Hippie-Bashing in Arambol, India

April 23, 2013

foreign-correspondent badge finalOn paper I should love Arambol.  I mean really love it.  There is an abundance of art and music, a multiplex of workshops in different disciplines ranging from ‘Indian Cooking’ to ‘Tantric Meditation’, a vibrant and eclectic music scene and, being a stone’s throw away from neighbouring party beach Anjuna or the uber-chilled out Querim, theoretically, there is really nothing to not like. On the contrary, there is just one problem.  The place is filled with stupid hippies.

Now before readers start clacking, “Stop being a hypocrite Little Miss Wasta, you’re hardly in a position to criticise,” allow me to demonstrate all the ways in which I am not, in any way, a tree-hugger of this ilk:

Hippie-Bashing in Arambol, India

1.  I enjoy yoga for its physical and mental health benefits and aim to practice in my own time as much as possible.

This practice is done in the privacy of my own room or practice space so that I can hopefully stave off cancer, mental illness, and physical injury from the extreme sports I frequent in my leisure time for as long as possible.

It is not done directly, and quite deliberately, in front of the mass conglomerating at the drum circle every evening (don’t worry I’m addressing that next), so as to show off my new hemp g-string and the lack of creases in my groin to an unwilling audience of families, confused Asian men, and other stupid hippies.  You know what you do, please stop.

You know what you do, please stop.

2.  Drum circles.

The pinnacle of hippie-dom.  These spots serve as the human equivalent to an African water hole, where creatures of all shapes and sizes come out of the woodwork to enjoy a nice refreshing drink–or in our case, a nice invigorating bash on the drums.

So why exactly can no one play the drums?!  I have no problem with beginners joining and learning, but if that is the case then surely it falls to the more experienced drummers to experiment with the sound and break up the seemingly endless monotone choir of out-of-time four/four drum abuse?

3.  Where are all the actual musicians?

Everywhere you look there are folk walking around with drums and guitars, yet all the venues are desperate for people to play for them. It doesn’t add up.

I know this because I went to perform at an open mic (just me and my ukulele, which isn’t even a proper instrument in my opinion–infinite joyride, yes, proper instrument, no) and I was asked by four different venues to play for them, and had two other musicians want to jam, and this was not because of my dizzying talent, I assure you.

It was simply because there were few who were willing to be genuinely creative and play something other than a wobbly version of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me”.

4.  Where is the respect for the local people?

First I have to deal with the eyesore of trippies (trust fund hippies) that are just as, if not more, punchable than David Cameron and his band of Tory crones, clad in neon tie-dye, saluting the setting sun by fanning their arsecheeks eastwards (a move they probably call something equally intolerable like ‘Shiva’s Spirulina Solace’ ) in an apparent “trance.”

I then have to bite my tongue while they treat local people trying to make ends meet as though they were carrying the Bubonic Plague.  Having people try and sell stuff to you is how they make their money, and they have a limited time to do it in.

You are a rich, foreign, tourist.  They are the impoverished majority that exists within this developing country.

You are a rich, foreign, tourist.  They are the impoverished majority that exists within this developing country.  While the sales pitches can inevitably become tiresome from time to time, manners never cost anyone anything.  And another thing, a charity exists for stray dogs yet not for stray children–is this a world you want to be part of?!

5.  Have some respect for the environment.

I was really shocked by the state of Arambol beach.  As we would say in Britain, “It’s minging.”

Granted I am in India, a place hardly famed for its cleanliness but one would have thought that in a more upmarket state such as Goa, in an area that has a large western influence (or more to the point, sees a massive influx of supposedly eco-conscious hippies), the beach would have been in much better shape.  But no.  I was wrong.  I guess litter picking just isn’t any fun.

But no.  I was wrong.  I guess litter picking just isn’t any fun.

Incidentally, if you don’t believe me and you ever go there, try using ‘the little, shitty, river’ as a point of reference for giving directions.

I guarantee you will you find the exact one using this description alone.

6.  To all men who have grown up in Goa: stop trying to put crystals down my pants.

There were four occasions where I had to deal with what became termed the “chakra-porno-massage” by my Spanish companions.  This peculiar phenomenon appears to only occur in Goa and is so widespread that following a Skype conversation where I told one of my friends of its incidence, I was subsequently launched into a debate about porno-massage experiences with three other girls in the internet cafe who had overheard me.

So be warned, if anyone tries to ‘cleanse your aura’, ‘realign your heart or genital chakra,’ or tells you that a body massage is absolutely necessary to be able to read your palms–politely decline their kind offer and tell them that you are in fact the spawn of a dark underlord and no amount of massage is going to help.

For those currently attempting to use massage and karma to fleece women into sexual submission, just man-up and ask the girls out.

7.  Ban “Balanced View”.

I hate this organization PASSIONATELY.  In all honesty, they ruined Arambol. (My word limit will not allow me to explain why which is why you can look forward to a brand new article written in their honour very, very soon.)  Just believe me.  They are awful.

Maybe I’m being a tad cold, cruel, vicious and jaded.  It’s because I am.  I blame Balanced View.  Arambol isn’t all that bad.  The food is all first class and there is an enormously vast array of things to do, making it easy to maintain a good harmony between partying and being pro-active.

If the hippies become too much you can leave for one of the many epic beaches found in Goa, and not everyone you meet there is a soya-munching, self-righteous, new age hippie.

It’s just not the India I was expecting.  It’s not India at all in fact.

In fact, some of the best friends I made were a direct result of hippie hatred so there you go.  It’s just not the India I was expecting.  It’s not India at all in fact.  Great for meeting people, slowly integrating yourself into India, and performing (if you actually make it onstage), buying tie-dye items, and learning weird stuff.

Alternative paradise or land of BS?  I put it to you to find out yourself.

About Emily Morus-Jones

34 thoughts on “Hippie-Bashing in Arambol, India

  1. emily
    May 30, 2013

    For all the Balanced Viewers https://pinkpangea.com/2013/05/twisted-views-in-india/ Enjoy!

  2. Emily
    May 18, 2013

    What the hell?!?! I swear the computers in these cafes have a mind of their own! The last comment was made by me, Emily, not you, Tom, I have no idea what just happened!

    P.S. If I do come back to Goa, assuming I don’t get lynched, can we have a “Yo Mamma” match? It’d be epic! We can even do it in the drum circle if you want :p

  3. Tom
    May 18, 2013

    #sighs breath of relief# Thank god for that my eyes were going blurry. Every Goa related forum?! For realsies?!? Shiiiiit! Next visit am I gunna get accosted and be forced to repeatedly have my aura cleansed whilst being force fed wheatgerm and spirulina until I repent or what?!


    True people are getting more desperate, sad times 🙁

    Thank you too 🙂 xX

  4. tom
    May 18, 2013

    Right on lady, guess I’d defend my piece of work just as you do 😉 you got a talent writing, give you that 🙂 and I will stop challenging you right here ))) this article is across every goa related group on facebook by the way… thanks for digging out the numbers, if I remember correctly, the rise in Delhi was higher than of Goa… people are getting more and more desperate…
    thanks for the exchange

  5. Emily
    May 18, 2013

    Wellity wellity well Tom,

    I think you and I could keep arguing til the end of time!

    So did I expect only kind replies – no of course not! That is why I thanked you for your input and really do mean that. It helps me to learn. Ok with regards to the language, 3rd world/developing, what would you have me write? On the one hand you argue that India is no longer a 3rd world country, on the other you insinuate that the term ‘developing’ is an inappropriate way to describe 400 million below the poverty line – so which is it to be?

    “You were “forced” to go to the drumcircle… because it’s the easiest place to meet your friends… who all listen to crappy drum performances, every night… Maybe you should question your choice of acquaintants or do you need to repeat a lesson every night for it to sink in?” No its just an easy meeting point that’s all. Meet, mess around on the beach, go do something else. That’s all. In all fairness its an interesting spectacle to behold, just a bit headachey for my liking and a bit egocentric (not everyone but a lot – check it out nect time you’re drumming there). I’m sorry if it seems like Im rubbishing your efforts to get this thing started just wasnt my cup of tea and the same goes for some others. As an ‘icon’ of Goa I think its fair to point out an alternative view – some do enjoy, some don’t and you’ll just have to deal with that.

    “Yes, there are unwealthy people jumping on planes to spend 2 weeks as far away from home as possible.. they are called “package tourists”and Goa gets a whole lot more these days, since all politics aim to get rid of Hippies and long-timers, many of them financing their stay with shitty jobs back home, working 6 months and spending this money on Goans and migrant workers, restaurant staff/owners, many of them also just working 6 months out of the year… in Goa, which has the highest per capita income and literacy rate in India… why’s that?”
    Im sure there are people that do that, but to try and present a picture where everyone is too skint to be reasonable is also highly inaccurate, and yes I did see people freaking several times. They come to Goa because it is sold to them as being one of the safest places in India which in comparison to some of the Northern states especially near Pakistan and to some of the big cities it is. However, the growing commercialization of the place has also brought with it higher crime rates (think about it, its logical!) and so the point is for women to be aware of that and to not just assume that because a place is more westernized it is safe. According to the Times of India (published in 2012) –
    “The crime rate in the district (North Goa) has increased by 59% over the last five years.

    The number of cases pending investigation in 2010-11 registered a sharp jump of over 377% over the figures of 2009-10, the CAG report points out. Police sources said that the north district has around 60% detection of cases by its respective police stations.” That said, the state of Goa as a whole does have lower crime rates in comparison to many of the other states – http://ncrb.nic.in/CD-CII2011/cii-2011/Table%203.1.pdf So the reality is that its somewhere in the middle – the point of the article was just to make people aware that there are problems there and be aware. The reason for this forum however, is to talk about your own travel experiences and I’m sorry but the men in Goa were really sketchy and I’m not an isolated case, far from it. There’s a reason why the ‘chakra porno massage’ became a running (albeit really dark) joke. Ok so 3 weeks may not be long enough to form a fair analysis in your opinion but it was more than enough time to find myself in some sketchy encounters and hear about even more.

    “A spade is a spade and your report is poorly researched, does only reflect your personal experience – one of 3 weeks. Oh my, did I just feed a troll? You have a great talent for words, use it to encourage rather than bashing – maybe that’s the entire lesson to be learned from this.” In your opinion. Believe it or not I am trying to encourage but from a different angle. There are no doubt hundreds of glowing reviews about Goa, but I just wasn’t feeling what everyone was on about. The first week in Arambol was miserable and lonely and I met girls who had been there for months and were still miserable and lonely! Perhaps it was their own doing to some extent but if you’re entering a place revered for its loving community that has been established over 30 years and you get knocked back while you’re on your own, it is a massive blow to your self -esteem, making it even harder to connect with people, and in that instance Arambol is just not all its cracked up to be. What’s more, I’m not a wall flower girl either, far from it as you may have noticed.
    The following two weeks were great but there were certain aspects that really started to grate with me and many of the people I encountered. Excuse me for doing something different! Had I written about how wonderful everything is then I would have not only been lying to myself about my experience, and to anyone that reads this, but I would be following the usual status quo. The temptation with any travel writing is to sing the place’s praises and talk about what an amazing time you had. I’m not about that, I’m trying to be honest and provoke some action from those who have the power to do so. Ok so people have other stuff to be getting on with, fair enough, but maybe, just maybe by being a bit of a dick some people might set out to prove me wrong! Arambol is a good place but it could be a great place if certain people would change their attitudes.

    “Nobody sane expects people to praise only, at least not if realistic and certainly not when coming back from Goa. But if you pretend that the Hippies, along with Balanced View are the sole root of Arambols troubles, if you claim that Anjuna is that much greater, for whatever reason, then you’re doing the reality no justice, that’s what I wanted to make you aware of.” I have 900 words to surmise my experiences in a place. Of course there is a much wider political discourse surrounding the ills of Arambol and Goa but I cant get that all into 900 words and make it coherent. What I can do is address the problems that I see to be within grasping distance or at least attempt to draw some attention to them. Some will agree, some wont, and I didnt say Anjuna was better, I just said it was there! Like I said before, have addressed the Balanced View thing. Still don’t like them. Never will. Not sorry. But have attempted to ascertain why I disliked them so much in a following article.

    “The reason why people applaud your report is not necessarily the truth but because you put it in a way which .admittedly. also made me smile.” First off, cheers. Second off, whilst the comedic element is probably what appealed to a lot of people I think the element of truth appealed to just as many. My friend Vikas (who has been living between India, Thailand and Ibiza for around 30 years) messaged me the other day to say:

    “Just fyi …. your Arambol article is spreading like wildfire around my 700+ fb friends…..I feel thats its provocative nature has struck a chord that is motivating people to forward it…. You express well what a lot of us feel about the whole ‘hippy thing’ in Goa though many aren’t keen to express it as it isnt’ ‘cool’ to do so ….. I’m with ya giving the middle finger to ‘being cool’ with some incrowd or another”.

    Thirdly, there is a reason I write in the way I do.
    I believe that comedy is a far more effective tool in engaging people in whatever issue you may be trying to convey. Without it its just another review and in the digital age which we westerners live, people just switch off . The problem with comedy is that there always has to be a victim – not my words, the words of a tutor I encountered at a comedy workshop in the Edinburgh fringe in 2011. Now Im not fond of this idea so what to do? Either direct it at yourself, make yourself the receiver – something along the lines of “I bloody love swimming in brown sea water, its amazing!” In which case I’d be being so mind-bendingly sarcastic that I’d want to punch myself in the face, or chose another victim. I chose the tye-dye brigade because they were the ones who, can read English, might listen up, have the power to do something about some of the problems, and in many cases annoyed me the most. Maybe I should have directed it at the Indian government but I fail to see what effect that would have had. Of course there are a myriad of problems that accompany any tourist area but I just tried to address the ones that were within grasping distance of the people that frequent there.

    Finally: “a problem if you claim otherwise for personal gain alone.” Eh?! I was genuinely shocked and astonished by the reaction this article received! I started this writing malarkey because during a period of severe difficulty I found writing things down helped me realise what I actually thought about different issues, because I’m a workaholic and find it hard not to have a focus in my life, and because I wanted something to show for my travels and reassure my family that I wasnt just sat getting stoned on a beach. Up until this article I had no idea that anyone other than my friends and family were reading these. I’m not getting paid, I’m just writing about the things that I see and experience like every other girl on this site. As it happens some people enjoyed, some people massively disagreed, that’s what happens with writing but I never imagined that this would be read by as many people as it has been so there must be some truth to what I am saying for it have struck such a chord. What do I gain here? I gain some learning experience and maybe more coverage than I ever dared to imagine. So ok, maybe now I gain something, but that was not my original intent so don’t paint me out to be some self-serving monster, be accurate, I’m a semi-hypocritical bitch when it comes to hippies.

    Encouragement can go further than bashing in some instances. True. It can also make people complacent and lazy. I have taken what you have written on board and once again thanks for the input. Should I return to Goa I’ll gladly hit you up for some volunteer contacts.

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