In this special Real Goa Edition we present two interviews with the legendary people that played the key role in rising and establishment of Hippie Culture in Goa and literally founded Anjuna and Vagator as a future generation party destination.
Yertward Mazamanian (8 March 1924 ñ 18 October 2010), widely known as "Eight Finger Eddie", was an American hippie of Armenian descent, who was credited with popularizing Goa, India as a tourist destination from the mid-1960s onward. Mazamanian was born with only three fingers on his right hand, and was one of seven children of Armenian immigrants from Istanbul who apparently settled near Boston. In his memoirs, he claimed to have been a Boy Scout, a regular churchgoer and an "honors student" at school. During the Second World War he convinced an Army psychiatrist that he was unfit for military service, and worked for a while for the General Electric Company before being sacked.
He performed occasionally as a bass player in jazz bands, consumed large quantities of illegal drugs, married, and divorced, before moving to southern California around 1950. In the 1950s, he lived for a time in Mexico, and in the early 1960s was based in Copenhagen, traveling to Spain, Morocco and elsewhere with friends in a camper van. Around 1964 he made his first trip to Iran, India and Nepal, eventually settling for a period at Colva in Goa. Around 1966, he settled at Anjuna beach in Goa, at that time "a tiny hamlet with a few tea stalls and houses dotting a pristine sandy beach".
He started a soup kitchen at Anjuna, to assist the growing numbers of western travelers who came to the area as a final stopping place on the "hippie trail", and, in 1975, set up a flea market mainly for the foreign hippies wanting to barter their unwanted possessions and "hang out". The presence of Eddie and his companions was tolerated by locals, Goan writer Dominic Fernandes commented that "hey were in love with this place. And we fell in love with them, because of the way they lived."
Apart from regular visits to Kathmandu, and to Bombay to renew his American passport, Mazamanian aka "Eight Finger Eddie" remained in Goa for the remainder of his life. The area gradually became a top tourist destination with hotels and casinos catering for a commercial tourist market quite different from its origins in the 1960s and 1970s. The market at Anjuna itself turned into a thriving retail center. In 1991, he commented:
"Some people say it's not like it used to be, and it's not. But I like it here now. I like the parties. And I like the music. It's good to dance to."
When he became ill, a Danish journalist launched a campaign to raise money for his medical bills. After his death, he was cremated according to Hindu rites, and his ashes scattered at Anjuna.