Sunset is still my favourite colour, and rainbow is my second: the Road to Goa
August 21, 2021
“Open your heart to happiness.
Let every pore absorb light.
Swim in the joy of the here and now,
And cast off the darkness of night.”
It seems weird to be lying here in my bed on a Saturday afternoon in August smiling from ear to ear, finally looking forward, finally dreaming of a new dawn.
Weird because I’m quite sick with a flu like bug; I feel terrible if truth be told. Its not Covid though, I’ve had two tests since falling ill.
I totally understand why I have got sick; my immune system, like most people’s, is supressed due to barely going out for 18 months because of this pandemic.
Suddenly there I was going out to a nightclub again, followed by a forest gathering. Mixing with hundreds of people, hugging, kissing and dancing.
I picked up a flu like virus because my body is not yet strong enough to withstand such things.
But it will be, the more I mix with other people the more my immune system will strengthen.
So, if I am sick and in bed, why am I smiling? I hear you ask.
Why, because I can see a very bright light at the end of a very long tunnel.
A week ago today I was dancing in the woods in North London with hundreds of other people. I felt so happy seeing lots of old friends. Everyone was so nice and friendly and I danced for eight hours.
It felt so good to be in the mix of it again, with the Whirlys, the hippies, the trance bunnies and the freaks…
…it felt incredible. That’s me in the white top in the foreground next to lovely Louise in her top hat.
It had taken a lot of persuading to get me to go. I have been pretty depressed because of the pandemic and going to my first forest party was taking me out of my comfort zone.
But I’m so glad I did because its changed everything…
‘And then, after all the darkness, I woke up!’
My posts recently have probably been a bit dark (except the driving lesson ones of course), I have really felt gloomy during these 18 months of the pandemic and all the repercussions that came from it.
But then, despite the awful summer weather we are having in the UK, I found my mojo again and could see a future happiness ahead of me.
We crossed a threshold into a better more hopeful time. A bridge between the horrors of the Covid pandemic and a new chapter of positivity in all our lives.
It felt to me like the sun finally started shining through the clouds (although the sky is not yet fully blue), Covid is here to stay for the foreseeable and we must learn to live with it.
I had made a lot of plans in 2018/19 around my efforts to live six months of every year in Goa. I wanted to learn to drive in order to buy that motorhome. I wanted to set up a hippie clothing and accessories company and sell online and at festivals. I wanted the first Hippie Kushi book to come out and make me some money. I wanted to continue enjoying clubs like Whirl-y-Gig and I wanted to travel to Goa to make contacts so that my move there would be smooth and successful.
Then Covid came along and took all of that away (except I managed to set up my business).
No more clubs, no more festivals, no driving lessons, the book publishing date delayed and worst of all; NO GOA!!
Its been a horrible couple of years and its been hard.
But suddenly I notice a change. Suddenly these things are starting to happen and suddenly I have hope!
The first thing that happened was somehow I finally found the confidence to arrange those driving lessons. As I’m sure you have read in my previous post, its not been easy, but I will get there.
Once I pass my driving test I can buy that second hand motorhome and I will have the transport for my business but most importantly somewhere to live in the six months when I’m not in India.
Then I finally heard from my publishers, the book is ready and will be published late September; really exciting!!
I have so missed clubs and festivals and its really got me down but now that has changed. After the UK opened up again (freedom day) many of the nightclubs opened their doors once again.
This has not been a perfect transition. Some places (eg: Whirl-y-Gig, Parlour Party and other favourites of mine) have chosen not to open yet. Insurance is still an issue during this bridge period as we come out of lockdown. Hopefully these clubs will re-open next year.
Festivals too are struggling. The decisions of government and local councils seem to be random with some events going ahead this year but many not.
This has been difficult for me as I was going to run a market stall for my business at many of these events but most have been cancelled or postponed until next year.
At time of writing I still have Psymera festival to look forward to in September (Goa Cream just being cancelled until next year), which is exciting as I get to run my hippie shop, see old friends and enjoy the fun of the festival; can’t wait.
Looking on the bright side, I am blessed to still have five or six festivals booked next year who’s organisers are allowing me to run a market stall pitch.
I really miss festivals and clubbing, I had almost forgotten how wonderful clubbing is until I had my first clubbing night out a couple of weeks ago.
My friends Las and Katy were aware I had spent a week isolating with my mum prior to her cancer operation. I was getting stir crazy and so they bought me a ticket to a comedy show in the Westend.
When the day came the weather was horrendous with pouring monsoon like rain. But this day was the turning point for me.
As I walked from Piccadilly tube station to Soho square I became aware that all the bars and clubs were packed with joyful partying people. People were singing and dancing and it felt like a celebration of freedom.
I know we are not fully out of this pandemic yet but this showed me humanity was coming back. It was time for the frightened rabbits to come out of there hidey holes.
The comedy show was brilliant fun with four stand up comedians entertaining us. No masks were worn by the audience during the show; my god it felt like normality.
The three of us then went to an Indian restaurant and had a lovely curry washed down with Kingfisher beer; oh the memories that beer bought back.
By this time we were a bit tipsy so we decided to go to G.A.Y bar/club to see if we could get in. There was a long queue but before we knew it we were on the dancefloor.
I cannot tell you the joy of dancing at a nightclub once again. That is when Mr Gloomy Covid Stephen died and Baba Kushi Stephen was reborn once again.
It was time to move forward in life again; I had re-awakened to life!
Despite this summers awful weather in the UK it felt like summer at last.
My social life was really picking up again, I had a wonderful party to look forward to at Ryan’s house (a psytrance DJ friend of mine who I know from Whirl-y-Gig), lots of the Whirlys would be there and I was really looking forward to it.
But then the invite came to join my crew at the forest party. The event was called The Psychedelic Way. As I say, I had to be persuaded but I’m so glad I went and I came back a changed man.
This new me deserved a new look and just before Ryan’s big party I had booked to have dreadlocks done. Hippie Kushi was back!!
This feeling is great and I feel strong again (despite the resulting cold bug) but one thing was still missing in my life…
…my beloved Goa
Finally: The Road to Goa
And then the best news of all. I recently put a post on my Facebook group with a countdown of when I was hoping to finally get back to Goa, it said; ‘500 days to go: boo hoo’. In reply my friend Ryan said: “did you not see the news, the UK has now put India on the Amber list!”
This was incredible news as India being on the Covid Red list meant we should not go there.
India being on the Amber list means the UK says we can now travel there with caution. Originally if a country was on the Amber list you had to self isolate for two weeks when you got home but current rules say if you have had the double vaccine (which I have) you do not need to isolate; so fantastic news. A light at the end of the long tunnel at last…but…
…if only it was as simply as all that.
Now, I am not planning on Going to Goa until 13th December this year, 2021 and for all I know it might be on the Green list by then but it takes two to tango. The country you are going to has its own entry requirements as well and just because the UK says you can go doesn’t mean India will let you in just yet.
India is currently not giving out E-Tourist visas as the Covid situation is still pretty bad (but this too might change by December) but they are issuing medical and business visas. I have investigated this with the consulate and feel pretty confident. I have had a lot of issues with my clothing supplier in Nepal (for my Hippie Utsaah business) and desperately need to source a new supplier/wholesaler in India.
This means I could apply for a business visa under their consulate rules. If all goes to plan, I could go back to India this year at last!!
Speaking to friends who are currently living in Goa, despite Covid, things have been going on as normal: Hilltop, Shiva Valley and Curlies have all been having regular psytrance parties; I cannot wait to join them there.
Since the news about India going on the Amber list was announced, the news has become even better.
Two married friends of mine, one from Belgium, one from North India (currently staying in Belgium) run the People Bar in Benaulim, but have not opened for two seasons now because of Covid lockdowns and India not accepting tourist visas into the country. I randomly asked them if they were planning on opening their bar this year and they said ‘yes’ they were. They were pretty confident the Indian government were planning on allowing tourist visas for this winter season to those who are double jabbed. India is looking more and more promising for this year!!
It seems more likely I will be returning to my beloved India in December this year, so not in 500 days after all, but in only 114 days!!!
Excitement and positivity have finally returned to my heart.
And then there was more, this latest news from the India Times below:
Air India to fly Goa-London from August 26
PANAJI: Spelling good news for students and overseas residents, Air India has announced direct flights between Goa and the UK from August 26. Air India will operate a flight on the London (Heathrow)-Goa sector as part of the air bubble arrangement with the UK.
According to Air India, the flight schedule till August 31 has been released, but further flights could be scheduled in the months to come. At present, passengers have to fly to Mumbai or Delhi to catch an international flight to London.
“The flights can be booked through the Air India website, offices and travel agents,” Air India said.
Given the extraordinary situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schedules are subject to change,” Air India said.
Air India will also commence direct flights to London from Kolkata and Chennai.
Last December, India enforced a ban on flights from the UK. According to officials at Goa International Airport, Air India used to operate one UK-bound flight every week, which was cancelled when the Union ministry of civil aviation and the Union home ministry decided to restrict UK flights after a steep rise in Covid-19 cases.
Officials said that with cases declining in India as well as in Goa, a calibrated resumption of international flights is being tested out.
In mid-January, the Centre permitted a one-off Air India flight from Goa to Heathrow, with 217 passengers on board. Since then, fliers have had to take international flights from either Mumbai or Delhi.
Repatriation flights continue to operate from Goa International Airport, largely to the middle-east region while domestic flight operations have seen a rise. Daily passenger footfalls have crossed 11,000 with close to 100 flights operating on a daily basis from the terminal.”
We still have a way to go as far as Covid is concerned but it feels to me like its time to start living again and planning for the future.
I am finally returning to my beloved Goa this year and I hope to see you there.
Stop hiding away, embrace life once again…
…and live the Hippie Kushi life you deserve!!