Flashforward: (Saturday 5PM)
Black. Sounds of horse hooves, raging motorbikes and some hard to hear German screams. Black opens to a massive drone shot of the Himalayas mountain top, just as a body comes flying off a road up above. Then a single gunshot, and another body comes flying off the same cliff, this time while screaming and still seated on a running motorbike. It's a long fall down.
Cut to Nick, 50, bearded, tanned and neglected, wounded (arm in bandages), blood splashed all over his face, riding a horse on a narrow road up the mountain.
Nick tries to ride as fast as possible while fully panicking from what’s happening around him and from being completely clueless when it comes to horses. Noise of motorcycles and shouts in German closing in.
Looking ahead he is trying to make sense of what he sees. In the distance we can see what looks like two figures getting off a horse and running over a rope bridge.
Nick now rides more frantically, screaming “Claudia !...Claudia!!” at the top of his lungs. No answer.
He finally arrives at a rope bridge, gets off the horse and it is apparent that he is afraid of heights. His fear paralyzes him momentarily, but sounds of his chasers closing in pushes him to get on, and he manages to go through most of it. Just then
BOOM BOOM BOOM!
Shots fired hitting Nick in the right thigh and he slips off the rope bridge. The camera slips with him (same POV), and tilts up to reveal the semi cloudy skies.
Back to now (Tuesday morning):
Cloudy skies. Nick on an Air-India flight looking out the window deep in thoughts. He is clean shaved, well dressed, and his skin white from not seeing much of the sun ever. A stewardess politely touches his shoulder asking him to pull his seat up, as we’re about
to land in Mumbai. Learning of the upcoming landing gets him excited (and a little stressed): he starts tidying his belongings - folding his laptop and several economics newspapers from the tray and onto his handbag, lacing his shoes, pulling the back of his seat back up, and securing his seatbelt. We quickly learn that Nick is a tidy guy who likes everything in order and under control.
After the landing in Mumbai, while waiting for his luggage in the loud and crowded airport hall Nick receives a call from his lawyer. Pulling his mobile phone from his handbag we learn that his wife has filed for a divorce. Nick seems more furious than surprised:
“What? The whole idea was for us to take some time off so we can both find our balance and work things out… I literally just landed in India - my first time away in 25 years, and that’s the first thing she does? How’s that for building trust ?!”
The voice on the other line seems to be explaining something but Nick is being impatient and rude with him (loudly): “well why won’t you and your top-firm ace super team do your job for a change and cover my back?? Give me a minute away from all this nonsense… Our relationship is starting to feel just like my marriage!”
The voice on the other line seems to be screaming something that makes Nick crunch… speaking softly now: “no, no - you’re not my mom, or psychiater - I understand, I didn’t mean to take it out on you. I understand but...” Lawyer hangs up on him.
Nick stands there, upset and embarrassed. People around him seem to be unappreciative of him being so loud on the phone in public.
He apologizes and just then sees his suitcase on the carrusel and goes for it. Coming back to where he just stood he realizes his handbag is gone. Camera pulls up to reveal the airport hall packed with hundreds and hundreds of people. No chance in hell to find his lost bag.
Nick is trying to get on the train that goes to Goa. The airport and train station are packed with typical Indian crowds and Nick - a fish out of water - tries to best adapt to
the madness. He rushes through the crowds as the train handlers blow their whistles for last arrivals and finally makes it on the train at the very last minute.
He finds his seat next to a chatty and curious old lady who asks Nick why the long face. Nick snaps out of his stress and politely apologizes, explaining that he just landed from California, his first time in India and he already lost his handbag that contained most of his cash, credit cards, computer and passport. And then he missed his connecting flight to Goa. “But,” he adds and his face lights up, “still got my phone with me - so that takes care of most of it, AND I’m heading to meet my daughter which I haven't seen in many years, which I’m most excited about.” The old lady is intrigued by that, and Nick explains that his daughter grew up away from him with her mom in Germany. Nick has always screwed up any attempt to get closer to her and really get to know her, but this time things will be different and he will make it right between them [in the dialog].
The old lady, listening to Nick’s story, moves her head from side to side in a customary Indian fashion, and Nick is not sure what that means - “is that a yes?, are you agreeing with me right now?”
During this introductory beat we learn that Nick is a social person with a witty and sharp sense of humor. However his description of his failed relationship with his daughter shows him in a naive light, emotionally disconnected, almost with child-like perception of the situation. He’s also fairly tidy, likes things in a specific order (sets his jacket and bags next to him in a specific manner), and is pretty addicted to his phone (work), so much so that he misses a lot of the changing views as the train leaves the busy noisy and smelly Mumbai towards the beautiful open plains as we near Goa.
The old lady teases Nick that he won’t do very well with his daughter if he keeps his mind stuck in his work and misses what’s happening around him. This makes Nick laugh - story of his life - and upon taking her advice raises his head away from his phone to discover beautiful Goa unfolding before his very eyes. The sight takes his breath away, he puts his phone away and is again excited to soon see his daughter Claudia.
Nick hops on a Rikshe to the guest house where he is set to meet Claudia. Goa is booming with busy locals and colorful travelers, the ride is beautiful - allowing the viewers to visually sense the place.
Arriving at the guest house - a small garden with a few sitting spots, tiny reception room, and several guest rooms on both sides. Young and colorful travelers are hanging around, drinking and smoking. Nick and Claudia meet. Claudia is a stunning 20 year old blond, dressed hippie-cool like and glowing from the inner depth of her free spirited soul. With that, she’s also similar to Nick in her stubbornness and witty sense of humor. Together with her are two friends - Yulia (her college friend from Germany with whom she’s been traveling these past few months) and Kaori - a young Japanese traveler.
The girls are clearly still buzzing on last night’s ecstasy and the first meeting with Nick is uncomfortably awkward for everyone.
Nick, uncharacteristically, tries to act fatherly yet cool, while Claudia is not being too warm or welcoming. She seems to almost be mocking Nick for being there, making some remarks to her friends upon hearing Nick’s story of how he lost his belongings earlier today. Nick senses it and trying to keep friendly he finally suggests that he’ll go to his room to settle down, and that hopefully they can do something fun tomorrow.
As he turns away Claudia finally breaks the ice and invites Nick to join the girls to a full moon party tonight. This is completely out of Nick's element (the guy does not drink, smoke, or use pain killers or drugs) but he can’t miss this golden opportunity to connect with Claudia and her friends, and he accepts the invitation.
The party, set on a beautiful beach under a full moon, is a magnificent scene of lights and sounds. About 200 travelers dancing to the music of two world famous DJs playing back to back. Smiles, hugs, drugs and beauty all around.
Nick is intrigued and takes it all in - it has been a long while since he’s been to a party, but he’s never seen something like this. The girls are clearly in their element - they are dressed the part, and seem to know many people around.
Nick is introduced to Leo - a German traveler dude (27) that seems to know everyone around and helps the girls hook up on drugs. Whatever you need Leo gets!
Nick is not sure what to make of this - thinking he should be saying something fatherly against the use of drugs, but before he sets up his mind the girls and Leo turn to him with an ecstasy pill in hand.
Nick - sweaty and with eyes wide open dances in full power on the dance floor. He is clearly tripping his head off and cannot take his crazed smile off his face. Claudia and the group are all around dancing, hugging and laughing at this amazing party. This is a spiritual and emotional experience that is bigger than anything Nick has ever known before, and doing it together with Claudia feels like the most heavenly thing in the world. She seems to have laid down her guard and is allowing herself to get close and their connection seems to Nick as the definition of pure love. Anything else that existed prior to this seems entirely meaningless. Things are going better than he dared to imagine!
(during the party sequence we see Leo in the background interacting with a couple of other young female travelers, and then with a group of men - something that could be interpreted as a fun loving “drugged” hugs, or on the verge of violence - hard to tell).
At the height of the party and Nick’s ecstasy trip, he decides to call his wife with ideas of peace and harmony. He walks on the beach FaceTiming her: “You know, things don’t have to be like this between us… Why don’t we solve this with love?”
His wife doesn't seem to take this very well: “You don’t know how to love Nick! You fucked me! For over a decade you’ve been wasting my time with false promises of change. Never have you remembered my birthday Nick, not even once did you take a break for a romantic anniversary getaway”, now almost in tears, “you’re so self centered you couldn’t even bother to be there for my surgery…”, back to angry, “think calling me an hour after landing in India is suddenly gonna change all that?!”
Nick - taken aback, tries to make a sorry excuse for forgetting her surgery - “I thought you're just getting your bottocs fix…” with that she goes ballistic: “You better sign those
papers Nick or I’m going all out on this divorce! I will leave you with nothing!”. She is losing her patience and the conversation goes steaming. Nick tries to have her understand but is soon pulled into this symphony of screams that reaches its climax with Nick throwing his phone to the ocean in a moment of anger. For a brief second he feels free and liberated - then freaks out running to the water looking for it.
(Wednesday, late morning)
Nick, still buzzing from last night’s party and looking like a trainwreck, is devastated about throwing his phone in the water. He’s looking for it helplessly on the beach, on all four - combing the sand with his hands… Apparently he hopes the tide will push it onto the beach... Claudia and Yulia are laying down on the beach drinking out of a coconut. They are observing Nick with pity and joking about it. Him throwing his phone in anger while tripping was cute, and seeing him all stressed up looking for it now on all four is even cuter, yet pathetic... no chance in hell to find it!
Finally Nick gives up ... He walks by Claudia and Yulia, confused and defeated. He seems like wanting to say something, but their amused faces are enough for him to keep walking.
Goa bazar - corridors of small improvised boutiques of travelers selling anything under the sun - from unique party apparel, to smoking devices, to local memorabilia. Nick and Claudia stroll through the bazaar. Nick fills her in on the situation with his wife. Claudia is sympathetic but jokes about how she agrees with most of his wife's complaints about him. It is apparent that these thoughts about her father are real and painful to her. Nick senses it and stops her, looking in her eyes:
“I know I’ve been a shitty husband to my wife. I seem to be making the same mistake with all the important women in my life. I handled it all wrong with your mom too. I realize it all now, a bit too late to fix everything I suppose, but not too late to fix us… I’ve
been so wrong in handling fatherhood, so disconnected, but it's all gonna change now...”
Just then Leo walks by with the two female friends he’s been hanging out with at the party. He interupts Nick and Claudia’s conversation, giving Nick a warm unexpected hug: “Nick! What a party man, crazy wasn’t it?! I saw you going nuts on that dance floor you beast! Are you sure that was your first time tripping?”
Nick is uncomfortable by this situation in its entirety as Leo grows serious getting closer to Nick, whispering: “I heard you lost all your stuff at the airport, I know how it can get man, being in a place like India without money or passport. I can help you brother, if there’s anything you need..”
Nick cuts him off a bit harshly: “Hey man all good I still got plenty of cash with me and everything lost is replaceable, now if you don’t mind I’m having a conversation with my daughter…”
Leo glances at Claudia who seems quite embarrassed by all this and steps back.. “Yes of course, please go back to your conversation, we’ll catch you guys later”. He continues walking, quietly joking with his two friends.
Nick turns to Claudia who now seems pretty annoyed and taken aback. She speaks with confidence, a bit cold and slightly distanced: “Me and you hanging out for a couple of weeks in Goa will not turn you into a father. It's those many other days and nights in which I’ve missed you over the past 20 years that would have made a difference…” Claudia softens a little, “building trust takes time, and intent… it's in the details you know
- just like the stuff you're so good at in your line of work. It's just that it's not numbers dad, its people…”
Nick tries to answer but Claudia is not done: “But I’ve learned to deal with it, and I’m used to it, and I’ve been doing fine all my life - I’ll manage going forward”.
“You on the other hand - I’m not sure you’re in your element here… Merely 24 hours since arriving in India and you managed to lose pretty much all your important belongings: Laptop, wallet, passport and to top it all off you threw your phone to the ocean. What exactly are you thinking, how are you planning to keep going here? I think you better take care of yourself first daddy, and then try fixing the situation at home…. - your wife deserves it... try saving your marriage.”
Nick seems at a loss of words. He IS completely lost and stressed, her line of thought makes sense… this whole father daughter situation isn't really happening as smoothly as he hoped.
Nick: “Listen I’m sorry you have to deal with all this, I’ll take care of it, don’t let it ruin your trip”, Claudia interrupts: “Well it kind of does”. Nick takes it in, and it hurts.
Claudia: “I’m hungry, let’s go meet the guys”
Nick and Claudia on their way back from the bazaar riding their rented vespas. On the dirt road ahead local cops holding sticks call them to stop at a routine checkup.
Claudia is already experienced with such scenarios, in which local police hassles travelers for some extra cash. She slows down as she’s getting closer towards them and then hits the gas, skillfully slipping between the two surprised cops and making a run for it.
Nick is not sure what’s up with Claudia but follows her lead and speeds up. One of the cops throws his police stick right in his wheels, and Nick goes flying off the bike into a cornfield on the side of the road. The police officers start shouting at Nick, who gets up all sore, embarrassed and not sure what to do.
Claudia can’t believe her sloppy nerdy dad, comes back around, and skillfully negotiates a deal with the cops… $20 “bakshis” and they’re free to go.
Sunset on a beach coffee house - together with Leo and a few other of their young friends. Nick sits closer to the bar while the group at the table are all laughing with and at Nick for his failed cop escape scenario earlier today. Claudia is joking together with everyone but seems a bit distanced.
But Nick is only half listening. His eyes on the corner bar TV screen, showing some wall street reports with lots of red on it. It seems the stock market is going through some big
drops, and Nick who has been totally disconnected from any news the past three days doesn't look happy.
Then a man arrives towards the table (we’ve seen him for a brief moment at the full moon party having some tense words with Leo). He’s angry and stressed - and grabs one of Leo’s young females friends from the table - pulling her away from the group. Leo stands up to intervene - his friend doesn’t seem to want to go with the guy and the situation turns serious.
They step away from the table in a heated, almost physical conversation and it's hard to tell what the commotion is about, but just as it looks like this will turn into a fist fight Leo seems to back off and they walk away. He then comes back to the group and shrugs the whole thing off with a smile - this guy is this girl’s older brother - he doesn't agree with her travel plans and wants to take her back home… no big deal - he can have her! (Leo seems to laugh about this incident but we can see he is really stressed about it)
Nick and Claudia now in a more private conversation, Nick updates her that he thought of what she said: “I get it, you’re right. And my wife is right. And my mom was right. My entire life I fail to connect to the closest, most important people around me. I failed you all in the same manner- when something really matters I don’t see it. Instead I find logic in behaving selfishly. This is obviously something I need to take care of within myself first before I get to make anything better with the others. I just need you to know that I really thought I could make this work with you, although maybe a little too little a little too late, I know…. And with all the crazy shit that keeps happening to me here, it seems like the universe is trying to tell me something too….”
All this time Claudia is listening while gazing at the water, remote. “Yes dad, it’s been telling me things too”. She then looks at him softly, “So what do you want to do?”
Nick, completely misreading his daughter’s true feelings, continues with unfolding his plans: “I’ll sadly have to pass on going up to Rishikesh with you, but I’m getting the feeling you’d be happy about that... I need to take care of my passport, which I can do back in Mumbai, then catch the first flight home. The stock market is crashing and I’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars to manage for my clients, which might be half broke by now - since I left for India… and for sure try to work it out with my wife - like you said. And maybe when you’re done with your trip you could come visit me in LA, and we can
do it right, slowly, on your own terms…” What do you say, that’s the best way for me to move forward now, don’t you think?”
Claudia seems to be holding herself from crying, but hides it perfectly. “Absolutely. Best way to move forward”. This is everything she’s ever known from him - giving up with quick excuses and going away. Deep down inside she’d hoped for it to be different this time, but it is not.
While this is happening, Leo sitting at the side of the table is texting with someone. He then raises his phone - “Smile everyone!” and snatches a picture of the group. Everyone continues conversing and Leo keeps texting. He then asks Yulia quietly for Claudia's last name. A friend of his is asking - he’s seen her picture and thinks he knows her.
Yulia gives him Claudia’s last name with a wink, happy to potentially set up her girlfriend with another secret admirer, Claudia has many.
The following afternoon (Friday)
The bigger friend group, in a final setting (Claudia, Yulia, Leo, and a bunch of other people we’ve been seeing in the Goa scenes). Nick is to join them as soon as he’s done packing for his return train ride to Mumbai later tonight.
Claudia and Yulia excitedly plan their next move - traveling North towards Rishikesh for a 10 days Vipassana retreat at the world famous Swami G Ashram. Nick was originally supposed to join them, but his cancelling does not dampen their excitement. This is something they’ve been talking about doing since their first day in college. Leo tells them about a great hike they should take after the retreat. It’s one of the most famous tracks up the Himalayas - and this is the perfect time of year to do it - something they shouldn't miss! The girls tease him that if it's so great he should join them. “I wish I could come with you but I have to stay in Goa for some business…”
Nick joins the group and says his goodbyes. It’s a lightly emotional moment for everyone, but a heavier one for Claudia. She didn’t expect to, but now that he's about to leave, a burst of emotions takes over her. She cries on his shoulder, like a little girl would. It’s a first for them both, and at that very moment it hits Nick that he’s leaving her again. Right back to the very behavioral pattern he so desperately needs to change.
With a heavy heart they part and Nick goes in the Taxi, taking off towards the train
station. Claudia is standing there, wiping her tears. She can deal with it, she always did. She turns back and starts walking towards the table.
Suddenly she hears Nick behind her. “So how are we planning to get to Rishikesh anyway?!” Claudia can’t believe her ears. She turns around to see Nick, suitcase at his feet, standing there.
Claudia: “Are you crazy?”
“Crazy for you baby!” Nick answers, with a sad attempt at an Elvis dance move. Claudia: “But what about your work?”
Nick: “I’ve got some decent guys running the operation, they’ll do fine” Claudia: “Your passport, phone, angry divorcing wife??”
Nick: “The passport can wait, I’ll get a phone in Rishikesh and call my wife, she’ll understand… Look, there will always be something, won’t there? This is our time, I want to make this right”.
The entire table cheers, then immediately starts teasing Nick re joining the Vipassana. “You’ll never make it through 10 days of Yoga, meditation and complete silence...this is going to be a funny experience for sure!”.
Nick feels a little triumphant by all this cheering, like he IS doing the right thing. Claudia seems a little annoyed and worried about what just happened.
As all this is going on, we see Leo, at the very end of the table - not so happy with Nick deciding to stay either.
Nick, Claudia and her two girlfriends are on a train heading to Rishikesh. Claudia looks out the window and is lost deep in her thoughts. Nick is chatty and unrestful, apparently
they smoked a large G’aras (local weed) joint prior to boarding the train. He is not really used to smoking drugs, and the stoned version of him is a bit careless and cocky.
Nick half jokingly complains: “Are we in a third class cabin? Was this a conscious choice or just a young traveler's kind of thing?” Claudia rolls her eyes.
A hollyman (Sadhu) walks into their cabin, long grey rasta hair and beard, his right arm raised up in the air and long nails crawling from his paws like snakes. He smiles and sits down in front of Nick, greeting him in perfect English.
Nick is fascinated and they start a conversation in which we learn that the Sadhu, named Amar, has kept his hand raised for 38 years in devotion to Hindu deity Shiva. One day in 1970, Amar left his job, wife, and three children in order to pursue his devotion to Shiva; three years later he felt he was still too connected to the luxury of mortal life, and decided to raise his arm and keep it raised in order to disconnect himself from said luxuries of mortal life. This meant dealing with immense pain for quite a while, but it eventually subsided and now he can’t even use the raised arm if he wanted, as it atrophied and is now stuck in its current raised position.
Nick is super impressed by the sacrifice Amar made for his beliefs:“I’ll tell you, we have a lot in common, you and me: sacrificing everything dear to our heart following our inner path for truth”. As the train reaches the Rishikesh station Nick stands up sharing one last thought with Sadhu: “ Come to think of it, this hasn’t worked out too well for either of us, wouldn't you agree?”- Nick smiles with his big red stoned eyes, as if expecting an answer. Sadhu is not sure what Nick means, but takes it with a loving smile.…
Claudia pushes Nick out of the Cabin, clearly not very happy with her father.
The group arrives in Rishikesh and after a short walk from the train station arrive at the Ganges river which they cross by boat towards the Ashram that lies on the other side of the river. The crossing of the river is magical and the rest of the way to the Ashram is colorful and mesmerizing - walking through the humming bazar allys amongst the many holy cows roaming freely between the crowds.
They finally arrive at the Ashram gates and are acquitted in the retreat that is just about to begin. The not so nice Ashram manager (a 60 year old french Guy that has visited the Ashram some 15 years back and never left) greets them with a snorty kind of approach and quickly runs by them the strict rules of the retreat: waking up at 5am, lights off at 7pm, 3 yoga sessions per day, 2 vegetarian meals per day, and no talking allowed - for 10 days!
The girls are super excited and surprised to bump into Leo - he’s here too! - His meetings in Goa got canceled last minute and he decided to come join the retreat - after all this Ashram is his favorite one in India!… This is all too cool.
Nick is happy to see everyone vibing and excited, but all of this Ashram vibe doesn't sit well with him and he finds it really hard to fit in - just as everyone told him would happen! But he won’t allow himself to give in and decides to pull through and prove them (and himself) wrong - whatever it takes!.
Over the next days Nick goes through things he never thought possible, and with everyday that goes by the Ashram walls seem to be closing in on him. His back hurts from the long yoga sessions three times a day, and his stomach is not agreeing with the food that is being served at the Ashram either. He’s totally not cool with the waking up and going to sleep hours imposed on him, and worst of all, he can’t handle the no talking part. He attempts communicating with Claudia but can only go as deep as a simile or a light new-age hug between the many classes. The main idea in such a retreat is spending alone time being in peace with one’s own thoughts, and that’s a tough task for Nick.
By the 8th day (Saturday)
Nick is completely losing it. By now he’s been skipping the Yoga and long meditation sessions since his entire body is sore and he can barely sit or walk. Instead he starts setting ‘traps’ for people who come to use the joint bathroom, trying to lure them into a conversation. He sits on one of the toilet stalls and waits for someone to come in. As soon as they start their business he tries to lure them into a
conversation, from the neighboring toilet cabin. They are of course trapped, can’t leave, and cannot answer him either.
At first, the fact that no one is answering him does not stop him from talking. He goes into a monolog about how much he’s sacrificed in order to be here and spend time with his daughter, just to get stuck in a place like this where even talking is not allowed… So what’s the use of being here at all?! After a few such mobologs and unsuccessful attempts to engage anyone in a conversation he moves on to physically grabbing the next person that walks into the room: “Man, I cannot do this, not talking is killing me!
How are you even handling this?!”
The young guy is both dying to pee and horrified by crazed Nick, and with hand gestures explains that talking is not allowed before jumping into the first open toilet cabin and shutting the door.
Nick gives up, it's no use - no one will talk. Defeated, he goes back to the main court and joins the mass meditation session taking place. As he sits down, really trying to meditate and fit in... a tap on his shoulder.
He looks up to see three goon Ashram monks standing above him. Without saying a word they pick him up, escorting him outside. Nick is trying to negotiate this situation but discovers the three to be strong, stubborn and silent. They show Nick the way out and shut the Ashram gates behind him.
Claudia catches a glimpse of the action just as her dad’s thrown out. She rushes towards the gates, but is unable to do anything to help him.
Nick, on the street floor outside the Ashram, is pretty shocked from what just happened. The gate suddenly opens again only to have his bag and belongings thrown at him, and instantly shuts again.
Through a shot from Nick’s back as he faces the Ashram gates just before they shut, we get a quick glimpse of confused Claudia. Leo is beside her, and whispers something in her ear that seems to comfort her.
Nick gets up and shouts over the gate: “Claudia, I’ll meet you out here Monday when it’s all done”, but just as he’s doing so the Ashram bells start ringing loudly, signaling the end of the practice day. It is not clear if Claudia even heard him.
Nick - just got kicked out of the Ashram - can’t believe his situation. He is in Rishikesh, a locked Ashram gate in front of him, and the glorious Ganges river at his back. He didn’t shave for over a week and has lost some weight since arriving in India due to his stomach not agreeing with the food. Truthly he seems to be somewhat relieved by his early Ashram departure. He turns and walks to a coffee shop overlooking the Ganges just up the block.
Nick gives up, it's no use - no one will talk. Defeated, he goes back to the main court and joins the mass meditation session taking place. As he sits down, really trying to meditate and fit in... a tap on his shoulder.
He looks up to see three goon Ashram monks standing above him. Without saying a word they pick him up, escorting him outside. Nick is trying to negotiate this situation but discovers the three to be strong, stubborn and silent. The three monks show Nick the way out and shut the Ashram gates behind him.
Claudia catches a glimpse of the action just as her dad’s thrown out and rushes towards the gates, but is unable to do anything to help him.
Nick, on the street floor outside the Ashram, is pretty shocked from what just happened. The gate suddenly opens again only to have his bag and belongings thrown at him, and instantly shuts again.
Through a shot from Nick’s back as he faces the Ashram gates we get a quick glimpse of confused Claudia, Leo is beside her, and whispers something in her ear that seems to comfort her.
The next day (Sunday)
Nick enjoys Rishikesh all by himself, taking in the sites and sounds of the endless religious rituals happening in every corner - a deep spiritual experience and a most beautiful one visually. At sundown he passes a group of local women chanting on the banks of the Ganges river as they spread the ashes of a dear one. It is a deeply haunting sight. Nick sits by watching the women chant, and it is apparent he’s doing some soul searching.
He continues his walk through the market, walks by a cell phone shop and walks in. The small shop has every kind of phone imaginable and the owner tries to convince Nick to buy: “All it takes is your iCloud password and the entire content of your older phone is right back at your fingertips”.
This is like music to Nick’s ears… “Yes!, I’ll take that iPhone please”, he takes out the little money he has left and counts it.
“No worries sir, let’s set it up for you first” - the guy takes out the phone and turns it on. “Just input your iCloud password here and I’ll have it ready in no time”. He hands Nick the phone. Nick stares at it, and his smile slowly fades away. He does not remember his password. FUCK!! Nick apologizes, leaves the phone there and leaves.
He then continues and walks into one of the many high-end silk scarf shops scattered around Rishikesh. The seller asks how he can help and Nick asks for a few nice looking women scarfs. “I have a lot of apologizing to do…” The seller is laughing and suggests a bunch of Kashmir scarfs - “those are best for apologizing!”.
Nick is having difficulty deciding, and a pretty young traveler that happens to step into the shop is being super nice and helps him choose. She then invites him to join her and her friends that are hanging out at a cool spot next to the river nearby.
Nick finds himself surrounded by a group of fun guys who introduce him to smoking Chillum (a local pipe used to smoke the local weed). They teach him the full “ceremony” behind the smoking ritual, he coughs, they all laugh and have a good time.
As he gets more stoned the girl that brought him over and her Italian boyfriend start inquiring Nick about where he stays, who he is with etc. Nick tells them how he basically lost all of his belongings upon landing in India, and that he is staying at a small discounted hotel room waiting for his daughter to finish her Yoga retreat.
The guys seem disappointed to learn of his situation. Apparently they had other plans of scamming him for some money, but there’s no use with this guy. The Italian boyfriend loses interest in Nick, but his girlfriend now inquires about Claudia. Nick tells her in excitement of his upcoming trek up the Himalayas along with his Claudia, but neither she nor anyone else in the group seems to have heard about that trek:
“Are you sure the trek is open this time of year? The Himalaya roads at the top of the mountains can get tricky with the changing weather, sometimes blocking access to specific regions for months ahead until the weather changes again”. Nick didn’t know that but will take it into consideration, “I’ll double check with Claudia before embarking on this mission, that’s for sure!”.
After some time hanging out Nick parts the group to continue his walk, not before one of the guys that grew to like him gives him a small piece of G’aras and a chillum as a parting gift.
The streets of Rishikesh are the dwelling grounds for all sorts of cows and bulls who are considered holy. Those simply roam amongst the many people walking the streets.
As Nick takes the turn away from where he had met the young travelers, he accidentally trips over a young cub that gives out a short cry. The cub’s mother does not seem to appreciate this. A quick staring contest, and there starts a short chase with Nick running away from the raging cow. The cow doesn’t run more than a few steps but Nick, who's so stoned he’s sure she’s right behind him, runs surprisingly fast through the bazaar alley. After a while he's looking back to see if he lost his chaser and realizes nothing is
actually chasing him. He slows down to a walk, catching his breath and sees a Baba (holy man) sitting at the street corner laughing! It seems like he is laughing specifically at Nick, so he gets closer to check what’s this about.
“What are you running away from, Guy?” the Baba asks with a smile.
“There was a pretty big cow running after me,” Nick answers, realizing how funny this sounds.
“Yes, could be a big cow. Or something else that really scares you Guy - we’re all running away from something aren’t we…. Uncertainty, usually sums it up. The things we are unable to be sure of - those scare us the most.”
Nick feels like this is bigger than chance, the guy is talking directly to his soul. He sits down in front of him.
The Baba smiles, his eyes old, full of both wisdom and mischief. He gently touches Nick’s forehead, then his heart, then speaks softly: “your aura speaks louder than words Guy, you’ve been wanting to change for a long time now. But you fear what you can’t control. It won’t work any other way Guy, and you know that’s why you’re here in India. The change has started in you, now go with it all the way, no fear. Next time you the cow chases you, stop and confront it. That’s when you’ll finally get to feel.”
The scene is surreal and brings Nick to tears. For the first time in his life his need to change for the benefit of his relationship with his loved ones is greater than his selfish desires.
Nick in his modest hotel room flipping through the few local tv channels that have reception. Room next to him a couple is having loud sex. Nick makes funny cumming faces as they climax, just as he lifts up the hotel phone, punching in the only phone number he remembers by heart: his home in LA. “please be home baby, please pick up…”
His wife answers, and he is jumping out of excitement. “Hi honey, I’m sssoooo happy you’re home, I was worried you might not answer, funny enough our landline is the only number I actually remember…”
Wife interrupts: “You have no shame?! It’s been two weeks since I last heard from you, the office left you a hundred messages, even I got worried, God knows why, and texted you like you still mean something to me..., How dare you call me now, what’s going on in that head of yours?!”
Nick asks her to listen so he can explain: “I’m in Rishikesh for a Vipassana retreat, and there’s so much I want to tell you…”
Wife :“What the fuck are you doing in Rishikesh?!”
The loud sex noise from the room next door is now in full gear again.
Nick tries to stay serious and explain the situation: “Honey I know how this might sound to you, but a lot of shit has been going down and I lost my phone, we don’t have to go through all of it now, I just need you to get me my iCloud password so I can get my life back on track, it’s in my little black book at my study room drawer…”
But by now, with all the noise coming from the other room, his wife is sure he is in some kind of a sex retreat… “Nicolas, you are one sick bastard. And to think I actually thought of giving us another chance... I am no longer interested in being your wife, so don't call me honey and don’t ask me for any favours!! Do us all a favour and don’t call me again before you’re straightened your shit up”. she hangs up.
Nick is steaming angry from not being able to communicate anything to his wife. He calls again but the line is busy. Tries again - busy. The loud sex noise grows in intensity.
- Super frustrated he now cums loudly and dramatically along with his neighbors. “Ahhhh… Ahhh, Yes, Yes!!”
The next day (Monday)
Nick leaves his room all shaved and tidy at the same time as his neighbors leave their room. It turns out it is a gay couple. They give him a big smile - they enjoyed his vocal participation with their sexual actions last night - and are trying to figure out if he is into them for real. Nick is embarrassed and hushes away before they can start a conversation.
Nick is standing outside of the Ashram at 5pm, all cleaned up and shining of excitement. The retreat is finally over and participants start pouring out of the gates, but as time goes by there’s no sign of Claudia or Yulia. Nick starts asking the people coming out if they’ve seen them. He then remembers that Leo was also there, but no one has seen him either.. The streets are crowded and it's hard to tell who’s just came out of the Ashram and who's simply walking the street.
Nick is at a loss. Night comes and still no sign of Claudia or the others. Just then a group of young female travelers stops by: “Are you the guy looking for Claudia? She left along with Yulia last night”. That’s as much as they know about it, and they continue walking.
Nick stands there puzzled. He finally walks towards the Ashram gates and knocks. No answer, he knocks louder. After a short minute a monk opens, “sorry - Ashram closed for tonight”.
Nick: “Oh that’s too bad, I’m leaving town tonight and wanted to quickly leave a donation with you guys before I go.”
The monk is confused. Donation sounds important enough.
Nick continues: “It's nothing too big, just short of fifty thousands. I thought your Ahram manager would be interested, but with no offense to the rules, if it’s too late I understand…”
Gate opens wide, Nick is invited in and is walked to the manager’s office.
Monk asks Nick to wait outside, goes in and quickly comes out again: “Please come in, the manager is happy to see you”.
Nick walks in and the French manager walks towards him with a big smile and open arms, expecting to meet the donator. His smile wipes off in an instant once he sees Nick.
Nick starts explaining the situation, but the manager stops him mid sentence: “Shoes off please”. Nick, annoyed, goes out of the office, takes off his shoes and comes back in.
He asks the manager politely: “so did she leave me any message?”
Manager: “look at you. Coming to the Ashram - you disrespect me. Your daughter - disrespects me. Her friends - disrespect me. And now you're coming for my help. One thing you have in common with your daughter: you both feel entitled. Rishikesh is not a big city. Setup your intentions correctly, and if it meant to be - you’ll find each other”.
Nick: “That’s great. So she didn’t leave me any message”?
Manager had enough. He rings a small bell on his table and the same 3 monks that originally escorted Nick out of the retreat, now do it again.
Thousands of visitors are roaming the narrow Rishikesh street, finding anyone in such a setting is close to impossible. Nick decides to stop by the local police station - he remembers seeing it in one of his walks around town.
Walking into a small moist room he approaches the reception desk. The local officer is busy watching some flik on his phone, and is not very responsive to Nick’s story: “I don’t see how we can be of help sir, unless you want to file a missing report file?”.
Nick is losing patience…:”No I don't want to file a missing person report, I just thought that a tourist that has a problem could count on some helpful advice from the local POLICE. This seems to tip the police officer over and the conversation quickly escalates:
Officer: “Loud and demanding tourists are the worst kind!”
Nick raising his voice: “Well I’ve yet to get loud with you officer”...
The officer stands up and starts shouting, “Have you been smoking drugs sir? Maybe it's best if we keep you here tonight so you can let it all out of your system before going back in the streets!”.
Nick can’t believe this is happening and tries to passionately reason with this guy. Soon there are several officers around Nick, and next we see him sitting back at the officer’s table, handcuffed.
Nick does not have any way of helping himself out of this miserable situation, but then remembers he has Shena’s number in his pocket. He manages to get the officer’s approval to use the office phone and calls her.
Some 45 minutes later Shena arrives, settles everything with the officers, and Nick is released.
Out on the street, Shnea: “Ok, so you made me miss my hot stones massage, wanna tell me what’s this all about?”
He tells her what has happened and she tries to make sense of it: “There could be many reasons for Claudia leaving early… Could she have gotten tired of the retreat and left a day early?”.
Nick thinks that’s unlikely since this was a dream of hers for years..
Shena: “Maybe she got worried and went looking for you since you got kicked off the retreat early? The streets are so crowded, and you don’t have a hotel room she knows about, or even a phone. It makes perfect sense that even if she has been looking for you since yesterday, you wouldn't have known about it…”
Nick does not seem to connect with that theory: “Truthfully, I think it's all about something else. She made it clear to me that she’s not so happy to have me tagging along on the trip. If I’d need to guess, I’d say she dumped me. And rightfully so.”
Shena feels sorry for Nick: “Don’t think that, I’m sure she wouldn’t have dumped you - you’re being too hard on yourself”.
She reveals to Nick that she is a former police detective and can help him figure this out: “Let’s find her so you two can work it out, ok? I can’t have this on my conscience".
Nick is shocked to learn that Shena was a detective and is impressed by this sudden show of strength and decisiveness. He's more than happy for her help. Shena makes a few calls to friends at her former work.
(Monday late evening)
Shena takes Nick to a nearby restaurant where they can wait it out until receiving some useful answers. They sit in a beautiful romantic spot on the banks of the river and the conversation slowly eases up and becomes personal as the two share stories of regret and missing out on what’s truly important. Nick is starting to sound different - like his perspective on his own behavior during the years is finally starting to clear up [in the dialog].
There is no news about Claudia yet and it is getting late. The two decide to call it a night, and that Shena will update Nick if she hears anything. They leave the restaurant, each walking to his own hotel
The morning after (Tuesday morning)
Shena is knocking on Nick’s hotel room. She is holding two steaming cups of coffee. Knocks several more times and finally tries her luck at the door knob - the door opens. Nick just out of the shower, walks out of the bathroom butt naked while drying his hair with the towel. Sehna puts out a short scream which makes him jump with surprise, immediately putting the towel to his crouch.
Nick: “what ever happened to knocking?” Shena: “you didn’t answer”
Nick: “So you just walk in? Too many years in the police force would do that to you”.
Shena had enough of this small talk: “I’ve got some info for you, do you want to hear it or not?”
“Yes, yes I do just let me throw something on '', Nick advances to his bag, pulling out underwear, dropping his towel to wear them. This is all too much for Shena: “Meet me outside when you’re ready, chippendale”.
Nick comes down to meet Shena just outside of the hotel room. Shena hands him his coffee and shows him something on her phone: “I’ve received a feed to footage from the street cameras surrounding the Ashram. This is everything that happened Sunday - let’s see if you can identify Claudia”. They scroll through some non related footage, until he stops her. They see footage of Claudia and Yulia sneaking out of the Ashram on Sunday, the night after Nick was thrown out. The two girls then hop on a motorcycle that stops next to them, and drive on.
Nick and Shena are puzzled. Why did the girls leave so secretly at night? Who is the guy on the motorcycle? Where did they go?
Shena snaps a frame of the motorcycle they’ve seen in the footage on her phone and texts it over to her sources with hopes of getting a read on the motorcycle’s license plate.
She then continues to try and figure out the situation:“What were your plans for after the retreat. Where did she plan on going next?”
Nick answers that following the retreat they were planning to go on a trek up the Himalayas that is to start on Saturday morning (four days from now),” But it’s pretty clear that she changed her mind about us doing it together. At least it puts us in an Even Steven sweet spot - both father and daughter standing each other up! It runs in the family” “
Shena then gets info about the motorcycle from the still frame she sent. It is owned by one Leo Shline, a small-time German crook with suspected ties to local drug and other trafficking groups in the region. He’s also got several apartments across India registered under his name, which seems odd.
To Nick this doesn't feel right: Leo has been around Nick and Claudia back in Goa and all through the retreat. He’s a cool and normal guy, just a traveler like us. Or is he?
Nick can vaguely remember moments from his ecstasy trip back in Goa, and he describes those to Shena as he’s remembering: (flashback) that night he might have seen Leo rough it up with a couple of girls during the party (was it Claudia?), and seemed to have been doing business with some shady people. It’s hard to tell, it was all a big blur that night… And then there was that incident with the young female traveler
in the beach restaurant that was picked up by her angry brother… Was Leo really who they all thought he is - or someone hiding a big secret??
(Back to now):
Nick’s mind is now racing, and for the first time he seems truly worried.
Shena says what’s on his mind exactly: “Claudia could be in trouble and not even know it!”
[while they stand out on the street, a motorcycle with Leo and Claudia passes by them - none notices the other].
JUMP BACK IN TIME to the moment just before Nick got kicked out of the Ashram (Saturday afternoon).
Claudia is in the midst of a beautiful deep meditation session when she hears commotion sounds from the other side of the court. Some poor guy is being escorted out of the Ashram by 3 big monks, clearly against his will. She suddenly realizes it's her dad, and rushes towards the gate but is too late and the gate is shut and locked. She’s not really sure what to make of this and how she’s supposed to react. Making the slightest of sounds will get her thrown out as well.
The monks then open the gate again only to throw Nick’s belongings out to him. Claudia gets another quick look at her dad, sitting on the street’s floor looking puzzled.
Leo steps near and whispers in her ear “don’t worry I’ll help you”, just as the loud Ahram bells start ringing. This comfortis Claudia momentarily, but soon after it is bedtime at the Ashram (at 7pm each evening) and Claudia’s mind is not easy all through the night.
Next morning (Sunday morning)
Claudia, determined, heads over to the Ashram manager’s office (which we met earlier). Using a piece of paper and a pen, she asks him: “What happened to my dad?”, he hesitates, then rights back : “He talked, not allowed”. Claudia takes the paper back writing: “Did he leave me any message”, flips it over back to him. The manager is getting agitated. “No”, flips it back to her. Claudia won’t give up, “Are you sure??”, at which the manager stands and with polite hand gestures asks her to leave.
Claudia walks over to the court side where Yulia is hanging out silently with Leo. She puts a piece of paper in Leo’s hand. He reads it, and nods with agreement.
Claudia and Yulia are sneaking out of the Ashram at night (Sunday evening). Leo got out earlier and said he’ll be outside at this hour to pick them up. Yulia complains as they quietly advance: I can’t believe we’re doing this. Chances are Nick is long gone... when was he really there for you, that is worth us leaving this retreat which we’ve dreamed about since our freshman year?! And I don’t trust Leo either!”
Claudia takes it in but brushes it off. “Nick has changed over these past few weeks and I’m not going to leave him in the middle of Rishikesh all alone. We came here together, and he’s got no money or passport or phone. And Leo has been nothing but nice to us
ever since we met him, and he’s our only choice right now. End of discussion!.”
The girls reach the front of the Ashram and find a place to climb it, which they do with great effort, and not so gracefully. Once over the fence they walk out the court onto the street where they meet Leo who picks them both up on his bike (as fashionable in India).
They take off and after a few blocks stop. Claudia takes out her phone from her bag and turns it on (phones are obviously not allowed during the retreat). She tries calling Nick’s phone thinking he might have gotten a new one by now, but no answer. They then continue to search around town but can’t find Nick anywhere. Although it is late, Rishikesh is booming with visitors and streets are jam packed. Sorting through the crowded streets is somewhat stressful and Claudia starts to get nervous about the possibility of ever finding her father in this madness of a place.
Leo is kind and caring, and suggests the three call it a night at his friend’s hotel nearby.
Walking into the small hotel they bump into a group of traveler friends that we’ve met before in Goa. They exchange friendly hugs and sit down for a hang. We learn that some of the group are going back to Goa the day after tomorrow.
Through the evening sexual tension seems to be building between Claudia and Leo and Yulia.
In that group setting, a young traveler who sits behind Leo (facing Claudia and Yulia who are sitting next to each other) seems to be very interested in them and their flirting with Leo. When the two get up to go use the bathroom, she sneaks out following them.
Claudia and Yulia in the bathroom talking about Leo, Claudia finds him really attractive and Yulia confesses he is growing on her too. They giggle in excitement. The young woman from the lobby that followed them approaches the bathroom and is just about to open the door when Leo puts his hand on her mouth from behind, turning her over, and signaling “shhhhh” with his finger over his mouth.
Terrified, she quickly walks away, head down, just as Claudia and Yulia step out laughing and surprised to see Leo.
Leo: ”I got us the room key ladys, let’s go up”.
As they settle up in the room a beautiful sensual scene starts to happen between the three of them. All three start kissing, shirts come off, but at some point Yulia stops it and they all go to sleep. Claudia and Leo are clearly frustrated as their attraction has been building since that full moon party in Goa.
The next morning (Monday)
Claudia tries calling Nick again but still no answer. She sends a text too, just in case. The group then continues their search walking through the crowded streets of Rishikesh but with no luck.
At one point they are walking while munching on some food and a small monkey starts following them. Claudia is loving the cuteness. Leo warns her that sometimes things are not what they seem, the monkey only looks cute, but he's a master thief. Claudia gives Leo a speech about belief and trust. It’s all about how you approach life. Just then the monkey snathces Claudia’s hand bag and takes off. Leo shows some great athleticism jumping over fences and outsmarting the monkey who ends up letting go of the bag in exchange for Leo’s sandwich. They all laugh.
Sitting down for a break at the banks of the Ganges river, Leo suggests that Nick might have continued towards the Himalayas, where they were planning to start the 2 day hike five days from now (Saturday). (Leo himself recommended that specific mountains trek to them back at the party in Goa some two weeks back).
Leo continues explaining: It's not entirely impossible that Nick decided to head up there early and wait for Claudia and Yulia to join him on site once they’re done with the retreat. Finding each other in crowded Rishikesh is close to impossible. Up in the mountains it is beautiful and calm, and meeting up there will be much easier.
All of this is starting to make sense to the girls.
Leo points out that he can take Claudia up there if she’d like. He knows the area very well, there's a village nearby that he frequently visits, and he needs to go through there anyways by Thursday, so it's no hustle for him at all and he is happy to help out by leaving a couple of days early and dropping her off at the meeting point. Only problem is the ride up the mountains is winding and long, so they won’t be able to bring Yulia along on his bike. She’d have to stay and catch the local bus that goes up towards the trekking point. There’s one once every other day leaving early in the morning.
At first the Yulia and Claudia dismiss the idea completely - separating is out of the question. But then it slowly starts growing on Claudia, that wouldn't mind some alone quality time with Leo.
They then decide to give the search one more serious try by splitting up. Each of the three will search through a different part of town, and they’ll all meet back by the afternoon.
We follow each of the three in their search through the streets. Leo and Claudia - each walking through a different alley. Yulia passes by a loud religious ceremony taking place near the river, and it seems she is followed by a small group of local men.
Claudia is walking through an adjacent ally and is surprised yet happy to see Leo. The two continue the search together. They are becoming more physical, and sneak in a kiss on a corner of the busy bazaar. Claudia is blushed and happy, goes towards the river and Leo goes to get them fresh juice from the street corner: “will meet you down there in a minute”.
Back with Yulia as it starts getting dark. The three local men are still behind and by the time she notices, they cornered her in a small side street. Things are escalating fast, as the three start to hurrase her. Touching her inappropriately, mocking her in Hindu, getting more daring with each grab. Yulia, petrified, is unable to make a sound, and is no physical match to the three men.
Claudia now arrives towards the same direction (she just left Leo) and sees the action. She runs towards them trying to help Yulia, but is no match to the 3 local men who are happy to get her into the mix as well.
Claudia manages to escape back out of the alley, panicking - asking for help. But the street is crowded and noisy from the religious ceremony. Nobody stops to help.
Just then Leo arrives - two cups of fresh juice in his hands. Claudia fills him in and he sprints down the alley, where things started getting ugly. Leo jumps the guys, and the three fight back frantically beating Leo. It looks like a hopeless cause until Leo draws out a handgun, pointing it straight at the forehead of the ring leader.
“Do you want to play? You wannt fuck with ME?!” Leo is crazed, nose bleeding, hair in a mess, his eyes bloodshot red. He corners one of the guys and kicks him senseless, while the others make a run for it.
Claudia runs to Yulia who is scared and shaken, hugging her, both crying, and pulls her away, while watching as Leo becomes even more violent, like a predator - beating the guy senseless. We’ve never seen Leo like that. Claudia and Yulia walk away.
Back at the hotel (Monday evening)
Yulia and Claudia are very emotional and the two hug strongly and won’t stop crying. Claudia feels like she herself was sexually attacked, and is as shaken by this as Yulia is.
Sobbing, Yulia starts talking about going back to Goa. They’ve got a flight back home from there in a couple of weeks. She doesn't want to continue up to the Himalays. She wants to leave this place. She tries to convince Claudia to come with her.
Claudia sympathises with Yulia completely, and doesn't want to leave her alone, but what about Nick? She can’t just leave now to Goa.
Yulia is in tears, asking Claudia to please join her, skip the Trek, don’t go up the mountain, Nick is a grownup - he’ll manage, she has a really bad feeling about all this.
Claudia is torn, but won’t leave her dad here all alone. Deep inside she also feels this will be her chance at romance with Leo, and Yulia will one day forgive her for this.
With a heavy heart, they decide that Yulia will go back to Goa the next day with the group of friends that we met the other night, and that Claudia will go up the mountains in search of her dad. They will meet back in Goa in a week’s time, to spend one more relaxing week there before flying back home together.
Very early next morning (Tuesday)
frantic knocks on the door wakes them all up. Leo gets an urgent tip that he better leave town ASAP. It turns up the local guy he beat up yesterday is the son of an important and powerful guy.
Leo turns to the sleepy girls: “We gotta go!!”
The group rush out of the hotel. Claudia and Yulia say their loaded goodbyes, both feeling very uncomfortable about the situation.
Yulia heads off towards the local train station by foot, where she is set to meet with friends who are on their way back to Goa too.
Claudia and Leo hop on the motorcycle, starting their trip towards the mountains.
As they are approaching the main exit road out of Rishikesh, we are in the same place that we’ve been at the end of episode 2. We see the same scene but form a different angle - this time focusing on the motorbike. In the background we can see Nick and Shena standing outside of Nick’s hotel room after receiving a link to the cctv footage. They do not notice each other.
(story timeline is now back in sync)
Nick and Shena start walking fast towards the town, their best bet is to get the local police to help. The bridge to cross the river towards the police station is located near the train station, about 500 feet away.
On the way there they stumble into Yulia who is just arriving near the train station. She is super excited and surprised to see Nick: “Oh my God, Nick - we’ve been looking all over town for you!! You literally just missed out on Claudia and Leo. They are riding up to the Himalayas trek meeting point with hope of finding you there!”
Nick: “The Himalayas? Why would she think that? Why would I go up the mountain all by myself to wait for my daughter for a trek that doesn't even start till 4 days from now?”
Yulia: “I don't know, we couldn't find you anywhere and were running out of ideas, it seems like a good idea at the time... Leo suggested it. He said he was going up there anyways and can drop her off.. he knows the area very well, there's a village he frequently visits up there... he will simply drop her off at the meeting point and continue on his way”.
Yulia’s words send chills down Nick and Shena’s necks.
Nick: “well that's a bunch of crap. Do me a favour Yulia can you call her please, I don’t have anyone’s number since my phone incident, and amazingly enough I can’t get over that hurdle…”
Yulia is happy to do so, but no answer. She tries again, no answer. Yulia: “this is so fucked up, she literally left minutes ago… I’ll send her a text too, just to make sure”
This definitely doesn't feel right to Nick. Looking up ahead he sees a small car rental sign, and starts running towards it. Yulia is surprised to see him take off like that, but Shena seems to understand. She quickly exchanges numbers with Yulia and starts running after Nick, shouting as she goes: “keep trying her Yulia, let us know as soon as you get a hold of her” .
Claudia and Leo riding the winding and amazing roads leading up towards the Himalayas, breathtaking views. Several hours into the ride Leo stops at the side of the road and leads Claudia by foot over a high stringed bridge that goes above the almighty Ganges river, which at that area is wide clear blue, fresh mountain waters. Claudia takes out her phone to take a picture and notices there’s no reception.
They continue to the other side of the bridge leading down to the river banks and the sight is of great magnitude. It is a strong spiritual thing - to experience the Ganges at the very feet of the Himalayas. The area is secluded and romantic.
Leo tells her of this village they'll be passing through the mountains, on their way to the starting point of the trek where her dad is probably waiting for her. He tells of an amazingly beautiful place that not many people know about, or have gotten the opportunity to see. He describes a place full of beautiful and talented people, and his eyes seem to really shine with enthusiasm and immense excitement. It is clear to Claudia that this place is important to him, and it also sounds like an amazing out of this world thing to experience.
She tells Leo she’d be more than happy to make a quick stop with him at that village, and the way he got when talking about it made her even more attracted to him than ever.
Sensing where this is going Leo stands, strips out of his clothes and runs to the water with screams of joy. Claudia loves this and she does the same. In the water she nears for a kiss, and the two go at it, then continue to make passionate love on the banks of the river.
In the aftermath, happy Claudia goes back to wash in the water, while Leo stays laying down admiring the clear and sunny skies. TING, he hears a text message tone from Claudia’s bag. TING, it goes again. Curious, Leo peaks into the bag and retrieves the phone. The screen shows several missed calls from Yulia, and a text message that reads: “Just met up with your father, he’s here! Call asap”. Leo sits up, stressed. He checks Claudia who is still bathing in the river. He then stands up, wraps his lower part with his colorful thin blanket, and walks closer to the water. He crouches down to wash his hands. We see that he is actually dipping Claudia’s phone in the water for a long minute. He then goes back while drying the phone, and slips it back in her backpack.
Stressed Nick and Shena are making their way up the mountains in a small old car, which was the best they could find at the rentals for immediate use. Nick is driving as fast as he can (the car rides like shit, and the roads are at times very bumpy, narrow and dangerous), and Shena is busy making calls. She tries Claudia’s number but no answer. She then reaches out to some of her local connections while occasionally screaming in fear due to the fast drive and scary road conditions. “Seriously - do you drive into every bump on the road on purpose?!”
Shena is being bossy and it rubs off wrongly on Nick. He insults her: “truthfully, now I understand why your husband divorced you”.
This sparks Shena on a talking spree about “weak men, that can’t stand a strong partner with an opinion. Just like you and your wife, and my weasel of an ex husband! What kind of a shallow life is that with a person you so called love?!”
At the heat of the argument Nick rear ends an army jeep.
An army officer gets out of the jeep, calls Nick out. “What is this driving, are you drunk?!”. Nick is being impatient, the situation escalates. Shena steps out of the car trying to get Nick to relax before this gets complicated. The officer, agitated from Shena
getting involved, wants to search Nick. Nick is being resentful. Shena - nervous - speaks quietly to Nick about staying quiet, keeping low. Nick doesn't listen and continues arguing.
The officer searches Nick who reluctantly allows it with a sour face, and finds a small ball of Hash (which he got from the group he smoked a Chillum with in Rishikesh) in his pocket. Shena rolls her eyes in disbelief - this is getting worse by the minute.
Nick, surprised to see this (completely forgot about the Hash in his pocket) dismisses the whole thing, argues with the officer, takes the hash from the office’s hand and throws the hash ball down to Ganges.
This gets the officer steaming mad, he calls his soldier friends out of the jeep.
Situation now on higher gear. The soldiers loudly threaten Nick they’ll take him in, and start searching the car. With that Shena is really mad, and Nick is like a little kid that got caught in a series of lies.
Shena changes gears, and talks authoritatively with the officer: “who is your commander? What platoon are you? I’ll make a few calls and you’ll find yourself out of a job by tomorrow morning”.
Nick - skeptic at first, but impressed with every second going by. The soldiers quickly disengage - like little kids shouted at by their aunt. They let them go.
Nick and Shena drive on in tense silent. They arrive at a traffic stop (Tuesday afternoon). The narrow road leading up from Rishikesh to the Himalayas is too narrow at certain points for two sided traffic. A local traffic guy is stopping the traffic on this side, while on the other side the traffic is released and starts to advance forward. There are 2 buses ahead of them, and a long line of cars quickly forms behind them.
People from the busses and cars pour out of the vehicles, taking a cigarette break on the road side overlooking the Ganges running just below. This could take a good 20 minutes to open. Monkeys come down the mountain hills in growing numbers. Some just sit curiously, while others playfully interact with various drivers.
Nick is agitated. Can’t stand the hold up. A motorcycle carrying a man and women riders slowly crawls up the side of the traffic line, passing the cars. They ride right next to Nick’s window. He looks at the motorcycle, complaining (to himself) that he wishes they’d had one.
All of the sudden it dawns upon him that he’s seeing Claudia on the back of the motorcycle. It’s her backpack, same hair, holly shit that’s the same motorbike from the cctv footage! Nick frantically gets out of the car and starts running. Shena not sure what's all the fuss about gets out running behind him - “what’s wrong? Nick - what’s wrong??!”
Nick runs quietly at first, thinking he’s going to catch up on them. But the motorcycle driver seems to have caught on to the action behind and starts speeding up. Nick starts running faster: “Claudia”!! “Claudia!!!”’
The motorcycle now roars loudly, Claudia can’t hear her dad and the rider hurries towards the roadblock, cuts the traffic navigator, and rides against the traffic towards the next leg of the open road.
Nick frantically runs, but no use. The bike is already out of site, no chance to go after them on foot. Frustrated he turns around, trying to make the impossible and move cars out of his way, with no luck at all. People are just looking at this screaming man funny.
Nick’s mind is racing, he almost had her, but missed out again.
Leo and Claudia continue the ride up the mountain, and the roads become more and more rugged. They reach a beautiful point overlooking the majestic river and enjoy the most mesmerizing sunset.
Claudia checks her phone but it's off and won’t boot up. Battery must have run out. She doesn't seem to mind and puts it back in her bag.
Leo watches her with satisfaction, then explains that they’re more than halfway through to their destination, but that riding at night is impossible. This would be a good place to camp for the night if it's ok with her. Claudia is happy for a romantic night with Leo.
Nick and Shena back in the car riding up the mountain in tense silence. They haven't made enough progress and Shella suggests they take a short detour towards the cabin of an old friend of hers that lives nearby, before it gets too dark. He can shelter them for the night and share valuable information about the area and best ways to get to the mountain top fast.
They make it to Sanjee’s cabin. It is located at a remote and isolated location with nothing else around and only one access road. It is clear this cabin was built specifically there as a safety measure against attacks. (Think Michale Kane in Alfonzo Cuaron’s Children of Men)
Upon walking into the Cabin Sanjee and Shena embrace in a long and meaningful hug. We learn that 70 year old Sanjee has been a close friend of the family and a mentor to Shena during her early years at the force when he was the captain of the police special forces. They have a father / daughter type relationship, and Sanjee is very protective of Shena.
After a quick small talk for old times sake, Shena briefs Sanjee about the situation, and with every word she says his face grows darker. After contemplating what to say next for a long minute, Sanjee starts to talk.
“I know this type of small time crooks coming up this way during the summer. They are going to Spiti Valley, dropping off and picking up stuff with the villagers over there. Not just drugs. Other stuff, and people. “
Nick and Shena are both listening with great attention, trying to make sense of what he is saying - what does he mean by stuff and people?
Sanjee continuous. It has long been rumoured that in that valley live pure Aryan blooded people, and that female members of their cult have been pilgraming to the village for centuries.
Nick and Shena are both confused. Pure blooded Aryan cult? In the Himalayas? What are you talking about?
Sanjee continus without paying any attention to them: “And your daughter is German isn’t she?”
Sanjee teases Nick suggesting Claudia might have gone to the Aryan village on purpose - following her German roots.
Nick goes berserk when he hears this and almost hits the old man. “My Claudia is NOT this kind of girl, and has NOTHING to do with any national extreme groups or Nazi cults! Why come to the end of the world for something like this anyways? This makes no sense!”
Sanjee shoots back: “They come to get impregnated by the purest blooded Aryans one can find, and when they do they go back home.”
Nick wraps his head between his hands.
[Next scene we hear Sanjee’s voice over these images: Leo and Claudia settle down in a small cave on the side of the mountain. Leo unpacks sleeping bags, makes a bonfire, cooks something for them, they drink some wine, cuttle, and eventually make passionate love.]
Sanjee V.O.: “How well do you think you know your daughter Nick? Are you really close? Cause I’ve heard of many girls just like her come and go willingly over the years. Never once heard of someone taken there against her will…. “
[visuals now back to Sanjee’s cabin]
This throws Nick completely out of balance and the two men almost get in a fist fight, forcing Shena to take control over the situation pushing both of them back to their seats screaming SHUT UP!
Both men like wounded animals at each side of the small table, and Shena between them: “we don’t have a lot of time if Claudia is in danger. It doesn't matter if she thought she was going there willingly because she was brainwashed, or if she got tricked into it. We’re not leaving her there anyway so you guys better get your shit together fast, and let's figure out what can be done.”
Both men see her reason and quiet down.
Shena: “how is anything like that even possible. Why haven't i ever heard of this from you, or anyone? I was the very front of the task force when it came to women and human trafficking!”
Sanjee explains: “Well, it's still just a rumour. 30 years back I was heading an intel collection operation to investigate these very rumors. We managed to infiltrate the village, the locals there are funny looking. Their eyes are blue, their skin fair and noses pointed. Certainly not what you’d expect to be living up the Himalayas, but we could not find any actual trace of wrongdoing. There was one person in the village, a blond,
blue-eyed teenager that wanted to speak. He said all the rumours were true and that he can show me the hidden village the next day. That felt like an amazing breakthrough but the kid simply disappeared soon after, we couldn’t find him anywhere. Some days later I got an order to stop ‘digging’ there….I’m guessing we got too close to finding out the truth and it scared some important people . Total cover up, but I never managed to prove it“.
Nick is pasting the room deep in thoughts while Shena still sits in front of Sanjee. He continues, “It’s been a while, however I do know exactly how to get there and can help gear you up for the journey. You should leave at first light tomorrow morning.”
Nick and Shena both look at each other with determination.
Nick and Shena in the back of Sanjee’s cabin. Chai tea heating up on a small bonfire, and mesmerizing skys full of stars. Shena tells him about why she got kicked out of the force: She couldn’t save her niece who fell into prostitiution, became obsessed with trying to save women, and stepped on too many toes. And now here she is again…
Nick is in awe of the dedication she has for the cause, and at the fact that she’s doing so much for someone she doesn't really know, pretty much the opposite of him [in the dialog]. He seems to start liking Shena more, seeing her in a different light than before.
Shena dismisses the effort - “I’m not doing this for you, nor for Claudia - this is simply my calling”...
Claudia, lying asleep on a still folded sleeping bag, covered with a wool blanket, her head resting on her backpack. The bonfire is all but gone, Leo is not there. Some unclear crackling sounds from behind her are being heard. Suddenly a small black scorpion comes out through a crack in the rock. Then another one, and another. Soon the cave seems to be crawling with them, and they’re all advancing towards Claudia. The first few ones are climbing on her backpack, then on her hair. She feels something in her sleep, and moves her hand through her hair dangerously close to the scorpion’s sting. Two of them keep advancing up her hair. Still mostly sleeping, she’s about to move her hand over her head again, and just as she does so, and the two scorpions get ready to sting the approaching hand, Leo’s hand grabs her wrist tightly, simultaneously waking her up and whispering: “don't move!”.
Claudia, puzzled: “what?” and as she says that she notices she’s lying in a cave crawling with scorpions. She starts screaming and freaking out just as Leo skillfully picks her up and away from the cave. He puts her down and she starts running in circles frantically shaking her hair and head in disgust. Claudia finally relaxes changing screams into uncontrolled laughter. This was a truly scary moment and laughing seems the best remedy to release the stress. Leo starts laughing uncontrollably too.
“My hero!” Claudia jokes with Leo, and jumps on him with a hug kissing him passionately. The two seem to really vibe, and it seems like Leo is becoming more
gentle and loving in his dealing with Claudia, more so than he was before. They laugh it out and start getting ready for today’s ride. Leo: “We still have a long way ahead of us”.
At Sanjee’s cabin the action is on: he gives them a few old maps and instructions as to the best way to get to the village, and a radio communication device: “cell phones don’t always work up there - use this if you need to reach me” ; He then packs their bags with some food and offers them two old weapons.
Sanjee: “Sorry I can’t give you anything better, haven’t been using much firearms lately”
-Shena picks up the shotgun and examines it with professionalism: “No problem, this will do just fine”
Nick picks up the remaining handgun, barely knowing which side the barrel is.
Lastly Sanjee takes them out to the back of the cabin and opens a garage door revealing a well preserved 4 wheel mountain bike. With that they’d be able to get though most of the distance to the village in no time. Shena and Nick look at each other with satisfaction. Although they are only two, and the task laying ahead of them is largely unclear, their chances of potential success just improved greatly.
Nick and Shena ride the 4 wheeler bike, speeding through the vast open terrain leading towards the mountain tops. Nick is driving, Shena hugging him from the back, occasionally looking at the map, navigating. This is nature at its all mighty, beautiful and never ending.
Leo and Claudia are riding in similar settings, just with a little less haste. Leo seems to know the way by heart, although all the mountain paths look the same to Claudia. At times they get off the bike, and walk it through improvised bridges. At other times they go through side tunnels on side mountains that are barely visible to the eye. Claudia is impressed by Leo’s navigational skills, and wonders how the hell do people know how
to make it up this way [in the dialog]. Leo smiles: “As I said, it’s a special and rare place where we’re going.”
Nick and Shena encounter obstacles along the way: roads temporarily blocked by a fallen wood log or rocks and wrong map instructions (due to outdated information) leading them to dead ends. As they start ascending towards the next hill tops, the mountain sides slowly get iceyer.
They finally reach a wide rocky stream, with a beautiful set of small waterfalls of fresh freezing water coming off the Himalayas streaming down to the Ganges. No logical way to go around it with the 4 wheeler without wasting precious time. They make a decision to leave the bike and continue by foot up the beautiful stream.
After a long dangerous ride in harsher and harsher terrains skilfully navigated by Leo, they finally arrive at sundown. A rundown hand painted sign reads “Spiti Valley” in English and Hindi, and a stack of large colorful rocks beside it mark the entrance to the Valley.
The site is surriel - in the heart of a harsh and naked terrain lies a green Valley. In and around it are groups of small plain houses that seem to be inhabited by farmer families.
They ride slowly and more calmly now, and as they advance through the village Claudia catches a glimpse of some of the locals peeking at them from their simple homes. She feels there is something strange about their faces. They are fair skinned, have skinny noses and very light blue and green eyes. Definitely not the look you’d expect to see in locals of this region.
As she tries to make sense of these thoughts of hers, an apocalyptic site dawns upon her. Straight ahead, hidden between two natural mountain side rocks, a huge wooden gate is opening, revealing behind it an entirely different village, with sights and sounds
that seem to be coming from a different part of the world altogether: there are street lights and huts and what looks like streets almost, she can also hear music playing, and kids’ laughter.
Leo keeps riding slowly towards the opening in the massive gate, which seems to be magically opening just for him. Claudia is at a complete loss of words, and at awe at the sight revealing before her.
Nick and Shena trekking on foot up a mountain top. They’ve been at it since dawn today, and are tired and hungry. They sit down behind a big rock, for a rest and a bite.
Nick seems to be lost in thoughts, Shena tries to cheer him up, and he reacts optimistically [in the dialog]. The atmosphere lightens up a bit and the two seem to be more at ease with each other than ever before. Flirty and almost sexual tension is starting to build between them.
All of the sudden loud voices from somewhere behind them. Both jump back in fear, then realize it's coming from somewhere behind the big rock. They peek and see a group of villagers walking and talking loudly. They look at each other with renewed hope: we’ve reached the village!
Leo and Claudia are now completely inside the hidden village. The gate closes behind them and Leo seems to know the place and its people very well.
Claudia is mesmerized by the sites around her. The place is both simple and beautiful: The main road leading to the village is lined with mid sized adobe mud structures on the left, and a much larger wooden structure on the right, with a long set of stairs leading to its entrance. Just down the main road there’s an opening to the entire compound: The valley is huge, and contains large huts in the middle and groups of smaller huts surround it, other types of communal structures, animal breeding grounds, large vegetable gardens, a semi stage dom, tall trees, small hills and water streams. It all looks very functional and well taken care of. There are young, tall, blond and blue eyed people, just like her, all over the village. Most women are young, and a great number of them seem to be pregnant. Claudia is not sure what to make of all this.
They get off the bike, and start walking towards the village center. The vibe is strange. People are not paying much attention to them, and just go about their business. They all wear a similar outfit - a simple local wool made pants and tops - just in different colors. There’s lots of commotion - mothers with multiple kids going from place to place, men hanging out in groups - working or chatting, an occasional person walking by themselves deep in thoughts. There seem to be some kind of a different aura about their demeanor.
A young tall male approaches them, greeting Leo hello by his name and asking the both of them to join a celebratory dinner party taking place at the village center later tonight. Leo is surprised, asking the guy what the celebration is all about, and the guy does not know to explain, only to say that Peter asked for their presence.
Claudia is checking her phone again, it's dead.
Leo turns to Claudia with some embarrassment, “this wasn’t really planned and I don’t want to delay you from reaching your dad… we can totally skip this dinner and get out of here, it's just that Peter is…”
Claudia stops him in the middle of the sentence - “this place is amazing, and I’m happy to stay here with you for a bit longer... We can even go towards the meeting point with my dad tomorrow if they’ll let us stay here for the night - it doesn't make any sense to go now in the dark”.
Leo is relieved and thanks her with a warm embrace. Claudia melts in his arms: “I just have to make a phone call, and my mobile is dead…”
Leo’s face changes mid-hug but he quickly softens up: “Let’s charge your phone then. Although it won’t be much use since there’s rarely any reception up here. But fear not my child, you see this?” He points at a structure at the other side of the court, “that’s our communication room, and it has a landline phone, and tomorrow as soon as they open we’ll go together and arrange for you to make that call. OK hunny-bun?”
Claudia gives him a funny face crossing her eyes and follows with a wet kiss on his lips.
Nick and Shena follow the villagers quietly from behind. After a short walk in the dark a village starts revealing in the forefront. It's too dark to clearly see. Nick and Shena whisper between them as to their next move. They crouch down, and Shena starts drawing a plan on the sandy ground: “Here’s the village - you’ll go from here, and I from here…”. They agree on the plan and stand up, only to see they are surrounded by no less than 5 scary villagers, with drawn machetas.
The villagers are all stressed, waving their machetas and shouting all at once. Nick and Shena frantically shouting back - trying to keep this from escalating. Shena lowers the shotgun which she’s carrying with her down to the floor and kicks it towards the villagers as a sign of surrender, the comotion continues. We now see the village they’ve arrived in. It is NOT Spiti Valley.
A special dinner party is taking place in the center of the village. Rows of wooden tables and chairs populated by young men, women, tennagers and children of all ages. All Aryan looking and wearing similar outfits but in different colors. Claudia can hear conversations in several different languages, but the main one seems to be German.
The place is decorated with flowers, and there are lights stretched across the space giving it a festive look. Some German-Shepard dogs playfully run around the tables. On the tables there is a rich offering of vegetarian food, and clear water. No alcohol is served, and yet some of the men and women seem to be under the influence of some substance that makes the celebration loud and fun. Others seem to be more hesitant when they talk - as if they are afraid to say something wrong, although we’re not really sure why.
Leo and Claudia are seated in the center of one side of the party table (the furthest yet directly in front of where Peter is seated) and are enjoying the sights and the food. The place is definitely different than anything she’s ever experienced, and Claudia is taking all of that in with curiosity.
Then Peter stands up, with a smile and with ease, and everyone turns silent in an instant. He is in his 50’s and in great physical shape, wearing a similar simple outfit to the ones worn by everyone else, only his is the only one colored white.
Peter gives a short speech in English welcoming all the newcomers that arrived this summer and everyone around cheers loudly. He then continues [in the dialog] by referencing some scientific theories of genetics and Darwinian evolution, specifically promoting the idea of the Nordic race as a key social, group-responsible for human development (He mentions in passing Madison Grant’s 1916 book: “The Passing of the Great Race”?). His words are chosen carefully, told like a simple story. It is not very apparent that he speaks pure racism if one doesn't listen with great intent.
People around seem to be almost hypnotized - as if listening to the words of their favorite preacher in church on Sunday - some with eyes closed in self reflection, some simply looking directly at Peter in admiration, and others that repeat some of Peter’s endings of sentences - like in a hymn.
Claudia is confused about some of the things Peter talks about… “Social
group-responsible race… what?” Peter is a bit far from where she’s sitting, and with all the audible crowd remarks she couldn't hear everything he said.
This all goes by too quickly, Peter finishing his short speech, the crowd cheers, and Leo is talking with some of his friends seated to his side. Claudia has no one to discuss this at the moment and the party is back to normal.
Back to Nick and Shena: we left them surrounded by angry villagers, just as we - the audience - realize they’ve reached the wrong village. Shena surrenders her shotgun while Nick’s pistol is still in his backpack.
After some stressful and loud minutes Shena is able to calm the villagers down by speaking in their native tongue [in the dialog]. She realizes these are not Spiti Valley villagers, and they are taken to a small hutt as prisoners, till the village chief arrives and decides what to do with them.
Two villagers hang out next to a bonfire outside the hut as guards. In the hut, Nick and Shena exchange intense looks as he signals to her that in his backpack, placed outside next to their two guards, he still has the pistol he got from Sanjee - that their captures don’t know about. His mind is set on planning their escape.
Misty morning, Claudia and Leo are strolling through the village. The place is beautiful yet somewhat eerie. Leo explains as they walk: that’s the main residents area ; a “health & spa club” ; here’s where we have wedding ceremonies ; over there is where we grow all the food consumed in the village ; and this (walking by it) is the main office - where you’ll get to make your phone calls as soon as they open!
Claudia: “Good! Cause my cell phone is dead… charging it overnight did not help…”. As they walk, the large structure we’ve seen upon entering the village is now revealed from its back side. “And what is that?”.
Leo: “That’s Peter’s compound. He’s our spiritual leader and a father to most of us” Claudia: “Wait, he’s your father? Did you grow up here?”
Leo explains that he grew up in Germany with his mom and young sister, but without a father, and not knowing who his father is. He then arrived in Spiti Valley with his sister at 16 following their mother’s tails of her years at the village where she gave birth to the two of them when she was young. Since his arrival here, Peter became the most meaningful authoritative figure in his life and the closest thing he had to a father: “He taught me everything I know”.
Claudia is touched by this. She too grew up without a father, and is now expected to act like she actually has a dad, with Nick’s new interest in her. It’s tough on her, she’s not sure she can find room in her heart for Nick, not after letting her down all these years.
This hits a nerve with Leo: “I’d give him a chance if I were you. People can learn to change. And it’s not everyday that your dad steps back into your life. I’ve wished many times to have had the chance to meet my real dad. Even just for a touch…”
Both Claudia and Leo are emotional, the similarities in their fatherless childhood brings them closer to each other than before. They go into a warm embrace.
Above them, in a separate structure rising high above the village, Peter is at his bedroom balcony. He’s following Claudia intently and upon seeing how close Claudia and Leo are, he seems to be driven mad from jealousy.
Nick and Shena in the dark shack. Shena is a bit sleepy, Nick seems nervous and deep in thoughts. The door swings open surprising them both and the light coming from the outside momentarially blinds them. They are each given their bags to carry and are taken to another hutt to meet the village Chief. It is now pretty clear to both that they are not in the right village.
Nick and Shena are seated on a small rug, in front of the Chief who sits on a chair. Some 10 locals are hanging around. Nick’s backpack is situated at his feet.
The Chief asks the two, in his native tongue, why are they here. Shena answers in his native tongue that they are looking to get to Spiti Valley. This gets the people around uneasy and murmuring, but seems to be of great interest to the chief who quiets them down. He asks Shena why and she explains that they suspect Nick’s daughter was kidnapped and taken there .
Nick is sweaty and nervous. He doesn't understand what is being said, and got one hand inside his backpack, apparently searching for his pistol.
The chief then turns to look at Nick and starts talking in English (in the dialog): He speaks of the long history his village has had with Spiti village. It turns out that the two villages shared certain smuggling routes across the Himalayas for hundreds of years, and used to trade between them peacefully. However, since the 1950’s Spiti valley has begun taking over these territories, refusing to share and leading to some bloody encounters between the villages over the years.
As the chief speaks, he gets emotional and angry, and so do the villagers around who seem to really hate Spiti Valley. All this while Nick’s hand was in his bag, and we now see that the pistol is in his hand, concealed just under the bag. His mind is racing as he looks around planning his unlikely next move.
Shena now sees the pistol realizing that Nick is planning something. Her levels of stress rise fast as she tries to study their surroundings, looking for her shotgun, trying to figure out what’s her next move if Nick pulls out his gun.
The villagers are unrestful and both Nick and Shena are super stressed, with Nick’s hand tight on his concealed handgun. Just as it’s about to go down:
Chief: “You went quite a long way in the wrong direction, but I’ll be happy to show you how to navigate to Spiti Valley. Anything to hurt that village is good for me!”
The small crowd moves from angry murmurs to laughter, and both Nick and Sheena’s stress level drops in an instant, Nick’s hand eases and slides the pistol back into the bag. They look at each other in disbelief.
(Thursday, early afternoon)
Claudia is seated under a tree in a beautiful spot overlooking the valley at the village skirts. A young woman walks closer and sits next to her. Her blue eyes seem sad and distant. Claudia is happy that someone finally approaches to talk with her.
Claudia: “Hi”, No answer. “What’s your name?”
“Maria”, the young woman answers, her eyes looking down.
“Hi Maria, I’m Claudia”. Claudia speaks with a big smile but Maria won’t raise her glance from the ground. “Is everything OK?”
Maria: “I’m not allowed to talk to you” Claudia, surprised: “What? Why?” Maria won’t answer.
Claudia: “Is it that Peter guy? what was the speech that he gave last night all about?”
Maria is shy and seems fearful of talking.… She speaks quietly:. “It wasn’t always like that…”
“It wasn’t like what?” Claudia asks.
“The true Aryans were peaceful, before it all started getting corrupted with new rules. Some of our people resisted, but they’re all gone now…” Maria continues quietly, face down.
Claudia, confused… “True Aryans”??
Suddenly a low, peaceful voice: “Hello Claudia”. Both girls raise their heads in surprise to see Peter standing there, a German Shepard at his side. Only now, can Claudia see Peter clearly. He is the epiphany of the Aryan look: tall and well built, with sharp face features and piercing blue eyes. He seems both reassuring and terrifying at the same time.
Maria quickly stands and takes off, head lowered. Claudia stands to meet Peter.
Peter is smiley and fatherly. He speaks softly and asks how Claudia is liking the place, as he’s petting his dog, and offering Claudia to do the same. Claudia pets the dog with Peter - it's a little strange… then she says it's lovely, and she’s really happy to have had the chance to quickly visit this magnificent place with Leo.
Hearing Leo’s name seems to slightly adjectate Peter but he quickly snaps out of it, and tells of his great love for that young and talented guy.
Peter then greets her again, wishing her a great rest of the stay, and if she needs anything at all - to not hesitate to ask!
As he walks away, something seems to change in Claudia’s demeanour. The more she tries to connect the dots the weirder this place seems. Claudia is looking around, she has an eerie feeling that everyone is watching her, although she sees no-one in plain sight.
(Thursday, almost sunset)
Nick and Shena on their way from the wrong village, towards Spiti Valley. The villagers could spare them a donkey to help with carrying some food and water, as they have a challenging and long trek ahead of them, to cross the mountains back in the right direction. The path is steep and tough, and Shena - tired and semi defeated from the events of the last 24 hours - seems to be struggling. Nick finally takes charge. He unpacks the donkey’s back, lifts Shena up on the donkey in one go, sets the bags on his back, and leads the way with haste. Shena is surprised at this burst of strength and decisiveness. Nick seems to be getting used to his surroundings and trying to regain control over his own reality.
Back at Spiti Valley
Leo is hanging out with a few friends, Claudia walks fast towards him. She doesn’t look very happy.
Leo: “I know, I know - I’ve asked them to open the office so that you could make a call..”
Claudia cuts him off, emotional: “Forget about the call, I want to go now. Can you please take me to go meet my father before it gets too dark?”
Leo realises Claudia is dead serious and agrees. As they are on their way to pick up his bike near the entrance gates, they are being called-in by Peter.
Reluctantly, but without much choice, Leo asks that they go up to Peter’s chambers and say goodbye. Claudia doesn’t really want to, but it seems to be very important to Leo, so she agrees.
Leo leads her up a long wide set of stairs leading to the main house and the doors open to a huge and impressive hall, beautifully decorated yet vastly empty.
The walls and corridors are decorated with some of the world’s most famous art pieces, paintings, drawings, sculptures etc, all seem to be left overs from the luted art pieces that the Natzi occupation collected from across Europe for years.
A beautiful girl walks in from the side (Erica - Peter’s household manager), holding a tray with a can of water and two glasses and silently offers them a drink. Claudia appreciates a good cup of water before they hit the road. Leo gently declines, but seems to realize something that obviously stresses him out.
Peter walks in from the other side of the hall to greet them. He is wearing a white long cloth, reminiscence of fantasy wizards - a deceivingly purified look that is actually dark and scary. Leo asks Claudia to wait, and advances to meet Peter half way through the room. He gives a quick low Natzi salute then kisses both of the man’s hands. Claudia, not seeing the salute (since Leo is with his back to her), is curious to see the close relation the two seem to have.
The men have a short yet heated conversation in German, which leaves Leo clearly unhappy. Claudia can’t hear much of their conversation, but manages to catch a few words here and there: “...Not a believer…”, “....shouldn’t stay here…”, “... I can vouch for that!...”.
The conversation ends and the two men walk towards Claudia who stands near the entrance a bit overwhelmed and slightly disoriented. Peter reaches Claudia first and offers his hand for a hand shake.
“Hello again Claudia, it is extremely good to finally have you here in my home.”
Claudia is a little embarrassed and growingly stressed. This place seems more and more creepy and her gut feeling is clearly sounding her internal alarms. She’d be happy to get out of this place as soon as possible.
“Hi Peter, yeah it's great to see you again too! I wanted to thank you for your beautiful hospitality before I leave...” Claudia is looking at Leo for some participation or answers, but he looks extremely uncomfortable all of the sudden, and is avoiding her looks.
Peter takes a step closer to Claudia, and offers his arm to her. She hesitates but then puts her arm in his, and they start a slow walk towards the inside of the Hall.
Peter continues: “you don’t know me very well Claudia, but I know your soul since before you were born. Ever since our resourceful Leo presented me with the opportunity to meet you I simply couldn’t get you out of my head”.
Claudia is starting to feel a little hazy and also very uncomfortable by this guy, she stops and slightly raises her voice: “listen mister I’m not sure what you’re talking about but Leo and I are just passing through on the way to meet my dad not far from here…!”.
As she’s saying that, looking at Leo for reassurance, she finds him already close to the exit door, apparently on his way out. Claudia lets out an unplanned scream: “LEO??!”
Leo turns to look at her with a blank look on his face.
Peter is standing uncomfortably close to Claudia who is standing there, frozen like a deer in headlights, her mind more and more hazy from something they must have put in her water, tears starting to fall down her eyes.
“Leo?...” she whispers
Leo seems to be torn apart from within but he doesn't dare speak another word against those of the High Priest.
“We don’t usually do this, you know” Peter says quietly and his voice echoes through the chambers, “we never force our visitors to stay against their will. But there must always be exceptions to the rules, to keep nature in balance. And you my dear are such an exception”.
Claudia is shaking in fear and tearing uncontrollably. Something really evil is happening to her right now. Her mind is buzzing with confused thoughts and borderline hallucinations. Suddenly she erupts towards the door, kicking and screaming, but is held by Peter who turns violently apprehensive in a split second.
Just then Erica makes herself visible from near the entrance point. She looks much less inviting than she did a few minutes ago, holding some kind of medieval looking iron bat, making it clear to Claudia that escape is not an option.
“Leo help! Leo - don’t leave me here please. Leo!!!!”
Leo, with extreme agony and tears in his eyes, turns around, not looking back, and walks away. The big hall doors shut closed behind him, and Claudia’s screams slowly diminish in volume as Leo keeps walking.
Nick and Shena arrive at a deadlock and can only continue from here by foot and without the donkey. They need to walk on a very narrow mountain ledge, with a great drop at its side. An inch of a mistake and they plunge down to their death.
Shena goes first and passes safely to the other side. Nick it turns out, is greatly afraid of heights. He managed to deal with it so far, but this is really scary. He gathers all his mental strengths, and starts advancing, his sweaty face glued to the mountain side and his eyes closed. Nick manages to get through most of the way but suddenly slips and quickly turns and slides down the mountain side, Shena gives a scream, but Nick is luckily hanging in mid air, his backpack stuck on an old tree branch.
Both scream in fear, and try to quickly realize what to do next. Shena can barely reach Nick, who is dangling like a trapped fly caught in a spider web. There seems to be no physical way either of them can help Nick out of this situation and his fear of heights is at full alert. Nick starts to panic, mumbling words of frustration and pain, as his body weight pulls him down, and his backpack blocks the blood to his arms.
The situation is quickly deteriorating - it's getting darker by the minute, and more painful, and who knows how long this old dried tree branch will hold. Nick takes a decision to free himself up from the backpack. He starts swinging to the sides, left and right, to change the pressure points on the backpack’s sleeves so he can release one of his arms. After some frightening failing attempts, he finally throws his body weight and manages to pull out his left arm. With that we hear a great crack, followed by a sharp scream - Nick just dislocated his shoulder… In great pain he now needs to turn and use the other hand to hug the tree branch while trying to raise himself up. It’s not going well and he's out of strength. Just as he’s starting to slip down, Shena manages to grab his good arm and hold him (She has secured her feet with some rope to a rock, and crawled with her upper body towards the thin ledge corner, where Nick is dangeleing).
Nick screams in agony as Shena pulls him up which scratches his dangling dislocated arm on the mountain side as he is being pulled up.
At the end of some 5 really scary minutes, both Shena and Nick are lying on the ground at the side of the mountain, breathing heavily. Nick is badly wounded and bleeding from deep scratches located all over his dislocated arm.
The pain is unbearable, and Shena presses Nick to push his shoulder back in. At his last strength Nick rams his shoulder into the mountain side, and faints.
Establishing shots of the Aryan’s village life. People are going about their business but things look a little different now. With their unified outfits and fake-happy f