As a traveler, there are a few disadvantages of having an Indian passport, which ranks 76th in the world in terms of visa requirements, which actually means, Indians do not really have an easy access to many borders. Naturally, visa always became one of the important factors in choosing my next destination. In addition, the amazing scheme of work holiday visa in Australia, New Zealand and many such countries, does not apply to Indian Passports. As such earning some money in Australia for a few months before coming back to Asia (as many travelers do) was out of question.
But that being said, Indian travelers do enjoy certain privileges. First, there aren’t many of them and secondly, at least in Asia, Bollywood is quite popular.
And surprisingly, the world outside is aware of the tightly-woven culture in India. They very well understand the dilemma that this generation of Indian youth is going through, right halfway through the Cultural Revolution. So, more often than not, I did get a special treatment from the locals and the travelers alike!”- an excerpt from the notes, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, July 2014
We had been on Gili T for over two weeks now. And our routine was set with a heavy brunch at one of the breakfast places near the night market and a whole day at Mengong. Today was no different!
Rob was gone, but we had found new friends at the reggae bar, a whole community of travelers! So as usual, as the sound of Namaj echoed through the island, Finn and I walked along the swimming pool and then into the common room of Bale Sasak, where a German hippie was watching the CNN. The four helpers were sitting in a corner with a couple of guitars and a makeshift instrument made from a plastic rod to which bottle caps had been nailed.
“My friend, you no try musroom yet?” one of them asked with a strum.
I considered a moment. It wasn’t a bad idea.
I have always been curious about the psychedelic drugs, especially ever since I read about Steve Jobs recommending LSD. I have always wondered, how they exactly affect our ever so powerful mind.
While on the road, as expected, I had many encounters with the herb that has found its way throughout the human history, whether for recreation or rituals. But I had always stayed away from any other kinds of drugs, though, the opportunities were a plenty!
But now in this little piece of paradise, the nature knocked on my inquisitive mind’s door once again, offering me something new to try.
And when our hostel owner mentioned that the people on the island find these mushrooms by following the cows, my interest in them soared even further. No wonder, the cows seem to be the most chilled out animals, was my thought.
While the magic mushrooms fitted in my ‘completely natural’ rule, they were also, in fact legal in Indonesia. Was it intentional or if it was a flaw in the law, I am not sure, but the crux was trying mushrooms was safer here, than in most of the countries in the world.
“How much?” I enquired.
“Now no rain! So less musroom. So expensive. But I give you cheap. Seventy thousand for one person”
Seventy thousand meant just under five dollars a person. While for almost first six months, I had stuck to my 15 dollars a day budget, after losing my netbook and hence the track of my expenses, now I decided to let go and splurge a little. After all, I did deserved a holiday from the hardcore traveling.
And so, as the fellow kept the guitar down and walked out of the hostel, we took our seats next to the German.
“This is all bullshit” he muttered as the reporter went on about the situation in Iraq. “Americans!”
“I don’t understand this. All this world politics…all’s bullshit” the guy said shaking his head.
The German looked to be in his thirties, with the whole body tattooed in different ink. His hair had been pulled back tightly and now, he was stroking his golden beard. A few moments passed and the German began to change the channels, before he finally settled down on HBO that was showing Real Steel.
“You live in the dorm?” Finn asked.
“Yes, but I was out many nights” he replied with a wry smile.
“Now we go to a bar on the northern side of the island. You want to come?”
“After the mushrooms?” he asked.
“Yes after the mushrooms” I replied.
After giving it a thought, and probably not finding anything else to do, he agreed to join us.
“My name’s Benno by the way” he introduced, extending his hand.
“Never seen an Indian traveler before”
As the movie progressed, the helper returned with a black polythene bag. He walked up to us and held it out for our inspection. Inside, were two cones made from Banana leaf, each carrying a dozen or so little mushrooms.
“Now I make juice. Five minutes” he said and with that, disappeared behind the bar.
“Have you tried mushrooms before?” I asked Benno.
“Not a big fan” he replied as the mixer began the grinding noise.
Within a manner of few minutes, the helper returned with two cups full of dark greyish liquid.
I took my cup to see a foam settled on the surface.
“Bubble has more power. Drink bubble also!” the helper said, while the other three stared at us, with smiles that suggested conspiracy.
The drink tasted like horse piss (not that I have tried the horse piss, but my guess is that the both would taste rather similar), especially because the mushrooms had been mixed with Red Bull. It took us a while to empty our mugs without choking on it and a little while more, to finish off the bubbles that remained at the bottom.
“It tastes like shit man” Finn said, scowling. Immediately he reached for the pack of Marlboro on the center table and lit one.
I emptied my mug, walked out the main door and sat down on the stone stairs. I was waiting for the effect, when it hit me. Initial feeling was that of nausea and uneasiness, which I attribute more to the Red Bull than the mushrooms. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and opened them again.
And then, the visual effect started. The bougainvillea to the right was now extra pink and bright in the daylight, its flowers seemed to be breathing. Finn followed me outside too, shades over eyes, and looked around in amazement, cigarette dangling from his lips. He took a couple of puffs and tapped the cigarette. The ash fell to the ground slowly, revolving in the air like a swirling snow. I watched the little snow particles hit the ground as a local fellow passed on the empty street. He seemed to be staring at me, while I stared back.
I looked up to see the bright blue shade of the sky, cloudless, while the canopy of tree branches shone green. The grey stone wall glimmered in the sun as well.
A group of backpackers arrived soon, talking too loudly, looking around, probably in search of their guesthouse. They too gave me a long stare, while I avoided the gaze and went back inside.
Inside, the four helpers seemed happier than usual, as they stared at the TV, their eyes distant, broad smiles pasted on their faces.
I was evaluating this psychedelic effect on my brain, when one of them stood up and clapped his hands.
“Why so serious my friend. Happy Happy. Eat musroom, Happy Happy!”
They must have had a little portion for themselves too, I thought.
Benno looked around at us all, his lips curled in a smile. He shook his head and got up to his feet.
“I will hit the shower. Maybe after, we can go to that bar” he said.
“Sure” I replied, trying to sound normal as my own voice echoed in my ears.
He shook his ahead again, concealing the laugh, trying to act a little uptight for the occasion.
“See you in some time” I added.
The four guys were laughing uncontrollably now, at every little thing. Someone turned off the TV, while Finn pulled out another cigarette. A couple of newcomers at the guesthouse walked out of their private rooms and started to pick the cycles for the day out. I was finding it all too noisy and so, I walked around the bar, to the swimming pool and sat down in a lounge chair.
Bale Sasak had four wooden bungalows apart from our dorm and a couple of private rooms. These wooden bungalows with roundish roofs looked extra-ordinarily pretty that day, with a blue sky in the backdrop.
The chlorinated water of the pool was turquoise and the tiles below swayed. Distant melodic Namaj could be heard from a mosque nearby. It was the time of Ramadan, when the locals fasted during the day and touched the food only after sundown.
“Oye! You know Sahruk song? Now we play sahruk song” One of the guys called out from the bar, as he cleared the dishes off the bar table. He took the guitar that was resting against a pillar and sat down in a chair, while the others gathered around him.
I always knew the craze of Bollywood in South East Asian countries, but to see these guys play Kuch Kuch Hota Hai so well, was quite something. I added to the vocal wherever they missed out on a word or two, but mostly, they did a splendid job, that included an accurate impression of SRK’s twitchy eyebrows.
Finn did not understand much of this music or the language, but he seemed to be enjoying it, with his shades on, feet on the center table, another cigarette lit.
As the singing stopped, we heard a cycle bell ring and Enrique walked in, pushing his bike through the gate.
“You guys ready?” he asked, in his typical child-like voice, his hair and beard unkempt, his eyes full of enthusiasm. “Man, I am so tired of making pancakes, I almost started a fire today” he added, slumping in a chair.
Enrique was one of the fellows we had met at Mengong, another Spanish! He had come out traveling like the rest of us, but had struck a really good deal at a hostel on the island, in which, now he owned 25%.
“There is one more German coming with us” Finn said, his eyes staring at the wall behind the bar. The faded yellow wall had an intricate pattern like a spider web and at that moment, it looked three dimensional.
“What you guys had mushrooms?” the Spaniard asked looking around.
“Why didn’t you wait for me!”
“Oh you want? We have one more cone” one of the guys said, springing to his feet.
And so, with Benno still in the shower, the third mug of mushrooms was made and handed to Enrique.
“Man it tastes like shit” he said, emptying it at one go.
The time had slowed down, the nauseous feeling was gone and the day was as beautiful as ever. So, when Benno finally joined us in the common room, I jumped to my feet ready to go! I was keen on exploring the island, while the effect still lingered.
“So where’s this place?” Benno asked, as we pushed the paddles of our bikes and hit the road.
“Northern side of the island”
Usually, we would walk along the beach to reach the place, but Enrique knew a way through the inside parts of the island and we decided to let him lead the way.
A horse cart passed by us, the hooves of the brown mare echoing off the hard street as the chicken scattered around. We passed through narrow lanes of the little village that was lined by traditional houses, and at this time, the locals were busy with the morning chores.
The sun was sharp, but the breeze was pleasant. The numerous bougainvillea swayed the pink flowers, while tall palms rocked with the breeze, their shadows playing on the ground. Further inside, the vegetation was varied and apart from the pink flowers, now there were bright yellow and white and purple, amidst the green tinge all around the little houses.
As we pushed on, we reached the central part of the island that was scarce of any civilization and instead now we took a trail that ran through a jungle of swaying palms. The sun played hide and seek with us for a while, before we came out into open again.
The trail turned and twisted through an empty grassland for a while, where cows chewed on and looked at us solemnly. The birds sang and the breeze rustled through the grass. For a moment a big cloud hid the sun, giving us a little respite, a shadow. And yet, the world was still beautiful and bright. The contrast in the nature was perfect. It was as if someone had turned the HD screen on.
The three of us were completely lost in the nature and surroundings, while Benno too seemed to be enjoying himself now, even without the mushrooms.
Further on, the trail led us on through a little thicket where the tropical trees gathered around us, before finally coming out onto the beach. I got off the bike, stepping on to the warm white sand as the deep blue ocean dazzled in the sun. Rinjani stood massive and impregnable as always, while a handful of clouds were marshmallows in the sky.
We started to push the bikes through the ankle deep sand towards the little hut made of wood and tree branches.
“How far is it still?” Benno asked as sweat trickled down his forehead.
“Just around that corner” I replied, as the little hut with hammock came into the view.
The place always looked different during the broad daylight. And right now, only its occupants were the rastas and two goats, who roamed around like pets, wagging their tails.
The rasta with the longest dreadlocks sat in a corner on a stool, playing a nice melody on the guitar, his eyes closed, a cigarette held between the two fingers of his right hand, currently on the strings. The other guys were watching Tom and Jerry and at our approach, waved lazily.
Aphotyo, the guy with afro hair was sitting at the bar, trimming his hair with a small scissor. As I walked up to him, he put down the scissor and opened the fridge door.
“Thank you!” I said, taking a Bintang.
“You came here early, Aniket” he said, as others claimed their beers one by one.
“Yeah. Others not here yet?”
“No, maybe after sometime”
We took our places as Tom was hit by a baseball bat.
“Man Tom’s always getting screwed eh!” Enrique muttered.
Benno borrowed my diary and began to crush the weed, but no sooner had he finished making it fine, a goat jumped on the table and began to lick the stuff off the table. We stared at the creature in amazement as the rastas began to laugh. Benno was the quickest to react as he snatched the diary from under the goat’s nose. The goat now turned its attention to the bottle of Bintang. Using its mouth, it tilted the bottle just enough to let the beer flow smoothly in its belly, but not letting a single drop spill to the ground.
“What is this man” Enrique was on his feet, his eyes wide with disbelief.
“Billy, Billy” Aphotyo shouted from behind the bar and the goat jumped off the table, and ran around the bar to the afro-haired. “Billy like weed and tobacco and beer” he said stroking the goat’s neck.
As the travelers began to file in the little shack, the TV was turned off and instead now, the musical instruments were being tuned.
“You are here already!” came the sing song voice and in came the Spanish girls: the happy go-lucky Jamila, her sister Nataly and the pretty eyed Catalina. But this time they had a few more travelers with them.
“Where’s Albert?” I asked.
“He’ll come after some time…he stopped by for some food” Cata replied.
As the buzz in the little Mengong increased, I started to feel disoriented of my surroundings. My mind was numb and my body heavy. So I sat on a wooden bench and looked around at the interesting interiors of the structure, as someone gently patted on my back.
“You from India?” the voice asked.
It was a woman that looked to be in her forties. She was a friend of the rastas and had brought lunch for them. Her eyes wide, she always seemed to smile.
“I am not stoned yet” she said to a Slovak girl sitting nearby who looked as confused as me.
The woman’s voice was high pitched and she herself seemed to be over-excited. Her conversation had no particular pattern and it jumped from one subject to another, without any link.
“I go to Lombok for Ramadan” she said to the general population, her left hand on her hip. And then, her attention wandered to Finn. “Ohhhh, you stay here? For how long”
It took me a moment to realize that the places had been switched. I was not on the wooden bench anymore. Finn was sitting on a wooden block staring towards the ocean, Barbara (a Croatian) on another, her hands on her knees, while I had claimed the throne like piece of log, an extremely comfortable one.
“You have a baby face” the wide eyed woman told me with even wider eyes.
Was it the mushrooms, I cannot stay, but I found it hard to stare at those eyes for too long. And each time I responded, I avoided the eye contact.
“If police catch you, they don’t arrest you” she said seriously. Then she took a puff from a joint, that seemed to be making the rounds within the group and turned her head to Barbara. “He is not like Indian, no?”
I tried to rehearse the conversation in my head, when the topic jumped to Ramadan again.
“This is Ramadan. My sister is at home eating nothing. I am here, smoking and drinking” she said with a serious expression.
My feet took me out towards the little hut. It was an opportune moment as the hammock was unoccupied. I hopped onto it and took a sip of beer, as the others joined me outside. The rastas had tuned their instruments now and were out in the open too.
As the music started, Enrique began his dance and almost tripped over a piece of wood.
“How many times do you fall in a day, man?” someone said.
And then he told us his stories of clumsiness. The story where the 14 year old Enrique tried to ride a motorbike and ended up taking it down a hill. The story, where the grown up Enrique crashed a wedding, literally, when he fell on to the buffet table. And then the recent incident at Mengong in which he fell on the rack and sent the little corals flying in all directions.
Slowly, the afternoon wore on and the sun began its initial slow dive towards the west. Seagulls played freely over the surface of the ocean while we talked and laughed and sang.
All throughout, Benno remained quiet and reluctant to speak much. He always maintained his stern face. But then somebody opened up the topic of traveling in India.
“What can I say about India man! I love the country” he said with a sudden surge of excitement, as everyone else fell silent.
“I went to India, like every backpacker. I thought, India is tough and I want to do it. And when I reached Mumbai, and came into the city, I was fucked. What the fuck’s this, I said. Noise, dirt…people shitting on the side of the street and cows. What the fuck man. And so many people. And at train station, they pushed me and stared at me……fuck…I went to my hotel room and stayed inside for two days. I couldn’t take it” He gave a shudder at the memory and resumed. “I was so excited before arriving in India. I wanted to stay for a long time and explore the country-side and wanted to see Varanasi….and Kerala. And in my room, I was already checking the next flight out.”
“Hawww!” I heard someone exclaim.
“Yes. But then I thought, I came all the way, with big plans. And I was running away. What I saw there, the crowd, the pushing, the noise, the garbage…it was India. I was in India and I wanted to feel it. I decided…I cannot go back, I cannot run away. So that day, I took a walk through the city, and you know…consumed all the intensity”
The rastas stirred it up, while the newcomers sat huddled around them, their faces joyous and worry-less, their bodies swaying to the music, their voices joining in the chorus.
Stir it up, little…darling
Stir it up, come on baby…
Stir it up…..
They had found the paradise too, just like us. And just like us, their lives would revolve around Mengong for next few days.
“Then I fell in love with the country. I spent six months till my visa ran out. I love it, man!”
While he spoke, he had made a joint from the last rolling paper left with the group. Papers were quite a scarcity on the island. He studied the roll with a satisfied expression.
“You want to learn this, Aniket? This is how you make a fine joint! Bum Bum Bhole Nath!” he shouted, his hand raised, and a wide smile, that said, he was finally among friends.
In the front yard, the wide-eyed woman was now playing with a golden haired girl, who wore a green frock. She was the daughter of one of the rastas and seemed to carry an authority about her. She stomped her feet on the sand, directing Aphotyo to give her color book back, that had been hidden away.
With her color book gone, the golden haired daughter made the two Spanish sisters make a sand house with her. One was given the task of making a wall, while other began making a bed. When she came to have a look she wasn’t happy with the pillow. She was a strict teacher.
I was having a pleasant chat with Cata, which was interrupted due to the girl’s directive under which, Cata too, was forced into the labor. I was happy to remain uninvited, making notes on my phone, because footmarks became a common cause of a scolding and the workers were requested to use the small sand toilet instead of the real one. Considering the size of the toilet was smaller than their feet, they were in a big dilemma.
Finally the shower nozzle turned out to be the same size as the swimming pool. The real lamp hanging out of the wooden roof, became one for the sand house. That and of course the beach. As the finishing touches were being made, the workers were suddenly relieved of their tasks as their boss thought it would be a good idea to go to the beach, but without stepping on the sand house, of course.
It was the sunset time anyway and everyone followed this procession out on to the beach. As we slumped down on to the sand, the Spanish girls were forced to find a way to the place where the sun sets.
“It’s too far” we heard Jamila complain, as the little girl led them through the shallow water, tip-toeing on the sharp corals.
Our community now representing different nationalities, sat scattered on the beach, watching the sun go down, as the music came to our ears from behind.
The wind got stronger as Barbara, the Croatian with short blond hair, sat down next to me.
“I don’t want to leave this place” she said, watching the sun through her shades.
“No one wants to leave”
“This is so beautiful. This is a different life. My perspective has changed so much. I had some painful past, but that now seems like a different life. I don’t care about the past anymore”
“I wish this would never end…the music, the sound of the ocean, and the sunsets. You guys! I am so glad to have met all of you here”
The ball of fire kissed the ocean now, setting its ripples on fire. The marshmallow clouds still hung in the sky. They were the magic clouds, the wizard clouds…while I was a spectator. And that evening, they put on quite a spectacular show.
You can always make out shapes in the clouds, but may be it was the mushrooms that added in the details, the shades, the expressions on the silent faces.
I lay back on the sand, as a demon-shaped cloud, changed into an angel, her hands spread, eyes closed.
“Am I annoying you?” she asked.
“Oh no. I would tell you, if you do. I am known to be rude.”
“You on mushrooms?”
“I guess little disorientation is part of it”
“Forget disorientation. You don’t talk much to start with. But watching clouds while on mushrooms is an amazing experience!”
“Ah. I know now!”
Half the sphere had sunk now, while the other half peered at us over the orange colored horizon.
“What did your parents say when you decided to travel like this?” she asked after a while. “I’m sure in your culture it’s not simple”
“Initially, they weren’t happy…but now we are good. They thought I was giving away my career, my life. Like every Indian parents, they’re worried about my marriage”
“Ha! I knew it! Then?”
To our right in the little hut, Benno and Finn sat passing a joint among themselves, while Enrique danced on the music, his face full of concentration, perhaps trying hard to keep his balance this time. But something was always gonna happen.
“Aii..aii…shit… the coral is so sharp!” he shouted in pain, jumping on one foot. The other one was in his hands, as he checked for any traces of blood.
“What the fuck’s wrong with you man” Finn called out from the hut. “Sit down!”
“Sit down Enrique!” I added to the chorus.
“Ah no blood!” he said happily, but sat down on a wooden block nonetheless.
“What then?” I asked Barbara.
“You still are traveling”
“Of course I am” I said a little too aggressively. Talking about this, always took me on a guilt trip. “Well, I am selfish”
“No you are not”
“Yes, I am. I do not say it’s a bad thing to be selfish. You owe yourself a lot too. At least, I believe in that. And it’s not as if I will never return home. I just want to keep on traveling, with little breaks. I want to see the world. I believe, as humans, we do have right to see every corner of this planet. The borders, the nationalities, all are man-made, no? I do not believe in those.”
“You are becoming Marley” she said with a nudge in my ribs.
“My hair’s still short!”
The golden haired girl had given up chasing the sun, and now she was back on the beach, followed by the three Spanish girls, who looked relieved.
“It’s so nice to talk to someone, who shares my views and who understands me” Barbara said after a while.
It is true that while on the road, you will meet those who share your views. That’s the beauty of traveling.
“Where are you going next?” she asked.
“I wanted to keep going East…to the eastern islands. Komodo, Flores, Papua. But my money’s short. I started with only over six grand. I lost about 300 in Cambodia and lost my laptop, which means I can’t do any online work, at least for now. My second month here’s running out and South America seems difficult too. I guess, I will head back to Thailand and then Burma. Then go home, maybe…try to finish my book. And then travel again”
“Ah! I want to read that!”
“You have to buy it!”
There was a smack on the back of my head and I turned to see the smiling faces of Matthias and the Blonde Jesus.
“That hurt” I complained rubbing the spot.
“You guys missed the sunset” Barbara told the duo.
“Mat’s not well. So we waited for a while” Tim replied.
“My stomach is not good. The night market food” Mat put in.
“Oh then we will eat Gado Gado tonight. Its only vegetables, so good for stomach”
“You are the boss. You are the guide”
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing at the little instrument in Tim’s hand.
“Guitalele” Tim replied.
“Ok let’s play some music then”
The sun had set now and the last traces of its color faded away from the world. The stars started to twinkle meekly, while the incomplete moon looked silver.
A bonfire cackled merrily in the front yard and we gathered around it. Tim- the blonde Jesus, and Matthias, the members of a German band called Fistful of Flowers, Barbara from Croatia, who had found happiness on the road, when her personal life went through an upheaval, Enrique, who loved the place so much that he started a hostel there, Jamila, Nataly and Catalina, the three Spanish girls who were always up for smiles, and their quiet and simple friend Albert, Lenka, a yoga teacher from Czech Republic, Sofia, a half Dominican, half American diver with dreadlocks, who loved to talk about aliens and extra-terrestrial life, Finn, an Austrian who grew up far away from the city in the mountains of Austria, Tiana, another Spanish woman on a vacation with her family and with whom I could trade my knowledge about Mongolia in exchange of her knowledge about Bolivia, Tina, a Slovak, who was studying in Indonesia and then an additional member, Benno, a German travel veteran, who had been a complete mystery until now. And as I sat among them, six months down the line since I hit the road, I realized with a tinge of excitement, that my dream had come true. Hell, I was living it. Without much financial help, I had made it this far. And I was going to do everything possible to keep on going.
Though as usual, Mengong had run out beer, people stayed on. After all, Mengong was more than just a beer shack.
It was a gathering of those few like-minded travelers, who were ready to make the long walk to this part of the island, away from the shops and the ATMs. Within a week’s time we had become a tightly knit community that shared the time and the sunsets. We were those who helped each other out, without keeping any expectations. We were free of any prejudice or any religion. Happiness was a bigger priority for us than the money. This culture, I realized, was one of the strongest in this world of pain and war, anger and sadness.
“Don’t be so sad, you will come back here”, I told Catalina as she desolately stared at the boat that would be taking her to Bali. Finn and I had come to see her off.
Each one, who had been to Mengong found it hard to leave the island. It was an instant bond between a traveler and that shack. The shack was meant for them as much as they were made for it. And while for the rasta guys we may have seemed like any other travelers, for us, there was only one Mengong and soon, one by one, we would be saying goodbye to the place.
I pushed this unpleasant thought out of my mind as Cata gave a tight hug.
“You know you already hugged us twice” I said, earning a painful nudge in my ribs.
“Why don’t you stay back? You already left once and came back” Finn put in.
“Not this time. My trip is over……I can’t believe this” she shook her head.
It had been close to a month now on the island. The Rinjani that we used to stare at each evening, with a hope of reaching its peak one day, now finally stood conquered. And the three-day long, strenuous trek had strengthened the bond between us.
While the cold pierced our bones on the rim of the volcano, we had dreamt of being back at Gili T. But now, too soon, we were saying goodbye to one more member.
Cata waited till the last of the other passengers had been helped onto the boat, before giving us another hug and turning her back to the island.
The boat started to ride the waves at a slow pace, as a few backpackers on the deck waved goodbyes to their friends on the beach of white sand. Cata was nowhere to be seen among them and we decided to head back. The day looked overcast, and the people on the deck were in for some fun.
Yes, I was in a paradise. A paradise of white sand and the blue ocean, the rasta guys and the Mengong. While for a moment I felt that leaving the place would be difficult, as a traveler, I knew how to move on….and who knows, on my way, through the adventures and misfortunes, I might hit yet another….paradise!