The tattered grey tent is now by the highway a few kilometres west of Hassan town. The road was never good and is these days routed by monsoon rains. So we passed the makeshift shelter slowly, and I took in the old man who sat on a plastic chair just inside the entrance, his large frame, his unkempt silver hair, his age, his furrowed, frowning face.
Large colourful posters flanked the tent, harem scenes in landscape orientation, of lounging couples with wine in hand, fully clothed but shapely and ready (it seemed) for languid sex. Before me, a steady drizzle beat upon the tent, the posters, our car, and the world around us.
This establishment is a distant cousin of the snake-oil salesman's. It touts Himalayan herbs as ingredients for its healing agents and is focused on but one malady: on sexual problems of every kind, on performance and disease, as listed on a board in front.
I've never seen anyone go in, never seen one come out. Who would visit this nomadic hut and expose himself to passing eyes? That should explain the lines cutting deep into the old man's face and his blue gaze upon a grey, wet world. He could've perhaps added cures for toothache, headache, and stomach ache on his list. But I must hold such advice — that senior would know his business.
Still, it was a struggle for me to suppress the impulse to ask my driver to stop, so I could climb out and see this healer of secret maladies for a moment and tell him something else: a cure for his condition. "I know a few folks who use Nexito," I wished to say. "For depression. It's said it does the least harm to the libido — which you know how to manage anyway."
But I hate getting wet. I closed my eyes and leaned back into my own world.