A Sadder World We Live In

There’s the terror, horror, and heartbreaking profound sadness of Charlottesville and Barcelona — of course, this goes without saying. And almost assuredly there is more to come. But I’m sad this afternoon because of a wonderful story my friend told me over lunch as we sat outside a cafe on a sweltering summer afternoon in Japan.

This friend is a bald typical looking 68-year-old Brit, but he was 17 in 1967 just entering an art college near London.

“Hair down to me ass and just gobbling up hash brownies all day long before classes, that’s how we got on in those days,” he told me.

After finishing his three years in college and experimenting with LSD, magic mushrooms, and cannabis he hit the road as a hippy backpacker. A couple of years knocking around the world mostly in Australia and Southeast Asia eventually found him taking up yoga and meditation as an non-ordained, long-haired swami in India.

Three years of that and he decided it was time to return to the real world of you average slob, buckle down, and get a job. And this is where the story gets sad for me. It was 1977 my friend took a hippy bus from New Delhi through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey all the way to Athens following the ancient Silk Roads. At night him and the other hippies would sleep under he bus in sleeping bags. They bathed in rivers and lakes along the way. And stayed high as fuck on hash brownies and cannabis the entire time. My friend said the only time they felt nervous or scared was right before they entered Turkey and this was only because of the hash and cannabis due to the long prison sentences for getting caught with it. Instead, they ended up giving it to another group of hippies they met that were leaving Turkey. Ten days on the road, 23 people on the bus, from 11 different countries: Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and an agnostic. No major hassles, no fights, and no assholes ramming the bus into a crowd of innocent people.

And just so there’s no confusion here, I’m not trying to argue that 1977 was a time with no strife or problems. One only has to look as far as East Timor or Cambodia to realize that things were pretty screwed up even then.

What really made me sad was to think that a trip along the Silk Roads in a Hippy bus would at the very least extremely dangerous now, if not impossible. Imagine the reaction you’d get trying to cross the border between Pakistan and India or Khyber Pass?

I’m 47 now, so the likelihood of me doing a trip like that is pretty slim anyway, but my son is six years old. I would like to think that when he is in his early or mid-twenties that maybe, just maybe, some sanity will have returned to the world and there will be a magic bus waiting for him in New Delhi that will take him on a fantastic adventure.


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