Life is getting happening. Slowly and steadily. All thanks to Goa. Here, people don’t bond with you based on how rich or how poor you are. What matters here is how interesting you are. And Goa is full of interesting people. I might not have data to prove it, but I would like to believe that the interesting-pople-density in the urban regions of the state (interesting people per sq. km) should be highest in India.
Today in this post, let me talk about Po – the rockstar. Po is a mallu who grew up in Goa to become a dentist. He specializes in children. ‘Not many children these days – all thanks to the population-control efforts. Not too good for business’, he told me once as we chit-chatted at my place.
‘What a lovely view, man’, he expressed with excited eyes and a genuinely happy smile as he entered my flat and saw through the big window in the hall. Everyone has the same reaction when they enter this flat. Including me, especially when I return to Goa after few days staying in different cities Both MRP and I had finalized this flat because of the lovely view. It truly makes you feel you are living in a country-side without really living too far from any basic facility that a regular city has to offer. Irony is, the owner of this flat works in Mumbai in the very same company that I left to take up photography! She has two houses in Goa and she lives in a fucked up city called Mumbai. Like so many others. I once debated for a long long time, over cups of tea, with her and her dad (when they were here in their Goa flat) on whether it is a good or useless thing to keep living in a city just so you can upgrade your 1 bhk to a 2bhk and a hatchback to a sedan; and if you are in Mumbai, so you can keep moving southwards as and when you can afford to? Nobody won of course. You don’t debate on these topics to win anyway. You just take them up because otherwise it’s too boring to have tea with people you have not met or known often.
Coming back to Po, well he is one of them who chose to stay in Goa itself (instead of moving out for better opportunity or a better job). Business may be bad alright, but it’s not so bad that he can’t survive or drive around in his i20 and hang out with friends. I met him first in a pool party that biwi and her dancer friends had organized at a lovely resort, no too far from where we stay. He saw me shooting with two cameras and using all kinds of equipments and got curious.
‘Are you a professional’? He came up to me and thus started our conversation. And once he understood what I did, he asked me if I could shoot a video of him performing in an upcoming Independence Day concert titled ‘Gods of Goa’. Po was apparently one of the guitar Gods Goa had. When I would see him perform some days later, I would so totally agree to whoever came up with that title for him. He is a rockstar. What a performance that was.
I told Po, I would shoot him for free. ‘It’s always good to shoot non-wedding events once in a while, just for the fun of it’, I explained my generosity. He was more than glad. I met him next in Verna for his performance. Where he killed it. He was the only solo guy out there (others who played that night, did so in bands while Po played pre-recorded accompanying music on his laptop). I don’t think I have ever seen anyone play as fast as that, live.
A few days later, he was seeing some of his patients (kids of course) close to where I stay. So after he was done, he came over to my place to catch up. We saw his video together on my imac. He quite liked the way the audio quality sounded and went gaga over the clarity of the video. ‘You have some awesome equipments man’, he was thrilled. And then over beer, he shared a bit of his life. The first five years of his MBBS life where spent in Tamil Nadu and then the next three years of specialization in Punjab. ‘I would go rafting to Rishikesh about 10 times a year, mostly with my Punjabi (ex) girl-friend. We did so for three years. Yes, we went for rafting 30 times in those three years’, he had a story to tell.
‘So as you drive from Haridwar to Rishikesh, you see this giant Hindu funeral field on the left. Where you also often see some sadhu type guys sitting there, not talking to themselves, not doing anything, but just sitting and sitting. I always wondered what they did. I once asked the driver driving us to Rishikesh. He told me they where Aghoris who ate human flesh (the reason they sat in funeral fields) and that I should avoid even seeing them in the eyes because they have supernatural powers and fuck one up if one messes with them.
Do they really eat human meat? Shit, the instant I heard that I was like I want to try that as well. I shared this with my girl-friend and she totally freaked out. So I didn’t try anything then but I knew I had to give it a shot. And once, I came to Haridwar without her. This time I left the taxi at the funeral pyre itself, instead of going to Rishikesh. I then waited there for some Aghori to approach me and start talking. It didn’t feel alright to go to them myself. So I waited. And wait. It took four hours for the ice to be broken when one of the Aghories signalled to me about what I was dong there. I poised as a tourist from Kerala who was generally excited to see people like him. And then we started talking and stuff. It took me quite some time to come to the point. After about an hour, I casually asked, ‘so what do you guys eat’? And in the course of that conversation, he did say that they ate human meat once in a while. And then I asked him if I could try that? That question totally changed his attitude. From being friendly, he was now very serious and not so approving. He said that was not possible, that only Aghoris were supposed to eat human flesh and that I shouldn’t be asking for such favours. Well, so I left. But I know I will give it a try again if I happen to go to Haridwar next’, Po was hopeful.
‘You could have first put some joint with the Aghoris and then tried asking for human meat’, I suggested. ‘Yeah, may be’, Po wondered. And then he narrated me another interesting story.
‘I was living in with my girl friend and one morning I was in the kitchen trying to cut a piece of frozen sausage. Accidentally I chopped off a part of my finger. Shit, would I ever get to play guitar again, I wondered. The cut was that bad yes. Once lot of tissues were rolled over the bleeding finger and the bleeding stopped somewhat, I thought well let’s go and get the cooking job done anyway. So I took up this knife. And I saw my detached finer tip stuck on the knife. Human flesh. Fuck the Aghories, I am cooking this now.’
So he cooked his own finger-part and ate it. ‘It was soft, just like chicken’, he explained the taste as he looked at his finger with gleaming eyes. The finger looked alright. ‘Thankfully, it grew back, the chopped part and as you see I still play guitar’.
After becoming a doctor he came to Goa and started focussing on playing guitar. He was soon playing at couple of five star hotels where they paid him anywhere between 4k to 7k per evening. ‘The money was good and because these hotel folks go for six month contracts, it was consistent as well. But then I realized I didn’t want to play in front of people who didn’t care about music that much. They were busy eating and drinking. I would rather play for the kind of audience that you saw on the Independence Day concert. Folks who love rock and metal and are passionate. So I quit the hotel scene. I still make some money from guitar but only once in a while when some studio needs me to record a small part.’
The same evening, Po took me to mee another friend of his, one of his best friends who told me Po’s talent was getting wasted. ‘If only he had been playing in bigger bands, it would not only bring him more recognition but also elevate the level of the bands that took him’, Po’s friend sighed. And then we laughed over few dogs trying to fuck a bitch. And then I had to leave because MRP was unable to find the house keys that I had dropped inside our car. It took us quite some time to find the keys but finally we did. On that note, may be Goa is my key to enter into a new world full of people with interesting stories. Bring it on I say!