorda motioned for Gayle to sit at his feet. He sprayed some masticated goo on her face and back and performed some chiropractic adjustments. That was it. It was my turn. As I sat at the Balian’s feet, he did some accupressure on my shoulders and then instructed me to lie on my back. Taking a small stick from the ground, he began to push it into the small toe on my left foot. The pain it produced was indescribable. He said that this represented the kidney, that I think too much, and that I must integrate my chakras. (Right, is that all?) To lessen the pain on my toe, he suggested I focus both eyes on one ear; to meditate on the ear and nothing else. I did, and the additional stabs were less painful. He continued, saying that it was important for me, for my life, to do nothing for a while, that I was fine and needed no therapy other than to relax.
As Gayle and I took the bemo home, I thought about the number of times I’ve been told to do nothing in the last few months. Another recurring concept has been that of the integration of the chakras. Tsokorda said I needed to balance my chakras (as if I need to be told this!) in order to find clarity. (This brought back memories of Hawaii, where a pain in my right knee almost incapacitated me. I found that I was leaning to my right, favoring the injured knee. I became aware of how it felt normal to favor the knee. Had someone not brought it to my attention, I would probably still be walking that way today. But that moment opened my eyes, and everything has begun to change as a result.) I forced myself to be conscious of the way I walk, drive, talk, and perform the activities of a day. Though I usually drive with my left hand, I started driving with my right. When lying on my back, in bed, I would always lift my left knee, and lean to the right. Now I catch myself doing that and lift my right knee, instead. When speaking with people I used to always look into their left eye. I now focus on the right. I’m hoping that this conscious approach toward balancing my physical actions will integrate itself into my inner process. I’ve always known that I live too much inside my head, and that it is important to express from the heart. I’ve been using my left brain too much. That’s a fact. It’s time to give the right brain some time.

10/20/95

Interesting that I should be going through the process I’ve been going through, lately; that is, the one dealing with left and right. Gayle had told me that she is an instructor in the Alexander Technique; a healing therapy I’d heard of but knew little about. Today, she gave me what is called a “lesson” or “session” in the Alexander technique. The technique deals with realigning the body. I laid on the ground (a table would have suited both of us much better) and she made slight adjustments to the positioning of my head, torso, and limbs. This was unlike massage or accupressure. It was more a gentle nudging of the body, reminding it of where it used to be, but had forgotten through bad habits, accidents, and trauma. I found the work very, very powerful-yet subtle-and look forward to having more lessons with an Alexander instructor.

10/21/95

Tonight, I went to a tremendous Kecak performance. But there was a non-stop stream of people getting up to take flash photographs, and two children who talked, screamed, and played throughout the show. This reminded me of my time in Kauai where, even in Kalalau, helicopters buzzed overhead every fifteen to twenty minutes. It bugs me. I begin thinking that there really is no paradise. That no matter how distant my travel destination, there will always be the encroachment of some bothersome element. I wish I could block out the negative and only see the positive. So far, that’s not the case.

10/23/95

I awoke at six, as I have been doing for some time now, and went for a long morning swim. The ocean was like glass. The perfect temperature; not too cold, not too hot. Later, I chartered a boat and went out to the middle of the ocean (well, certainly not the middle, but out there, somewhere) and snorkeled on two different reefs. The coral was abundant and diverse. A living organism. Thousands of fish of different varieties surrounded me and feasted on the plankton. What a feeling to be amidst nature’s creatures, watching them in their environment and, hopefully, not interrupting their daily routine. And what irony that I would return to the bungalows and have fish for lunch.

10/28/95

I’ve been sensing that “I’m done with this” feeling lately. Like a relationship that dissolves once the preliminary masks have been shed. Now I see the another face of Bali. The tourist is simply a means of generating income. Humanity is reduced to commerce. I’m ready for new textures. (Ironic I should be writing the lyrics to a song called “Wherever You Go, There You Are.)

The rainy season has begun, taking away the simple pleasure of sitting by the pool doing nothing. All the paddies and paths are flooded. I’ve written enough. The power is out, the fan has stopped functioning, the heat is oppressive, and the powerbook battery is low...I’m outta here!

10/30/95

Experiencing an earthquake in Pemuteran (northern Bali) and seeing numerous automotive accidents has had a strange effect on me. I’m trying to understand what it means; why I must face death-and near death-so often. Is my old self dying?
The two minor accidents I’ve had while staying in Bali have been to my left leg. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, perhaps not. Am I thinking too much again? Or is my linear, logical, cerebral side finally being forced to minimize its exertion on my being? The right side of my neck has been sore for almost two weeks. Is this the result of the body work I’ve received. Or am I activating my emotional side and forcing the body to adjust, accordingly? Maybe, after all is said and done, it really is sore muscles, and my musings nothing more than intellectual, metaphysical masturbation.

11/3/95

Made, who works at the reception, and who is the most genuine and friendly of the reception personnel, commented yesterday that he thought it bizarre how westerners are so drawn to sunbathing. He said he’d asked some women why and that they responded that they wanted darker skin. He says most Balinese want lighter skin.

Not one (and I do mean not a single one) of the Balinese I’ve seen wears prescriptive glasses. (An optometrist would starve here.) I’ve only seen one medical clinic, and happened upon it purely by chance, late one night. From what I’ve seen, this culture is not as captivated with medicines, drugs, doctors, as other parts of the world. But television will change all that. It’s already begun. Indonesian advertisements promote products of western origin. Deodorants, hygiene aids, they’re all represented. (It’s interesting to note which companies have enough money to pay for advertising: Pharmaceuticals!) It’s only a matter of time before the brainwashing is complete, and the Indonesians are wondering if their breaths are minty fresh, and their clothes white and disinfected.

Entry #2, originally added on Thursday 7th June, 2012

The Harmonica Convergence

I was living in Los Angeles when I started hearing of the Harmonic Convergence. I was told of its importance by some people who professed to be extraterrestrials. They lived in Sedona, and stressed that I would have to be there at that time to effectuate positive change in my life. When Kathleen, my girlfriend, returned from Europe, I told her the story of the E.T.s and Sedona. I expressed my desire for us to go there for the Harmonic Convergence.

"The Harmonica what?" A brief summary of all I had read and had been told on the subject followed.
"And you want us to go where for this?"
"Sedona, Arizona."
"Is that where they landed?"

Our discussions became increasingly difficult. I found our perspectives growing further and further apart. Kathleen presented excellent examples of a skeptic's point of view but I was so caught up in my fervor and excitement that I dismissed her arguments as close minded. In retrospect, I see that she was much more centered than I was. Nonetheless, Kathleen agreed to go. She loved me unconditionally. If she had thought that it would benefit our relationship she would have invited the E.T.s to a Tupperware party.

We arrived in Sedona five days before the Harmonic Convergence and stayed at Avanisha's (one of the E.T.s) house. What followed was so painful that I still have problems dredging it up in order to write about it. We were doing a lot of "processing." "Processing," is the word the New Age movement has adopted to describe the often difficult and painful analysis of deep-rooted emotions. I didn't even notice the physical beauty of Sedona. We were too busy exploring our feelings and defending our points of view to be sightseeing. The discussions that Kathleen and I had had when she returned from Italy had now elevated into arguments. She was not buying this mumbo-jumbo stuff. When Avanisha would speak of unexclusive, unconditional love, Kathleen would respond that it was Avanisha's inability to love one person that had created this belief system. This led to tears and more arguments. Avanisha took us to hilltops and told us about their magnetic force. She asked us to join hands and focus on our energies. Though I felt foolish, and Kathleen thought the idea laughable, we played along. I felt nothing. Kathleen felt nothing. Things were not getting any better.

The house we were staying in was rented by Avanisha and three of the other E.T.s. who were in Los Angeles for a few days. We decided to do some mushrooms in an attempt to break down walls that seemed insurmountable. The walls remained, the sensations were slightly different. That evening the E.T.s in Los Angeles called and Avanisha told them that we had taken mushrooms. This was the first time that she had ever told them of her indiscretions with drugs. All hell broke loose. Kathleen and I looked at one another and wondered what had happened to the unconditional love we had heard so much about.

The next morning the E.T.s who had been in Los Angeles returned and more anger was unleashed. The day was full of arguments, tempers, threats, and emotional outbursts. I couldn't rationalize this amount of pain and suffering emanating from a group of individuals who gave workshops on "co-creating Heaven on Earth." I realized that I was through with this particular experience, that I didn't want to be in Sedona for the Harmonic Convergence, and that I certainly didn't want to stay with the E.T.s an hour more. I called the airlines and we left the following morning.

Entry #3, originally added on Thursday 7th June, 2012

Vinkaya

I decided to drive north to San Fransisco to see a friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in five years.  Upon arriving at Steve's house, I was told that he was now called Vinkaya.  I didn't know what to think about the name change, but repeated the bizarre word to myself a couple of times so that it would sound somewhat natural when I said it.  I entered Vinkaya's house and found it buzzing with electrical energy.  The living room was empty except for six large metal beams.  These beams were made up of pyramids connected horizontally, and one on top of the other.  They were each about seven feet tall and were connected to some kind of power generator.  Within the pyramids were suspended crystals.  I came close to one and held my hands about six inches away.  The hair on my arms and head began to rise.  This was strange.  I wondered how a person could have changed so drastically in three years.

I spent two days with Vinkaya.  He was a wonderful host and wasn't militant about his beliefs.  He said that he was now doing rebirthing for a living and offered to rebirth me.  I had only heard about rebirthing once in the past and had somehow associated it with alfalfa munching, bearded, toga clad types dunking acolytes into a river and talking about the second coming.  There was no river in the immediate vicinity.

Where would we do this?" I asked, while simultaneously trying to think of a way to get myself out of the situation. Vinkaya said that he could do the process in his room and that it would only take about an hour. I was hesitant, but I knew Vinkaya from his days as Steve, a creative artist, and with this bond of our past friendship in mind, I decided to give rebirthing a try. Vinkaya took me into his room and had me lie on his bed. The bed was encompassed by a huge copper pyramid. He put on some soft meditative music that sounded like Tibetan bells with people chanting. He then placed a crystal on my chest, one in each hand, and one on my forehead. He asked me to become aware of my breathing and to inhale and exhale solely from my mouth. He coached me to insure that my breathing was rapid and continuous.

"Isn't this hyperventilation?" I asked.  He told me to keep breathing.  After what seemed an interminable amount of time my arms and legs started to tingle as if they were falling asleep.  Though it was a peculiar sensation that was neither uncomfortable nor enjoyable, my compulsive nature decided to continue with even greater zeal.  I kept up the breathing technique and soon every inch of my body was vibrating.  The vibrations were pronounced and pulsated at a high frequency.  Vinkaya asked me how I was feeling, and if there were any issues or traumas that I wished to discuss.  My mouth was extremely numb and I found it difficult to move my lips sufficiently to formulate words.  With some effort I replied that I felt great and that I couldn't think of anything specific .  He said that at this point many people begin to cry, relive past lives or crises, and often work through some pretty intense stuff.  I was almost sorry that I didn't have any turmoil available for examination. I wanted the complete purge but Vinkaya, sensing my constipation of emotion, began to lead me back to the everyday vibrational state.

 I returned from San Fransisco in a state of confusion.  Part of me felt drawn to explore some of the New Age practices while the rest of me remained skeptical, and preferred to avoid any conflict with my socially ingrained belief systems.

Entry #4, originally added on Thursday 7th June, 2012

The Rub

 I was invited to a New Age get-together by some people who liked my music, but whom I'd never met.  I arrived and was introduced to Michelle and Peter, the hosts of the party.  They had known one another from their days together in an ashram called Kripalu.  (An ashram is a retreat oriented place where people dress in unnoticeable attire, learn yoga, meditation, massage, and generally focus on the world within.)  

They were warm and loving people and knew how to have fun.  We ate and partied into the night.  The hours passed, and only Peter, Michelle, and I were left in the house.  I was reclining on a couch.  Michelle was in the kitchen for a refill of coconut cream soup.  Peter walked into the living room with a bottle of lotion in one hand.  He sat down at the other end of the couch and without saying a word, picked up one of my feet and began to rub it.  I had never had a foot massage before.  But even more importantly, if I had been rubbed in the past, it had been with women, and with the unspoken understanding that the rub would culminate in sex.  Having a man I'd known for less than eight hours start massaging my foot was a bit of a shock.  My first instinct was one of discomfort.  Why was he rubbing my foot?  What did it mean?  Did he think I was gay?  Did he expect me to go to bed with him?  Was there a polite way to extract my foot from his grasp?  These thoughts and others rushed through my mind, but before I could verbalize any words of escape, I felt myself being taken on a journey of sensations.  His hands were strong and sensitive and I felt the effect throughout my body.  He applied  lotion and continued to rub my foot.  This was the closest thing to great sex that I had ever experienced, and it was being administered by a man.  I was confused.  As he massaged my foot I found myself moaning in pleasure.  He then silently took the other foot in his hands and began the process anew.  The massage was slow, sensual, and therapeutic.  Over an hour had passed since he had started the massage and I was now completely incapable of getting up, talking, or doing anything but reveling in the feelings I had just experienced.  A few hours later I peeled myself off the couch and managed to drive myself home.  During the drive I occupied myself by thinking how I would explain this new experience to my colleagues at work. 

Entry #5, originally added on Thursday 7th June, 2012

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