Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Russian From Goa.

While I was in Goa this season I hardly heard a word of English spoken, I was surrounded by Russians, gluttonous, gruff and stolid, they’ve taken over the whole coastline with hardly a smiling face among them. Not that I’ve got anything against Russians, they have their own universe to live in, so unique it doesn’t include the rest of us, and why should it, they have a marvelous history and culture, Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky, Kandinsky, Stalin! Walking past a hotel balcony I espied what would pass for young, hip intellectuals smoking hash and philosophizing, and they just weren’t interested in me, a penniless old Aussie who only spoke English. I suppose they’re the new Russia, those who could afford to travel, the children of Putin. Maybe not, maybe they're trying to get a break from him, who knows? They're not telling me.

(Don't get me wrong, their history goes back thousands of years, their culture is overwhelming and I'm absolutely impressed and admiring of their achievements. Maxim Gorky is one of my favorite writers, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakoff and Shostakovich can hardly be beaten in the classical music field, and Tarkovsky is one of my favorite film-makers. And as far as genius gays go, Dhiagalev and Nijinsky take the pink cake. There must be a hot cognoscenti, liberal gang in Russia, it's too amazing a nation not to have one, I only wish I could meet some of them.)

Only a few years ago you could start up conversations in the chai shops with anyone sitting at the next table and form sweet if fleeting friendships, but not anymore, no raconteurs, no greetings, no friendliness. I imagined many of the Russians around me to be beefy old-style apparatchiks and 21st century mafiosi with their cellulite babushka wives, or muscle-bound pimps with their posse of blond whores, all laid out like elephant-seals on wooden beach-beds, eschewing the Communist Party holiday camps by the Caspian Sea, now preferring sunnier climes for another kind of party, techno/drug parties, as did the Brits, American hippies and Israelis that came in waves before them.

In my loner's paranoia I was just being cold-war prejudiced, mostly they were middle-class bureaucrats and professionals with their families: athletic, blond, healthy, all too ready to consume what was once a forbidden world. I was quite bemused by the new-age tribe of young Russian freaks dancing in droves at the disco-clubs, covered in tattoos, dressed in Indian gear, dreadlocks piled high on their heads, choofing down on chillums and shouting “Bam-Shankar!” like the ‘60s hippie cult regurgitated for the umpteenth time. Because they’re thirty years behind the times, they’re very hungry to catch up, but unlike earlier hippies, they don't seem amiable, not joining in with the other international freaks, they seem to resent that English is the international language, and possibly feel they’ve improved on the Indian hippie style, more hip than thou, Russian culture matchless in its epic panache.

(This is not to ignore the fact that Russians were possibly the first hippies with their communes and experimental arts back in the years of the post-revolution, 1918 to 1921. I'm thinking of the Futurists and the Constructivists, and all those attempts at Utopian living, sharing everything, owning no capital, relinquishing jealous personal relationships and overcoming religious brainwashing, experimenting with mind-altering substances. The Russians were fifty years ahead of the '60s Summer of Love American hippies.)

Of course I'm glad they've come out from behind their iron curtain and joined the rest of the world, we're a family of nations, especially in Goa, and they prove that anyone can be hip, cool, smart and, what the fuck, viva la difference as well, pluralism keeps us on our toes. I wouldn't mind a blond Russian boyfriend but they're terrible homophobes. An extremely handsome fellow tried to crack onto me at a party and I was dangerously tempted except he hadn't sussed out my sexuality, he was a pimp trying to push his posse of pussy onto me, and all I had was eyes for him.
As these Tartar hordes eat and drink non-stop, they should keep the Goans happy as money flows like alcohol. But no, there are complaints about “the Russianisation of Goa”, they’re taking over a lot of local businesses, running beach shacks, taxi services and tourist offices. What was once an isolated natural wonder, the fresh-water lake at Aarambool Beach, has not only been turned into a cess-pool by money-hungry Indians but is also now referred to as “Little Moscow”, the Russian crowd filling up every available space. And according to the newspapers, the Russian mafia is now controlling the drug trade, always a big business in Goa’s 'party-party' head-space; opiates, MDMA, hash, with only the Nigerians as the interlopers who control the cocaine trade, though not for long as they’re being run out of town, for rousting, rooting and robbing all the blondies dying for that black cock, even though the blonds know it means trouble.

For instance, let me relate the brouhaha that exploded at a party held at an elaborate thatch affair, built into the jungle cliff-side on Big Vagatore Beach, called “Our Shack”, owned by a Bollywood movie-star. He rents huts behind the cafe shack where a blond Russian woman took her hunky Nigerian paramour after he sweet-talked her on the beach. Everybody knows to watch one’s ass in Goa, especially with Africans as they’re usually desperate for money, the Indians treat them like shit in their racist dislike of black skin, and the Africans can't find legitimate jobs. But she threw caution to the winds and after getting fucked stupid got all her money stolen.

In the middle of the party, with all the fools on the beach waving their arms in the air like sea-anemones, she burst from her hut screaming she’d been robbed of $1000 US by the black fucker. All the Goans pounced for they’re just waiting to have their low opinion of Africans verified, they beat the alleged thief with sticks, bottles, rocks, giving him and his fellow Nigerians a good pounding before they made their escape, their muscular frames able to take an amazing amount of punishment.

(Not all Africans survive such a fracas, there is one poor fellow, a student from Burundi, in a permanent coma in hospital after being beaten senseless by an Indian mob in some city in the hinterlands.) All the other international freaks ran for their lives, squealing like ninnies, such aggro events not to their peacenik liking, except for her fellow Russians, who joined in the beating and cursing. What a melee, one party I’m glad I didn’t make it to, and she never did get her money back.

The hottest party I do always make sure I get to is the New Year’s shindig at the Hilltop Hotel at Vagatore where the sound-system is huge and the techno is cutting-edge hard-style. And indeed the music was phenomenal, I danced like a shamanic banshee, lifting right off, flying to the moon, dissolving into the quantum flux.

Goa has for thousands of years been a hotspot for dance, they have a ritual just before New Year’s at a village called Siolim where they dance in a trance to celebrate life, be at one with the Universe and welcome in the onset of Spring, the festival led by the oldest, wisest and most experienced of the native dancers. In my way I do the same at the trance parties, the westerner who shakes away all artificial boundaries like nation, gender, race, class, age. I absolutely let go of my banal worries, dance till I drop, work all my muscles till they ache and sound-surf on top of the crowd, a madman for sure with a kind of divine madness.

But the milieu at Vagatore this year was terrible. Over the years the international freak crowd has gone elsewhere, sick of the harassment they get from drunken, groping Indian men. The Hilltop must be getting desperate for money as they seem to let in a plague of oafs who terrorize the trance-punters; no woman is safe, the morons just move around the crowd like swirling flotsam touching up all they pass, even an old gronk like me got my crotch rubbed a few times, I had to keep moving as always some idiot from the boondocks got in my face trying to be my effusive dance partner, standing on my toes.

Eventually all women with their chaperones had to move to the front of the stage where security guards could attempt to keep watch and protect them but even this didn’t work as their were just too many glassy-eyed assholes infiltrating and groping. I gave up towards dawn, having had my fill of ecstatic trance-dance as I couldn’t get fully abandoned due to the ongoing molestation. I realized I was over the party scene, for if it wasn’t drunken Indian thugs taking up all the space it was boring Russians in their disco-slut designer gear looking down their noses, with not a square inch left for friendly, garrulous me.

I love Goa and the Goan people, I will go back there one day, but perhaps I need to let the Russian invasion run its course, another few years I’d say. Other old Goa-hands agreed with me, paradise has turned into a traffic-jammed madhouse and mafia murder spree, next year perhaps they’ll stay in Thailand, Bali, even Auz and hand Goa back to us old freaks, but I won't count on it. Money-worshiping Indian entrepreneurs are taking over the party and beach scene, they only want rich tourists who stay for one week, back-packers can fuck-off. I left my Goan paradise earlier than I’d planned to and, at a roadhouse on the infinite highway, I cried, I was so sorry to be rushin’ from Goa.

P.S. Back in the Himalayas I did meet a cool Russian, one on one, smiling, friendly, speaking fluent English, interested in what I had to tell him of the history of Indian freaks, the ‘60s and my take on philosophy. He was a 27 year old geologist from Siberia and wanted to go on a wildlife expedition into the mountain jungles with a tab of acid to liven things up, all of which highly amused me and proved I shouldn’t judge a nationality by mob behavior, there’s always an individual who will shine forth and prove to be a great ambassador for their country.

And yes, you too Vladimir from Moscow, who I met in the above chai shop on Vagatore Beach in the last few years, so open and friendly, intelligent and cultured, we discussed literature and film, and he was not intimidated by my loudmouth queer persona at all. We are still in contact via Instagram and I hope we remain friends. I gave him my card and I've noticed a big Russian readership recently and I imagine it's not only him reading me but he's recommended me to others as well. The world can have "a million voices" and then hopefully we can all sing as one, in friendship.

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.