Tucked away off the overwhelmed path and away from the throngs of vacationers is what the proprietor calls one of many final vestiges of hippiedom in Woodstock. The Shivastan Bookshop & Artwork Gallery is behind the American Legion publish at 6 Sgt. Richard Quinn Drive (previously Hillcrest Avenue).
One feels getting into the store like they’ve been invited into proprietor Shiv Mirabito’s private library. In a method, that’s true. Since he eschews the materialistic world and lives a frugal way of life, the shop doubles as his residing house. Mirabito presents guests a cup of tea and regales them with tales of his yearly travels to India and Nepal, the place he has gone since 1988.
He focuses on books and presents from India and Nepal, and likewise sells books of his personal poetry printed on paper handmade in Kathmandu. He additionally has a piece on Woodstock space historical past.
Out the again door is a backyard space with chairs organized in a circle. That is the place Mirabito hosts common poetry readings.
He grew up in Norwich, a small North Nation New York city that’s hardly a bastion of counterculture. Certainly one of his first exposures to hippie tradition got here when he visited Woodstock in highschool round 1983, then extra ceaselessly when he graduated in 1985. He then lived on Allen Ginsberg’s poetry commune in Cherry Valley, close to Cooperstown.
“And in order that’s how I received concerned with poetry and esoteric spirituality and all that sort of factor. And yoga and vegetarianism, stuff like that,” he mentioned.
Mirabito earned a level in anthropology to SUNY Oneonta and have become involved in India.
“One time I went to India with one of many professors for a semester, and he basically simply wished to go go to his kinfolk,” he mentioned. “So he introduced a dozen college students alongside, after which I noticed how straightforward it was there. There’s this complete hippie journey tradition there, you recognize, the hippie path. And I believed, wow, that is very Woodstock, you recognize. And naturally, you meet all these outdated hippies right here in Woodstock who like went to India within the Sixties and all that.”
Mirabito managed Dharmaware on Tinker Road for 22 years within the house Tinker Taco Lab at present occupies. The proprietor went bankrupt, and Mirabito had to determine the subsequent part in his life.
“So I simply thought, Okay, I’ll have a store in my home. And so I like books and I accumulate books, so I believed I’ll simply have a bookshop after which I convey again stuff like, you recognize, crafts and jewellery and incense and stuff like that from India and Nepal, and it’s sufficient of a small enterprise that I can help myself and I reside very cheaply.”
He doesn’t have any household. He doesn’t have a automotive. He doesn’t have a TV.
The constructing used to deal with Woodstock Kids’s Heart, which turned Woodstock Day Faculty when the previous faculty moved to Saugerties.
Mirabito’s easy way of life permits him to save lots of the $1000 airfare and modest quantity of spending cash, which permits him to spend January by way of June in India and Nepal. He sublets his retailer and residential to a pal whereas he’s away.
“For like $500 a month, you’ll be able to reside like a king. In order that’s principally what I do. I simply convey two or three thousand bucks,” he mentioned. “I can’t think about not doing that. I didn’t go the final two years due to the pandemic. I used to be like, okay, I grew up right here in New York. I can deal with the winter. However it simply will get so boring right here within the winter.”
He sees doing to India and Nepal as a method to escape winter despair and tedium.
Persons are grateful whenever you return, he famous. “If you happen to go away yearly, then everyone’s comfortable to see you. They are saying ‘Oh, did you simply get again?’” he mentioned. “It’s the identical over there. As a result of I’m going to the identical locations there yearly, they’re like ‘Oh, did you simply get again?’’
In 2020, Mirabito received caught as a result of the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, has been closed as a result of pandemic.
“I had no thought. Possibly I’ll be right here for who is aware of, 5, ten years,” he mused. “However I used to be positively glad to get again as a result of I like my backyard and I like being near city.”
The Shivastan Bookshop makes up a part of a type of hippie nook. Subsequent door, Paul McMahon, his landlord, runs the music and efficiency venue known as the Mothership.
At one level it appeared as if Mirabito and others must transfer as a result of the property was on the market. A benefactor saved the day for McMahon.
“We thought we’re going to have to maneuver to Margaretville or one thing,” mentioned Mirabito, “and any individual simply threw him the cash to purchase the buildings. So now he’s capable of maintain it going.”
McMahon expenses Mirabito a modest hire, and so they each are capable of maintain their slice of tradition going.
The shop is open every day from 1 to six p.m. Take a look at Woodstock Shivastan Poetry Ashram: Guide Retailer, Artwork Gallery & Giftshop on Fb for upcoming occasions