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Excerpt: Bathing in the Naga Jolokia

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Max experiences an enlightening moment in India.

"He was overcome by the feeling that he approached a pivotal moment in his life, arriving in the fabled Naga Jolokia's ancestral home. The tendrils of smoke massaging the menacing chiles became a potent hypnotic, and he followed them as they wrapped the meats in their ghostly wisps of Jolokia heat.

As if in a trance, he took off his shirt, stepped toward the smoldering fire of the chowka, and leaned into the stream of smoke rising from the coals and through the split Naga Jolokias and mounds of black tea. He fanned the smoke with his arms, causing it to wrap around his body and head, a native smudging. The room watched in silence, aware of Max’s energy, his total commitment as he leaned into the smoke, performing a primeval ritual. Hollow-eyed animal skulls stared back from the walls. Closing his eyes, he inhaled, bathing in the scent of slow-roasting peppers, animal fat, and sweet tea. Capsaicin, rendered by fire into dried airborne molecules, enveloped and permeated him. He felt it coat his throat and fill his nostrils, tingling with effervescent white heat, then held his breath. It reached for and enveloped his skin, creating a sizzling sensation that was more sensual than painful, infused his hair, and licked at his ears. From behind, it appeared he was actually smoldering."

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