It’s a little belated, but it seems only fair that I finish the previous journey before exciting you with another…and as a bit part film marketer in a former life I take this moment to try and entice you to future episodes with promise of bollywood glamour and multi-million dollar generating slums.
But before that I had to lug 25kg up the side of a mountain/hill (delete as per your understanding of my levels of exaggeration) and travel on up the coast, back to Goa and yes, my third trip to Anjuna in 3 months! Again with the bit part film marketing; a good sequel needs to recap on the previous movies and yes I know they’re generally a poor comparison, but they generally pay their way.
In 2 months Anjuna has expanded more than my waistline, more than pavarotti’s waistline, with pop-up bars lining the beaches and Anjuna’s tiny ‘end of monsoon, heat seeking traveler population’, annihilated by it’s new brasher, richer, heavy drinking & eating holidaymaker partying crowd. Gone are the gentle chill out tracks pumped out by 3 off-season bars along the coast, pumping Goa trance & happy house take their place.
With erstwhile friends seemingly out of range I spend a night chilling on my own (not enough of those nights for my liking) and stay in a delightful GBP 5 room at the Radhe guesthouse, before popping out onto the strip and realising how expensive Goa is compared to the rest of India and promptly downgrade to a GBP 3 per night room and save my pennies for SALAD and BREAD (lettuce and proper bread are difficult to find). Although not before I tread almost up to my ankle in bull turd as I navigate the now supersized flea market to try and find lucy and matt’s house, and nearly get charged by two bulls.
I meet a yanky acupuncturist/chinese medicine doctor as he nearly gets body violated by a guy who summons you over saying you’ve got something in your ear, before plunging a metal spoke in and pulling it out to show your dirty ear canal and wrapping it in cotton wool before plunging it in again to clean it. He managed to extricate himself before his ear drum was pierced and we chatted about India and hippy experiences over cheap thali and chai. And then, here comes the hippy shit, we meditated together on the beach to the back drop of banging goa trance. hahahaaaaaa gone is the hard drinking party gal, who’s this meditating wierdo?! 😉
There’s just time left to splurge on shopping in the flea market for any missing xmas presents (apart from the ones still somewhere on the indian ocean… apologies still go to Clare, Jo, Aunty Chris, Adam & Shelly) and eat my first Soya burger as a renewed vegetarian when I hook up with the Goa gang and stuff myself silly with nachos, apple pie and muesli hanging out with Theresa, Swaati, Greg and Suzanne.
If my former memory of Goa was cruising around on the back of Greg’s Enfield with “get your motor running, heading for the highway, looking for adventure or whatever comes my way” going through my head, it’s been fully replaced by Theresa driving me to Panji bus station on the back of her scooter avec me wearing my 25kg backpack on the back. I slightly placate my father by wearing a helmet, and whilst I wouldn’t even dream of going 5 mins round the corner in the UK like that, it’s the most fun i’ve had on the back of a bike! Thanks again to lovely Theresa for gradually having to give up her seat when any breaking caused me and the back pack to slide forwards.
I bus to Margao smiling before boarding my overnighter to Bangalore where in a land of 1 billion people I bump into in-lawed relatives of my Indian friend Vijayalakshmi and then chug past cotton fields, coffee in hand to Mysore and the land of silks, sandalwood and palaces fit for a princess. The street boys trying to assure me that marajuna has been legalised and the constant “my father makes perfume, come see incense being made” makes me take a little time to warm up to mysore, but it’s charms are slowly revealed to me and the maharaja’s palace takes my breath away and transports me into a fairy tale.
When I’m not eating Thali at the RRR cafe (all you can eat amazing veg curries for just 50p!) I’m taking exploring quirky little galleries & crazy flower and vegetable markets that fill all your senses, or bouncing around in local buses visiting summer palaces, mosques & temples.
Had an only in India moment at the summer palace where we were unable to take photographs of the murals depicting the Mughals defeating the english (slight squirming sensation as I’m reminded of my heritage) inside, but there was nothing stopping us, walking outside and taking one through the massive open archways all around the building…
With just a day trip to a stunningly beautiful temple in Somnathpur to go before I head back to Bangalore, find a new favourite icecream (fig & honey) with Melanie and give in to my fabindia addiction through depression i find myself on the train to Chennai, Chai in one hand and a metaphorical wave goodbye to this beautiful land that has captured my heart and held a little piece of it hostage to make sure I return soon.
I sail past paddy fields and palm trees and my heart soars as I think fondly of this land of boundless plenty, abundant in smiles, moustaches and sari’s in shades the rainbow couldn’t even begin to imagine:
– where cows are avoided by cars at the expense of people but if you do hit a person, the mob will kill you before a policeman has chance to arrest you; where you don’t give up your seat on the bus for a mother with her baby, but instead take the baby and sit them on your lap;
– where governments sign multi-million dollar arms deals with the UK and US, where the price of one fighter jet with provide 1.5million people with safe drinking water for life; where the shake of a head means more just no – you’re welcome, it was very nice to meet you, my pleasure, after you and of course, no thank you;
– where you board a train with your luggage and disembark with new friends; where the towers of temples litter the horizon and rubbish litter the floor until sacred cows munch their way through it; where bad luck is put down to karma and the world we live in is just an illusion (yes the matrix is based on hindu culture);
– where everything you do is everybody else’s business; where men try and brush themselves against you and old women practically sit on you for your white skin to transfer to them; where the majority of mobile phones have been installed with the Titantic theme tune and cars play cheerful dittys when reversing;
– where homosexuality is illegal but men wear skirts and walk down the street holding hands; if you’re tired, you just lie down in the street and have a sleep; where you don’t use the flyover to cross to another platform but you jump down and cross the tracks;
– where you can fill yourself up on an amazing thali for 25p but 400m people go hungry; where you get by only on human kindness, but where beggars are left to rot in the streets; where the swastika is a symbol of peace, of evolution;
– Brahmin priests get fat on the devotion of 400m people living on less than 25p a day; where in a society where Ahimsa, non-violence, is the pervading rule a societal structure can exist that treats 20% of it’s population as no better than dogs.
So all that’s left for me is to wish you all a Happy New Year if I didn’t manage to see you in person in my fleeting UK holiday, to hope our paths cross in 2008 and to promise to fill your inboxes with as many weird happenings as I can possibly stumble across for you.