“Namaste! Shanti Shanti!”, accompanied with folded hands and a warm smile.
This is how I would be greeted everywhere I go, and soon enough it became a habit for me too. Sometimes, you learn to drop the “Shanti Shanti” when you’re communicating with the locals, but mostly, these words would be said anytime you pass a stranger.
Gokarna is super peaceful. If you are coming here with the expectations of having a “Goa experience”, this isn’t the place for you. Sorry, I told you I’m here to spill the tea. A calm hippie community with layers and layers of fun (or debauchery, depends on how you see it), Gokarna may seem lazy and untouched, but deep in the forests, things are always happening. That’s the beauty of Gokarna. You have to stay long enough to slowly but surely peel off the many layers and expose all that gold underneath.
Soon enough, I had a small tight group of friends and multiple friendly acquaintances who would pass by multiple times during our morning swims and evening chit-chats.
Music ties everyone together here. Two of my friends, Michel and Peter, made music all day and would emerge often with their instruments and set up an impromptu gig. Peter once invited me to a secret gig in the forest, with the only instructions being, “Cross the bridge and follow the music!” Fair enough, it was a secret gig after all.
Giulia and I set off at about 10 pm, walked on the beach for half an hour, got to a bridge, realized it was the wrong one, found the right one, crossed it and found little tea candles lighting our path deep into the forest where nature met psychedelia in the most beautiful way. There, we had our first Gokarna party. Hindustani trance with a fire dancer, two booming digeridoos, electricity from a hut nearby, trippy videos on a makeshift screen and just 20 people (I was the only Indian there, surprisingly). So much energy I could explode.
Lying on the beach and letting my mind see things it wants to see in the clouds is so much fun, especially in such a peaceful little community where no one judges you for being you.
Gokarna accepts you, takes you in and brings out the happy carefree child within you. Gokarna lets you be.