Goa has always been linked with the hippie culture that spread through the US and other countries in the 60s.
Funnily enough though the movement has faded away in most parts of the world or at least seems to have less relevance, the pocket that has remained in the state is still alive and kicking.
Perhaps this has a lot to the with the state’s own susegad (relaxed) culture where being happy, living life at a slow pace and “enjoying the moment” are still ingrained in Goa.
For those who live in the hub-bub of Delhi or Bombay, Goa attracts the corporate banker looking for a two-day break, the IT consultant who wants to switch offline for a few days or even the newly divorced 30-something looking for a dirty weekend.
So what’s the deal between Goa and hippies?
Take Andy (name changed) for instance. Already part of an alternative lifestyle back home in Bournemouth (UK), he took a year off to travel to India in the mid-60s. What transpired next may well be surprising or possibly not.
This year, Andy has completed his 45th year in the state.
Of course, he goes back “home” every year but what has happened is that Goa has become more home than England.
The hippies in Goa are mainly situated in north Goa, near the beaches of Morjim, Arambol and Ashvem. Here, they practice yoga, meditation, go for a swim and possibly run small cafes throughout the day. The beaches in north goa are also considered to be more rustic and very eco friendly. The shacks on these beaches can be very basic to some very fancy.
It’s a good, simple, uninterrupted life. No buses in the rain, no cramped tubes and no work deadlines or annoying bosses.
Of course, the simple life means a more modest salary. But for foreigners who have savings or houses in their home country, the falling rupee is great.
Regardless, the 2013 “hippie” is a very different animal from his 60s variety. As Andy explains, the 60s hippie was part of a larger movement – Woodstock, Vietnam, Lennon, spiritualism whereas the 90s hippie is essentially a flawed or disturbed specimen – looking for something that’s missing in his/her life and trying to fill a void. There’s a lot less “live and let live” and more “I need to find another way to live”.
Well, whether it’s the hippie who’s been here since 1969 or a newbie, Goa continues to remain a home for this group. And as with most issues in the state, if you keep a low profile, do your thing and are generally polite and friendly, no one’s going to bother too much – which is just what Andy loves.