In which Hellmantle reach
their houseboat on the lake below the fort
and beside the mosque
Srinagar, Kashmir Valley,
Jammu & Kashmir Province
After over 26 hours on the
road, Hellmantle was happy to have a place on the water with no neighbors.
Ramazon had given them the best one since there were no other travelers there.
The boat was just like a first-class car on a train. There was a long corridor
that joined a master bedroom and then a second room and the kitchen beside the
main entrance, and the dining room with the old carved ceiling fascia, wooden
chairs and rich colored rugs. The smoking room, with a desk and couches in the
corners with flowing drapes over lavish windows, opened onto the deck where
Hellmantle and D'Aqs sat out under a canopy from the rain. It face west
unobstructed by anything. Underneath the dozens of rugs in the houseboat, the
moaning squeals could be heard underfoot from water-warped wood. But it did
nothing to take away from its splendor. The other side of the river was just as
it had been 2000 years ago except for the mosque. The houseboat was a step back
a hundred years but the view unaltered since the time of Jesus and Thomas
journeyed here from the Holy Land.
They unpacked and then put
their feet up on the deck and drank a pot of Kashmiri tea. Hellmantle's senses
thawed from being in a bent and oppressed position on the bus so there was a
warm relaxing feeling that flooded him when he finally stretched out and
relaxed. Muscles twitched and joints fought off aches as he wondered if this
was really the place where Jesus and Thomas lived their last days.
"Perhaps Jesus traveled the
known world and thought Srinagar was what He thought heaven on earth is like?
And He chose to end his last years here on the lakeside in the Vale de
Ramazon appeared with the tea
ready. Hellmantle took it upon himself to ask Ramazon about picking up some
betel nut. He asked him if he could find some.
"Betel nut? What is that?"
Hellmantle had a plan B.
hashish legal here?"
is very good, no problem. Very popular here."
"Okay, I will buy it and
give you a big tip," he said to Ramazon.
"I have a friend. How much?"
"Enough for seven days for
two heavy smokers."
"I-" Hellmantle raised his
hand in protest.
"Say, ten days worth, two
big white guys, regular smokers of balsam for aches and pains. Big tip."
Over tea Hellmantle decided
to bring up the legend of Thomas and Jesus with Ramazon, who was serving them.
"So I recently read in a
history book that there is the tomb of Jesus and the tomb of Saint Thomas
located around here," he said, probing. "Have you heard of it?" Hellmantle and
D'Aqs casually sipped the tea, which was full of fruity bouquet.
"Ah, I don't know such as
these names." Ramazon smiled and nodded back. "But there is a Christian tomb in
Conyar in the old city." Ramazon's bloodshot eyes sparkled beside the
gas-lit light resting on the mantelpiece.
friend is Christian. He talk to you." He left them to their tea.
know it's March 1st in three days. And March 1st is the
day that the prophecy should be fulfilled, according to the Blonde
thought his birthday was Christmas," said D'Aqs, jousting with him.
is clear during the Council of Nicea in 325AD, many of the beliefs from Sol
Invictus were incorporated into the body of Christian thought."
Sun God cult. I'm aware of this.""
merging created a hybrid religion of new Christian thought and the Sol
Invictus beliefs. There are many examples scholars have identified, such as
the changing of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and making Jesus' birthday
on December 25th rather than its proper date of March 1st.
By the mid fourth century the machinery was pretty much in place for Nazarene
thought to be replaced by this new religion, that was a composite of new
thinking and old established thought. It helped its initial survival chances,
and no doubt it was a stroke of genius by Constantine to introduce a new
religion to Rome. But many knew that as he lay on his deathbed it was the
makings of a deathblow to adherents of Jesus' real message. Thus the Desposyni
"So we must find the buried
scrolls with His original thought and give it to the world."
"Couldn't have said it
better myself." With that being settled, and having finished their tea, Ramazon
returned with his friend Abid, who brought in his geiger. It was a large
water pipe, with a large rounded bowl and long metal tube coming out for the
smoker to puff. Their faithful Muslim friend had even brought them a few snub-nosed
bottles of beer, besides a tremendous chunk of very hard blonde hashish. They
must have been past their past due dates but they tasted just fine. Ramazon bit
off a chunk of hashish and packed the geiger. Then he pulled out a
wooden match, struck the flame and placed it horizontally across the bowl face
while he inhaled.
"I used to smoke but I don't
much anymore," he said, exhaling as he spoke. He pushed the long pipe to
Hellmantle so he inhaled in the same fashion as Ramazon. For D'Aqs, it wasn't
the first time he had been offered an indigenous narcotic from a local in a new
part of the world. He politely followed local custom.
Passing it back to Ramazon,
D'Aqs could see that he was a good man and a smart man and a man of grace.
Smoking with a native Kashmiri was an enjoyable affair. He told us that he grew
up in the mountains where his brother and sister still live, a place they could
visit on horseback. He told the cousins they had to see a sunrise from the
mountain peak in Kashmir. He was so serious when he said it that Hellmantle
promised himself he would make a sincere effort to see one.
With the sun down over the
river, D'Aqs shivered in the night breeze. Ramazon got up and returned with two
"May be a good idea," said
Hellmantle. "Wearing what Kashmiris wear when trekking in the mountains may
prevent unwanted inquiries."
"Then we can be sure we'll
be warm." The gray wool poncho fit perfectly and immediately made them both
"Easy to forget we're so
high up right here," said D'Aqs, mellowed and relaxed.
"It's the garment that will
enable me nurture my inner hearth in the cold climes of the highest mountains
in the world."
who had not said much, finally spoke thus:
we are too," said Hellmantle.
ask about St Thomas?"
Thomas made Christian communities here. He baptized the three kings and made
them the first bishops."
believe so. The King back then, Gondophorus, ordered Thomas to build a
magnificent palace. But when the king was away, Thomas spent the money on the
poor." He looked at Ramazon and then at Hellmantle.
Thomas told King Gondophorus that his palace was already built and waiting in
heaven. So Thomas was thrown in prison. But the King had a vision, which
changed his mind. He saw Thomas who told him that his treasure awaited him in
the afterlife. After that the pagan King was baptized and became a Christian."
you know where all this happened?"
know where Sao Thome tomb is. Yes."
you have any bicycles we can borrow?"
replied Ramazon. "We have some bicycles to lend you."