I was recently asked by a fellow whether ‘Souls of Byron' would be meeting 'The Bangalow cowboy’? I laughed as I had only heard Shanti referred to as the 'Mullum cowboy'. It does seem that everybody wants to claim this vibrant soul.
Rumours abound and have passed many a locals mouth. We were keen to find out more about one of our most requested souls. He arrived early, dressed immaculately as always. His illustrious 'hot pink' suit, trademark cowboy hat and shoes that any fashionista would desire. Shanti is the colourful enigma around town and even after our time spent together, the enigma remains.
Although not many 'truly' know him, the locals and visitors find Shanti mesmerising, approachable and always up for a chat. One would say that he certainly brings a sense of vibrancy and frivolity to our streets. You can often see Shanti walking miles, his trusty Cane in-toe or hitching a ride on our many potholed roads. I’ve heard it said and tend to agree, you can be in Bruns and see Shanti sitting at a cafe and the next moment, you're in Byron and he pops up again. Somedays I swear he's 'the colourful time traveller’.
Back to the point I was making, the chap I was talking to, then preceded to pull out his phone and proudly show me a recent ‘ artwork’ acquisition. He continued to ask for more insight around 'The Bangalow cowboy’, who’s life-sized portrait had recently taken up residence in his home. There wasn’t much to share, and I think that is the beauty of the enigma. Shanti is another soul on his journey, slightly more colourful and stylish than the rest of us. He has a story. One of dark, shades and everything in between. There were dark years, addictions battled, a period spent on the wrong side of the tracks. I don’t feel it my place to share the intricate details, but we all get it. Throughout the Souls project Elie and I are continually seeing that adversity is the alchemy, that gives a person character. The more one enters the depths and darkness within, the more lead, to be transmuted into gold. The making of a man is in the ascent.
Shanti is another part, of the many intricate weavings that give our land its shine. Well spoken and polite, he was happy to give curious onlookers a nod and a wave. Behind those trademark sunglasses are striking, cavernous depths with stories to tell. Highly intelligent, his conversation fascinating as he pondered on life. Wondering, what it is, he is always writing in his book at the surrounding cafes? That I can tell you! He is studying web development and he is a ‘life technician’. Coaching people, speaking multiple languages and creating vibrancy is just what he does. Many questions were asked and answered comparably. Do you have any children? “We are all gods children”. Tell me about your outfits? “God dresses me”. Do you have family? “We are all family.” Do you have a car? “ Look at all my cars, he says as he points at them passing by. “I also have many drivers, he concludes with a wink. And so it went….
An intriguing experience. Shanti's presence a charm in our world. It is worth coming to our lands to soak up his colourfulness. Whether that be in Bangalow, Mullum, Bruns, Byron……He will be here. Our resident cowboy…………..