February 4, 2012 by Sarah's Toothbrush
If you’re anything like me (and in terms of self-validation, I kind of hope you are), Googling specific search terms prior to a trip becomes a pretty crucial step in the planning stage of travel.
Maybe you want to know about minor things like safety concerns in a new country. Or perhaps you’re silly with curiosity about things like exchange rates, or even more outrageous, the weather. Or maybe you’re just wondering about the feasibility of extravagant things like Goa Holidays in the upcoming months.
But again, if you’re anything like me (What’s up, validation?), I try not to waste too much time with the above mentioned items.
This could just be because I’m actually kind of lazy.
Maybe it’s because I’m usually lucky enough to travel with people who view things like safety, money, and weather as priority.
I mean, in my defense, it doesn’t make much sense for two people to be googling “What’s the weather like in Rishikesh?” Right??
But at the same time, the last thing I want is to be that awful non-contributing deadweight of a travel partner whose only saving grace comes when it’s time to split the cost of a double bed with no fan.
So instead, I take it upon myself to Google other
more fun incredibly crucial things when travelling to a new place. (I think that’s called “taking initiative.” But again, Googling something like that seems like it would take a lot of effort.)
While my travel mates take care of the trivial details of travel, I’m busy typing in search terms like “best + brunch + place I’m going” or “abandoned + attraction + place I’m going.” Essentially, this means that I can still contribute more than just half a night’s stay and at the same time, I’m not putting myself to sleep in some dingy internet cafe because I’m reading about boring travel stuff or the current cost of the Rupee.
Now usually, I don’t actually expect to find a brunch in India that rivals those of Toronto. Nor do I really think anyone else cares about abandoned stuff as much as I do. (Or, at least they don’t care about it as much as to write about it.)
Really, my main goal is to look just as busy and frantic as everyone else in the internet cafe as they go about finding a place to stay for the night or checking the most updated bus schedules.
So when something actually came up while searching “abandoned + Rishikesh + India” well, I practically foamed at the mouth with excitement.
Move aside deadweight-travel-partner label.
Thanks to Google, I finally had the chance to prove myself as a serious contributing member of my travel team.
The Maharishi Mahesh ashram in Rishikesh, India is more than just an abandoned attraction.
It’s got a serious history of controversy loaded with the biggies of money, sex, and drugs.
Oh ya, and the Beatles were in there, too.
In 1968, Lennon, Harrison, Ringo, and McCartney made their way to Rishikesh, India because apparently, they wanted to explore meditation and had hopes of furthering their creative processes with their next album.
Personally, I think they just wanted to wear the colourful saris and drink loads of fruit shakes.
As time went on, some Beatles were more into the whole creativity/ relaxation/ smoking joints on top of bee hive meditation caves than other Beatles. Tensions grew, someone got Delhi Belly, the guru got accused of hanky-panky with Linda McCartney, and Lennon just had to get all drunk and unload onto his wife, Cynthia about his secret infidelities with Yoko Ono.
Perhaps things would have gone a lot smoother if the boys avoided the tap water and only ate peel-able fruits, or if Maharishi, the guru, would have just kept his hands off the ladies, or if Lennon would have done the easiest thing possible and just KEPT HIS BIG MOUTH SHUT.
After 3 or so months at the ashram, the Beatles left at various times and cited boring things like “creative differences,” “obligations in London,” and “the Maharishi cursed us all” as explanations for their early departure.
After the split between the Maharishi and the Beatles, the Maharishi had some cash-money problems so naturally, he too fled the country. The land was now owned by the government.
But because the Indian government had to focus their attention on more important matters, the ashram was left for the vines, the monkeys, and the tourists that were just dying to see what inspired the Beatles to a point of brilliancy with songs like experimental Revolution 9 and simultaneously, created laughable lyrics in the case of Ob-la-Di Ob-la-Da.
Bribing the security guard to reconsider the whole “NO TRESPASSING” thing only cost us 50 rupees (which is uh, I don’t know, like $3? I thought I told you the whole exchange rate thing wasn’t my responsibility…).
Once by the security guard, it was remarkably easy to imagine yourself doing some sun salutations right next to Ringo or finding all the references mentioned on the White Album, the record written after the boys left the Maharishi.
Stumbling upon these kinds of things in Asia only encourages my unproductive use of valuable internet time.
So to all my future travel partners, I’m super sorry for being kind of an impediment when it comes to travel planning and efficient use of the internet.
But I’m not the one to blame, here.
Because you know, if it wasn’t for John Lennon’s infidelities and an abandoned ashram that has basically become a colouring book for travellers with sharpies, I too would be interested in the conversation rate of the Rupee.
Honesty Minute: This post was brought to you by Goa Holidays. It was also fully supported by being unproductive on the internet, and caring more about abandoned attractions than well, anything else. All thoughts, words, and pictures are mine.