by Valerio Zhyin(Minimal Criminal)
When I went to perform at the One Love festival in Switzerland, I met a very interesting guy named Roger Rea. He was responsible for picking up the artists at the airport and driving them to the festival. Within minutes I discovered that he had been living in Goa for many years and had recently written a book about his travels and published it himself.
After I read his book, Hippies Never Die, I felt compelled to send him an interview. Read on.
– Why did you decide to write this book?
After hearing many adventurous stories about my travels, many of my friends told me that I should write a book about it. In the beginning I was very doubtful and could not befriend myself with this idea. As time went by and more and more friends suggested the same to me, I sat down one day in a small house near Manali, in the Himalayan mountains, and started the project. It was monsoon time, so that was helpful, too. Anyway, it took me altogether four years to finish it.
– Tell us about your book?
This book tells two stories, in alternate chapters. The red thread throughout the book describes the cross-country trip with an old coach that I converted into a motorhome. The story starts already on the way, in Turkey. Therefore it is written in the past tense and describes the journey from Zurich to Istanbul. Here my four traveling companions are introduced and reports on the first experiences and adventures coming together. In Istanbul the story switches to the present, so the reader gets the feeling of joining us directly. Cities are presented and informative research has been done for direct understanding. The book consists of almost 400 pages and is illustrated with 47 photographs. The journey has its beginning in Zurich and leads the reader through eight countries, finally to Goa / India. The adventures and experiences are very detailed, authentic and also humorously written.
The second story is about my decision to break out of the ruling system and to lead an independent life. The decisive factor was a key moment in which Robert S. (a well-known Swiss Radio and TV host) played a leading role. At that time I was helping a friend to operate the first pirated radio station in Switzerland. Mr. S. was aware of us and finally alienated our projects by dirty dealings to his own advantage. After I painfully realized that all are equal in court, except some rich and influential, I came to the conclusion to turn my back on this society. My first trip took me to Jamaica in 1981 and after that it was a roundabout way to Morocco.
I lived and worked in Spain, France and Germany. One day I was able to purchase my first second hand coach and set off to India. I took some like-minded, adventurous and positive passengers along with me. By the end of the book the two stories combine and a circle gets closed, which gives the reader the whole picture about my life as a globetrotter.
1.Why did you publish the book yourself instead of through a publishing house?
The chances to find a publisher who shows enough balls to publish a book like mine, which could be somehow used as a manual to understand how to live a life independently from system obligations and which involves a lot of dope and serious adventure stories, are almost nil.
But, I am still open for it if one day a publishing company wants to work with me.
2.When did you go to India for the first time?
Back in 1989 I did my first overland trip to India, together with a music band and we played all along the way on exotic venues. After that I did it on my own again and again until 1996.
3.When did you start living in Goa?
1990 I lived there in my bus right on top of small Vagator beach. From 1997 to 2010 I lived in various rented houses all over Goa.
4.how do you earn a living?
By believing in what I’m doing. I call myself a time-millionaire, because time is much more precious than money. Another way of saying it is, less is more. So once you can adopt yourself to a simple live style you can live a pretty good life with little money.
5. Before you made your first long road trip to India, you had a certain mindset. How did that experience change your views?
Explore the world and not conquer it, cultivate a pacifist way of seeing things and traveling as a useful sense-making life – that’s how it should be!
6.How do you view the world today?
It has become a place where people get more and more distracted by their controlled gadgets. When I see the new generations I see that there are hardly any conversations going on, many are busy playing with their handheld devices and not noticing whatʼs really going on in their environs. Government controlled news and the “Tell lie vision“ influences most of the people all over. You should really ask yourself who controls the media and be more doubtful on what you consume.
7.How did you meet the Dalai Lama?
Through a common friend, who is a tibetan monk.
8. Are you friends with him?
Yes, I can say so. One morning he came up in his temple and greeted me in front of all his staggered security, secretaries and staff by saying, “Friend, friend,“ and gave me a strong handshake with his typical bright smile. By the way, my first copy of the book I presented to him.
9. Your book is very descriptive.
How did you manage to remember every detail? After all, you were smoking lots of weed & hash.
It all came back from memory, I never carried a diary with me. Once I started writing it was like watching a movie. Smoking dope has no affect on the long time memory, rather the short one, like: Where did I put the papers? Where is the stash?
10. In the book there’s a cool chapter about your trip to Jamaica. Did you ever go back there?
Unfortunately not. Somehow I got stuck in Goa.
11.You befriended some rasta guys who trusted you enough to show you how to make ganja tea and sensi wine. Have you kept in touch with them?
Time moves on and I could not keep in touch with them, but it was definitely a great life experience.
12.A road trip from Switzerland to India. Do you think such a journey is possible today?
It is quite possible to do, but surely not the same thing anymore. For instance it got very expensive, then in countries like Pakistan you need a police escort from border to border, so youʼre not free to go where you want to and also traffic has increased tremendously all over the world.
13. How has Goa changed since the 90s?
I noticed that Goa had become a brand name. It was no longer a place for hippies, even though few of them are still around. It had become a commercial tourist destination for holiday makers and alcohol lovers. By the way ,Goa is the only state in India which has the cheapest liquor tax, that also attracts a lot of domestic tourists from all over the country. With the arrival of the first Israelis to Goa a hitherto unknown phenomenon surfaced, suddenly there where brawls and fights erupting, hardly known to the local people and us and then, years later the Russians took it to the next level, moving around with arms and creating red light districts with imported prostitutes… wondering who will come next and what it will be like in the future.
14. You were there during the beginning of the Goa Trance scene. How has the Goa/Psytrance scene changed over the years?
Well, it all started as an experiment in Goa. A party was put together by a bunch of friends, each of them did something for it, like decoration, painting palm trees with uv-color, baking
cakes and the like. It was a gathering of people who wanted to go a step further in experimenting with psychedelic substances. The so called trance music took you to new heights and insights. Therefore there was always a bowl with LSD on the DJ desk so everybody consumed the same and was on the same trip. Unfortunately this has changed over the years, new drugs where invented and I noticed specially in Europe, that alcohol plays a major role in parties, but in my view, this got nothing to do with a Psy – Party experience. Also the music styles created consumers for all kinds of new stuff, like dark psy and the like.
15.You have also been a tour bus driver for bands touring in Europe. Which bands did you work for?
I was on tour with the so called “godfathers of world music“ the Dissidenten, with Miriam Makeba, Guano Apes, Prem Joshua and Band, Guru Guru and Yothu Yindi. During this time I ended up at a lot of Festivals throughout Europe and met with many “famous“ artists backstage…
16.Which famous people did you meet?
I met with a lot of musicians, like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, UB 40, Steppenwolf, Dave Grohl, Nickelback, Yothu Yindi, Miriam Makeba, Arthur Brown, HIM, The Rasmus, Faithless, Prem Joshua and from the German part Guru Guru, Guano Apes, Dissidenten, Udo Lindenberg, just to name a few, but the highlight still remains the after party at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai with the Rolling Stones.
Regarding the Trance scene I met with Raja Ram, Merv Peppler aka Eat Static, Merkabah, Tsuyoshi Suzuki, Shiva Joerg, Billy Cosmosis, Highlight Tribe, Hydeo Blackmoon, Quantica, Bubble, Sun Project, Ace Ventura, Tristan, Giuseppe, Psykowsky and Minimal Criminal, again, just to name or remember a few.
From the spiritual point of view I often met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
17.Any plans to write another book?
At the moment I donʼt think so. I am busy with advertising and distributing the first book.
18.How can people buy your book?
Through my website, and you can follow it up on facebook
This coming season it will be available in different stores, beach shacks and restaurants in Goa, just watch out for the advertisements.
19.Anything else that you would like to mention?
Please watch the book trailer: