Hippies abound, and cows are on the menu. Goa is technically a Christian state, so while the rest of Hindu India reveres those holy animals, Goans conk them on the heads, fry them up, and put them on buns.
Dreadlocked Europeans and sunburned Americans roam the streets, girls in tiny bikinis and deliberately torn tee-shirts, and boys on motorbikes, tans deep, tattoos faded.
If the rest of India is old-school, conservative, and intensely curious, Goa is chilled out, kinda proud, and doesn’t give a fuck.
It is a wonderful respite from the rest of the country, and when the sun goes down in the western sky, burning red and unbelievable, hippies dance to bhajans, and naked babies splash at the edge of the playful sea.
I spent ten days in Goa, and never grew tired of the unabashed hippie life that flourished there. The place was simply crawling with hippies. They wore cowboy hats and garnet rings, rolled perfect spliffs with tobacco-stained fingers, twirled hula hoops, juggled rainbow balls, and played guitars, hand-drums, and strange flutes at twilight.
One night, a woman appeared at the water’s edge in a flowing costume of transparent white, bangle bracelets climbing her arms, black hair a ribbon on the breeze. She made love to the sea with fluid limbs and twirling wrists, her ecstatic face turned to the sky.
Other mornings, I watched the hippies race through the palm grove on their motorbikes, colorful batons fastened to their backs. Their hair whipped in the wind and their Ali Baba pants billowed out around their steadfast legs.
Hippie children, their hair corn-rowed and braided, spoke like little adults in a way that was riveting but disturbing.
Young mothers bounced diaper-less babies on their hips.
One particularly sunny morning, I wandered to a hut with dozens of coconuts piled up in front. I ordered a coconut juice and the man selected a large green coconut from the pile. Pulling out a machete, he whacked open the top in three sharp bursts, wrenched the new lid loose, and stuck in a straw. I carried it to the small hut next door, and sat down in the shade.
The coconut juice was delicious, soft and warm and refreshing all at once. I watched a deeply tanned hippie approaching, his wings of hair flapping on the breeze. He strolled up to the coconut man, ordered a juice and paid for it, and sat down. He kicked up his feet, ran a hand over his bare belly, and sucked juice through the straw. Another hippie approached.
Hey man! called the hippie with the coconut. What are you doin’?
The other hippie squinted, and then seemed to recognize his friend. He was wearing tight cut-offs ripped just above his knees, and his bare chest displayed the remnants of florescent body paint, the undeniable remnants of a jungle rave.
Oh, I’m just comin’ down off the Old Monk, he said, referring to the abominable Indian rum that is relevant in those parts. I’m on a mean hangover trip…
Everyone in India seems to be on a trip of some sort, or doing ‘a thing.’ He turned to the coconut hippie. What are you up to, brother?
The coconut hippie took a long, satisfied pull from his straw, and then confirmed the bold statement I just made above.
Oh you know, dude, he said, kicking up his feet and smiling at the sea.
I’m just doin’ the coconut thing.