In the Land of the Dancing Flames- Day 1.4


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    Published on Apr 14, 2022
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    Self indulgence. Somatic delight. Sensory bliss. Awareness of our bodies not as instruments of the state, church, or vessels of procreation, but as organs of sensual pleasure and rapture. In the west, hedonism has been generally tolerated but viewed with suspicion. Too much of it, and you may just be straddling the thin line between decadence and sin. Luxury and gluttony. Tsk! Tsk! Mon Dieu!

    In the 60s, hordes of hedonistic hippies followed their genetic instincts and gravitated towards this inner-space playground called Goa. Freed from the bonds of toil and survival, their info-starved psychedelic brains floated towards the gene pools in the East, attracted not only by the metaphysical revelations of oriental teachings, but their understanding of pleasure and indulgence as just another stage in the progression towards ultimate enlightenment. Hindu gods and brahmans enjoyed the bliss of Soma in their heavenly abodes, according to the vedic teachings, which systematized pleasure and gave it metaphysical importance. This was the genius of the ancient Hindu sages. The arousal of the senses was not just a weekend thing or a side-effect of traveling. It was an important mystical experience. Skillfully learning the art and science of pleasure was an integral chapter in the Sutra of life.

    The lane opened to a wide beach that stretched for miles around. The heat rose from the sand as we surveyed this novel domain. A new land! A new experience!


    Warm breezes played with the fronds. There was not a single cloud in the sky.


    We followed a path through a palm grove and found ourselves in an open-air restaurant with a spectacular view of the sea.

    Following my gaze along the shoreline, I could see rows of lounging chairs where tourists lay soaking up the sun in various state of undress.


    Some chilled cows lay on the sand and kept a wary eye on a pack of dogs that had taken refuge in holes they dug in the sand beneath the shadows of the lounging chairs.


    There is a wonderful feeling of relaxation that comes over you when you’re liberated from the bonds of survival. In our home environments, our bodies become used to the routines of daily life, and we keep on rolling on like hamsters in a wheel. When those bonds are severed, however, and you manage to step off the wheel, different areas of your brain are activated, expanding in scope, releasing a barrage of exhilarating pleasure chemicals that put you in tune with the somatic rapture of the novel sensory input, its delicious processing, culminating in copious amount of bliss washing over you. Aquarian consciousness unchained. The Shiva-Parvatti garden of somato-sensory delights.


    Clinking mugs, we cheered.

    “To Goa!”

    In the heat, the beer tasted like Soma. Not that I know what Soma tasted like. Nobody knows what ingredients were used in this mythical brew, though rumor has it that cannabis and magic mushrooms were involved.

    “That was quite the trip,” I said.

    “It's all a blur. I'm exhausted.”

    Now that the rush of adrenaline had began to subside, I felt a bit melancholic and homesick, as if there was something I needed to do. My mind was still in city-mode, and I kept fighting the urge to take out my notebook and scribble or fiddle with my calendar.

    Instead, I closed my eyes and listened to the waves then synced my breath to their rhythm. Floating down the liquid pulses of relaxation elicited by these novel sensations.

    Bliss is a team sport. One has to jump from one step to the next hand in hand with others spinning with a similar speed, velocity, and trajectory. That’s the yoga of union. Many a misunderstanding have occurred when two or more agents on different tracks recognize each other and try to fly in V formation. Imagine a sassy post-industrial professional woman trying to establish a romantic connection with a cave-dwelling stone-flinting macho man. They are at two different levels of consciousness, and the arrangement could not work. So it is with the yoga of sensory self-awareness. Hook up with other wise intellects at or near your level of consciousness and help each other propel to higher levels. Self-contained colonies away from the pressures of daily life are excellent playgrounds for those seeking to shed their old self and give birth to a new ones with a little help from their friends.


    Humans could have upwards of 800,000 taste receptors grouped in buds that allow us to taste different chemical properties of things we put in our mouths- sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and savoriness. It’s a complex neuro-biochemical system associated with several regions of the brain that together give us the conscious perception of flavor. In daily life, we process food almost robotically, more concerned with refueling our bodies for further production, we rarely take the time to sit back and focus on the finer subtleties of taste. When we travel, we do allow ourselves to passively slide down those gustatory neural pathways, but we only scratch the surface of what's possible with our sensory equipment.

    We ordered some biryani, calamari, and shrimp with several sauces.


    The calamari was crunchy and hot. The biryani dish was an orgy of flavors. You think I'm kidding? Let me tell you. There was a party on my tongue and everyone was invited. Indian spices didn’t mess around. They assault the gustatory and olfactory senses with intense flavors and aromas.


    “They are masters of the spice,” I said. “I can see why our European ancestors sailed upon these distant shores. This is delicious!”

    The heat of the spices and the effect of the drink quickly lifted my mood. I marveled at the shimmering sea, the chilled cows floating in the karmic waves, and the afternoon breezes that cooled my forehead.

    The body is not made to mechanically and repetitively move about an assembly line or maze of cubicles. The body is an ancient space-time ship propelled by sandals through the back alleys of Agonda. Among unfurled psychedelic flags rippling in the breeze, the knick-knacks for tourists, colorful cushions inviting us to a soft landing. There was a a quaint archaic charm to the place. Embodying an eternal spirit that flourishes in the mists of time. Unfathomably deep and unknowable. I was keenly aware that even when traveling, we do not truly leave home. Our new experiences are filtered through the old lenses. Rarely do we experience the true raw naked reality of a new place. Yet, in those moments when you do manage to pull yourself back and be in a place as it is, not as you think it is, then that moment of grace is a revelation of conscious experience as the ultimate aphrodisiac.


    Several cows and their calfs slowly made their way along the main road or simply lay down in the middle of it for a quick nap.

    “They’re so cute,” said Bianca.

    “They seem pretty relaxed.”

    Motorists swerved around them, giving the creatures some space but causing all sorts of chaos along the way. I chuckled as I watched the spatial conundrum caused by the beautifully docile creatures who ruled like the lords and ladies of Goa.

    Looking around, I could see how a place like this could attract the somatic wizards from the 60s and 90s. The laid back atmosphere with fronds swaying in the breeze, the Hindu religious iconography, similar to their lysergic visions, and the friendly locals who smiled softly, as if knowing some ancient secret that westerners have only just begun to uncover.

    After taking out money from the bank machine, we stood along the main road.

    “Now what do we do?” asked Bianca looking this way and that.

    “The sky is the limit," I said, "but these new sandals are killing me. I got blisters already, and the sand is making them worse. I need to go back to the shack and get new footwear.”

    "I told you to break them in first."

    We headed towards the beach away from the center of town. I was limping, so I took off my sandals and walked along the shore with the waves soothing my feet. Ah yes! That's the stuff!

    As evening fell, we sat near the shore and watched the spectacular Goan sun turn red then purple near the hazy horizon. A slight smoky scent permeated the atmosphere. The waves crashed on the shore, and the foam fizzled on the sand. It was a soothing murmuring sound, a timeless frequency that mesmerized us and beckoned us deeper into the entrancing mystery of India.



    Dive into another day:

    1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4

    Images and video by @litguru

    Tags :

    travel writing culture vacation nature philosophy psychology religion yoga

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