Tag Archives: Amazon

Gentleman’s Club

(Post from Jan 28, 2015 – that i just found in my drafts. Somehow escaped my sight, so here it is)

Location: Tarapoto, Amazon Basin, Northern Peru.

Life after the jungle has been surprising. The rules are as follows. No spices, no citric, no fats, no coffee, no carbs, no meat, no tomatoes, no onions, no drugs, no sex, no weed. For at least 30 days.

When i got out of the retreat, i came straight to Colores, the same place i had spent 10 days the last time i was in Tarapoto. This time around, there were 3 men when i checked back in (with Juan Carlos). So it’s now officially a gentleman’s club. That’s an awesome strategy to keep all horny thoughts away, for a straight guy at least. We occupy hammocks in boxers all day and have farting contests. The one that makes everybody run for fresh air wins. Fernando is the current unbeaten champion. Dora the dog comes in a close second, but she doesn’t win any prizes cos she’s female. At other times, we play poker. I suck at it though.

We watch movies, from my collection of 10 flicks that i carry everywhere, on J-C’s big screen. I’ve even downloaded spanish subtitles so they can all understand, and i can learn spanish too. Sometimes J-C takes the tv into his room to skype. I bet skype sex is better on a 50 inch screen. But i sure hope he’s not cheating on the diet. He’s broken up and patched up with his girl 4 times in the last three weeks.

He, and every other fucker here has a bad habit of putting used matchsticks back in the matchbox, and if i berate them they just laugh and tell me to fuck off. ‘Hahahahah fuck off you indian guy’. So i spend my time reading Palahniuk, watching TV shows (just finished Homeland S04), my fave movies on repeat with Spanish subtitles, listening to amazonian music, playing the guitar, playing with Dora, and removing used matchsticks from matchboxes. Not the most exciting life i’ve led, but definitely the most peaceful and contented. Sex, drugs & rock n roll can take a vacation.

Last week, on 22nd Jan, we opened an Indian veg resto ‘Bambu’ as part of Colores. The place was mostly done up by Miro, the one-man-army from Halifax, Canada who came here to start a new-earth project in the jungle. For cycling down the Nevada desert naked in the early 90s, he deserves his own post on this blog. Our chef is Margie, who lives 10 blocks away. She spent 12 years in India, Poona to be specific, and she makes amazing chole-bhatura. My job was helping Fernando and Gabriel (from the Canary Islands) to paint the logos and signs outside, and playing bollywood music on opening night. Dished out my favourite tunes growing up, from Amitabh Bachchan movies to Aamir Khan flicks, to R D Burman and Kishor and even some Rahman thrown in for eclectic feels and all that. Bollywood night in an Indian veg restaurant in Peru. How we never cease to surprise ourselves…

The next day we were in the papers. There’s a pic of me hiding behind the laptop screen. I’m going to make a youtube playlist for Margie to play every night. Maybe i’ll share it with you.

This week i’m in San Roque de Cumbaza, where the town is gearing up for the carnaval, the biggest festival all over south america. Every nook and corner is going to be a massive party. And i’m headlining act on Sunday night. AND, i’m going to be playing sober. But there’s no other way than to nail it inside out. I’m living at this gorgeous place over the hills called San Roque Centro de Artes, where artists from all over the world come down to do a residency, teach kids, art instalments, etc. It’s run by Daniel, who was with me in Cumbaza for the ceremonies, and his wife. Daniel has literally shown me the light a couple of times in the last month, especially since i’m blind at night . There’s a gorgeous cat here, that Daniel brought with him from Cumbaza, and Arco, the white lab. I’ll be here till Monday. Then another 10 days at Colores, and back on the road post that. Can’t wait to climb some snow-capped mountains, or hit up an oasis, or just go surfing again.


Gracias

I’m finally home. And while I sit and figure out what to do with life next, i thought i’d first send across my love and gratitude to the people who’ve come my way during the last one year. People who made me feel at home at every step of the way. Sisters and Brothers across South America, i love you and i can’t thank you enough for the food, the homes, the music, the love, the warmth, the humility, the magical ceremonies, the new tattoos… Whenever you come to my country, you will always have a home, a tour guide, and a funky new chef.

So starting with Rio de Janeiro, Ilha Grande, Paraty, Sao Paolo in Brazil, to Santa Cruz & La Paz in Bolivia, to Puno, The Sacred Valley, Cuzco, Ica, San Jose, Lima, Huaraz, Mancora, Tarapoto, San Antonio, Piura, Arequipa, Iquitos and San Roque in Peru, to Monta in Ecuador, and finally Medellin and Bogota in Colombia, I’d like to thank every soul i met and spent time with.

I’d take names but that would be way too long and unfair on the people whose names have slipped my mind at this particular moment. You already know about my memory blanks.

This is what my bro Rajat made to commemorate this entire chapter of my life. There’ll probably be some stickers out soon.

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#johnnybinsouthamerica   

Gracias South America. Gracias para todo.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


Photog, Bro

I got my first photoshoot assignment over a month ago. Like, i actually got paid to click someone. I almost laughed when they said they’d pay me for it. Till i saw the money and thought ‘oh ok, this is for real’. 

Fair bit of VIP treatment too. I got picked up in a swanky SUV and taken into some isolated parts outside Tarapoto for this. I’ve already told you about Percy in some older posts. He’s one helluva talented guitarist and he’s got some upcoming gigs back in Tarapoto. So this 19 year old wanted to get some shots done, you know, portfolio style. He wanted it to look ‘metal‘. Long hair, leather jacket, etc. I had already done a bunch of shots for the band earlier, all pro-bono. This time around, he was kind enough to pay for it. Contrary to popular belief, musicians with money do exist in some corners of the world. Told him to drop the leather jacket, since it was 40 degrees C.

So here are some of the shots from that day. If you need a photog to fool people and make you all sexy and cool, you know whom to call.

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My ride.

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‘You think i should leave the shirt open, or…’

‘NO.’

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When he first suggested a shoot in the middle of the highway, i wasn’t very enthusiastic about it at the beginning. Getting run over in South America was not on the bucket list. But he did find a great spot.

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He even got a change of clothes, that’s when i realized this was a serious job.

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Then the shoot changed location to an old dump yard. Of course, we were being driven around by his dad, and an assistant who carried his guitars and clothes.

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At one point, Percy spotted a massive rottweiler and dropped everything he had and ran.

Very metal.

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And here below, i present, THE BAND.

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I miss these two. I miss being the drummer.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


El Sauce

I’ve met some amazing souls through this trip. This one’s about a couple with hearts of gold and smiles to match. Over a month ago, Leo and Erika came to Tarapoto. They had spent a few days in town when they got invited to Sauce (sau-say) by some nice folk. They asked me to join them. I really love these two and i know them since December. But that’s still a much longer story for another day, my Mancora days. This one’s about Sauce and Laguna Azul. Should’ve been posted earlier but i was going through some shit around the time and was in no mood for the interwebs.

The best rides are the unplanned ones, yeah? So i quickly packed my bag with minimals, and headed out of my hostel with them. Leo said we were hitch-hiking, so we walked to the outside of Tarapoto town, where a pick up truck driver said we could sit on the rice sacks in the back, for 3 peruvian soles each.

An hour later we were at a small river crossing, one of the inlets of the Amazon river, and got across to the hills on the other side. From there it was a 4 hour trek uphill to Sauce, but Leo the expert got us another pick up truck to hop into, this time for free. Sauce was smaller than i expected. Barely 900-1000 people town. We grabbed a boat and headed to the isolated corner of the blue lagoon, which had one restaurant, some touristy shops, and the home of a very peculiar family, who rented the space out. By 5 pm, the restaurant and stores shut, and almost all the inhabitants, except for the family, were off on a boat to the town-side of this lagoon. We had the whole corner to ourselves, with 14 hammocks to choose from, a wooden deck to jump off into the lagoon from, a baby cheetah, and an anaconda, among a bunch of other animals to play with. Since the resto shut down before sunset, we asked the family if they were ok to cook for us, which they did. Other times we grabbed sapote fruit from the trees lining the area, and sapotes are just amazing. In the afternoon we got grilled tilapia fish from the restaurant. Those were orgasmotron.

We spent the night in hammocks. The days in the water. And smoked a lot of weed. Cut off from civilization, electricity, and all forms of connectivity for days. When you get time like that to yourself, it’s amazing how much one can spend inside one’s head, fixing and fixing and fixing a lot of buried problems. Bringing them out and fixing them good.

Here are some of the images from that serene little getaway in the heart of the amazon.

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I want to get a pick up truck real bad, and a chauffeur so i can ride in the back.

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And to the isolated corner of Laguna Azul, or The Blue Lagoon, we go.

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Erika can make grown men blush, take these twins for example. Guy on the right couldn’t stop hammering his fists together while his brother was talking to her.

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He just couldn’t stop.

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Their mom cracked up at how soft they’d gone in their knees.

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Or how they kept fidgeting with their noses, almost in sync.

Later their mom told me she worked for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Lima. And this was around the same time Mother Teresa was in the news thanks to some illiterate BJP half-brain back home, so i was a little dumbfounded at the mention.

But back to Erika and the blushers.

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A boatman once saw a 20 meter long anaconda in this very lake. He didn’t go back to work for almost three weeks.

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The first boat of tourists from the civilized end started at 9 am.

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The man of the house. Took a lot of convincing to allow me to take his picture. The wife totally refused.

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The UHMAZING sapote tree.

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Leo and Erika are currently riding a bike down the Argentine coast. One day I’ll take them around India.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


Acid Test

I have my flight ticket to Lima for tomorrow.

I’ve spent the last three months in little towns and villages and the jungle, pretty much the hermit. I have an averse reaction to the mere mention of a city now. It’s where hollow souls exist. It’s where people are trying hard to fill their hollowness, to feel complete. Numbing themselves from the real issues in their head. It’s where the demons will suck on your energies, and leave you to starve when you’re devoid of any emotions. I believe i’m done with the city. Hence, today, I’m nervous. No, I’m freaking out, bro.

This from a guy who never thought he’d live anywhere outside Bombay.

But i have to do this. Even if Lima is only a fraction the size of Andheri, this is going to be the acid test to see if i can survive Bombay and Poona without panic attacks, when i eventually head back to the motherland. Cities are where the gigs will eventually call me. And i will have no choice but to make those visits.

This is like a first date, all over again.

A little voice tells me i’ll pass with flying colours though. I might just say a little prayer today.

Big city life,
here my heart have no base.
And right now Babylon deep on me case.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


Estranged

Got a call to play another festival in San Roque. So i headed out as usual to the cab stand from where the ‘colectivos’ or shared cabs head from Tarapoto to San Roque. Normally i’d find one in ten minutes. Today there was more than the usual number of people heading the same way, so cabs were unavailable for the next two hours. I decided to take a cab to San Antonio instead which is halfway to the destination, maybe swim in the river Cumbaza a bit, and walk the remaining seven km.

I got to San Antonio, stripped off and jumped into the river. Got out, dried off and started my walk towards San Roque, hoping for a pickup truck or colectivos with space to maybe stop for me. Three colectivos raced past, and were already packed beyond the seven people capacity. Of course it’s a five seater car. But seven’s the norm. And sometimes there’s upto nine in a car. Like packing balls into tight jeans. 

After about 2 kilometers of hiking, i heard the blaring of a stereo behind me. The music got louder, till a familiar guitar solo caught my attention. A 1986 toyota corona fishtailed, skid, drifted and screeched to a halt a few meters ahead of me, with Estranged by GnR full blast out the equally old stereo speakers. Three heads popped out the windows. Bloodshot eyes wide open, sweaty faces.

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Junkies.

They motioned for me to get in. And i did, without hesitation. 

‘San Roque?’, they asked. They’d heard about the party. About some indian dj playing there. ‘Fuck indian dj man. We play music from car, louder. Muchos louder.’

Yeah, I said.. fuck the indian dj, fucking immigrants i tell ya.

Dude driving was shaped like a potato, white bulging sleeveless vest on. Facial hair yet to break out. Next to him was a muscle-dude, constantly turning back to hand me a bottle of pre-mixed rum and cola. I kept resisting. Next to me at the back was a guy that looked like he just got out of prison for battery. Scars on his face and forearms. Eyes wandering all over the place like he was lost in a strange big city. The driver was speeding way more than anybody should’ve on slippery rainforest roads. One glitch, and you’re hurtling down a cliff 1500m high. Into oblivion. And just as i pictured in my head, the car skid, lost control, fishtailed again and went hurtling towards an edge, but came screeching to a halt a few feet within safety.

‘HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH PUUTA MAADRE (son of a whore)‘, they laughed. My balls were halfway up my intestines.

‘You have twenty soles? We want for gas.’

‘No have’, i said, still sweating off my brow. I could have waited two hours and paid six soles for a colectivo. Fucker was beyond stupid to think i’d give him twenty soles.

‘Aaaah. Mierda (shit).’

The engine was still running, when suddenly a bright spark came across the dude’s face in front of me, next to the driver.

He opened the dashboard, pulled out a bag of fine white powder, smashed the rocks in it with the back of his phone. And pulled out a spoon from the same dashboard. He dug into the bag, scooped up a spoonful, and sent it straight up his nostrils in one quick move. This is the same amount i’d pay between four to five grand back home for. One scoop. And half that scoop he dropped all over his pants and on the seat. And all over his ugly nose and chin. He didn’t care. The bag had maybe fifteen grams. He passed it on to the driver, who followed the same scoop-motion, and the dude at the back. And then the bag finally came to me. I held it for a few seconds. Took a pinch to my gums, and gave it back to the dude in front. I didn’t want to do it. I just needed to know how it tasted. Honest to God. And it tasted real good. Like, REAL good. Pablo-Escobar-good.  

He was offended i hadn’t stuffed my nostrils with it. ‘POR QUE NO (why not)?!?’

‘I no want.’

‘QUE PASA parcero (wtf is up dude)??’, he scowled. 

‘I no need, hermano. Can we go to San Roque now? I have work.’

Estranged moved to You Could be Mine. And the rest of Use Your Illusion 2, till half that bag was done, a few more halts later. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that album in stereo sound off those old speakers. I was taken back to the days of my my old aiwa cassette player at home. And Sandy blasting the same beats in the bedroom off his kit. The whole skidding and screeching to a halt was well rehearsed and controlled, as i soon realized. I didn’t taste any more of it. That pinch had done enough to my face. Dude in the front kept air-drumming, and the guy next to me was air-guitaring the solos to every track on the album, though it was all a little fail, and out of sync. But i didn’t tell them.  

We finally reached San Roque, and i got off and said thanks and bye to them. I don’t think i’ve ever been that desperate to say bye to a bunch of coke fiends. They stopped to eat at one of the local joints, and i was off to the venue, hoping they wouldn’t come by. But they did, soon as they got their hands on more cola for their rum.

While i was soundchecking, they drove down to the open shed which was the venue, Estranged blasting again. Soon as they appeared, i looked over to my crew, the sober bunch. I could see it in their faces, these dudes weren’t welcome here. I walked out to them, told them straight up cut the loud shit and leave their drugs and alcohol in the car, or get the fuck outta here. They were too shocked to respond. Or they didn’t understand a word i said. Either way, the red toyota disappeared over the horizon within a few minutes, midway through Slash’s solo.

Fucking partypooper indian dj.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


Mucking It

I’ll take the back of a pickup truck, over air-conditioned luxury, any day.

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Time to hop over to luxury mode.

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La Familia. La Ceremonia.

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Cosmic. Love.

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If Mother Nature had a face…

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Brother Dan.

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Still trying to comprehend last night.

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Breaking fast.

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Gotta go home, my lovers wait.

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‘Come together’.

Until next time, ciao.

Love & Peace.