Daydreaming

I got back from Bhutan pretty much still in a daze, heavily sedated.

So while my mind was all over the damn place the last few days, I started going through my music, and making mixes. And voila, there’s 5 new mixes. The same number i’ve churned out in the last 4 years. So yeah, Bhutan was incredibly inspiring. I’ll write about the trip later, for now here’s most of the outcome of it.

Now if you’re on my instagram @johnnyfuckinb you’ve already read the blah blah about the new musical direction, new inspirations, breaking the mould, etc. So i won’t bore you with that here. I’ll get straight to the music. As for the stories behind/locations of the related images, you’ll have to get on my insta.

Have a great day/week/life.

Much love, always.

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Cold Water

I got to Shillong a day before my birthday and crashed with Levin and Ruel of the Bassment crew. Levin’s moved on from the band now, yes, but this was 2015 October. So when Levin’s around, the party never ends. He’d kept the alcohol ready, and despite the fact it was something I didn’t partake in anymore, it was a birthday celebration and i couldn’t be impolite, could I? Rest of the night involved disturbing the neighbours a lot, who’d all come for the festival so they joined in rather than complaining to front-desk.

Needless to say the band didn’t make it to soundcheck the next morning, day 1 of the inaugural NH7 Weekender, Shillong, which was not exactly in Shillong but about half an hour away in a gorgeous meadow among the hills. Still my favourite festival venue apart from Arkana in Peru and Musilac in France. On the bill were The Wailers of the Marley fame. This was going to be a memorable birthday weekend, even if day 2 was going to be a metal overdose. I rode with the band to the venue around 3 pm.

The long walk from the ticket counter to the main stages was interrupted by a curly haired dude I recognized had come all the way from Pune. This turned out to be a famous saxophone player whose first words to me were ‘man I wish I had some lsd and I’d just run through these fields’. Guess who had lsd in his pockets? The birthday boy of course.

4:30 pm, we’d taken some by the reggae/ska stage and then a bit more. We caught Bassment, Ska Vengers, and a rap-metal band whose name i still can’t spell but were really good. I told sax-boy to catch up later, for the after party, and then I walked around the fields to get a glimpse of the other acts, and shared hugs with the huge bunch that’d come down from Bombay and Pune and Bangalore, some i’d not met in a decade when we were in a band together.

It starts pouring and Meghalaya – Shillong especially – is famous for the beautiful light rains through the year.

People make a frantic dash to get cover from the rain, mostly to food stalls and bars and the roof over stages. I found an intersection from where I could hear the music coming from three out of the 4 stages. And one of them, still setting up, is where my heart was set. So I trudged slowly towards it, while others ran helter-skelter. When you’re on lsd, the rain can be magic.

This was about two hours after I’d taken it, so those who have, would know that’s around when the first big wave hits. Sudden and euphoric, the ‘letting go’ point. And when every sensation is heightened, even the smallest rain droplets feel like you’re standing under a slow-motion hot waterfall. You’re in love. Getting drenched is then near-orgasmic. Like the world around you is a gigantic warm moist enclosure.

Then his voice. I had never heard the band before, but one minute in, i’m a fan for life.

My God, that voice.. cold cold water, again.

Shivers and goosebumps. Crawling up my spine like warm static electric hits, starting up my toes and fingers, all the way to my neck, till they collide in the little power-box in my brains, the explosion. I could swear then, those drops of water landing on me and bursting on my skin had embraces in them. And while everyone ran as close to the stage to stay dry, I stayed in the sweet spot, where the sound is always perfect, under the falling rain. Like those animes and movies, I was in a sonic boom, hair blowing, clothes drenched, if I’d taken my feet off the ground I’d have floated into the cosmos in a rainbow bubble, with only Nicholson tunes playing in the bubble and all around. Gorgeous beings swayed and danced in my vision ahead, then around me. I felt a wobbly knee almost give up on me. If I’d hit the ground, I’d have tears running down. And I did, but in the rain nobody notices.

Nicholson has since been my go-to at every festival. I hope they play every festival everywhere in the world. The one time i missed them was because i went backstage to shake Brandon Boyd’s (Incubus) hand. And i sometimes regret not being at the Nicholson stage despite being a 2-decade Incubus fan.

That day in Shillong was life-changing in more ways than one.

Update: That rap metal band i can never spell is Borkung Hrangkhawl. See what i mean?


Asian Dubbed

Back in 2010, when they announced the first NH7 Weekender in Pune, none could’ve been as excited as me. Cos [A] – it was less than 10 mins from my house in Pune, so woooo afterpartieeees and [B] – they announced Asian Dub Foundation as the headliners.

Now this was going to be the first real Music Festival many in India would experience, and 8 years down, it’s still pretty much the biggest festival.

My own history with NH7 goes back to 2001-02 when Vijay, the founder started managing bands as a 17 year old college dropout, and my brother’s band Acquired Funk Syndrome was his first ever signing (and i may have rolled him his first ever joint); Later in 2008-09, through some strange stroke of luck and utter boredom with the radio job, I took up the tour manager role on weekends for one of NH7’s in-house artists and probably India’s greatest act – Pentagram. The rock n roll life, I don’t think i can ever get bored of.

I also spent a lot of time in cars with big amplifiers and bass tubes deafening oncoming traffic with RATM and Asian Dub F and Nine Inch Nails and The Prodigy and the likes back in the day. Loud, very loud. The ex drummer of Prodigy now plays for Asian Dub Foundation.

‘A good song should make you wanna tap your foot and get with your girl. A great song should destroy cop cars and set fire to the suburbs’, Tom Morello said. I never got around to burning a cop car cos Indian cop cars are pretty much the worst cars on the road, you kinda feel bad for them.

Much has changed now but those bands and their tunes still give me goosebumps on the rare occasion that i listen to them.

But that day in December 2010 I had got to Pune for this from the Press job in Delhi. On the way i made a pit-stop at Pushkar with a friend and scored some of the best hashish for my homies, many of whom would gather in Pune for the festival. Two amazing days have passed by with some amazing bands and acts so far including my old boys (and early band mates) Scribe, Bhayanak Maut, Blackstratblues, Faridkot, Indian Ocean, Susheela Raman, Zero (of course) and even The Magic Numbers, and everyone, EVERYONE is excited about the final day. I don’t think anyone’s ever dreamed they’d catch Asian Dub Foundation live. Everyone’s waiting for the moment, headrush, alcohol, dancing, singing, jumping.

We were in the parking lot, a small group of us testing the new stuff I bought with me, not disturbing anyone at all just having our own sweet little calm before the storm, when a festival security dude came up, grabbed Zico’s hand (which had the joint) and dragged him to the head of security. Festival security in India is very strict about drugs.

As a good friend would do, you know, i went up to where the security was gathered, and told them – let him be guys, it’s a music festival, relax, what’s the big deal?

The head of security goes ‘Usko chhod, isko search kar’ (leave him, search this guy). And damn, they found everything in my pockets. Zico just coolly walked away. I stare at him like ‘FUCK YOU ZICO’.

Wow. What luck. Fuck me.

In 2 minutes, there’s 5 huge guys surrounding me, they’ve cut my festival wristband, torn up my ticket, they’ve taken all the stash, and they’re threatening to send me to the cops.

I can hear the speakers blaring, the second last band (the same band i used to manage) is about to wrap up. The vocalist announces that there’s 15 minutes until Asian Dub Foundation starts. There’s loud screaming and howling from the fans. This is a strange miserable way to not catch a childhood favourite band.. i’m just about to feel like absolute shit and then.

I take a deep breath, I smile.

‘See man, I’m going in to the festival with or without my wristband, one way or another. And after I’m done, i’ll be back here for my stash. You can keep it till then. You can smoke some if you want. But I AM going in, brother. Legally, you have no right to take away what we were smoking in the parking lot – it’s not within the festival premises, but i have no time to argue with you right now. Asian Dub starts in 10 minutes.’

The head of security, he actually walked with me to the gates to let me in cos i didn’t have a wristband and ticket anymore.

Then i caught them live. Something just like this.

And after the festival, he came to me in the parking lot and gave me back my stash. All of it.

Every year at the fest since that opening NH7 Weekender, he and i have shared a hug. It’s always nice to be in the good books of the Head of Security. Three years later I made my own festival debut at NH7 Weekender.


Buddy..

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This is a piece by reddit user Euthenios that i felt the urge to put on my blog so i can come back to it whenever i want. Thank you Euthenios.


The last thing I remember is My Person bringing me to the Sharp Place.

I never understood why My Person would bring me to the Sharp Place. The smells were sharp, and they poked me with sharp things. That’s why I called it the Sharp Place. It was a bad place. I didn’t like it.

I don’t know why My Person brought me there, that day of all days. I already hadn’t been feeling good. I’d been throwing up, and my hips hurt and my paws hurt. Even eating grass didn’t help. And then My Person brought me to the Sharp Place. I tried to be mad at him, but he seemed so sad about something, so I tried to wag my tail to cheer him up. I didn’t even really notice when the Sharp Place poked me.

Then my eyes got heavy and that was the last thing I remember.

“Buddy,” a voice said. “Buddy, wake up.”

I opened my eyes and got to my feet, and I realized my paws didn’t hurt anymore. I tried a wag, and that was fine, too. I sniffed the air. It smelled like the Play Park and like Our Home and the Car Window. I liked it a lot.

“Welcome, Buddy,” came the voice again, from behind me.

I turned around, and there was a person there. He wasn’t My Person, but he was all safe and good smells, so I trusted him.

“Where am I?” I said.

“You’re in the place that Good Boys go” the person said.

“I was a Good Boy?” I said.

“You were a Very Good Boy,” he told me.

That was good. I always tried to be a Good Boy. “Where’s My Person?” I asked.

“He’s still down there,” the person said. And he waved his arm and all of a sudden we were in Our Home, and My Person was sitting on the Forbidden Chair and looking sad. Every so often, he’d look over at the Okay Couch, where I was allowed so sit, and his breath would catch because he was very sad. I tried to nuzzle him, but my nose just passed through his hand.

“What’s happening? I don’t understand,” I said.

The person sighed. “You can’t be with him right now, Buddy. I’m sorry. It’s the way of things.”

I thought about this. “So it’s like My Person is on the Person Bed, and I’m not allowed there?” I said.

“Exactly like that,” the person said. “But he can be with you someday. If you choose to wait for him.”

“Of course I want to wait for him!” I said. Not wait for My Person? Who did this person think he was talking to?

“Hold on, Buddy,” the person said. He seemed sad about this for some reason. “It’s not that simple. You have a choice.” He got down on one knee and he looked into my eyes. “There are bad things in this world, Buddy. Very bad things.”

“Like Neighbor Cat?”

“So much worse than her, Buddy.” He waved his hand, and I saw what he was talking about. He showed me dark things, that were like snakes and rats, only worse. Worse than the Sucking Machine. Worse than the Sharp Place. They smelled evil.

“These are the things that want to hurt him, Buddy. They want to hurt everybody. So you can wait for him, or you can keep him safe. But if you choose to keep him safe, then you can’t see him again.”

“What, never?” I said.

The person nodded. “Never, Buddy. I’m sorry. Those are the Rules. It’s a terrible choice.”

I looked at my paws. I didn’t want to not see My Person ever again. But I wanted to keep him safe even more.

“I know what I have to do,” I said, and the person waved his hand, and all of a sudden we were in a place with there were as many dogs as I have every seen before. More, even.

“These are all the Good Boys who chose to keep Their People safe,” the person said.

I looked at them all. I couldn’t believe it, still. “But there’s so many of us!” I said. “How many Good Boys are here?”

The person looked down at me. He smiled, but I could tell he was also partly very sad.

“All of you, Buddy. Every single one.”

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Downward Dogs

bikram

https://thewalrus.ca/yogas-culture-of-sexual-abuse-nine-women-tell-their-stories/

The above link tells the story of 9 women who spent time with Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga.

‘Whether they spent days, months, or years with Jois, all of the women describe an environment in which the guru was permitted to freely assault his female students.’

Sorry if you thought i was going to share how holy and spiritual Ashtanga yoga is.

In their own words, ‘It’s okay’ was the common response they got when they shared their unfortunate incidents with the yoga community.

Fact is Pattabhi Jois was a fucking asshole that displayed a holier-than-thou appearance of saviour on the outside, while violating women who came to seek him to learn something, like most ‘Godmen’ or cult gurus.

Then there’s the other famous asshole – Bikram Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury, who actually tried to copyright yoga. Of course his copyright claim got shut down, deservedly, by a federal court.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/feb/18/bikram-hot-yoga-scandal-choudhury-what-he-wanted

‘Born in Kolkata in 1946, he claimed to have been invited to America by Richard Nixon, and to have taught yoga to the Beatles and Nasa astronauts. He once told a class that he invented the disco ball.’ He also claimed to have launched Michael Jackson’s career.

I don’t want to smack this guy against a wall, i want to smack people who believe impostors like him against a wall.

When confronted by a journalist on camera about the rape allegations, he went on to say ‘Why do I have to harass women? People spend $1m for one drop of my sperm.’

Don’t even get me started on Baba Ramdev.

The scene isn’t very different today. Now there’s a million yogis and hence a billion scary stories. All you have to do is spend a few weeks talking to the naive young girls who’ve landed in Rishikesh ‘The Yoga Capital of The World’ from all around the world for their teacher’s certificates, to heal their broken hearts, to escape an abusive husband, etc.

Sometimes they leave with no certificate, but a full blown case of herpes.

The last time I was there for barely 8 days, a counsellor i met had spoken to 12 women that contracted STDs. Two holy yogis were counting bars in prison, when the number should ideally be a few dozens. Most women who’ve gone through a terrible episode are either ashamed to talk about it, or threatened into silence, so a lot of the scumbags roam free feeling invincible. Toxic masculinity and bro-culture thrives like virus.

Is it that men can’t resist abusing a small amount of power they may have over meek subjects?

Yes, absolutely.

Forgive me for the generalization, but good yogis do exist. And all one has to do is some research about their yoga school of choice, or ask people. I’m all ears if you want to know where to learn yoga and get your certification. But it’s most certainly not Rishikesh, unless you get into 5 or 6 of the good ones where there aren’t any vampire flesh lusting garbage men. Some of them are on hoardings bigger than the hoardings for the latest iPhone.

Most yoga schools there, and around India, don’t even give you a recognized certificate cos they go to the local printer and get some sheet of paper laminated and handed to you for your $3000. That’s not a fair deal, if you ask me. And if you just google rishikesh yoga, you’ll get over 350 results for ‘yoga retreats’. If that doesn’t smell fishy to you, I’m concerned about your mental state.

Of course, they might teach you how to do the headstand and the downward dog, but really, that alone doesn’t contribute to yoga. There’s much more than some physical twisting and bending and showing off. There’s much more to yoga than your yoga mat and your yoga pants. I could write a book about this subject but for now i’ll leave it at that and request you to do your research. There’s a handful of good schools around India that make your time, energy, and hard-earned money worth it. There are teachers who’ve made it their life purpose to TRY to awaken you beyond your fractal geometry neon designer yoga pants.

And while you’re at it, also do some research about where your money goes. There are ample yoga schools sending your money to religious fanatic outfits, in return for promotion and ‘legal certification’ and good terms. Like how the Mafia collected money ‘for protection’.

Yoga is a beautiful and unbelievably humbling art form (unless one is like Bikram who has a Hollywood mansion and 50 cars). Yoga has, and will continue to help a lot of people on their paths, including me and many I know. But the world we’re living in today, like I said, is infested by a lot of vampires. So be careful of the messenger. I wish you all the best and nothing but love and light on your yogic endeavours.

I’m off to teach my next class, ciao.

*** people perverting the journey is not just an observation in yoga, it also exists in any form of art or spirituality or science – it’s a disease called ‘man’, leaving his stink on anything serene ***


Good Doggie

Mickey was our dog at my grandma’s house when we were kids. My brother and I, the whole family – we loved him. We got to see that handsome son of a bitch only once a year, for a few weeks during our summer holidays. He would jump with joy when we came on holidays and howl in angst on the last day when he saw our suitcases packed for the flight back to Oman.

But this story isn’t about Oman or Mickey or my brother or the extended family of 10 during those holidays. It’s about the unsuspecting postman and untied chains.

You see, those holidays, I always slept in one of the rooms on the ground floor. Mickey was tied at night to the window in that room. So I went to sleep petting him through the window, and he slept after he’d licked my face a couple of times through the grills. Some mornings he’d be fast asleep when I woke up, and on some he’d be a restless little fucker moving around a hundred times to find his comfy spot. One such morning, when he’d rattled the grills with his belt a dozen times and disturbed my sleep, I thought it’d be better to just untie him. I love my sleep too much.

Now he had the habit of barking at the guy who brought fish around to the house, the newspaper guy, postman, etc. like most dogs. But since he was always tied, they’d snigger at him and get on with their jobs and move to the next house. On this day though, the postman wasn’t so lucky.

Mickey was untied and nobody had a clue.

I woke up with a start when I heard the guy scream. Mickey made a run for him. As I looked out the window, the hundred different letters from his bag were still hovering over the ground, still landing on earth in slow motion, like a paper-storm. Mickey of course, only ran until the point where he was stood. By then the postman had dropped everything in his hands, sprinted like speedy Gonzales, and fallen into a ditch many yards away. When Mickey saw that, he stopped running and barking, calmly turned around and came back to his spot like his job had been done. The intruder had been scared away. Good doggie.

I was 8 years old but even then I knew I had to lie to save myself some spanking from mum, so I told everyone I had NO IDEA how Mickey was freed. It was some spirit dog at night that untied him. Either that or Mickey was the smartest chain-untying dog in the world.


Demons

I lost a gem of a friend and brother last week. Some say it was suicide, depression. After five days of hurting, I wanted to write. And when I opened my laptop, this popped up, an old piece i wrote while fighting demons myself a while ago.

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I met my shaman early 2015, and from then up for the next six to seven months, I was living a life of bliss. When i got back to India, people usually walked by me without recognizing me – cos i’d lost over 25 kilos living in the amazon. And then they pulled a shocked face and silence when they realised it was me. Many thought I’d gone through some near-death illness. Or drowned in an ocean of drugs. My own folks thought my abused liver had finally given up on me. On the contrary, i’d never felt healthier. And happier. Of course, happiness is relative and all that, but i was beyond happiness.

For more than a year, i went through this state of bliss. Almost a feeling of invincibility. Walking on clouds. There was no shortage of anything. Love, friends, joy, laughter, I thought i couldn’t be any happier. And i thought it was how it’d be forever. Riding the wave of absolute ecstasy.

One thing i forgot during this phase, was nothing really lasts. Impermanence – that old Buddhist term.

Fast forward to April 2016. Something changes. Before that change, I feel different. Like a warning signal in the pit of my stomach. Something bad is around the corner. Dark clouds on the horizon. I love dark clouds, but these were going to last way longer than i thought, and they weren’t the dark clouds you see above the ocean.

In the few months since, everything in my life has come crashing down around me. The love, the warmth, the laughter and joy. I tried looking for answers, but that search drove me deeper and deeper into isolation, depression, and a never ending tunnel with no light in sight. Things slipped away from me and i could do nothing about it. A big fat FUCK YOU from bliss itself.

Every thing i touch turns to dust. Every move i make is jinxed. I’ve gone from self-loving to self-doubting, self-admonishing, maybe even self-loathing.

Once that self-love turns into loathing, things get very dark. Both outside, and inside your head. A cold wave creeps into your otherwise warm senses. Compassion gets drained out. Confidence gets deflated. Groove gets killed.

That pit in your stomach is now a black hole. Sucking you from the inside. Leeching on life force. Seeking to destroy. My own mind has turned into my greatest enemy.

At this period in time, the only resort in my isolation and loneliness has been yoga, meditation, and books. On the rare occasion i push myself to write, like now.

Just like enlightenment can hit anyone without warning, so can depression. Because I forgot equanimity. I held on to the bliss without respect, i took it for granted. Like a child with the cotton candy, i greedily chomped on, till it ran out.

Suddenly there was no ground beneath my feet.

I couldn’t be happy for myself. There was nothing to be happy about. I couldn’t meet people for fear of showing my dark unhappy side. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t share love and joy with anyone. The moodiness was clamouring over me. I started to sleep longer hours, telling myself that the numbness of sleep was better than the dark of the waking hours. Better than all the thoughts running through my conscious mind. The dreams I saw were sometimes better than what real life had for me when i woke up, which was – absolutely nothing. I was never one for making plans, but now i couldn’t cook a dish without fucking it up. Hopeless. Powerless.

Soon I was in a corner, hiding from friends and family. Hiding the truth. Telling myself this was going to end in the worst way possible. Get a grip get a grip. This is going to end in the most peaceful way possible. Kill yourself. Get a grip.

‘How are you Bijou?’

‘i’m good!’

I lied.

Here’s the thing though. There is no cure. There is no drug. There is no short cut. I have to fight it.

The only healing, is acceptance. Time only heals if you accept you need healing.

Ride the wave, fall down. Climb up, try again, ride again. Sometimes it’s a long ride. Sometimes it’s a quick crash.

I’ve got nothing to prove. I’ve got nowhere to run.

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I survived that ordeal, for now. Things get better. Then things turn to shit. The wave will continue to make you, or break you. Accept whatever the outcome, but don’t give up on it. But really, despite how many times you tell people to ‘talk to someone, get help’, most don’t. It’s just how this works. It’s the greatest battle we fight, the one with our own mind – our best friend, and our greatest enemy.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we jump.

Next time you come across someone ‘not being themselves’, talk to them. Be proactive. Cos they will not talk about it. They will not open out to you, cos they’re scared of being vulnerable. They’re scared of being seen as weak and feeble. They’re terrified you will turn your back on them cos you only love them when they’re happy. I know cos i was there. I have family and friends who’d have cursed me if i did some terrible shit. A lot, a lot. I’m grateful for them, and that gratitude alone helped me fight harder.

The opposite of depression is not euphoria, it’s connection. Connect with those who need it.