When we arrived in Byron Bay ten years ago, the de facto, Prue, phoned a local computer crowd to discuss her bits and bytes. The dude she was dealing with, called himself Sagaro. Prue, who harbours an overly inquisitive nature, stated ‘That’s an interesting name. Where is it from?’. He simply replied, “It means Ocean”, leaving her none the wiser as to whether he was one of us or something related to ET. A week later we found ourselves at a ‘Sunnyasin’ party where we met an entire flock of ‘Sagaros’. Whilst Varij, Pavita and Roti were all very friendly, we felt like The Murdoch’s at a Truth Convention. We learnt then that the Sannyasins were followers of the Indian guru, Osho (a Jesus with baggage), and that they came to the area for The Nimbin Aquarius Festival in the early 70’s. In search of free love, enlightenment and sizeable chunks of prime real estate, it’s debatable how much enlightenment they found, but they certainly paid nothing for their love or real estate.
Ever since these first encounters it has intrigued me why the process of ‘upgrading’ one’s name to that of some high end Hindu is somehow a prerequisite for enlightenment. Just what is the attraction to names pilfered from ancient cultures, cultures as relevant to Byron Bay as a ‘Swim Between The Flags’ sign is to the citizens of Atlantis? I’ve always been partial to the name of ‘Job’, a top bloke according to the Old Testament, but that doesn’t mean I’d be a Job in Byron… nobody would come near me!
During our time in Byron, several friends have been instructed by The Universe to change their name. Let me tell you, when you’re shopping in the ‘Nuts and Bolts’ aisle at Mitre 10 and your mate, Bruce, tells you he’s changed his name to Swami Pavlova, or ‘Bliss’, you don’t exactly throw your new nuts in the air in celebration. It’s difficult to switch. It’s like when your Mother-In-Law asks you to call her ‘Mum’… it’s just not right, especially if you fancy her. Then, in less time than it takes to navigate a swarm of Schoolies in Jonson Street, Bruce is back as ‘Bruce’, presumably full of bliss. The Sannyasin thing certainly caught on in Byron and has been integral to the town’s unique appeal, although now, it’s staggering towards Amy’s Winehouse.
So, if you’re looking for yourself in Byron Bay and in the process you can’t decide whether you’re Arthur, Martha, Rufus or Confucious, just remember… your name is entirely forgettable… or as Leo Rosenberg, an old mate of mine from a past life, once said, ‘First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, and then you forget to pull your zipper down.’