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CHILLUM, CHARRAS & CARNIVAAL

Written on: Wednesday February 6th, 2008

A journal entry from: ASIA PART II

Arambol, Pernem (Goa)

Arun's Huts

A CHILLUM is a pipe used by Indian Sadhu holy men, Rastafarians and by many recreational drug users to smoke cannabis, opium, tobacco, etc.

CHARAS is the name given to hand-made hashish in India and Pakistan. It is made from the extract of the cannabis plant. The plant grows wild throughout Northern India, Pakistan and the Himalayas and is an important cash crop for the local people.

Last Friday the German Bakery threw a party on the beach called Attila & the Arambol Experience. It was a little something out of the twilight zone. The rhythm of beating drums and various percussion instruments echoed into the night as a bonfire raged on. The mood was set for the evening and it got pretty darn pagan as the night unfolded. I was befriended by Kamal and was entertained watching him and the others dance, as he would say, at full power.

Earlier in the evening, I treated myself to an Ayurvedic full-body massage, a traditional South Indian specialty. It was a unique massage, as I had to bare all and be dressed in a loin cloth. The body is then drenched with warm herbal oil and rubbed vigorously, titillating your entire being and kneading away at your tired, aching muscles.

I have been in Arambol for just over a week now and I have had plenty of solo time for myself but I was fortunate to have spent several afternoons with Kamal, who is originally from Punjab and after many lengthy discussions over chai and sweet lassis, he has helped to unravel several of my preconceptions of India. In attempting to understand a culture that perplexes and bewilders like none other, Kamal simply comments that it's not hard to understand... it's culture and one cannot change their culture. It was then that I became mindful of just how much the deep roots of tradition dictate the life of an Indian.

Goa remains distinct from the rest of traditional India, as Roman Catholicism predominates as the main religion practiced in this state. People will find that the Goans are easy going and have a serious laid back attitude. The tropical climate and the endless stretch of beaches create a seductive atmosphere that no traveller can resist and so it attracts people from all walks of life. There is a kind of Burning Man ambience in the air. A very bohemian flavor if you catch my drift. There are a lot of mind, body and soul connections being made here and if you're not quite in that space there are plenty of workshops, among other means, that are offered to facilitate the process. It becomes the type of place where you end up setting up shop for an indeterminate timeframe and packing your bags takes much persuasion because it has become that place where everybody knows your name.

In their attempts to suppress Goa?s all night party scene and the drug culture that trails not too far behind it, the Indian authorities have placed a strict ban on loud music between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. So any event that goes on starts and ends early. Nevertheless, one can always manage to find a late night eatery blasting progressive beats into the early hours of the morning.

Yesterday, hundreds of foreigners danced and marched down the beach celebrating the Carnivaal Parade. It was a decent excuse to dress up in ?whatever-you-can-find-to-look-as-silly-as-I-want-to-look? and frolic along the shore. Below are some visual encounters from that afternoon.

I didn't make it south to the beaches of Anjuna, Baga and Vagator, where I hear the beach nightlife really turns up the heat. Will I return to Goa and its beaches someday? "Why not..." This is an all too familiar Indian expression said with a very clever smile. But until then, the rest of the subcontinent is waiting.

 

From Dennis on Apr 7th, 2008

Wow!! That festival or parade you went to on the beach is all full of foreigners, I don't even see any brown people anywhere!! Looks like fun though!! Take Care...