My eyes opened. I was lying in bed. I could feel it, the intensity of the pins and needles up and down my body. I swore. It was still happening. I reached out for the side table for some paracetamol but pulled back immediately, “No, what if it affects me more?,” I looked at the clock on the bedside, 2 am, I closed my eyes and tried to think of anything but this constant pins and needles.
It had started off as a wonderful birthday. I was biting into my Herring Sandwich, sat at the edge of the canal walls. It was a different kind of view. Striking, in its own way. They looked a lot like cartoon houses, so narrow and so tall, all it missed was bright colours, various shades of purple and orange. Remember Hey Arnold? Yeah, it was like that.
People in boats floated past, waving and cheering at the people on either side of the water. “Whoa, don’t fall,” Sunny said, two beers in hand, he came and sat down beside me. We had been to see the windmills, the day before. It was a cute, scenic village, where cheese, chocolates, and, wooden clogs were made locally. We could smell the chocolate and cheese as soon as we entered. We also had the opportunity to sample the variety of cheese and chocolates. In fact, we were very systematic about it. “To the right, to the right,” Sunny directed, as everyone else was queuing to their left, we had already sampled about half the chocolates and cheese from our right. People soon realised and followed us, forming two queues then. Windmill village had been brilliant. We wore wooden clogs, as uncomfortable as they were, they looked pretty. Anything with bright vivid colours always looks pretty to me.
That morning, we visited the flower market. There weren’t many flowers, but lots of seeds and bulbs on sale. We bought a few tulip bulbs and alliums. They had a variety of cacti too, all flowering up and looking pretty. Sunny bought me a beautiful bouquet too. Mixture of sunflowers and other vividly coloured flowers, I love sunflowers. My favourite!
We had decided that afternoon we would eat Momos. We came upon a Tibetan restaurant in the heart of the red light district (RLD). I could not wait. I had my favourite flowers, and now my favourite food. It was turning out to be a great birthday indeed!
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the food here so great. Even the Momos, my favourite food in the whole world, didn’t taste right. I struggled to find good food. A friend had recommended this place Everything on a stick, and we went there one night. It was perhaps the best I was going to get food wise in this city.
What it lacked in food, it made up for in other things. One such thing was lots of good-looking people. This city had plenty of tall, good looking men, and they seemed intelligent as well. They spoke at least four or five different languages and everyone spoke English. Language and communication was not a problem here. For people who are into their ‘coffees’ it made up for it with all the abundance of coffee shops, and off course its famous red light district (RLD).
I was curious off course and so we headed to the RLD. On either side of the canals, through glass windows, you could see pretty girls, clad in skimpy dresses or lingerie. They stood, posed, gave a sultry look to onlookers. Men walked out or walked in through the glass doors. A few hours of ‘passion’ for them, and good money for the girls, I suppose. We went into a dingy little place for a ‘live’ show. I don’t know what I was expecting, something sexy, and something that would get you all hot and bothered. We got our drinks and took our seats. The curtains opened on stage. Indeed it was a live show. All kinds of things. Solo acts, couples, groups, everything. Even audience participation. Yet there was nothing sexy about it, instead, I had goose bumps at how grimy it seemed.
It was last night. After walking through the city, and seeing a lot of R rated stuff, we had decided to visit the coffee shops. I had never had one of those ‘coffees’ before. Once, I had tried, but choked on the smoke instead. This time, I decided on a cake. “Hi, it’s my first time,” I said. “I need you to give me something not too harsh.” The guy behind the counter took out a mini cupcake. “You can have the whole thing, it’s perfect for first timers,” he said, “Wait about an hour or so though, for it to take effect.” I paid and thanked him. We sat outside, and I broke the cake in half. Too scared to try the whole thing. “I can’t do it all,” I said and passed the other half to Sunny.
“Geez chill, he said the whole things, nothing’s going to happen,” Sunny tried to reassure me. But no, I stuck to my half and he had the other half. We went around bar hopping. During my second drink is when it hit me. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I felt it. The same intense poke, that I was feeling right now as I lay awake. My father had said it takes you to two extremes; you are either excessively joyful, or excessively paranoid. For me it was Paranoia.
People are watching me! I am going to look so clumsy. They are going to know I have just had one. Omg, it was all too overwhelming. “I want to go home,” I cried. Sunny looked at me surprised, “What?” It was only 5 in the evening. He surely thought I was jesting. “I want to go home,” I cried again. “Are you serious?” he asked again, incredulously. “Yes,” I almost shouted, “I want to go home, I said, let’s go.” He got up to head to the loo. “No, No, Don’t leave me,” I heard myself. “I need to go though,” he responded. “I am sorry, I can’t let you leave me,” I said, trying to be defiant.
We walked back, I remember, and all this time I was very conscious of my surrounding. As soon as we reached our room, I got into bed. It was a safe place. I closed my eyes.
My eyes opened. I was lying in bed. I could feel it, the intensity of the pins and needles up and down my body. I swore.