Jax Manhoff

JAX MANHOFF— She sits in front of a red brick wall, kitty corner to atlas wallpaper. Jax sips her organic chai and wrings her tattooed hands. “I think I learned more from traveling than my education.” She sits under white light, the bill of her hat casting a shadow on the right side of her face, her left cheekbone twitches as she recounts her spontaneous trip to India in '84. Jax lived in a apartment in Brooklyn when her friend Sue applied for a grant to India, which she didn't get. “One night we were sitting on the floor and we decided we were gonna go anyway.” Jax then moved to Queens to live with her grandmother, rent free, and waited tables all summer to raise money. Jax and Sue arrived in Delhi without fears or itineraries. She recounts her trek into the Himalaya’s accompanied by sherpa’s. They slept in tents and took kodachrome slides of Mt. Everest. During the trek, they met a group of guys and planned to meet them in Jaisalmer to ride camels across India. Jax danced on dunes in the dead of night, swaying to Bob Marley cooing from her walkman. They smoked beedi’s and drank raksi and slept under familiar constellations though they'd become accustomed to unfamiliarity. “India is an incredible place because there’s such immense beauty and such suffering.” Jax tugs her bottom lip with her teeth, she looks down at her hot chai gone cold. “There will be a wedding down the street and then two minutes later a funeral. It’s such a juxtaposition of heaven and hell.” Most Hindu's who live outside of Banares (or Varanasi) will typically have their bodies flown there to be cremated when they die. Cremation at this specific site means ending the cycle of life and death. “Banaras is a very sacred and holy place, but I was 21, I didn’t realize that. We went upstairs and looked down at it from a rooftop and I photographed it. Then in our boat and the police seized us because you’re not allowed to take pictures.” Jax and her friends claimed they didn’t take a photo while she concealed her camera under her coat. Jax stayed in India for 3 months and went on to adventure new places, but infinitely believes India changed her life. #classassignment #revision

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