The Star Malaysia - Star2
Of trance parties and pensioners
Vendors from Kashmir and Rajasthan are displaying crafts and clothes from their native northern states on colourful cloths.
Blouses, saris and robes are dangling in the wind, among them traditional Indian outfits, opulent tapestries and “Psychedelic Punk Fashion” in flashy colours.
Not everyone is buying, but there’s lots of other things to do as well: eat, drink, listen to the live music or just watch the action.
The Flower Power generation has grown up.
Dirk Hellmann still remembers the “flower people” and the regulars from the hippie heyday.
“I was here for the first time in 1983, probably during the last wave of hippies, and I was taken with it,” the German traveller says. He kept coming back, went through life crises, found his salvation – and in the end he even wrote a book about his time in Goa.
Today, Hellmann is involved in helping children and young people and remains loyal to Anjuna.
Another place, another market
The Goa Collective Bazaar close to Vagator Beach, on a late Friday afternoon. Francesco Musico carefully arranges semi-precious stones and handcrafted jewellery on a folding table.
Picture a topless 73-year-old man with long grey hair and beard and a friendly nature. This Italian has been living in Goa for decades: “Call me a hippie if you like,” he says.
“Everyone can find happiness, peace, love and a life without stress here, if you are open-minded and keep heart and eyes open.”
The stalls of the market are spread out underneath palm trees and enclosed by a fence. Compared to Anjuna, it draws fewer Indians and more foreign guests. The goods are partly more selected and a little more expensive too.
The Goa Collective Bazaar is both an open-air market and an event at the same time. Snack bars serve cocktails and food from all over the world. People are singing, dancing, chattering and drinking in front of the stage and on the dance floor late into the night.
And the party continues nearby in Arpora on Saturday afternoon – where live bands also play deep into the night. This market has a particularly broad selection of spices, fabrics and clothes.
It doesn’t get easier when it comes to food: choices include barbecue and curry chicken, exquisitely seasoned Chicken Marsala, pizza, dahl, burgers, soups, ice cream and baked goods.
Nowadays tourists in Goa are not only Brits looking to get a tan and escape the lousy weather at home. The lively beaches and affordable shopal ping places have long since attracted a myriad of package tourists from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
“Most charter flights come to us from Russia, but unfortunately none from Germany for a few years now,” says Jagdeep Thombare of India Tourism Goa at his office in Panaji.
Yoga and Ayurveda treatments are also high in demand among Goa’s visitors, while it has grown quiet around the Krishna movement, a Hindi organisation founded in the US and based on the Bengali bhakti (“devotional”) yoga tradition, which was once highly popular among hippies.
Dark side of paradise
Local residents as well as regionpoliticians complain that the former holiday paradise Goa has turned into a kind of melting pot for illegal beach parties, prostitution and drugs in some areas. They demand more police checks, which are a rare sight, however.
Goa is also an attractive holiday destination for many Indians, especially from Bihar, Gujarat and Nagaland, because the state permits the sale of alcohol. However, while the former hippie destination continues to preserve its charm, several tourists have now discovered the south of India’s west coast.
Here, the state of Kerala lures with great beaches and rides on a romantic houseboat through its widely ramified canals – and without mass tourism, as of yet. – dpa