Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hippies, Marijuana, Magic bus and Colourful Kathmandu

Who were Hippies? If anyone asks you, what would you imagine? Probably the strangely clothed young people with long hair and unshaved beards, with flowers attached to their tie-dyed shirts, having glassy eyes due to Marijuana and LSD(or Acids) and listening to the songs of Bob Dylan or John Baez or Bob Marley or Carlos Santana. If you know little more, a world of people where people can live together without fighting against one another singing the songs of war and peace and with rage against age old communists.
"The 60′s were a leap in human consciousness. Mahatma GandhiMalcolm XMartin Luther KingChe GuevaraMother Teresa, they led a revolution of conscience. The BeatlesThe DoorsJimi Hendrix created revolution and evolution themes. The music was like Dalí, with many colors and revolutionary ways. The youth of today must go there to find themselves."
— Carlos Santana
From the childhood I have heard many stories about Hippies and the Magic buses they travelled, stories from many fathers and uncles, who were part of the generation when Hippies left America after the fall of trend there in search of Peace through Asian culture, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism, and started wearing Jeans or Bought Guitar. The stories takes me to a strange world, the world of those 7 days of Woodstock festival of 1969 on the East coast, that was highest point of Hippie generation in America and from which the decline started too, or the times of summer of love-1967.
   “If you're going to San Francisco Be sure to wear
Some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet
Some gentle people there.”
               San Fransisco- Scott Mckenzie                                          
It was the time when time was changing. If the Fear of cold war was the igniter, the Vietnam war encouraged more and more youths to be Hippies. Hair like Jesus wore it-Hip style of clothing, colourful Lorries(Magic Bus) and free spirited people advocating against war smoking-"Grass" and taking-"Acids" became synonymous with Hippies.
“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command
Your old road isR apidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.”
Bob Dylan(1964)- The times, They are A-Changing"
As every trend declines, Hippies too succumbed.  However there were some Hippies who were in quest of the Mystic east. Hippies took over a big part of the religions of the Far East. They did not adopt a special one, but formed their own mixture of certain pieces of Buddhism, Hinduism etc. Due to the importance of peaceful living (especially in Buddhism) and exploring one’s own mind, they were absolutely ideal for the young people in search for the real truth. Drug taking to gain spiritual insights is widespread among the priests of Hinduism, so the experiences made by them could be easily compared to those of the LSD-taking flower children. Or, may be because as the part of revolution since both these religion were new to the America.

They had many reasons for going: some sought spiritual enlightenment, some were escaping from a rigid conventional lifestyle, some saw opportunities for profit, and some just wanted to see the world. The Hippies landed first in the west coast of Europe and then through Amsterdam went for the journey of Sacred land, land of god and grass. They shared the road with a motley procession of private cars, vans, minibuses, even motorbikes. Many vehicles never made it all the way, and many more never made it back. It was, after all, a journey of over 6,000 miles in each direction, and it took in high mountain passes, scorching deserts, and some very rough roads. From Amsterdam to Nepal the Modern Silk road got its name from the long haired grass smoking purple hazed and glassy eyed  Flower guys, known as Hippie trail.

The trail with magic buses essentially started from Istanbul and run through Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal.In winter months most hippies would head south for the beaches of Goa, where hashish was always freely available (though it was not actually produced there). But in the summer the hippie trail ended in the mountains of Nepal, where until 1973 there were many hashish shops operating legally, and where there was no real difficulty obtaining the world's finest Charas afterwards.
And hence there is another part of Hippie story that we have forgotten. They weren’t all about Marijuana and LSD, it was the way for them to achieve spiritual happiness, the closest thing to  Meditation in East. They were the first to start spiritual revolution throughout the gain;“The new man is born, it is not just the monkey being man, it’s the realization of Man being Man”- Osho. We should not forget the spiritual part of Hippies, “The quest for Nirvana” that made them Discover the east with Nepal being their Summer station. Wish I was living in those colourful purple season of Kathmandu with Cat Stevens singing, “Katmandu I’ll soon be seeing you, And your strange bewildering time will keep me home.” in the streets of Newroad, Thamel and the Banks of Bagmati and the hills of Shoyambu hazed in purple.

Look at the countries they have travelled now, Afghanistan is bombed, Iran is crazy, Pakistan is on more than a turmoil, India on its path of glory and Nepal lost its virginity long ago.