Tag Archives: Ayahuasca

The Music Festival Guide to Drugs

Having walked into a dozen or two music festivals and having tumbled out or escorted or thrown out by security, I’ve had first hand accounts of the harmful effects of drugs on naive festival-goers. First up, hide it well when you’re going in. Secondly, there’s no doubt that drugs are bad for you, including the ones you get across the counter at medical stores and chemists. In case you’ve been blinded by TV commercials and Shah Rukh and MS Dhoni’s Royal Stag testimonials, even alcohol is a drug.

According to the WHO, A drug is any substance (other than food that provides nutritional support) that, when inhaled, injected, smoked, consumed, absorbed via a patch on the skin, or dissolved under the tongue, causes a physiological change in the body. – wikipedia

‘Drugs’ as per the commonly abused definition of the word, are against the law. Then again, in India and most other ignorant countries, so is homosexuality. The law is dumber than the dude who decided this demonetization thing. So if you get caught, you’re on your own – like I learned at NH7 Weekender 2010, 2012, 2014… and still learning. In this post, we’re only talking about the drugs that the lawmakers and music festivals talk about.

More often than not, you don’t hear of scary stories. But there’s that one idiot who gives the whole crew a bad name by overdosing on some suspicious material, or mixing it all up and then face-planting into the sound console. So before you go all into your fear & loathing at the festival mode, it’s best to educate yourself about what to expect when you’re tripping balls. And luckily there’s enough ways to stay safe and alive.

  1. Weed/hashish/charas – the good stuff can be sniffed out from a football field away. So if you see those big bouncers running towards you, empty your pockets immediately and be ready to beg them to not tear your festival band up. Also stay close to the food stall so you don’t get lost trying to satiate your munchies craving. Caution: Do not mix with hard alcohol.
  2. Alcohol – yes, just because all your festivals are sponsored by them, and your dad drinks, and your grandpa drinks, it doesn’t mean alcohol is not a drug. It is, but the morality of it being legal is a different discussion. Stay hydrated. Eat well. And go easy. You don’t want to projectile at some unsuspecting chick dressed like a fairy. Caution: Slow down. Do not mix the darks and the whites. And remember all that coke and sprite and whatever mixers you use, have an obscene amount of sugar content. Make sure the ice is made with filtered water. Or skip the ice.
  3. Cocaine – now we’re going hard. It ups the energy levels. But it can also up the douchebag levels. Tends to make some feel aggressive. If you have that tendency, stay off the coca. Do not walk around like you dipped your face in snow. Caution: stay hydrated. Don’t start a fight. Somebody will clock you out.
  4. MDMA/extacy/molly – everybody’s fave party/rave/festival drug. Will help you dance 15 hours straight, but the body ache recovery post festival will take 10x that time. Also, you’ll be feeling the love a lot. But don’t get too touchy-feely with random strangers, aaite? The bouncers are always watching. Caution: There’s a lot of bad MD going around, especially at festivals when those greedy scumbag peddlers are out to make a fortune. So go easy. Watch out for really bad downers and anxiety attacks. Both cocaine and MDMA tend to increase your tolerance for alcohol. But when they wear off, the alcohol side effects will make life hell. Very dehydrating, so carry a ton of oral hydration salts or glucon d.
  5. LSD – magical colours, patterns, and love will exist where they never did before. Also this is probably the least harmful drug, physically. But if you have any case of mental or emotional trauma or baggage, stay off absolutely. LSD takes a while to wear off. And if you’re stuck in a painful psychological trip, you might even consider killing yourself to get out of it. Please don’t give the drug a bad name by dying. Caution: stay hydrated. Fresh juices/fruits are best.
  6. DMT – if you take this at a music festival, you’re probably out of your mind. Literally. And some of those EDM acts while tripping on DMT can be akin to sitting in a pitch black torture chamber listening to nickelback for days together on loop. Caution: certainly not to be mixed with other chemicals or alcohol or greasy food.
  7. Ketamine – aka fertilizer aka horse tranquilizer aka don’t touch that thing. But more often than not, this has been passed around as MDMA among unsuspecting festival goers. Given its low cost, its also become a popular choice of drugs among the youth. But honestly, I cant think of a worse drug than ketamine. If you DO end up using, make sure you stay hydrated and keep chewing gum as well. Those jaw clenches can be gnarly. And really, the 3-4 terrible days of recovery period – where your tongue burns and your jaws hurt and you have no appetite – is hell.

So yeah, I’ll recycle this post just in time for the next festival season. But keep these general tips in mind anyway, and stay psychologically undamaged/alive.

 

 


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.


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.


Inked

Ladies & gentlemen – yoga instructor, tattoo artist, painter, ayahuasquero, and designer – Rich D’Amaru.

In the last post i mentioned how this marvellous guy just dropped in my path out of nowhere. While he was drawing out my new tattoo yesterday, i got to ask him a few questions.

Rich was born in New Jersey. Comic books at a young age were his first foray into art and sketches, helping him through catholic school.

While he always dreamed of traveling, it was only when he signed up for the navy, that he thought it’d be a possibility. That didn’t go as planned though, as there was more of teaching than travelling for him in the navy. He worked it for a while, teaching nuclear mechanics, but soon got sick of it because of the ‘politics and bullshit’. The best thing there, was that’s where he got into tattoos and art on a heavier level. He found a tattoo artist, and he started sketching again.

Trying to find a way out of the navy, quitting wasn’t an option. So he pretended to go crazy. And sure enough, they released him.

He packed his gear, and started traveling, inking all over Albany, Virginia, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, and even London and Denmark.

One day he made his way into Urubamba in Peru, to help a friend with Kirtans (his knowledge of Indian hymns and mantras will surprise babas in Haridwar). He says Sanskrit mantras are the most powerful hymns during ayahuasca ceremonies, which i’ll get to experience tonight. From there, the signs brought him to the high rainforests around Tarapoto. A voice told him to sit at a restaurant and draw, the voice told him someone would come to him and tell him where to be. It happened exactly like that.

That was 5 years ago, he started assisting at ceremonies and teaching yoga at Tambo Illusion, about 25 minutes outside of Tarapoto. He’s well versed in various Amazonian icaros (healing songs) including those of the Shipibo tribes, and the Katukina sects, and even kundalini energy and chakras.

This here is where he’s been based the last few years: http://retreat.guru/events/3911/yoga-and-shamanism-in-the-high-rainforest-of-peru

For the last few months, he’s even been brewing ayahuasca and various other healing potions. I asked him how the plants have helped him.

‘I don’t think too much while i make art anymore. I just ask and the directions fill my head. Also i’m more in tune now.’

I feel blessed. Last night he was filling ink under my skin. Tonight i’m off to a lake for a ceremony with him.

You can see his work at the sites mentioned below.

http://www.triplevisionintent.com/ 

http://richdtattoo.com/

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The Journey

Part 1

You may or may not know, that one of the main reasons i came back to Peru, was to take part in an Ayahuasca ceremony. Which then became 5 ceremonies, and counting. The whole experience is something i’m still putting down in my diary and runs into over 20 pages. So that’ll have to wait, editing and all that.

Yeah, i keep a diary.

A few facts right away. Ayahuasca is not a ‘drug’, it’s an experience. A trip, though i find it difficult to call it that cos of the way we have massacred the use of ‘trip’ in our daily lives.

‘OHH MAAAN, WHAT A TRIP!’

Shut up.

It’s a very, long, journey. And these journeys are accompanied by music of the land, songs the shamans sing, in pitch black darkness in the middle of the night. It goes on for upto 4, maybe 5 hours a session till one comes out of that intense spell. The potion is a mix of two plant extracts. In simple terms, one can call it DMT, that being the major constituent. But it’s much, much more.

On my 4th ceremony i wanted to try something. I had heard the shaman’s tunes three times already and i was curious for a different experience. So I asked him to give me my potion which i could take during the day, in my own confines. But this time, with the music i wanted to travel to. A celestial journey where i was the conductor of the whole damn orchestra.

So i curated a playlist on the morning of 12th Jan which took me over an hour, went to my shaman, downed that disgusting-tasting magical extract, took his blessings, and went to my room. The room in this case was a tree-house in the middle of the Cumbaza jungle. I reduced my laptop brightness to the minimum possible to conserve battery, cos there’s no electricity in this part of the world to charge your laptop.

I hit play, and lay back in my hammock.

What i experienced the next six hours was on a cosmic level. I had to be careful with the music curation cos one wrong chord can send your mind and body into a place from where there is no return for the next few hours. Limbo. Nobody has tried this, simply cos everyone trusts their shaman to provide the right music at the right time. But there are challenges a ‘dj’ must take on, and by ‘challenges’ i don’t mean ‘dj championships’ and popularity contests.

Fuck that amateur shit.

Attached here is the music i came down to. This playlist i want to share with you all. Would be wrong to keep that experience to myself. Music i’ve grown up to, music i’ve caught on the road, music i’ve loved, music that’s stood the test of time for me…

Don’t expect this to be like one of my regular sets or mixtapes, you’ll be mighty disappointed. There’s no ‘club bangers’ or ‘bootyshakers’ in here. No drum n bass, glitch hop, loud snares. No, none of that. Doesn’t mean you can’t dance to any of them though. There’s only good music, good lyrics, and one that I wrote myself over 10 years ago.

Stay away from the clutter when this is on. Be alone if you can. Plug in your head phones, smoke a doobie, lay back, walk by the waves, hit the highway for a long drive, be at ease, love and peace.

This is the download link:

https://www.mediafire.com/?e08c0asj79l4h39

If you have trouble accessing the link, hit me up with your email and i’ll send another one to you right away.

There’s more where this came from. If you like the tunes, research about the artists. Buy their music.

NOW for part 2.

The funds are drying up. Been six months since the word ‘salary’ disappeared from my vocabulary. But I’m definitely not letting that cut short my journey. I do believe in karma and that i won’t be left on the streets here, but i don’t necessarily want to get to the point where i can’t sleep easy at night, wondering where the next dollar comes from. I suck at poker.

So i put few of my tracks up on bandcamp. About time i guess, they’ve been rotting in my drives for almost a decade now, some of them. Any money they register, i’ll consider a donation for the rest of this trip. You don’t have to, but if you feel like it, and you got enough to spare, but mostly – if you think i deserve it, here you go:

https://johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com

I’ll be eternally grateful.

Be good. Be love. Be free.


Cumbaza

I went to Cumbaza on the 4th of Jan, 2015, and checked into a natural healing ayahuasca centre called Urqu Chaqi for 11 days. Below are some of the images i captured during my time there.

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My bedroom.

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Tina fixing the gaping holes in my mosquito net.

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Rio Cumbaza

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Huacamaillo Waterfalls. My favourite shower.

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Night writer.

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The living quarters.

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The bathroom. With the red sand flush. Didn’t use it for two days, after that it was my favourite potty.

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The malokha, or temple.

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Kitchen.

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Shaman’s corner. That dark red liquid pretty much changed my life.

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Inside the octagon.

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Bathroom.

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Captain America.

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Business class catering. Boiled quinoa, boiled carrots and beet, boiled egg (on luxury days), and boiled lentils. 3 times a day. 11 days. No salt. No nothing.

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Morning mist.

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Daniel.

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Alberto, the magic man.

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Daniel’s farewell. With Panchito.

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Voyeur.

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The weirdest insect i have ever seen…

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…and a bee the size of my fist.

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Do you see it? The humming-bird?

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Sunset in the hills.

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But the rain was even more beautiful.

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Lodi, our cook. Very shy.

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