LOSS OF INNOCENCE
St.Christopher - Pray for Travellers
|It goes like this. Hippies
put a place on the map, then tourists come, then they
build hotels on top of the hippies. It's the natural progression
everywhere, but in Goa it took the longest time. Every
single thing carries the seeds of its own destruction.
That's time. A cycle of destruction and renewal. As for
the particular direction in which Goa went, it has to
be the residue of previous programming.
From the hippie diaries:
--- The good ship Konkan Shakti, deck class, two dollars.
Beautiful ride (Bombay to Goa): saw many dolphins. Under the
canvas awning at the stern, a hundred chilams ignite. Only
a month previously had sworn not to go to Goa. Goa now a haven
I am hurrying towards, to recover equilibrium after the unsettling
psychological pressure of Indian cities. Woken before dawn
by irritating hawkers. On the white ferry building, in red
letters, a sign: Welcome to Goa.
--- Goa had that run-down, old-Portuguese, lost-world vibes.
They had sculpted and gardened it, they brought the cashew
and the chilli. And they'd only left in 1961, a few years
before the first freaks arrived. The Goans missed that old
western connection, so when we arrived, they liked us. We
were no threat, and they didn't mind sharing their paradise
with us. Before the jeep roads were built and the beaches
patrolled, it was a free country, a smuggler's coast. Goa
was in Goan hands. They were so laid back: Hello, hello, with
a vague gesture in the air. They practised Sosegado,
an attitude which made manana seem excitable. Sosegado
meant something like, maybe after the day after tomorrow.
It was an Island, a rest from India, which, however much one
liked it, was rather like being bombarded from morning to
night. India exhausted any idea of proportion, but Goa had
it. The scene began, I am told, in 1966, with twenty or thirty
people. All origins need a myth.
----- After the second war, all the Germans interned for the
duration by the Portuguese went home, except for five: these
men opened small businesses, married local girls and smoked
hashish. When the first foreigners after the war began to
arrive, around 1966 or 67, the five Germans fraternised with
them. This makes the five Germans the first Goa freaks.
Our first sight of Goa was the Jungle, and the waterways.
Our senses were suddenly open, aware, freed. There was the
scent of the tropics, the fireflies at night, the sensuality
of everything. Suddenly your senses were open to jungle Asia:
in its way, this was a kind of “spiritual awakening.”
There were perhaps sixty Westerners living in Anjuna, in houses,
not in huts on the beach. They were not there merely to hang
out: it was a community of people trying to get the old shit
out of their minds, the useless stuff they had been taught.
Each had his own way, and followed it by himself. Everyone,
western, Goan, was a teacher, and everything was, too; you
could learn so much from the place. The people had had nearly
five hundred years of experience of westerners, in the shape
of Portuguese, and many were Catholic: but first they were
animist, believing in and worshipping ancestor spirits, and
mixing this with Christianity.
---- Why go to Goa? Congenial people. Fewer people. Such a
thing as an empty beach. You'd see a few people a day, instead
of few million. You could swim in the sea without any clothes
on. You simply couldn't do that in India, unless you were
a Naga sadhu.
Other things you could do: on the beach you could make love.
Where else could you do that? On a railway platform, under
----- The Goan people were so patient with these nuts living
around them. It could be like a psychiatric hospital, I tell
you, with all kinds of trips and gangs going on. It was the
acceptance, the patience of Goans that made that scene possible.
----- It's a phenomenon specifically of Goa that such a very
open foreigner scene should coexist so well usually with the
local one. Goan society is stable, traditional and resilient.
It was accommodating and ready to change. Now there's two-week
package tourism, which will touch them not at all; the big
hotels will get the money, and the human relationships will
------ His fame spread to the West, and he got himself a whole
new audience. Letters came to Germany saying, "If there
was a God alive on the planet, wouldn’t you want to
see him?" Planeloads of Germans were flying into Bombay,
straight into Pune, having taken the colour. Bhagwan's (Rajneesh)
disciples wore variations on the sannyasin's traditional saffron.
Rajneesh's people began to come down from Pune -- we called
them Poonatics -- and soon there was a constant flow of them.
And later on, the people who did go to Pune from Goa only
went for the girls.
---- It was getting cold in the North. Everybody was saying,
Time for Goa.
---- I am informed that the journey from Pushkar to Goa
will take sixteen weeks by a camel.
flea market started there -- Eddie's Porch (Eddie was an American
also considered as the guru of the whites) -- three people,
or four, just trading this for that; and then it spread, moved
to different places, and grew, and grew. It was the information
exchange, and in the seventies, a show.
---- The sewage system took pleasure in its work. Goa was
spotless: full compensation, you had to admit, for the shock
of seeing for the first time a pig smiling up at you from
what should have been the toilet bowl. Smile they might, but
you are what you eat, and sometimes when a pig died suddenly,
the foreigners were blamed.
----- I have a postcard, printed in Bombay in 1972: it is
captioned "Arambol, adobe of hippies" and
bears a perfectly unfocused photo of naked people disporting
themselves with a Frisbee.
By the early seventies, thousands of foreigners were spending
the winter in Goa. Indian tourists, too, had begun to visit
the beaches, but in their clothes.
----- I do remember seeing a group of bemused Bombayites observing
a beach yoga session, and being called perverts by a nude
woman in a turban.
----- There had always been parties, but a party was a log
of wood, a bongo and a guitar. And a chilam. It was only when
electricity arrived at the beach and the WHO sent speakers
(despite the legend, they didn't ever come themselves) and
the band plugged in, that this vicarious electronic scene
began. Once you've got loud rock and roll, nobody talks to
one another, and this was one of the factors that had made
people leave Europe in the first place. (In Europe talking
meant going to the pub to discuss what was on TV the night
before.) People came to India looking for a right way to live,
a human way, and in Goa they liked to sit around a fire of
an evening doing what the rest of India was doing, telling
stories, singing, gossiping: but the minute you had some raging
rock and roll band on, you were back to the same old shit
you'd tried to escape in the first place.
At first Goa was a place people stopped in for Christmas,
for relief from the rigours of travel. Then it was settled,
and then as a resort settlement, GOA ACQUIRED A SEASON.
To everything there is a season: a seed is planted, it sprouts,
grows to maturity, withers and dies.
----- In some ways, what you learned from India depended on
what you’d gone there as, and for. If you went as a
racist or something, you simply came back as one, and England
was a relief. If you went for a romp, you came back with nothing
but happy playground memories. We had fun, sure, but interesting
fun, not the simple tourist variety. But then, India was not
a tourist destination. We didn’t want to distance ourselves,
nor did we want to study Eastern culture formally, we were
simply interested in being in that other world, in living
in its as authentically as possible. That’s how you
grow, through that kind of lived experience.
---- India expanded your consciousness. But it did, it gave
you a much broader base of experience from which to see your
own world and act in it. Broader, because in India the experiences
tended to be extreme, heavenly or hellish.
----it was a rare instance of foreign invasion of India not
interested in loot. They weren’t on the make, they came
here to blend in. One of the things that inspired the India
trip was the lack of spiritual nourishment at home. By spiritual
nourishment I do not mean that people were seekers after enlightenment.
Enlightenment in the East was simply something that might
hit you at the bus stop by mistake. Then it might disappear.
Then it might return …… You too, baba, sitting
there, you’re coming to Asia because you’re getting
some kind of nourishment here you’re not getting anywhere
Compiled by Gaurav
Edited by - Subash
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