The Adventures of Two Old Hippies in India: Searching for Bliss Ananda PT3
March 18, 2023
There has been a considerable amount of time gone by between when I wrote that last paragraph (see my last blog post) and this one; the reason being is I have become very sick! Yes, another hurdle thrown in my way. Why is the universe conspiring against me in such a way. At lease all this dark energy is manifesting at the beginning of this long adventure, rather than later on.
Now, before more on my health, let’s get back to Jan.
Jan Cohen was born in the UK but moved to South African at the age of ten. I first met her in London, where we were all meeting up to go to a psytrance rave. She is a good friend of my buddy Louise, and she was staying with her at the time. Jan is such an inspiration to me. She is a character and a free spirit. She has a blonde Mohican hairstyle and tattoos, she’s a funky cool chic. I didn’t really get to know her at that first meeting, but I liked her style.
When her grown up daughter moved to Goa, Jan snapped up the opportunity to spend time with her in Anjuna beach. She loved the psytrance scene there and the non-judgement culture, and one day she decided to stay.
Jan now lives in Anjuna Goa fulltime. She says she has found her bliss, and she sees her life as a perfect paradise. She dotes on her four-year-old grand-daughter and continually expresses how happy she is.
One thing that has ‘not’ made her happy is that her friends (us lot) have not being able to come over due to the pandemic. So, as you can imagine she was eager to meet up with me when she heard I had arrived in Goa.
I agreed to meet her the next day at Guru bar near the market where I was currently doing my shopping.
After I had purchased a few things at the market I made my way back to my hotel. I was feeling unusually tired (maybe jet lag I thought).
On my way into Anjuna today I had passed a pub in Vagator with an Indian lady running the bar. She was unusual for an Indian lady because she had closely cropped hair, tattoos, and lots of piercings. I liked her energy and so I decided I would go there in the evening after my rest.
When I got to the bar she welcomed me warmly with a hug, ‘we need the customers’, she said.
As I enjoyed a Kingfisher beer, we were joined by another Indian guy who I suspected was gay from his mannerisms; could this be a gay bar, in India??
I was soon given the traumatic life story of the lady behind the bar; she was clearly a lesbian and had been harshly kicked out by her family. She had then stayed with a friend in Kochi in Kerala, and he had bought her a bus ticket to Goa, where he suggested she might find her kind.
Initially she went to Arambol, but off season she was looked at with scorn by the locals who would randomly hit her as she walked by; ‘people liked to chop me’, she said, ‘the people don’t like how I look so they hit me when I walk by, chop, chop, chop, or spitting’.
She then came to Vagator and found this trendy, jazzy bar and walked in exclaiming to the manager that she was an amazing waitress/bar tender, and she would work long hours for a roof over her head and some meagre wages. He liked her forthrightness and gave her all she had requested; and here she was ‘now I have found my home’.
After some lighter banter, the conversation started getting very political and depressing; so, I decided it was time to say goodnight.
The next evening and I made my way to Guru bar. It had had a redesign and now looked a bit like a tourist bar in Tenerife. The shocking thing was, there was not a soul in there. Jan eventually arrived, looking her magnificent self, and she had her little granddaughter with her. The little one was beautiful and clearly a free-spirited little girl too.
It was lovely to catch up with Jan, and she had lots of questions about my friends, and what covid lockdown had been like in the UK. Three of my friends had got cancer during that time, which had made the pandemic especially difficult. Jan recorded a lovely WhatsApp audio message for her friend Louise, and it was clear she had missed us all loads.
It was depressing to hear how much Anjuna had changed with the 10pm music off rule, and the closure of Curlies Bar and temporary closure of Shiva Valley. Even the Saturday night Bizarre was a shadow of its old self with Karaoke instead of live prog-rock music.
We then went for a meal in the bar next door, where I enjoyed some fantastic spring rolls. But it seemed sad that we were the only people out; oh, Anjuna, what has happened to you, old friend?
As Jan and her little granddaughter climbed on Jan’s Royal Enfield motorbike, we said our goodbyes and arranged to meet again the next day. But as I rode on the back of a taxi-scooter towards my hotel, I couldn’t help but feel sad at Anjuna’s fate, but also, I was feeling something else too; a little unwell.
Anjuna Beach bars, or what’s left of them.
The next morning, I felt very off, I was aching all over and had a fever; I also had some serious trots. Oh no, not food poisoning already. I called Jan to postpone our meeting, we had planned that I would visit her house for coffee and a smoke. As someone living the sort of life I could only dream of, I really wanted to see where she lived, and how she lived. I was hoping to come down from Arambol to see her once I got over my food poisoning; but circumstances took a dark turn.
The next morning, despite feeling pretty rough, I climbed into a taxi for the next part of my journey: Arambol.
Arambol has been my favourite place in Goa since I first visited some years back. It is a hippie heaven, full of western and India hippies dancing on the beach, doing yoga and meditation, and listening to some superb live music in the many wonderful hippie bars. Surly, Arambol had not changed too?
As we entered the main stretch of Arambol there were hippies everywhere; on motorbikes, on foot and sitting in the many cafes and bars. A broad smile crossed my face, despite my increasing illness, I thought: ‘thank fuck its still the same, after what I discovered in Anjuna’.
It did not take me long to find my guest house, and it was ok for what I had paid (about £85 for eleven nights), and they had my booking, ‘at last!’ But as I started to fully unpack my bags for the first time in India, I found myself dripping with sweat, I had a really bad cough as well and felt terrible.
After unpacking I had no choice but to take to my bed; this was not food poisoning.
I spent the night aching all over, coughing and sweating, having nightmares and hallucinations. I did not step out on the first day at all.
I could not believe what was happening, another hurdle thrown in my way. The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed and headed for a pharmacy, walking like a zombie. I purchased some paracetamol and a covid testing kit; it couldn’t be, could it? I did the test; please no!
POSITIVE! I had covid, Jesus, what was happening on this trip, but I was pretty sure I also had some sort of nasty virus thrown in as well with all the trots and vomiting.
What followed was day after day in my hotel room of lying in bed, coughing, aching all over, sweats, fever, hallucinations, and incredible fatigue. It was like that scene at the beginning of Apocalypse Now, where the main protagonist is in his hotel room in Vietnam, sick as a dog, the fan going round and around, madness, fever, and despair consuming him.