Monday, January 24, 2011

Amiria of the Green Tara.

 This is a love-letter eulogy for my friend Amiria. That's her in black on the right making herself a cup of tea at my art show at Newtown Library in 2010.

In my old age I find myself weeping a lot, beautiful music, fond memories, heart-rending news items, uplifting movies, sweet friends gone to dust, oh how painfully exquisite this phenomena called human life is. When I was a young wanderer in India in 1973 an old fakir on the street read my palm and told me I'd live till I was 87 and I thought, "How fabulous!" I overlooked the old sore that I'd thus have to watch my friends leave or die, one by one, and I myself drift slowly into infirmity and possible dementia, (oh wondrous Universe, take me quickly while I'm on the road with my brains intact.)

For all my queerness, many women played intense, influential roles in my human drama, there were 7 golden females in particular who found a special place in my heart and informed my soul. I've written about one of them already, Nicorette, Queen of the Zombies, maybe the last as I'm now tired and too fucked up to have time for any more Amazons. But I want to write of another of the 7, Amiria, who died recently, still young, beautiful, courageous, compassionate, and my life is depleted by her passing into the vale of shadows.

I met her in passing at the Piccolo Cafe on Kings Cross in the late '80s, we didn't particularly connect but had an affinity, she was a hardcore rock'n'roll gal, punk/metal, intelligent, tough and very good looking, a Maori escaped from New Zealand to try for a new life in Sydney. Then in 1993 my undoing unfolded, I was framed by two ugly, corrupt cops for an armed robbery on my local cake-shop which was my karma for being a bad cake addict. The pigs piled up lots of incriminating, circumstantial shit to hold against me when there was all the proof in the world that I didn't commit this stupid crime but the cops had it in for me because of all my "civil disobedience performance art" and being lazy, stupid dicks, they couldn't be bothered to hunt down the real perp.

One definite piece of evidence in my favour was a water-tight alibi, for at the exact time of the crime I was wandering about Kings Cross and just happened to pass by Amiria where she sat serving cigs at a tobacconists' shop outside the railway station. Thankfully I said "Hello" to which she smiled and returned my greeting. She then happened to look up at the clock to see if it was time for the commuters' rush, 3.45pm, and she remembered this clearly and swore she would go witness for my defense at my gruesomely grand trial. Most people don't want to get involved in others' troubles, especially when it involves the police, yet Amiria was a staunch defender of justice, she had to go to the copshop and give statements to the pigs over and over and she did this with amused elan, laughing at the pigs, twisting them around her little finger, the fools fell for her, she was twice as attractive as the two scrags whom they'd gotten to finger me in the line-up.

When I finally got a barrister Amiria attended his question-sessions unhesitatingly, charming him also, he was more willing to defend me pro-bono when he saw I had such good friends as her. After 2 years of house arrest and mental torture my trial came up and, without me asking her to, on day one when she wasn't needed to give testimony, (the trial was to go for 2 fucking weeks), she came all the way out to Campbeltown on the far edge of Sydney city to lend me moral support, and she was sorely needed. When I showed up outside the courthouse there was a pack of television cameras and reporters creating a huge ballyhoo and I thought they were there for horrible little me but my barrister just pushed me thru them, they parted like a shit-storm, ignoring me, they were there for someone else, Ivan Milat, the backpacker killer.

The monster was being tried in the courtroom right next to mine and all thru my short trial Amiria sneaked into Milat's undoing then reported back to me in whispers what he was like, what was going on, creeping me out and making it hard for me to concentrate on my own fucking make or break deal. The shop-assistant bitches who had colluded with the cops to frame me couldn't agree on the description of the felon who robbed them and so my trial only lasted the morning, Amiria didn't have to take the stand after all, I was acquitted and set free but eternally grateful to Amiria ever after for sticking up for me so resolutely.

And so we were best friends for the next 17 years, she bought me dinner when I was broke and hungry, soothed my nerves when I was having my 21st nervous breakdown and gave me endless gifts of treasures she'd bought at auction, for example my favorite framed print , a white stallion dancing by the sea on a stormy night by Delacroix. She was very headstrong, knowledgeable, and there were times we argued and fell out, over politics, philosophy, love, but always got back together again for we were kindred souls. She developed an especial affection for the Tibetan people and followed their version of Buddhism, meeting the Dalai Lama, working 7 nights a week as a nurse in Emergency at Prince Alfred Hospital and donating much of her wages to the Tibetan cause, establishing a temple in the Blue Mts or helping the downtrodden, ravaged people in their homeland, she was selfless and unstinting, and impressed me mightily with her dedication.

She came to my art show in Newtown to support me as she's always done, without me asking her to and, lucky for me, I took her to dinner not too long before I left on my latest sojourn to India and I got to smile into her eyes one last time. She was the definition of "friend", the Green One, and I will ever look into the passing crowd and imagine I see her and hope I can get to be in her presence one more time. Sydney already palls on me and now, without her, it will be that much harder to bear. The toughest thing in life is to say goodbye to a loved one, but if every sub-atomic particle has multiple histories then the multi-verse is a reality and there would be many versions of "us", so maybe we will meet again. In the quantum flux every particle is connected to every other particle, all is one, we can never be separated anyway. "Farewell Amiria, you are loved by many."

P.S. In the early new year I researched Tara the Green Goddess and was surprised my intuition of Her connection with Amiria rang true for She is the Protector from harm and ill will. A few days before I left India I watched as my last movie "Contact" on cable-TV, amazed at the synchronicity that has indeed followed me thru.out my life. For if you know the plot, Jody Foster gets taken deep into outer-space in an alien machine, thru endless worm-holes, and shown the vastness of the Universe, its infinite potential and beauty, and there she meets her dead beloved father on a sandy beach overhung with coconut trees. He tells her she is not alone, she is loved and will never be seperated from her loved ones for everything is connected and no energy is ever lost. This is very close to what I had written in this Blog, even the beach was similar to Vagatore in Goa where I felt her presence with me. I am a science-nut, as Carl Sagan was, but the rational Mind can't account for some mysteries of the Universe, some times it's inexplicable and magical, without being too woolly-minded about it. And I can't help being blown away by living, conscious, in an awesome world, that contains gorgeous souls like Amiria.

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.

Friday, January 14, 2011

How I Survived My 13th New Years Eve in Goa.

My ecstatic dancing at the parties in Goa got bottomed out by the news that one of my closest friends in Auz, Amiria, had died suddenly, unexpectedly, for she was only 45 years old and strong as an Amazon, a big shock as she was truly one of my 7 pillars of support, (after suffering a broken leg she got an aneurism.) It's great to stay alive and power on into old age but oh so painful to say goodbye to family and friends while one powers on eternally, (seemingly.) On the beaches of Goa, zooming about the rice-paddy fields on scooters, dancing frenetically at the grungy nightclubs, I thought of her and longed to be with her, just one more time, to speak of philosophy, science, politics, love.

And thus I didn't enjoy Goa so much this season, my thirteenth New Years Eve there, I should've been warned, and what, stayed at home? No!!! The crowds of foreign tourists didn't appear as hoped, a disaster for the locals, like the monsoon rains failing. Those who did come were Russians, not an easy bunch to get on with, chasing the Goan beach myth of freedom and self-expression but too late by about 30 years. And vast numbers of Indians flooded in from Mumbai and the hinterlands, thousands of them squeezing onto beach pub-sites like Shiva Valley on Anjuna Beach, where alcohol was the most desired item on the menu, all India wanting to share in the Goan paradise of inebriated hedonism. While it's interesting to watch the crowds' interactions I do fear stampedes, common in overcrowded India, they have reclaimed Goa from the firangi freak invasions, it's their country, they won it back from the Portugese, why not the hippies as well?

There were lots of parties to go to, small/intimate and big/overwhelming, the cops must have been told to lay off the local party-entrepreneurs a bit as they were scaring the cash-cow tourists away. The State/corporate body tried again to get control of the party scene by holding a 3 day "Sunburn" dance music festival inside a fenced-off compound with CCTV cameras and cops crawling all over to make sure no one was smoking cigs or pot! The crowd of sucked-in middle-class Indians were charged much money to listlessly dance in the hot sun and then go home at 10pm after visiting the big attractions like kiosks that sold laptops and a tent that sold Sunburn festival merchandise: gee, how exciting! The organisers seemed to overlook the fact that sunburn is as cancerous as smoking.

In the meantime, New Years Eve came on and I was sitting quietly in my favourite chai-shop on the beach, all day meditating upon the fragility of life and my friend Amiria, her Maori warrior strength combined with her Buddhist peacenik nature. At sunset I was reading Richard Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth" and while deep inside evolutionary theory I suddenly heard a loud thunder-like clap, "Thwok!" I looked up in shock, an Indian muscle-Mary thug had just whacked my friend Prem, the chai-shop owner, very hard across the face. And then he gave him another almighty slap to which I jumped up and yelled, "What the fuck are you doing?" He had a gang of about 7 other ugly bullies with him, all of them macho queens from some brutish gym, drunk as skunks, brainless, and one of them threatened me to shut up while the beating continued.

Like all gangs of cowards, a few of them stepped forward to also give Prem a hard slap, then the first thug grabbed him by the hair with one fist and with the other repeatedly thumped him hard in the face. I kept trying to step forward and stop it but was warned off, my laptop smashed to the ground with all my other belongings. Apparently this mob of brutes had come to the chai-shop with their own booze and demanded glasses to drink from. They were now beating Prem up because he'd refused them, they had the numbers, the muscles and the blind drunken nastiness to terrorise whoever crossed their path. Then the thug who'd thrown the first punch picked up an iron bar and moved in with murderous glee.

He whacked Prem hard across the back with it and I screamed and moved forward, little old me, somehow to quash the melee. Nobody else came to our rescue, all the men and boys on the beach and from the other chai-shops kept their distance, afraid of a beating from the marauding ape-men. The thug lifted the iron bar and whacked Prem on the back of his head, a loud "thunk!" to which I groaned in helplessness, it was nasty but I could tell it was not yet a killer blow. I stepped forward again trying to think of some way to stop this brutality as it really looked like they might murder my friend in front of me, but the bastard turned on me and waved the weapon in my face, took a few swipes which I ducked, then he smashed all the glass in the counter as a warning to me before he turned back to finish off his victim.

He raised the iron bar for the third time, about to deal a blow to Prem's head that could kill him, I screamed , "No!" and knew that I could not just stand there and let my friend be murdered, I'm from working-class Australia, we are not passive, and I've been in 1001 brawls, as a queer I've been beaten all my life, the violence was nothing new but I was scared shitless, they could brain me into retardation. But at least I didn't run away, I stood nervously by thinking, "Where oh where is Jackie Chan/Sylvestor Stallone/Salman Khan when you need them, and why oh why can't I take on and beat up 7 guys at once like movie heroes do?

I thought that if he really did bring the bar down towards Prem's head I'd have to rush in with a chair as armour, it's four legs hopefully pinning the deadshit down while someone somehow came to our rescue, big hope as their were 7 others swelling their muscles up like bull-walruses on heat ready to attack. I used all my will, like a beam of tight-white light which I projected onto the carnage trying to pacify the furor, I felt the idea of Amiria beside me, her strength, her love and quietude, not that she was there in spirit as I don't really believe in life after death, but the idea of her, what she stood for, what she practiced, gave me strength, gave me power, she was with me, kind of. (I also had a vision of the Tibetan Goddess, the Green Tara, hovering next to Amiria shedding a protective green light upon the scene.)

And I think I crashed the probability wave in my/our favour, I influenced reality, the observer straightening out the uncertainty, for the thug's arm stopped in mid-air, he hesitated, wavered, looked about him as if he didn't know where he was, then just shrugged, threw the bar down and swaggered off with his mob, up the beach, lords of their domain, lord of the flies like. Prem was shaken but not too badly hurt, he had to go to hospital and get 9 stitches in the back of his head, his face swelled up like a pumpkin from all the slapping but he went straight back to work and had recovered after a week, he's a strong guy who has fallen out of coconut trees many times in his life. I myself went into post-traumatic-shock mode and was a bit of a hysterical mess for that same week, giving my good friends a hard time as I was so full of tension.

Maybe I just imagined my influence upon the outcome, the arseholes certainly didn't like witnesses to their violence. But there have been other times in my life where my willpower and voice of authority, "No, it's not gonna happen that way!" turned dangerous episodes to my favour and relief. The bastards were from Poona, had given grief on previous visits, and proceeded to go up to the cliff-tops and catch a taxi to Mapusa where they then beat up the taxi driver and smashed all the windows in his cab. They are such steroid limp dicks that surely some day they will get their come-uppence and get the shit kicked out of them so they never lift a fist again. (Looking into their beastial eyes I saw only stupidity and inhumanity, it turned me off Indians for quite awhile, sad as most of them are good souls trying hard to do their best.)

We called the cops but they never came, quite useless, too busy chasing firangis for smoking pot and looting them, or as portrayed in the media, selling the drugs themselves, caught on video in a sting operation by two Israeli girls who were fed up with the corruption. Alcohol is tax-free in Goa, to attract tourists I suppose, but all the hoopla of protecting us from terrorists is so much hogwash as it's the free flow of alcohol that's causing most of the terror in Goa, road carnage, overdoses, fights, brain/liver damage, domestic violence, the list is endless and the inhuman aliens rule as alcohol is their preferred drug.

We did eventually make it to the big New Years Eve party, as always the best venue being the Hilltop Hotel where the music is cutting, loud and clear, and the dance floor had room enough to move. And I did dance, glorious dancing, hypnotically for 5 hours straight, able to ignore the few minor teenage fights that broke out around me, I'd already seen the worst that India could offer. I danced to the full trance, let my body go in any direction the beat moved me, my muscles melted, my mind flushed, me and the crowd, mostly Indians, dancing atavistically to reclaim our long evolutionary heritage of being one with the world.

All in all it was quite a way to end 2010, a year of artistic highs, (my show at the Newtown Library, my very funny portrait of Vitto which I hung at the Piccolo Cafe and the few good stories I'd written), and emotional lows, (the death of my mother flipping me out more than I could handle, falling out with my brother and losing 7 friends, mostly from my not suffering fools gladly, yeah, yeah, and being a dick.) I survived New Years Eve in Goa, my 13th, only just. Let's hope 2011 really brings me good cheer, love and artistic achievement, no bummers please, I've had my share for awhile.

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.