...even before the wheel...

Trip Start Aug 21, 2004
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Trip End Mar 03, 2005


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Saturday, January 29, 2005

It's funny how many times people talk about a magical spot that backpackers love to hit, and reflect back to how great it was 2 years ago before it was "discovered." You might hear things like:
"Well, when I was there, only 3 guesthouses existed."
"I was there before they even had electricity".
"When I was there we had to carry in our own water and shit in the woods."
"Well, I was there before time itself was invented."
You get the picture. There are also people who complain how the spot used to be "good" but the "spirit" is now gone or the vibe is lost. They feel that the place is "ruined". I come to a place like OM beach in Gokarna and realize that this is one of the places I can say "I was there before..." It's "end" seems to be near as a resort-ish hotel for wealthy Indians is being built as we speak. I'm sure once it's complete the road will be paved and it will be "an end." As of now, many people still sleep on the beach and the rooms are all less then $2, but growth here does not occur in an eco-friendly way. There is little knowledge about sanitation, and dealing with the huge amount of trash that we backpacking hippies generate is troublesome. The most secluded of the beaches, Paradise Beach, is already littered with refuse. It's not just a lack of knowledge here, it's also a lack of concern amongst the backpackers.

Trance, the Devil's Tune.

Music can make or break a mood. We've all had the opportunity to experience this phenomenon at least once in our lives. Sometimes, if we're feeling shitty, we'll put on a favorite record to brighten our mood. Other times, we might use music to further assist us in our digging of holes. Either way, music can be a catalyst for change, or a stabilizer of emotion. All that being said, there is a time and place for certain genres of music. Gokarna, is not too far from Goa, and in Goa, there is a huge Trance scene, with parties happening regularly throughout the month of December and after. I don't consider myself to be the expert on Electronic music; I know my likes and dislikes. So picture this:

It's a warm day, with a few wisps of cloud in the sky. Already the sun is a bit unbearable, but luckily a sweet-smelling breeze aids in lifting off some of the heat. The waves lap against the sand, the fringes of a coconut tree tremble, and a few crows pick at some food scraps on the beach. It's only 11am, early in the day by "beach" standards, and you're enjoying a cup of Chai as you observe life under the sun. Out of nowhere comes the staccato thud of a kick drum, and then the snaking coil of an Acid bass line; like an impossible weight in the chest the mind bending thump of the 4/4 pulse begins.

Trance definitely doesn't suit the mood too well, and breeds a type of aggression that can only be mended on the dance floor. I realized I wasn't the only one put off by this seemingly out-of-place choice in music, but there are a handful of people here who can't let go of what they tasted in Goa, and so bring with them a perverted twist on an out of place theme. Aside from the occasional Trance intrusion, the beach here is a fairly tranquil place, and people pass the day in the usual manner; lots of Hash and lots of eating.

I did manage to find a drum circle two nights ago, which enabled me to scratch the musical itch that had been hiding for some time now. There were about 20+ people sitting around a bonfire, with maybe 6 or 7 playing drums. I had no instrument with me, so I simply clapped different counter rhythms, and then vocalized what I'd play if I did have a drum. Two girls followed along in the vocalizations. Eventually I managed to get my hands on a drum. There were a few other people who could play, but unfortunately our momentum was not sufficient enough to help carry along the sloth of spent energy surrounding us. I don't expect much "musicality" from these experiences, so I can't say I was disappointed, but the lack of musical cohesion proved to be a bit frustrating. It's a bit like driving a motorbike:

you put on your jacket. Put on your helmet and tighten the straps on your gloves. Straddle the bike, and slip the key in. Pull in the clutch and kick it into life. Lift up the side stand and kick the shifter into first. Now give a few twists on the throttle. ready to go now? OK, open the throttle, but don't bother releasing the clutch. Just don't bother. We're really getting somewhere now, aren't we?

The drum circle had its moments too; I can't say that the whole experience was a loss. I managed to play a bit of Mandolin and Guitar (switching back and forth with another guy) and found moments that left me smiling. More importantly, I reminded myself that I still know how to groove, and enjoyed expressing myself through the musical medium.

Tomorrow morning, I head to Goa, to see the part of India that is described by many as "not really India." I'm hoping to get my hands on an Enfield motorbike, and do a bit of sightseeing along the coast of Goa. There are only nine days left in the "travelling" part of my journey. On the 7th of February I will kiss my 5 months of nomadic life goodbye and prepare myself for the harshness of the Israeli winter, and really good hoummus.
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