Here are two extracts from the book which is available as
a paperback through Amazon and an e-book from Amazon Kindle.
From Chapter 1 : No Limits
The idea for the buses grew like things did in those days, organically emerging from late night stoned conversations and gradually forming in the collective psyche over time into an actual plan. A group of fifty of us would travel overland in two buses to India where our guru lived in an ashram in Pune.
Pete was a wealthy Canadian. What he was doing with a bunch of penniless squatters was a mystery. He said he knew that money was not the answer because he had it and he was no happier than we were. We said we knew money mattered because we didn’t have it, it was just that freedom, dancing and making love mattered more. Though none of us asked an actually destitute person what they thought because we didn’t know any. It was one of those conversations only relatively privileged people can have, should the revolution focus on material welfare, food and housing, or on the quality of our relationships, love and inner freedom?
We often had these conversations because the difference between hanging out with friends and underground political action was a fluid one, especially with so many mind-altering substances going round. In the afternoon we’d struggle with the existential challenge of being an authentic individual in an inauthentic class-ridden capitalist society, and in the evening we’d turn off our minds, relax and float downstream to where all thought was an illusion and let it all be. I tried, but the heavy hard-core politics of the left were not my scene, and not only because of all the pamphlets and manifestos you had to read; these guys were serious. They smoked roll ups with just tobacco and no weed. I couldn’t see the point in a Worker’s Revolutionary Party if there was never any actual partying.
I was criticised for this frivolous position. But we were always criticising and fighting each other as much as we did the true enemy, which I think was Capitalism, though it might have been Royalty and Religion as well. Though by the seventies a lot of us were realising it was actually Patriarchy. Many vicious fights and bitter commune splits later some of us were wondering if maybe the true enemy was within. Which is why a group of us were travelling east to discover a world free from inner anguish and conflict. One thing we did agree on, if the state of bourgeois society wasn’t driving you crazy, you must be insane.
Pete and Geoff went to Sweden where they bought an ex-municipal Volvo single decker bus and drove it back. It had done 200,000 km and, despite being no longer sufficiently reliable to take Swedish folk to town and back, we were up for driving it over 5,000 miles to India. The straight-line distance between London and Mumbai, near where we were headed, is 4472.3 miles, but as we were never going to go the straight route it would be far longer for us. Diane and Dave found another bus, a Bedford, a classic school bus from Hampshire. This also had done its official mileage and been put out to grass. We went to Norfolk to kit them out. Anneke lived there with her husband who was a famous actor. It was a large country house with land, gardens and barns, which gave us plenty of space to work on the buses by day and enjoy ourselves by night. We never saw the famous actor though. He was apparently fed up that his wife had become a disciple of a guru and was planning a trip overland to India to see him with a bunch of dishevelled hippies. So he kept away. Anneke was also an actress and had played Polly, the sexy side-kick to Dr Who. Perhaps having her aboard was a good omen for our plans to boldly go where none of us had gone before.
From Chapter 17: Snake Oil
Shivesh returned and we drove slowly through the thick noisy traffic on the main road into Delhi. I asked him what he thought about the poverty and squalor of the slums stretched out along the side of this busy highway.
‘I am doing many charity works in them,’ he said.
This surprised me. I had expected him to express a belief that such poverty was down to karma and that he would shrug off other considerations with a philosophical detachment that accepts everything as it is. He went on to explain.
‘You have perhaps heard the saying, ‘give a man a fish and you are feeding him for a day, teach a man to fish and you are feeding him for life.’ Well that is what I am doing.’
‘Teaching fishing?’ I stared at him. Any fish left alive in the polluted rivers of Delhi would be loaded to the gills with amoebas and bacteria and not fit to touch, let alone eat.
‘Well you could say I am teaching people to dangle worms on hooks to see if anyone bites.’ He shouted, blared his horn and swerved to avoid a rickshaw whose driver had also shouted and blared his horn while swerving to avoid a bicycle that had swerved to avoid a cow. ‘But of course it is not worms I am dangling.’ He took his hand off the horn and patted my knee. ‘I see you are confused, Martin, so I will explain. I am training young people who live in the slums to sell hashish to others who are also living in the slums.’ He smoothed back his Brylcreemed hair. ‘This is very good charity work because first of all, and naturally this is being the most important thing, Shiva is happy when he is worshipped in this way. Secondly, and you will be understanding this, Martin, hashish brings a peace and happiness to the people who smoke it so life is becoming easier for them. And if you are living in a slum you will be welcoming this relief. Thirdly, I am creating business opportunities for the young men who sell this gift from Shiva and so they can make money and perhaps escape the slum. Fourthly it is far healthier and cleaner to be selling hashish than climbing piles of stinking rubbish full of diseases and toxic chemicals for rags and bits of plastic to sell on for a few paise. Fifthly it is helping me to be accumulating more good karma so that my next life will be one of air conditioned international travel and a gold, rather than silver, snake around my neck.’ He blared the horn and swerved again to avoid a handcart that had pulled out in front of us to avoid a bus bearing down on it. ‘And lastly I am making money, which is of course helping with further business enterprises, I mean charity work.’ He turned to me and grinned. The diamond flashed.
We drove by Delhi Railway Station and into Paharganj.
‘This is where I am meeting my friends,’ I said.
‘No problem,’ Shivesh said. He swung the car to the left, missing by inches a handcart loaded with aluminium cooking pots, a man tottering under the weight of a sack of corn across his shoulders and a bicycle carrying two women and three children. He stopped the car.
‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘For the lift, the hash and the education.’
‘Ah this is another good work I can be adding to my CV,’ he said. ‘Education. I am educating even British sadhus into the secrets of Shiva worship. Definitely in my next life will be several gold snake-chains and a refrigerator as well as Mercedes car with driver.’
We shook hands. I got out the car and swung my backpack onto my shoulders. Shivesh rolled down his window and leaned out.
‘And just remember, Martin, it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose.’ I was about to agree and reply with a good one from Buddha, ‘if you win you lose, if you lose you lose, either way you lose’, but a flash from the diamond warned me more was on its way. ‘It matters whether I do!’ He laughed. So did I – this time for the same reason. And he was gone.
Paperback book available through Amazon:
In the UK (£9.95):
In the USA ($12.51):
e-book in Amazon Kindle in the UK (Price £2.75):
Amazon Kindle in the USA (Price $3.50):
Amazon Kindle in Canada (Price CDN $4.70)
Amazon Kindle in Australia (Price $5.03)
Amazon Kindle in India (Price 263rupees)