Drive My Karma
As a life-long Beatles fan, one of the highlights of my trip to India was visiting the abandoned ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh. As you can tell from the photos this place was really weird. Mattias and I had some vague sense of the path to take to get there, but when we stumbled on the back entrance with its rusty old sign, we couldn't quite believe this was the legendary place. Seems the good guru had some tax issues and took himself to kinder turf in Switzerland, leaving his space-odyssey hobbit-playground spirit-outpost to overgrow as a ghost town. Packs of mean monkeys, spiderwebs, underground meditation chambers, the odd squatting baba, I couldn't really relax and felt as though the ghost of Ringo's baked beans was gonna jump out and goose me any second. There was a caretaker there (I have a great photo of his daughter in front of a "Jai Guru Dev" --"Nothing's gonna change my world"-- mosaic which I couldn't find for this...of course), but he was too busy reading something holy to bother with the likes of us. Plus, his wife was brushing his hair. We returned the next day with some Brits and took lots of photos and...et cetera.
Something that always seemed strange to me about Rishikesh was the complete lack of Beatles references--no Let It Bidhi Stand or I want to Hold your Genuine Discount Indian Handicrafts; no "Everybody's got pee in their chai 'cept for Super Best Chutney." The owner of one bookshop, a learned man in his 40's, hadn't even heard of the Beatles. I was asking if he had any books about their visit there--of course he didn't. In fact, the only book I could ever find about their time there was mostly photos and not very informative. So I was really pleased to see Lewis Lapham's new book With the Beatles. I mixed feelings about Lapham (he can be sort of a blowhard), but I do trust him as a journalist, and although he's more cynical than I am about it all, he does a pretty job of capturing the atmosphere of their visit. It's not a perfect book but if you're a Beatles fan with some interest in that strange sidenote of their illustrious career you might enjoy it.