Travel notes from my year in India (2004): Go Karna. 6 of 16

February 13

Another full moon is approaching. It is a critical time around here as tension builds up with rumors spreading like wild fire on the location of the next secret rave. After a few days there seems to be converging agreement: three days non-stop party in Go Kharna. Which happens to be some 200 miles south of where I am. It is too far to go by bike on local back-roads. A few beers and a solution is found: five of us will share the exorbitant cost of renting the Jeep of the local farmer (10 USD/day). We all decide to leave on Thursday by lunchtime to do the 3 to 4 hours journey in daylight. Of course with the herculean task of finding a spare T-shirt for each of us we do not seem to be able to be all together in the same place until 7:00 PM, road trip official start time. What really lies ahead of us becomes apparent after:
The Jeep turns out to be a 40 years old Mahindra with a maximum speed of 80 Km/hr. (which we luckily only reached once), windows that do not pull up, doors that do not lock, approximate steering, and noisier than a WWII fighter plane,
It takes us over than two hours to do what is normally an easy 30 minutes ride to Vagator, where the 'highway' starts.

The road that the map proudly presented as a high speed inter-state wonder is really not different at all from any other back-road: wide enough for just one truck, which is scary enough when they come full speed towards us with their headlights on (always) and leave us blindly hoping there will be no lingering signposts when we are forced to pull off the road. Somehow some time in the middle of the night we reach the border to the next state, where obviously the police stop us and with the excuse of an expired pollution control stamp and the usual scarring techniques they wait for some money. Shantanu saves the day storming in with his press card and his father's name. It works, we get through and within a few more hours we reach the village of Go Kharna. Half asleep we attempt to overtake what seems to be a big truck. Only there is another one ahead. And this one is REALLY big, the wheels alone being more that five meters tall. In shock we stop to discover two traditional religious wood chariots: they are over 500 years old, just parked on the side of the road waiting for the procession next week when the entire village will come together to pull them with gigantic ropes. They are both intricately carved and about three stories high.

A brief stop at the beach for sunrise, where once again in wonder we stare at the entire village proceeding in rigorous ranks to bath in the ocean, performing morning prayers, and then disappearing.

We finally reach Om beach, our destination, at midday on Friday. A mere 17 hours after we left. The place is amazing, the beach in the actual shape of an Om sign, isolated and with clear transparent waters. Some 3,000 of us slowly converge here from all directions throughout the day. The gypsy tribe reassembling, coming from all over the world, many sharing the same bit of discomfort when having to describe where they are really from. We grow in number and excitement through the day. By sunset, when the music is supposed to start, there is a definite vibe. Which will have to be harshly transformed a few hours later, when the music does not start (the inexperienced Israeli organizers forgot to pay the local police).

Not surprisingly, this time the trip back only takes us five hours. Uneventful, except for an engine breakdown right at the same border checkpoint. It turns out to be a very simple matter and we are able to kiss the ground of our 'home' in Goa soon after sunset. Our friends await us with a welcoming glass of Rum & Coke and a grim on their faces: the best full moon party turned out to be just next door at 'Buterfly' (yes, it is spelled with only one t), a full 30 seconds walk!