Today, Goa has become one of the wealthiest and prosperous states in India. Most of this success happened thanks to a brave collaboration between the Goan people and the rest of the world, mainly westerners who travelled there in the happy days of the ’70s. Those days, the borders of the world and human consciousness fell for a short time and allowed many people to break through both their borders and physical borders dividing nations as well. At least for some time, the world was wide open for everyone to wander and explore freely, to seek their happiness, wherever they could. Indeed that time in history was a renaissance in the full sense of the word, spreading the message of peace and love around the globe.
It was a time the old worlds met new. A lot of those people who wanted to go out, wander and experience, fell in love with the beautiful beach strips and the lush green jungles surrounding it, right at the southwest of the Indian sub-continent. They fell in love with nature, and the peaceful character of the local’s people that were living there, and their easy-going lifestyle alongside the seashores.
“Imagine there’s no country, it isn’t hard to do…” (Lennon)
The early-comers to this little paradise were those 70’s hippies. Those hippies ran away as far as they could, from trapped conventions and the well organized anachronistic society. The same society that had just gotten out of a cruel war. They were in search of freedom. Freedom to express themselves, freedom from those boundaries of the western world, freedom from winning and losing, from earning and materializing. They were in a search to find their humanism, and they found it in Goa. It was the best place for those long-haired bizarre folks, with flowers in their hair and endless smiles. Goa and its people just light their imagination to make this dream possible.
Although they had traveled all over India, Goa’s beaches and the tranquil lifestyle were particularly welcoming. Thanks to the history, 15th century Portuguese that were there before them and brought the trade route and Christianity as a practice for the local people.
Because of that, Goa-based itself as the happiest “Hippy Land” on the planet. Wild parties and raves of sunsets and sunrises kept going for days, little simple houses and huts were built on the beach and in the jungle, little restaurants, and villages shops sprung up, a lot of music-making & love doing. Goa “lived” off free love and cheap drugs, as the myth was starting to become a reality.
With time went by Goa became more and more famous around the world. Many of those party kids stayed to live there eventually. They bought little Portuguese homes, with a buffalo of their own, merging themselves easily in the local scenery, and blending in with the local community who was fond and amused of the new funny humans that came from afar land to their jungle. They also established new businesses and developed a strong connection with the Goan people.
Those newcomers brought with them a more commercial attitude, and new touristic approaches, which helped the Goan natives to earn from their efforts, and made it easy for other travelers to come and enjoy this primal paradise. Indeed the integration of all those factors together at that time, made Goa one of the secret diamonds of travelers in India.
“The Times They Are A-Changin” (Dylan)
Surly Goa earned its name proudly. In the air were sparks of madness, colored people with a big smile spread on their faces while they searching coconut tree to lean on, and sex(y) activities all along the shores. Indeed the sea, the sun, and the drugs released people from their bounds and inhibition, helping them to enjoy and be happy from what was there available on the spot. In short, it was the intoxicate smell of real freedom.
As the new “hippy land” became more and more famous around the world, many more wanted to pay a visit and experience this human gathering that was happening there. Goa became a source of attraction for travelers, seekers and many others. People from the rest of the world that travel the Hindi sub-continent, or just came to Goa to “rest” from the world, Many kinds of music lovers and musicians came, but the major scene in Goa which gradually developed and eventually became a label for itself was the trance music! Goa Trance.
God is a DJ (Faithless)
People came to celebrate this beautiful fusion, a mix of cultures, worlds, races, and ages. People came to be part of the real “hippy land” emerging, basically, from a spontaneous gathering of shiny happy people with new ideas and the local fishermen community at the south Indian beaches.
This rare integration that happened in that place and time and transformed many people’s consciousness and lives.
As years went by, and the parties kept going, the villager’s lack of sleep continued along with many cases of drug abuse and other less beautiful “side effects” of freedom. Some changes needed to be made. By that time the Goan people were already more established financially and were able to make the necessary changes. They used their knowledge and experience to build five stars hotels, and fancy resorts, enticing other crowds to come, turning Goa once again into a commercialized and tourist-friendly place. The local noon-market became an international night market, with artists from all over, selling their goods and performing their talents and arts. The market has few bars and also some international cuisine with exotic new smells. Now with the new touristic phase, the Goan passed the Ten O’clock law, referring to any event, and party, including concerts, are allowed to play until ten o’clock pm, a law which still exists to this day. It seems everybody found a place in Goa where the locals could sleep again, and the tourists could party. Goa had it all.
Though in recent years Goa has changed again like a lot of places in this day of age, “all” was not enough. Modernity is reaching almost everywhere, and not always in its best expression. Though some people say it is for the worst, and some say it is the natural progress of modern lives. Anyhow, money reaches Goa leaving its marks, and the old naïve days are going away, clearing the way for the new-age. Whenever tourism becomes a massive industry, welcoming mainly people with money, it pushes the dreamer to look for a new paradise to dream about.
Today most of the local people are quite established, financially speaking. More people come as tourists and vacationers for short time clubbing or just for a short ‘spiritual’ vacation on the beaches of the Arabian Sea.
The modern Goa today, with the Yoga schools alongside with the fancy restaurants, the hillers, and the spiritual workshops, alongside with modern resorts, the nomads artist, with the musicians with the clubbing culture, all co-exist together side by side, reflecting, and expanding the “Goa fusion” for making it what it is today.
Will Goa lose its charm? Hard to say, nobody can predict what stands at Goa’s doors. Goa keeps living upon the seasons so strongly, and it will certainly continue this with any new scene coming ahead.
But on a clear day, if you look carefully, you can see the old Goan spirit, sometimes rising out amidst the newcomers, while their busy running around catching enlightenment and some beer.
If you go carefully with your scooter on Goa’s road along with the coconut trees and the relaxed buffalos, you will notice the small hippy community that is still there, playing their music and spreading their smiles for free. You might speak to a few locals that miss the days of the crazy laid back people, those people that came for months or years just to live by the sea… making nothingness as their “business”… and the nowness as their “possession”.