Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How I got Made...an Acid Freak!

I have already had published 2 different versions of this story, the first called "Alec Farthing" in "Being Different", an anthology of gay memoirs edited by Gary Wotherspoon in 1985, and then a comic book I drew entitled "No Future" published by Headmaster Press back in the early eighties, and I also have in my laptop a 700 page manuscript, "The 7 Lives of Toby the Punk Poofy Cat", wherein I give a full explanation of my sordid adventures ever awaiting a publisher to discover me, (like, where are THEY?) But some friends of mine, who work for "User News", a drug addicts' magazine, find my story fascinating and have asked me to write it out once more as they've had confessions from all kinds of druggies but never from an LSD fiend, so here we go again.

In 1969 I was 19 and suffering intense angst at being homosexual in a world that saw my kind as lowdown dirty scumbags fit only to be tortured, gaoled, hospitalised or murdered. I was studying to be a nurse and an older nurse, Keith, who came onto me as a patronising brother figure, got me to admit my 'gayness' and convinced me I was indeed mentally ill. He told me he was once 'homo' himself but had been cured with 10 sessions of LSD therapy and now was happily married and the father of a baby boy. I had never had any drugs, not even pot, but had heard all about LSD from the media, Ken Kesey's "Merry Pranksters and the Magical Mystery Tour", Timothy Leary's "Politics of Ecstasy" but most especially the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and I was intrigued, wanting so badly to escape the horrors of mundane Melbourne and the less than zero life of a homo. LSD promised other-worldly adventures, enlightened self-knowledge, colourful fun and ultimate ecstasy, but as a boy from a Housing Commission ghetto, the Olympic Village in West Heidelberg, there was no way I could score the drug, I was not hip and had no connections.

Keith told me his saviour was a shrink who promoted Jungian pscho-analysis, delved into the Collective Unconscious with the aid of Lysergic Acid and unearthed the traumas, fixations and compulsions lurking deep within, and I should consider giving it a go. Off I stumbled to a private psyche hospital in Kew that looked like a witch's gingerbread cottage hidden in it's overgrown gardens, and there I was interviewed by the psychiatrist, a Dr. Mackay, who seemed to me to be wise, paternalistic, even out of this world with his strange parchment like skin and piercing eyes. I got it in my naive head he was from a UFO sent to lift humanity up into it's next stage of evolution, and I impressed him also with my sexual anxieties, intelligence and sincere desire to "improve", and so I was admitted into the programme of LSD aversion therapy.

I was to have the requisite 10 sessions of pure LSD25, shipped in from Sandoz laboritories in Switzerland under the guise of " therapeutic purposes" and at the end of the dark tunned I would emerge an outstanding, righteous citizen fit to join the human race. All paid for by my Health Fund, I was admitted into the private hospital, put into pyjamas and locked in a small room with bars on the window. The maggii-like shrink came in and shot me up intra-muscular, also giving me a small white pill, one was the LSD, the other a muscle relaxant, which was which I'll never know, but it did take about an hour to come on and I got quite impatient waiting for the blast. And BLAST it was, suddenly my universe melted and rained down upon my head, super-novae exploded, black holes sucked my soul from my heart, volcanoes erupted, amphibians slithered forth, dinosaurs tore apart mammals and apemen raped me mercilessly.

Every war ever fought in history battled for my consciousness, corpses piled up around my hospital bed and the walls cracked into myriad tableaus, every one of them depicting some crude, sleazy sex act, then blood seeped thru the cracks and poured down upon me till I thought I would drown. My body contorted into grotesque, deformed postures, I gagged, throttled and retched, I thought I was going to die, oblivion threatened to overwhelm me and blot me out of existence and I fought off the impending doom with all my strength, pushing my foot down hard as if on imaginary brakes during a head-on car collision. The shrink came into the room and sat by my side watching me contort, moan and dry-reach, his big comment, "looks like a huge penis trying to insert itself into a small mouth, I think you were molested when you were a child, maybe it was your father, try to remember it!" (YUK! This shrink was really a Freudian wolf in Jungian sheep's clothing!)

Whatever the bad memory was, I fought it off, it was too horrific, like some H.P.Lovecraft monster crawling up from the deep, I did'nt want to know about it. The shrink left and was soon replaced by the head nurse, Anne, a Germanic matron, like a Valkyrie with a blonde bee-hive hairdo, who sat beside me and repeated like a mantra, "vomit it all up, remember the horror, get it out and over with, vomit, vomit, vomit!"

But still I resisted the suggested bad memories and after 8 hours of bad-tripping, the drug wore off, dawn called with birdsong and my first session was over. I went home and continued work as a nurse, going back to the witch's cottage in Kew 3 more times over the next few weeks to try and trip out my traumatic past but each time fighting the impending ghastliness off, no matter how much the shrink and head nurse encouraged, wheedled and directed the bummer trips. Throughout the nights I could hear shrieks coming from other rooms and thus realised I wasn't the only one undergoing the radical therapy. During my fourth session I noticed they'd forgotten to lock the door and as I came down from the nightmare I snuck out into the corridor to explore the hospital and find the source of the hair-raising screams.

I met another teenager in his pyjamas who'd come in because of anti-social behaviour, he had an ugly basin hair cut and told me the hospital staff had forcefully cut off his long hair, and I wasn't impressed. He told me They were convinced our traumas were from past life experiences, the countless times we'd been raped, tortured, murdered over many lifetimes, and somehow we were to cleanse ourselves of these horrors and move on. This news weirded me out, what the fuck was going on in this snake-pit dump? But we didn't get long to compare notes as a crabby faced nurse showed up and we both fled back to our rooms.

During this, my fourth LSD session, I had the usual nasty heebie-jeebies, fighting them off like Frodo battling the Orcs but towards the end of the dark night a miracle occurred, the gloom lifted, white light broke thru, the gates of paradise opened up and I ran into a primordial garden of earthly delights wherein I joined a circle of fairy-type souls dancing atavistically around a Pan-like figure, and all was ecstasy, peace and love. The shrink came in and I beamed beatifically upon him, much to his annoyance, he prepared a second, bigger hit of LSD and shot me up with alacrity, murmuring, " go into the horror, remember the pain, relive the DEATH!"

I put my foot down hard on the brakes, forget it DOC, it was too much SHIT! The white light came again, the rainbow colours, the joy, the awe, the stupendous beauty also to be found in the land of the Unconscious, angels instead of demons, I'd climbed from Hell, and Heaven was all around. When dawn came I realised the place was not where I ever wanted to be ever again, 4 sessions were enough, fuck the full 10 where they'd probably fry my brains into sludge. I got dressed, snuck out thru the back door, ran thru the overgrown gardens and climbed the back fence, escape was bliss.

On wobbly legs I walked into Melbourne city where all had slowed down as if I was pushing thru viscous honey, and I had the uncanny feeling that whatever I thought came to pass, if I thought tram, a tram would come, if I thought red car, a red car would pass, the entire universe seemed to revolve around me and do my bidding. It took me weeks to come down, if I ever did, I never returned to that hospital and it's psychedelic programme and I guess they gave me up as lost, unprogrammable, for they never sought me out.

Another year drifted by and I passed my final nursing exams and, freaked out of my brains, I ran away to India, hoping to find an alternative way of Being, maybe get real Self-realisation, at least have the greatest adventure of a lifetime. I was determined to go thru the "acid experience" without being locked into a room, without "therapeutic purposes", to get on top of it and surf it HIGH, and so I took acid on any and every whim, from the heights of the Himalayan mountains to the beaches of Goa, the Ganga river at Shangri-la to the carved temple caves of Mahabalipuram. One of Ken Kesey's 'merry pranksters' had escaped to India with a huge stash of liquid "Clear Light" LSD and he handed the stuff out at Goan parties via an eye-dropper dripped into the mouth, and I did indeed dance naked with the fairies around bonfires in the garden of earthly delights.

I kept having bummer trips tho, all my Aussie/Christian brainwashing oozing out like puss, I was possessed with the idea that Satan was trying to claim my soul and I had to defeat HIM and become my own self. After many 'trips' I finally got on top of the fears, and morphed into my gutsy, exuberant, quirky self, homosexual and glorying in it. Satan was banished and Pan took his place, I grew into an ecstatic pagan, an admirer of the angel of Light, a Luciferian a la Anatole France's "Revolt of the Angels", and thus I became another rebel angel in the war against the evil "Godists" plagueing the planet.

Years later I discovered that the private hospital in Kew was a front for a CULT called 'The Family' and having worldwide connections, at the head of it the nurse with the beehive, Anne Hamilton Byrne, a Swiss-German, who had convinced a whole bunch of fuckwits she was the new Messiah, the great Aryan Godwoman for a New Age, doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, all sucked in, she fed them copious amounts of LSD over the years and thus had them quite addled. Eventually she was discovered on a farm in the Victorian bush with a group of children aged from infancy to teens, all of them with blue eyes and bleached white hair like Aryan godlings, and no explanation of where she got the kids from.

One teenager escaped and told the police she'd kept them all enslaved, up before dawn for cold baths, gruel for food, harsh work disciplines all day, no education, no contact with the bigger world, and fed on LSD of which she had a huge stash. One day at the Piccolo Cafe on the Cross I was told the horrible urban myth that she'd forced blood transfusions from the kids and shot it into herself in the hope of retaining eternal youth and, what's really weird, in photos of her in her seventies she actually looked to be only in her forties.

I realised THEY had plans for me also with my bright blue eyes, hoping to straighten me into a Het, marry me to one of the nursing staff as they'd done for Keith, and get me to pump out blue-eyed kids, which she'd then grab as true Aryans. Keith, my wonderful best friend and and supposed big brother, had connived with the Cult all along to have me brainwashed and one of the kids she'd enslaved was probably his, (what a true-blue friend he was!) I don't know where the old bag is now, I think the Law is chasing her around overseas and still having a hard time trying to bring her to justice, she ripped off lots of money of course and still has some zealous zombies supporting her. I know the private hospital got closed down by the cops and the good Doctor Mackay disqualified as there were too many teenage kids going home with fried brains making for a huge, juicy scandal.

As for me, the next fifteen years had me rushing about dropping Acid like Aspirin, unable to party unless I was well and trully tripped out. And back in Auz for the '77 new years party I dropped Golden Sunshie and cavorted with Bon Scott and his AC/DC at a free concert in the old Haymarket, and like a fish flapping on an alien shore I washed up permanently in Sydney. At the horror movies, rock concerts, hippie gatherings, new years eve freak shows or romps thru the Auzzie bush, I just had to psychedelicise my universe with ACID, rubbing the genie's bottle, riding the magic carpet and weilding the sword of Excalibur to claim the Holy Grail. I never actually did come back to reality and have been semi-mad all my life, unable to hold down a job, have a viable relationship or deal with ordinary people rationally, I seem to be permanently hallucinating, which is not too tragic considering I hope to be a visionary artist.

This said and done, I would never recommend Acid to anyone as it's a dangerous drug, for those with a weak link it breaks them irrevocably and a normal life sought after recedes like a mirage. Real LSD is almost impossible to come by these days, as if it's intense efficacy evaporated with the times of the sixties/seventies, once Known, like virginity lost, it's never to be re-established, the morphic resonance fading away, the headspace maybe evolved to other dimensions up the time-line to us ecstatic cyberpunks. What passes for Acid these days is adulterated rubbish, glorified Speed, poison to addle the system, and I avoid it like the plague.

For those who just have to KNOW there's always the pure, natural psychedelic of psyloscibin found in Goldtop mushrooms, and many is the time I've eaten of Pan's fruit up around funky Nimbin and danced with the Green One in ecstacy, but I do this only on sacred occassions, as a celebrant of the glories of being alive in an awesome Universe, like at the Spring Equinox or Mid-winter's solstice, it's not just for cheap thrills and can poison the feeble-minded as badly as any backyard lab chemical.

(If one is still hellbent on doing drugs, no matter what the proscription against it is, then I would advise to follow the Timothy Leary directives, as mad as he was, the grandfather of all "acid-casualties" : consider dosage, set and setting. 1) Make sure you know what the drug is and it's strength by taking advice from a close and trusted friend who has already tried it. 2) Be with the right set of people when you trip out, friends you love and trust, all looking out for each other. 3) Choose the right setting, an environment or site that makes you feel safe, happy and comfortable, what doesn't freak you out, what encourages your high.)(For me, being a freak, it was most often wild rock'n'roll parties!)

And, hey! There's nothing like drug free, clear, lucid consciousness to feel truly high.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spirit in a Bottle.

It's often commented to me that "India is so spiritual", overlooking the 500 million people living below the poverty line, untouchable castes, child slavery, women as second class citizens, environmental degradation etc etc. The term "spiritual" seems silly to me for its' origin is in animism and ancestor worship, the benign spirit of a tree, river or lake is worshiped or the evil spirit placated, and the ghosts of the great grandparents are appealed to for guidance and support. Muddle-headed seance junkies are into "spirits", vomiting up ectoplasm to have their fortunes told or their dead loved ones revived. And let's not forget the ultimate 'spirit' comes in a bottle, very popular in India, not the genie beside the Arabian sea granting wishes, more like Johnnie Walker granting drunken forgetfulness.

It's true that I myself landed in India as a youth with dreams of "spiritual purification and self realisation", then the reality of the place got to me, knocked me off my high horse, dragged me down into the dust, corrupted me, threw my humanity in my face and laughed at my naive stupidity, and thankfully I laughed also, what a joke "spiritualism" is. Now it amuses me greatly to watch the tourists land in India, after a few moments of breathing the burning shit smell they get it in their heads that they want "enlightenment" and must find a Guru, after a few books and yoga lessons they become convinced they certainly are "enlightened" and a few meditation sessions later they believe they can be Gurus too, who needs the brown guys with long flowing white beards? One can't sit in a cafe that caters to the cosmics with pure 'satvas' food and ask for the salt to be passed without getting a lecture on the 1001 commandments of proper yogic living, it's such a bore.

I am not a spiritual seeker, thank nogod, I'm an unashamed swashbuckling adventurer, dirty, nasty, fun-loving, cynical and satirical, passionate and compassionate, in love with the goddess Maya, the illusory Universe. My sweetest gurus are the peasants in the gutter, the rock-breaking road worker and chapati patting chai-wallah, who have no pretensions, are humble, generous and wise, working to create things of neccesary use, playing hard and living bitter/sweet, such a relief to hang out with and talk over life and death matters. In the 35 years I've hung around India, particularly in Shangri-la in the Himalayas, that mecca for yogic wankers, I've seen swarms of wannabe gurus march past waving their banners, photos, booklets and tapes promoting false Light and self-aggrandisement. As if the legion of Indian fakers weren't enough, it's obvious certain venal foreign sharpshooters said to themselves, "hmmm, there's money and power in this enlightenment business, I think I'll have a piece of that!"

They can even have ludicrous monikers like "Barry Bonkhead" and still get a following of gullible morons because they've got the bullshit down pat, and westerners, who've already had everything modern consumer capitalism can give them, decide they'd like "nirvana" as the cherry on the cake, the ultimate fashion assessory, and scared of old age and death, are desperate to believe any nonsense spouted from any mealy-mouthed loonie, the more outlandish/mundane, the more believable. Money, power, and prestige, with SEX ever lurking beneath, are the lures for these spiritual entrepreneurs and, of course, those consummate capitalists the Americans are thick on the ground plugging themselves as enlightened gurus, but there are also Englishmen, Germans and wild-eyed Aussies parading as "extra-special souls", especially weird are the Israelis touting a mix of Kabbalah and Hinduism, it's kind of gotten out of control.

There's an American ex-house frau called Shanti-mat (as in cosmic door-mat) ensconced in Shangri-la, who looks like a recovering diet-pill addict and has droves of fools throwing themselves at her feet, wailing 'love-songs' and handing over their money to spend a week in her aura. Nicolette and I once sat in on one of her devotional sing-a-longs, giving her the evil Shiva third eye from our funky pierced faces, and she was so pissed off at the sight of us she had her goons remove us from the ashram, such is her equanimous and peace-filled nature. Her followers eat at a cafe near the river, they have shaved heads like frustrated runaway nuns and are so crabby one dares not sit near them for the bad vibes, I've had my head snapped off just for putting my shoulder bag on the seat next to them, such peaceniks! What happened to the meditation discipline of quietude and benevolence?

In my youth my yoga mentor was an old Aussie who called himself Compassion, he'd been a chela of the amazing Sivananda, long dead but a guru who'd left a legacy of good work behind him, like hospitals and libraries, which is the only good reason for the 'gurus' existence. I lived with my old white-haired friend in the jungle behind the ashram, he was dying from cancer and I nursed him in return for discourses upon philosophy and art. He didn't tout for followers, no photos of his smarmy smiles were propped up in the shops of the bazar, he died owning nothing, with only a couple of his friends knowing of his existence. Yes, he was just another westerner in eastern trappings who I realise was an old fool but at least he wasn't into money and holier-than-thou snootines. I tried hard for a few years to be a 'high yogi', meditating for hours, doing yoga all day long, eating little, celibate to the point of uptightness, and then I collapsed, for I'm only human. We're all only human, there's nothing but "humanity", no supermen or great souls or godlings, some humans simply care more than others, are stronger and have the courage to act upon their concerns, like 'Mahatma' Ghandi.

I'm happy to be human, to be in this awesome Universe, to feel the cold when it snows and the irritation when it bites and the joy when there's love, and the horror when there's hate, passion and pain are part of life, one can learn from them and grow, but not if one is afraid and avoid them in a fugue of crazy fantasising. How would anything have ever been achieved in history if one just floated about with a smarmy smile and let any injustice go down with just a murmured "Hari Om" in response?

I'm sure an army of cosmics will want to lynch me for this rave, with their tired retort that it's simply my sour grapes for being a weakling and not reaching the "Light". In their starry-eyed befuddlement they fail to take note of the trail of money that inevitably winds it's way into the pockets of the Gurus, for money is the real God and purpose of all the posturing. The fools are even willing to provide 99 Rolls Royces, then prostrate themselves to the "great men", even touch their precious feet, it's so insulting and dehumanising, all in the hope of 'enlightenment', but from within false consciousness, like hunting for "fool's gold": they overlook the obvious fact it's their EGO that so desperately wants Nirvana, it's oxymoronic.

After my old friend Compassion died and we threw him in the Ganga River I hung about the ashram to continue my studies and sadhana. There was an old female resident there who sat about in meditation with a blissful look on her face and her false teeth jutting out, she pretended she was always in ecstatic trance and possibly Enlightened. We called her the German princess, she was so precious, floating about in her lavender saris. For a while there she took a shine to me, thinking I was the ants pants of yogic endeavours, often chucking me under the chin and telling me what wonderful blue eyes I had, as if she was secretly lusting after me.

Then my big yogic collapse ensued, I got horny and met a taxi driver in the chai shop in front of the ashram. I took him into the jungle and sucked his cock, most disatisfying but human desire had burst forth, no matter the repressive disciplines and goody-two-shoes facades. He in turn told everyone in the bazar who told all the swamis in the ashram and having little to do but gossip they told everybody else. I was no longer the favourite of the German princess, she actually hissed like Dracula with a crucifix everytime she clapped eyes on me.

In the early seventies I had searched out and sat in front of many famous Babas, always with the hope that I'd find the supreme being, who could enlighten me with just a glance. I had darshan of Master Ram Baba, a hugely fat fellow that lay about on an island in the Ganges eating the karma of the crowd of women who patiently spoon fed him curd and rice hoping for freedom from the wheel of life and death. His eyes were forever rolled back in his head in ecstatic trance, so overweight he needed assistance to rise and walk, he was too outlandish for my pragmatic soul and I moved on. I was given 7 oranges by Deva Baba from his hut on stilts by the Jamuna River, he was supposed to be 200 years old so I kissed his wrinkled foot hoping some of that endurance would rub off on me. I meditated in front of Tatwallah Baba at his jungle cave for many weeks, a giant of a man who carted whole tree trunks about for his sadhana and who was eventually shot dead by goondas for using his charisma politically to have cow slaughter banned.

I got magic ash produced from thin air rubbed on my third eye by fuzzy-wuzzy Satya Sai Baba who later on got accused of seducing teenage boys , so maybe I should've hung about his door and got initiated with the name Poofterananda, a match made in heaven. Then I danced blindfolded and foolish in front of Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh for 3 days at his ashram in Poona, but his rave seemed the same old hippie con, "you're already enlightened, you've got IT, NOW!" The mob of hairy hets only wanted to hear more, over and over, but not me, for the Orange people looked to be lonely desperate fuckwits looking for a cosmic fuck, Osho paired them of like Noah with his ark, and I ran away horrified.

I sought out every other famous Indian Baba of the mid 20th century, Muktananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Guru Maharaj, on and on but none of them appealed, I couldn't hand my soul over, they came across as merely charismatic spiritual pop stars, with too much bullshit as luggage. By 1975 I was more or less my own guru, resigned to be no one and nothing at all, human and fallible, crazy and horny as all hell, I still had LIFE to grab by the throat. A group at Sivananda ashram had decided to get darshan from Ananda Mayee Ma in Haridwar, the one real saint I ever had the good fortune to meet. Seven of us piled into a cab, the German princess one of the gang, she emanated haughty distance and chilly silence so I tried to ignore her, a cocksucker trying not to give a shit.

We arrived at a temple to the Goddess, walls and ceilings covered in murals depicting every aspect of the celestial female, Parvati, Laxmi, Saraswati, Radha, Sita, devas, apsaras, Michelangelo couldn't have done better and I was gobsmacked by the beauty of the place. We were all taken into a small room wherein Ananda Mayee Ma sat upon a dais, she never said a word, nor did we, we simply sat there for half an hour drinking in her vibes while she smiled in bliss and bestowed her benevolent gaze upon us. She had been discovered when a small girl, meditating in the jungle, wrapt in ecstasy, a light-filled natural, born thus and instantly recognised by the people as an incarnation of the Cosmic Mother. Money was not the hidden agenda, nor fame, power, prestige or SEX, and there was no television, magazines or internet to flog her wares, she was the last vestige of times long gone, traditional India that was about to be swept away by free-market capitalism and cyberpunk technologies.

(My admiration for her might seem a contradiction of all I'm saying in this essay, but she was not "the Goddess", there is no such thing, she had been elected without her sayso to be a living metaphor, the 'mother universe' that had given birth to everything, hopefully nurturing and loving. It all falls within human nature to me, a spectrum of psycho-emotions and willpower, with compassion and caring at one end and cruel venality at the other, maybe with the herd-mentality gronks somewhere in the middle, no need for gods or angels to explain it, and most gurus falling into the greedy egotism section as far as I'm concerned.

Maybe the planet is capable of producing 7 great seers in any one epoch but I get the feeling they're not hanging about the market place waving photos of themselves, they're hiding out in ice-bound mountain fastnesses or deep jungle labrynths, accepting only the coolest of souls as chelas, or working as lowly nurses in AIDs hospices in the far-flung suburbs, for only the ego-maniacs and money-grubbers would advertise enlightenment for sale: an obvious truism is "you get the guru you deserve.")

At the end of the darshan we filed past Ma and she gave each of us a slight hug, no lecture had been given or money asked for, she seemed to be half in another world, maybe a better one, emanating peace and joy from a long distance, and then we staggered back out into this world, hot, painful, sensual, glorious and hard-arse real. I wandered out in a daze, ecstasy had been communicated and I was enthralled.

Down in the courtyard below her room some Indian peasants set up a furore banging on drums, they also had tasted the bliss of LIFE and wanted to share it, their enthusiasm was contagious and I couldn't resist throwing myself into the DANCE, leaping about, spinning, twisting, gyrating, belly laughing/flopping/dancing, I was JOY personified, moving to the music of the spheres. And glancing up I saw Ananda Mayee Ma at her window watching, her handmaidens at her shoulder, all mesmerised and smiling, particularly HER, she had such a sweet smile of appreciation, of delight, I'm sure the drummers were put there on purpose, for, forgetting all the pain for a few wonderful moments, LIVING was LOVING is what she told me with her eyes.

And then the drumming stopped, the magic was over, reality had to be gotten on with, the hot sun seared into my brain and sweaty people milled about. Suddenly the German princess swept up to me, her face twisted in wrath and, spitting chips, she hissed, "how dare you dance so lasciviously in the sacred compound of Ananda Mayee Ma! Have you no shame? You danced like a cabaret whore, so sexual, so profane, you've acted like a male prostitute, it's disgusting! You little exhibitionist slut!I've never seen such a display of carnal decadence!" And gathering up her horrid lavender sari, she swished off, nose in the air, leaving me stunned, red-faced, crestfallen, for I thought I'd given the performance of my life, the natives had seemed so pleased with my art. "That's DECADANCE baby!" I should've shouted, but no, I was still naive and placatory then, not the demon-possessed warrior I was to grow into, I hung my head in the face of her shame.

We travelled back to the ashram in silence, the princess had rushed off in her her own vehicle, everyone else too embarrassed to engage me, and while I had drawn in my vibes, I still felt secretly elated, and deliciously pleased I'd danced in intense ecstatic trance, for I couldn't get that sweet smile in Ananda Mayee Ma's eyes from out of my mind, you win some, you lose some, and I'd rather lose the German mother, thank you very much. The Lavendar Princess went on to reside in a small house high in the mountains outside Shangri-la for the next thirty years and she got herself quite a reputation as an enlightened being, hungry fools from all over trundled their way up the narrow goat paths to recieve her blessing and imbibe her wisdoms, but I couldn't give a flying fuck for her sainthood, she was just another uptight wannabe, just as human in her pretensions as me, and I often wondered if her false teeth still stuck out of her head when she meditated.

The good matron eventually got picked up by the local cops for never having had a visa and was deported back to Germany in a rush, a rude shock for such a cosmic refugee I bet, the poor bitch maybe lost her teeth in angst with the post-modern, cyberpunk world suddenly crashing in upon her. In 1975 I sent her a card before I left the Sivananda Ashram and it said, "in this world mother no one can love me..."

Ananda Maye Ma

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tales from Oldtime India.

Looking back, from standing on the brink of the VOID, I can't help but reminisce upon the exhilaration of it ALL, that with NERVE you can jump into LIFE and really go for IT, and with a compassionate heart have few regrets. What a bumptious, ecstatic flight it was, to overlook the horror and sadness and for a few delicious moments just recall the wonder and pleasure. For instance, my youth spent in India in the early '70s where like "Kim" I mulched down into the red dust at the side of the Infinite Highway till everyone accepted me as a natural part of the background, the Freak, a blue-eyed Indian native.

At night drums beat feverishly, like a restless heart, even today in the 21st century, echoing from the villages and jungles, pujahs performed to sacralise an awesome Universe, the great stages of Life completed, a child born, reaching the safety of 5 years old, getting married, dying, placating the myriad gods. In 1972 I was only 22 when I first arrived in the Himalayas, dreaming I could find self-realization in the famous town of yogis and seers, Shangri-la, meditating on the banks of the Ganga River. I had been traumatised by an upbringing in conservative, white-trash Auz, where humanity was conferred according to one's bank account, class connections and conformation with the status quo, and I was hoping there was some other way of living and loving, and myths of India had long nourished that hope. (Of course, for the Indian peasant, the handicaps were even greater, but I was a naive, a white sahib and above the dross of daily reality for the natives.)

The beginning of my fall from the heights of yogidom was scoring some hashish from a craggy old sadhu in his hut beside the river and smoking it upon a rope bed in the backyard of the notorious Swiss Cottage, that sanctuary for international freaks who couldn't fit into the uptight regimes of the ashrams. I was spinning away, up into the stars, when I focused on the atavistic drumming reverberating in the near distance. The drumbeats synched with my heart, I was mesmerised, the pulse of the jungle calling to me, like a sleep-walker I staggered out into the dark and tried to locate the source of the exciting sound. I stumbled across an obstacle course of white round rocks and boulders, the Garden of the Moon, upon the widespread banks of the Ganga River, where many years from hence a village would be built, obliterating the wilderness. In 1972 there were no buildings, only occassional groves of precious trees and lone mud huts, and in the dark I fell in ditches and crawled thru thorn bushes, but like a zombie was drawn ever onwards by the primeval staccato of the jungle drumming.

Eventually I came to an isolated thatch-roofed hut with a fenced off compound at the back from where the aggitated drumming issued and, wild eyed with arousal, I climbed over the simple stick fence. In this primitive backyard I found a mob of natives sitting in a circle, with some men pounding away at the drums while a young girl danced evocatively in the centre, her face hidden by a veil of mystique. I was welcomed into the group and a place made for me to sit, and I got carried away with the passionate rythms, swaying and bopping, my limbs itching to jump about. I noticed an old man was shouting instructions to the girl, who stopped every now and then and took notice, then carried on, her movements more feminine, more graceful, even erotic, according to the old fellows advice.

My mind was inflamed, my limbs bounced about, I couldn't resist the call of jungle-life, the call of my heart, and before I knew it had jumped up to join in the dance, me playing the young male part of courting, flirting, loving the young girl. We danced and danced, writhing, undulating, wriggling, leaping, twisting, weaving in and out of each other, and the mob of Indians went wild, clapping, chanting, ulullating and drumming fit to burst, I felt like Krishna seducing Radha and the heavens descended and were like jewells in our hair.

The old dance guru continued calling out, encouraging her to embellish my courtship, ignite my senses and vanquish my soul, and I played the brave warrior, the noble prince, the consummate lover and the capricious boy, while the Indian peasants laughed and clapped and we all melted as one into a thrumming spiritual orgasm at the intense thrill of being alive. Then the drumming stopped, the old dance master shouted an order, the young girl demurely lifted her veil and revealed a moustache on her upper lip, I reeled back in shock, she was a boy, and the crowd of Indians fell about in laughter at my surprise. The boy had passed his exam with flying colours, he could now play the goddess in many festivities, and I felt like Mowgli in "Jungle Book", welcomed back into the embrace of the people, my second home found at last, a dancer of the 'blood' in his element.

Then there was the time I hung out in front of Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. It was around 1974 and I was on a bus trundling thru the town of Meerut, that hallowed site of rebellion against the British in 1857. Suddenly the bus lurched to a standstill and from out of nowhere swarmed a sea of people, a great mass of wall to wall humanity flooding up against and enveloping the bus till I feared we would be disintegrated and swept away like a matchstick on a lava flow. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what was going on, more and more people squeezed into open market space, a vast writhing throng and me the only foreigner for a hundred square miles, I had the paranoid vision of being torn to bits and disappearing into that ocean of brown flesh.

I hung out of the bus window to get a clear view of the mysterious phenomenon, like a freak storm or massing of migratory animals, why on earth were all these people flocking here, had the end of the world been announced? Then in the distance I saw the crowd part, an expectant hush filled the dusty air, cops on motorbikes churned thru and then, ever so slowly, an open-top limousine cruised its way towards me with a woman in a white sari standing up in the back and waving regally to the adoring masses. No screaming, no cheering, just the thrum of a collective heartbeat upon held breath. As the limmo got abreast of the bus I recognised the famous trademark of the white streak of hair sweeping up from the forhead, it was Indira Ghandi, wow!

The limmo was hard-pressed to make it thru the burgeoning crowd, she had time to wave to everyone, and with me hanging so obviously out of the bus window, blue eyes flashing, blonde dreadlocks swaying, she couldn't avoid looking straight at me, the stranger in a strange land, and for an infinite moment I looked into her wearied, dark eyes. She gave me a wan smile and a personal wave and then floated onwards, giving all of herself to her beloved nation and the sea of Indians gradually swallowed her up. (I think she was out touting for votes, grand elections were coming up and draconian measures required for her to maintain control, and she badly needed the People's support.)(One result of her authoritarian rule was the tiger count went up, on such issues a fractured India needs strong leadership.)

As for me, for those few moments I felt blessed, like I'd had darshan of a great saint, yeah yeah, just a politician, and eventually compromised by her tyrannical "state of Emergency", but what an awesome character, "Mother India", her charisma shone for a mile and it had touched me, my usual great luck, it was the quintessential Indian experience. Once she'd faded into the dust-laden sunset the crowd dispersed as quickly and as mysteriously as it had formed, suddenly all that brown flesh melted away and my bus was able to lurch onwards, down that Infinite Highway, me rubbing myself to make the dream real, and glowing. Yeah, the clear existential Light in India always rubs off on one, where humanity is writ large and life has a sharp, bitter/sweet, exilarating tang, a miracle to be alive and a miracle to survive it.