Friday, September 6, 2013

Magic Bus

Been reading Rory Maclean's Magic Bus: on the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India. Ah, the sixties and seventies... Of course it started before The Beatles sojourn with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but that was probably 'the moment'. Thereafter the floodgates opened and beatniks, flower children and other enlightenment-seekers hit the road. All you needed was a clapped-out Bedford bus, a Ginsberg or Hesse paperback, some roll-ups and a change of tie-dyed clothes. 
Maclean re-traces the route in 2006, seeing how it's changed. The answer is of course a lot. When once it was a relatively straight-forward, if bumpy, dusty drive, stopping only for repairs and to flash passports at a few sleepy border crossings, it is now a dangerous undertaking, and even Maclean is forced to fly through central Afghanistan.
He meets all sorts of characters along the way, some of whom were around at the time, stayed, dropped out, converted to Islam, or zoned out in ashrams. Some of my favourite German musicians went in the 70s - Deuter, Embryo, Peter Michael Hamel, Stefan Micus, Peter Baumann etc - and it's apparent in their music.
Anyway, good book - provoking a sort of yearning for more 'innocent' times. 

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