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. Puneet
    August 17, 2015

    So true… !! I guess things are getting only worse every year … I am an North Indian and visit Goa every year Since ages .. Arambol was my favourite beach …. Not anymore !! A sense of loss !!

  2. Sid
    February 10, 2015

    I saw the date of this particular article AFTER I read it and was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the things that you have mentioned still apply. Now, I have been to Arambol twice. The first time was in October ’14 and the second time was in February this year (As a matter of fact, I just got off a bus from Goa a couple of hours back).

    Before I even start commenting, I regret NOT having spent enough time in Arambol. This trip was a precursor to the next one in Goa. I was essentially scouting for locations to shoot a film.

    My perspective on Arambol isn’t entirely contradictory to yours. However, I was afraid that that might have been the case for me as I didn’t give it a fair shot. Three weeks is a long time. I was barely there for one week.

    As far as the “neo-hippies” go, spot on! I guess they’d be what pop culture might call “hipsters” rather than hippies. I have had the good fortune of meeting and spending time with some of the old-timers (people who’ve been around in the 70’s and early 80’s – the folks who created and carried back with them the genre of music we now know as ‘Goa Trance’). They are truly incredible humans. Most of them believe in giving back to the society and the environment more than what they take from it. And well, the Arambol ‘hippies’. That’s a different story. Getting 26 piercings and 13 tattoos DOES NOT make you eligible to be known as a ‘hippie’. Smoking some grade-C hashish in a chillhum DOES NOT qualify as hippie material. Also, being a hippie doesn’t mean looking like an older Eric Clapton and dressing up like Hendrix and stashing up on lots of hashish and LSD. Having a GREAT taste in music and a flair for some amazing storytelling are great hippie traits to start with. And to be fair, I DID encounter some of these characters in Arambol.

    My first experience with Arambol was straight out of a badly made gangster film. I accidentally interacted with a local ‘druglord’ who invited me to join a “gangbang” session for an Italian girl who was being provided generous amounts of white-coloured goodies from the South of America. I had politely declined, claiming that this was just not my scene. I had been travelling alone, after ending a long-term relationship and honestly, I found Arambol to be too harrowing an experience for a solo traveller. I thought it’d be way more fun had I come with a group of friends. Nonetheless, I made friends with a Swedish guy and a Nigerian (who, at the risk of stereotyping, was not trying to sell me some white-coloured goodies) and we had a really good time just exploring Arambol and around (not the beach).

    Which brings me to the beach. Oh man. I don’t have words to describe the disappointment. If I really had to, it’d be something like this – “What the actual fuck?” I couldn’t believe that this is the place that everyone around me had been raving about. It was positively disgusting. And being an Indian, when I tell you that the beach was disgusting, you better pack your bags and get out of there. If one goes to Arambol for the beach (or the lack of it), I’m sorry, you’ve arrived at the wrong place. There are better beaches in Karnataka and Kerela. There are better beaches in South Goa as well. Agonda, for one, is by far one of the most calm, peaceful beaches that I found. But again, experiences are highly subjective. Someone like me, who prefers chilling by the beach with a book and some good music would find the generic Arambol scene a little too tiresome.

    Yoga. Just one of those quintessential ‘Indian’y things. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but most of westerners (or easterners) or even most Indians have NO clue about what they’re actually doing. I won’t take any names – but there’s a Russian lady who runs a nicely-operated yoga-training scam. In fact, I was chilling with her husband who even admitted that what she’s teaching is not really yoga. But hey. Whatever makes you feel good about yourself, right? On the other hand, there was a German yoga instructor I met in Palolem who was quite simply put – a proper new-age yogi. And the reason why he wouldn’t move to North Goa was according to him, “too much drugz and many many many people zere. I like ze peacefulness here”.

    All that being said, I’d definitely like to go to Arambol again. But this time I think I’ll carry my drum kit and join the “drum” circle 🙂

  3. Women’s only tour
    October 24, 2013

    Top pink lady is Pretty and trying to carrying Indian outfit great spirit thanks for sharing

  4. Mani
    June 16, 2013

    I agree with everything you said. However, as much as we appreciate the business, we do not appreciate the bad manners. We do not live in the British Raj era and even then, this kind of bad behavior was wrong. Anyone who treats a fellow human that way should be told off then and there. Indians used to love going to Goa, But now it exists to serve tourists from other countries. Drugs , Mafia, even the Mexican and Russian drug cartels operate openly. It has become so crowded that there is no peace of mind, ANYWHERE!!!. I’m not the kind who is against tourism, but right now I am extremely tempted to not mention some amazing places in Goa, only few know of. For fear of it losing it’s peace. Goa is being stripped off of it’s dignity, being exploited and trashed. If people are uncomfortable with the trash- Don’t create it, to begin with. Once all this becomes old, and Goa has been used enough, where will everyone go next? Kerala, Pondi? Daman? And then ruin Those places too? I’m a Hindu, My grandfather was a scholar in Ayurveda as well as Yoga. Most of what is being sold (products as well as services/ ideas) is laughable as well as insulting. But then, how much difference is the indignation I feel right now, make? It’s not only foreign citizen, it’s most Indians as well. Especially, the men- they go to get sloshed and baked and greedily ogle and pant hungrily at ‘gori'(fair- skinned) women. Maybe I’m turning old or maybe it’s because my ex-husband loves Goa, that I have this opinion. I’d love to just sit back on a quiet clean sea, be at peace.

  5. Jennifer
    June 5, 2013

    thanks for opening the debate and for being candid.
    i spent the whole winter season in arambol 2010-11, and found it challenging and paradoxical and the flaws are obvious. the following year i was mostly in auroville, tiruvannamai, kerala ashrams- a different mission. i really missed arambol. in a word – community- the synergy of the tribes, communities within community and the fact that people show up with energy and intention to commit and create, collectively, whether that be on the level of creating an arts space or yoga retreat or simply showing up and being willing to connect with others in a shoreline dance at sunset. i am surprised by how sorely i miss arambol, for me it is dirty, chaotic, crass and noisy – yes and beautiful, real, compelling. if i can, i’ll be back for the whole season this year with attitude of openess and eagerness and hopefully enough emotional resilience to see me through
    peaceful blessings

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