Name: Rahul Singh
Encountered In: Dharamkot, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
Our encounter with Rahul “Maverick” Singh began with a second failed attempt to couchsurf with Vicky, the many-homed all-caps-philosophy-spewing Punjabi wheeler-and-dealer, who was away on business. Vicky put us in touch with his buddy Rahul, but recalling the last time he passed us off on a “friend” — a guy who met us at the square, said hello, then pointed down a street full of guesthouses and said goodbye — hope was slim.
When a slender young Punjabi walked into our cafe, looking cool in his Puma motorcycle jacket, his hawkish nose standing sentinel beneath sleek black hair parted perfectly in the middle — a dead ringer for a slightly browner early 1980s Tom Cruise — we knew our fortunes had changed.
In the first few minutes, Rahul told us about his fun and easy life as the heir to a booming Rajasthan-based textile business, but over the next seven days, his initial claim — “I do nothing” — unraveled, revealing a much more complex character.
Indeed, Rahul Singh was a man who could “make party” any night of the week, whether with three other dudes in a room or with several at a trance club. An impromptu model who could direct an amateur photo shoot of himself staring wistfully or standing awkwardly next to things. A hard-lined businessman who “do[es] not believe in talk; only work.” Especially as a crafty government string-puller who could’ve ended our financial woes by marrying us off to Punjabi women, peddling the perks of our American citizenship for $10,000 every five years or so [link to scams] — a proposition he emphasized mysteriously with the Daniel Plainview-esque maxim “Trust is good; control is better.”
But for all his sides, the multifaceted Rahul Singh was one kind of man above all others:
The kind that thought we were gay.
- The first thing we did at the guesthouse was ask him if people often tell him he looks like Tom Cruise. His answer: “Always.” The second thing we did was photograph him from several angles.
- When he gave us (both of us) a ride down the hill on his motorbike, Steve reached his hands around Rahul’s Puma jacket, pressed his chest against his back and clung to him like a baby Macaque — a very gay baby Macaque.
- One evening he knocked on our door, inviting us to “make party” with him and his friends. Steve announced through the door, “It’s bedtime! Nobody has any clothes on in here.” When he came in the room, he saw this was true. Needless to say, that evening, party was not made by us.
- We slept in the same bed, under the same blankets, without investigating the prospects of dividing it up.
- Looking through Devon’s camera — to ogle the photos of himself — he encountered the one of Devon, fairly naked, showing off the bedbug rash that spread all the way down to a a very visible chunk of shaft. When we heard the shocked, almost pleading, “Oh whut de fuck man!?” we knew that image had been burned irreversibly into his mind.
- Walking past the room he happened upon Steve in his undies, lying on the bed going “Whaaaaaaaaaa!!!!”
After all was said and done, if we parted ways with any iota of mystery on the subject, it wouldn’t be for long. A few weeks after our departure, in an email requesting a favorable review on his CouchSurfing profile (despite his not owning a couch, putting us up in a guesthouse that we paid for nightly, and being a serious weirdo), his greeting: “hey gays”.