Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Just Hit Me In Goa?

I'm sitting on Tiger Beach in Goa wondering what just hit me, I feel like I'm a merman washed up on the shore and waving my flippers at the red ball of the sunset. Oh yeah, the New Years Eve party at the Hilltop Hotel, the Master of all Psy-trance, Goa Gill, wove his magic and took us all down a kaleidoscopic tunnel, our collective mind relentlessly fractured and fractal, the nirvana of dance sweeping us away.

A young Indian woman died while attending a dance party down at Calolim Beach, she was hallucinating badly and went into a coma, she probably hyperventilated and stopped breathing. It was at a three day festival called Sunburn, these days THEY have moved the trance scene away from Vagatore to the more controllable urban area of Candolim, THEY flew in the world's NO.1 DJ Armin van Buren (?) to mix the beats, and keep it all straight, who voted for him I don't know as I think Goa Gill is the best as far as I'm concerned. The Indian casualty was a sufferer of Bi-polar disorder and supposedly stopped taking her medication, then her mania led her to take an overdose of Ecstasy, so the authorities say, although THEY also insist no drugs made it into the festival.

Yeah, sure! The whole fucking crowed of 10,000 was off their faces, tripping out of their brains, but not only on Ecstasy, a new batch of Acid has hit the 2010 generation. The young seem to want their high more radical, more mind-blowing, Ecstasy is too soft and nice, they are over it, given world history lately where it all might come unstuck with a terrorist strike, cyclone or nuclear meltdown, they want to live fast and hard with the doors to alternative perceptions cracked wide open, the angels and demons of the Unconscious invited in.

The authorities, and mums and dads, don't seem to know about this new wave of drug-fuckedness, it's brought in on blotting paper and is virtually undetectable. Many travelers wander into Goa looking for the mythic hippie wonderland of old, they've heard of the attempt at Utopia in the late 'sixties and early 'seventies where we all lived in the nude, had no money, smoked hash in chillum circles, ate communally, slept in grass huts, indulged in free (?) sex and took the acid test of LSD to achieve the ultimate high or low, depending on one's constitution.

But those days are long over, there probably isn't an isolated beach anywhere in the world where a tribe can hide and live out their dreams of freedom and bliss: urbanisation, police and money have creeped over every square inch. (I know there's far-off beaches in Auz where one can swim in the nude for a few hours but it wouldn't take long for some fuckwit like a cop, rubber-necker or hawker to show up with their 2 cents worth of prohibition to spoil the fun.)

And that definitely goes for Goa, Money is the god here and struggle is the by-word, for everyone. A few punters I talked to moaned how they hated Goa, they found the parties empty, but what did they expect to find, the answers to life's problems? And Goans are unfriendly? Yeah well, we all have to make a living, the Goans only get three months of the year in which to do it, and it is a drag that they try to gouge it out of us hapless tourists but all tourist traps are the same.

One law student from Melbourne hated all the music, the beats were wrong, the crowd desultory, the DJs backward, nothing compared to the parties in Melbourne. I'm told bulletin boards on the WEB about Goa are full of bitching about how Goa is dead, not happening anymore, suitable only for 1 star tourists from Russia who are the new invaders, the huge Israeli mobs having split the scene, too many terrorist threats and drug O/Ds, their govt will no longer issue visas willy-nilly, they have to earn them by doing army service first.

To my stupefied mind there are 7 good reasons the crowds of international punters "aint going to Goa no more", (this is from the view of 2010, things may change in the future, Vagatore seems to be holding its breath, as if waiting for something, the hotels and restaurants empty but hopeful, they've heard whispers on the wind, a few more years and things will pick up. In the meantime, these are the worries. These seven suppositions are hearsay, beach folklore and apocryphal so one should take them in with a sharp brain.

1) the terrorist threats = for all the soldiers guarding the roads it would be so easy to lob a hand-grenade over the wall of any venue.

2) the horrific murders, rapes and robberies over the years, eg. two years ago a 15 year old British girl named Scarlet was left to fend for herself while her mother went to Kerala. The girl got stoned/drunk and passed-out on Anjuna beach, some beach-hut boys decided to gang-rape her where she lay, then the tide came in and drowned her, she was dragged about the rocks and lacerated. She simply drowned, that's the official story, it would've been swept under the carpet only the irate mother returned and kicked in the doors of cops and politicians to get some kind of justice.

3) the corrupt cops/pollies busting the party-goers, mainly for their joy of smoking hashish. "So what?!" I hear you say, "it is illegal", but the low-paid cops' only concern is looting the hapless tourists of ALL their money in bribes, that's their raison d'etre, and the money filters upwards. Some arseholes actually rent cop uniforms so they can get in on ripping the easy dosh, it all makes one paranoid wherever one sits.

4) Goa is getting more expensive every year, it's not the cheap haven it once was. THEY want 3 star tourists and up, backpackers cause too much trouble for little return. The rip-offs are atrocious, eg. a shave is 50 rupees everywhere in India, including Goa, you sit in the barber's chair without asking the price, it's taken for granted. In one shop I visited, after the shave 500 rupees were demanded, the Indian next to me paying only the 50. I don't mind paying twice the going price, but not ten times I refused and had an argument, the greed in the woman's eyes who collected the money irritated me intensely.

5) In 2010 the Indian govt stupidly stopped multiple-entry visas, overnight, stranding lots of travelers across Asia and turning off anyone contemplating using Mumbai as a hub to go elsewhere. Like me who was going to Africa for 3 weeks but now can't as they wont let me back in for my return flight home, the trip all paid for by a friend and ticket non-refundable, my African dream up in smoke. It is infuriating as it's supposed to stop terrorists from planning their strikes but the Mumbai-massacre demons didn't have any visas at all, they came in from the sea.

 (Yeah, yeah, the David Headley affair where he used multiple entries to do surveillance for the Mumbai attacks = now the psychopath bastards will just do it on single entry visas!) The bureaucrats were not doing their jobs properly in the first place, like not having their coast protected, now THEY take it out on us ordinary travelers to cover THEIR fat hairy arses, and have the nerve to say, "How dare you firangis complain, you're just trying to manipulate the system to suit your own wants!" Such stupidity will stop many visitors from coming to India.

6) The Russian invasion is a turn-off, most of them don't speak English, they are distant and estranged, their new-found riches and freedoms have them pushing others out of the way in their eagerness to consume the world, mobs of them surround you everywhere, and apart from prostitution with hard blonds, have little to offer us freaks. (Okay, I'm being too harsh, if they spoke English I'm sure we'd make friends but the only contact I had with them was when a handsome ice-blond pimp tried to introduce me to his stable of hookers. Being mad for music and dance, at some of the gigs Russian beauties got up and did exotic belly-dances or classic traditional Indian dance, better than the natives, so Russians do have culture to contribute.)

(Sad to report, the Russians are now also experiencing the downside of visiting a tropical paradise: a nine year old Russian girl was raped recently by an Indian named Aman in the water of the fresh-water lake at Arrambool while his mate distracted her mother. This is the inordinate lust of the Indian male for the "other" i.e. European/white, (whities equally have it for the dark "other" too), that seems out of control at the parties and is a tiny fraction of the horrific crimes going on around India towards women and children. The men here need radical sexual education! It doesn't help any that European women bathe topless, gorgeous tits swinging provocatively, the dumb hicks think it's a come-on.)

7) Last but not least, in 20210 there are not many parties anymore, the police and govt have stopped them, venues have to pay bribes of 10,000 rupees per hour to keep the music going. Lost punters whirl about the night in packs on their motorbikes looking for the non-parties, after 10pm there is a curfew and nowhere to go and nothing to do, and techno-parties are what Goa is famous for. (Who would've thought us hippies back in the '60s/'70s would start this whole shlemozzle of wall-to-wall hotels, marauding thugs and package tours of over-weight mid-class gronks looking for a quick suntan and a cheap fuck?)(And the biggest turn-off of all are the mobs of drunken men, Indian and foreign, who swamp the few parties to molest any women brave enough to attend the gig. Half the crowd are cool, there for the music and dancing fantastically, many with their girlfriends, spending half their time trying to protect them, but the other half, the drunks, wander thru the crowd like buffoons, bumping into whoever and feeling them up.)

If you're not a fly-by-night tourist and get to know the Goans over many years like me you will find them to be sincerely friendly, hard-working, strong, resolute, out-front, no bullshit good people who put up with a tidal wave of shit from the tourists just to try and please everyone. I still love the place, lying back on the beach, swimming, eating sea-food, laughing with my Indian friends, discussing philosophy with strangers from all around the world who call in at the chai-shack on the beach, the loosening up of muscles dancing at the rare parties, and the trip through wild India just to get there. I'm not looking for anything or anyone, I'm over IT, I've been there, done that, I don't expect anything and leave it up to chance and have a great time whatever, it's all in the attitude, even the supposed bad music doesn't faze me, I can get off on the "thunk thunk" of a ceiling-fan.

While I love to chill on Vagatore Beach revisiting my youth where I frolicked in the nude and found the strength in my self, I don't really look backwards, I love NOW and where we're all heading, into the FUTURE. Goa has moved on from being a hippie wonderland, it's now cyberpunk edgy with designer drugs, techno music, cable TV, jet skis and paragliding, fast motorbikes and satellite phones, organ trading and Bollywood movie-stars, tsunamis and cyclones, very science fiction and as engrossing as any Utopianist back-to-nature grunginess, to my mind anyway.

At the New Years Eve party I just had to find out what the youth were up to, I wouldn't be the intrepid writer/traveler if I didn't take risks, so I took a paper of Acid just to see, I haven't taken the crap for 25 years and it's lucky I'm a hardened tripper of old as it was full-on radical stuff, really melted down my brain, I thought I was going mad and that I would never come out of it, but I knew time and strength would deliver me so I rode it like a psycho-killer, ducking the phantom slasher's knife, foiling the gang of young toughs who tried to pick a fight with me as the party peaked, for all their expensive designer clothes they were still oafs, middle-class brats from deep Mumbai. I tried protecting a woman from their groping mitts, telling them in snooty tones I'd sick the security guards onto them and have their arses dumped from the party, to which they pissed off quick. I started hyperventilating, I couldn't even dance, I had to sit down and breathe slowly, my spirit was going way too fast for my body, like I was lifting off, I centered myself, saw the "white light", knew who I was, strong and bright, all trashy thoughts washing off me. My vision split into fractals, the crowd seemed done up in elaborate ancient Mayan costumes, with feathers and face masks, and jewels glittered upon every edge.

The party-crowd felt to be getting out of control. Goa Gill had played 6 hours straight, really primeval sounds that were relentless, taking us down into the Underworld, further, further, further, to some atavistic depths where the animal may be set loose, rapine and mayhem seemed about to explode, the drunken Indian men particularly getting out of control, grabbing at the tits of the white women, their dancing too erotic for the unsophisticated yobs. Just as I felt I might be able to stand and dance up a storm suddenly the party was shut down, Goa Gill marched off and everyone was told to go home and cool off, I couldn't figure out what was going on, why the crowd was thinning out and why the music had gone down-beat.

I thought the silence was beautiful music, I couldn't see straight sitting there like a fool under a coconut palm, the last idiot left drooling, eventually I had to be led to my room by my best mate, my vision scattered, prismatic, dream-like, all objects melted into each other as if hot lava flowed through my brain-cells. Whatever had just hit me, it sure was a lot of fun, too much, I won't be doing that again for awhile. Mums and dads better look out, the kids sure are up to something wild and strange here in 2010.

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.