“Do you know the Wi-Fi password, brother?”

Fans spin lounging orbits overhead, long sweeping arcs breezing relief. It’s a few hours from noon and the heat is already real. A jungle heat, the kind that breeds. I’m wearing flip flops, sitting in an open-air restaurant somewhere on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

She’s a hippie, or a yogi, or a burner. Doesn’t really matter because they all kinda overlap nowadays. Some tattoos, some hair in dreads, some more sneaking out from under her arms.

“Brother”. Her choice of words shuts me up. Stops the reduction, the distancing extraction. I…

© 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The first time I laughed like Joaquin Phoenix in Joker was as my mother was dying, when her withering away had become an inevitability, an obscene, absurd unfairness; and all I had left to do was cry, to cry a cry that was not sadness but pain, a pain that begged to be emptied, ejected, until what remained was an involuntary mess of sound that defied classification.

The second time I laughed like the Joker was while sitting on my couch alone in my apartment. The negative thoughts that normally linger around our emotional peripheries had begun to take up…

The room is a square. Walls colored some shade of clay. There is a bed, two chairs, and a window. Sitting on the side table is a jug of water and some white Styrofoam cups. At the front of the room, under the television that does not work, a narrow counter with magazines and bags piled high.

I’m sitting on one of the chairs, looking across the room and out the window, watching the warm breath of brick buildings smoke up into the winter’s cold sky. …

The wake-up calls start at 5:30 am. It’s a soft guitar thumbing somewhere in the forest, or a drum, I can’t quite tell. Music from the Hindu festival in the neighboring village also seeps in through the trees, a relentless benediction remixing with the morning’s slow stirrings.

Birds checking-in; bristling leaves marking space like sonar. Despite my urban upbringing, it’s an outdoor alarm my internal clock somehow recognizes.

By 6:00 we’re all gathered in a loose circle, stretching and exchanging good morning hugs. A few minutes later we are split into groups: tree watering, kitchen prep, solar panel cleaning, zero-waste…

Saturday night in Bombay and I hit the streets.

Bombayites (or Mumbaikars depending on your allegiances) huddle around street chaat stalls for curried chickpea stew like Wall Street brokers at the bell. Sari-clad women sit on blankets eyeing out kilos of fruit on rusted iron scales. Barefoot rickshaw drivers fling their black and yellow 3-wheelers into negative space with indifferent aggression.

Rules are suggested; driving etiquette individually sanctioned. Bubbling streams of rickshaws, and scooters and me with a stupid smile on my face all weaving along a chaos that somehow manages to get somewhere. It’s the wild East. …

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

The urge is ancient. Primeval. Stowaway whispers shepherding genetic caravans. The same selfish seduction that persuaded conquest and culture, driving humanity’s gratuitous heights and necessary lows, forever calling to me across the plains…

Fuck that girl.
Fuck her.
Fuck her.
Fuck her.

It surrounds me, this beckoning. And whenever I manage a moment’s reprieve from the monkey-humping urges — a tiny meditative victory of nurture over nature — I turn on the TV or tap on my screen and am once again reminded of how I should consider you (and thus, myself).

It’s exhausting.

And it never stops.

Biological realities…


Warning: The following text contains scenes of criticism, scrutiny, and alternative ideas; potentially leading to uncertainty, introspection, and the re-evaluation of one’s personal connection to cherished ideals.

Note: The author tries to understand privilege. Realizes that the very writing of this is in some way due to a lighter life experience. And so hoping that you might consider him an ironically hip yet still authentic ally, feels it necessary to list the following credentials: Son to immigrant parents. Grandchild of Holocaust survivors. Has a father that speaks with an accent and has ethnic-looking mustache. Was formerly married to a visible…

Image: cnn.com

Somewhere in Miami, away from the water, past the gleaming neon towers and diabetic Cuban coffees; rolling by the airport, the car lots, the garish waving flags, the double-chin liposuction billboards adjacent Wendy’s drive-thru; clicking through booming Reggaeton beats and end-times AM talk radio prophesy, witnessing and absorbing, enveloped and altered by, a real-world menagerie of caricature and stereotype and cliché — there I sat, in a cookie-cutter corporate building, in an office brimming with co-workers from different backgrounds, in a region that will perhaps be most affected by all that is being overshadowed, being permitted, and watched a former…

Jason Najum

Writer. Traveler. Lonely Planet contributor. www.jasonnajum.com

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