Goa Settling And Old Folk

10 February 2013

The bus was unbelievably packed, and the Indian shrugged his shoulders: ‘It is only lunch time’. Only when we he had the space to talk to me, and not when everyone was ramming into everyone else’s armpits.

There were two young men organising the whole bus. We would stop and people would already have been hopping off. The young men shouted between more people hopping on the bus which was already moving. One would whistle like a bird, then the other would slam the door on someone, cramming everyone in further. The next fin bit was then up to the driver, who was sitting in his own compartment with his friends and my backpack thrown in there somewhere. We snaked up hills through plantations at whatever speed the bus couldn’t just handle. It almost turned ok, but the driver would ensure that the bus should be hurled side to side, or forward, if he wanted to overtake someone going uphill too. This usually didn’t work out so well so we’d all be thrown forward as he slammed on the brakes to avoid a head on collision. Between these three people running the show, I just can’t understand what the rush was.

Especially considering that our final stop was just on a little corner on a little road just fifty metres from the beach. I asked an Italian where a good place to stay was, and we ended up walking along the beach and up over the headland to see his friend at the shop. This friend apparently knew somewhere to go. She did know something, and reassuringly I knew the same thing: that this Italian was a little bit crazy. Everything was a poetic joke to be made according to this guy. We all laughed together anyway, especially the shopkeeper who was almost in tears.

Right on top of the hill was the room I found, looking over the neighbouring beach to Palolem beach (Colem). There was a light sea breeze that took the heat out of the air and made the tall palm trees sway a little. I looked down and watched the water lap in the little cove and between the rocks. To my left was another big beach with nobody on it, and to the right was the picture perfect main beach with palm trees hanging over all the restaurants and huts.

The next morning I woke up in my little pink hut and had no idea where I was. Outside I sat on a rock with the rising sun getting warmer on my back.

Patnem beach was the much quieter beach south of my little beach, and it was here that I bumped into the Italian again.

And then the next three hours was all about girls, star signs, meditation and the intersection of all three. If they were the right sign, and you did enough meditation, you could draw the girls to you in the water, he said. I got sick of it all and went swimming down the beach.

It felt so good to actually do something physically demanding that wasn’t just walking for hours and hours through crowded streets.

Gita the shopkeeper and I spoke for the rest of the afternoon. She has a little stall on the headland with probably the best view of the main Palolem beach. It sweeps perfectly around and from here you could not tell that there are huts and little paths underneath the palms. Gita sits here with her daughter from eight to eight everyday. Business is better here than in north Goa, she said, but it’s too expensive to have a stall on the beach in Palolem. Rs.80 000 for six months versus Rs.40 000 off the beach. Either way it’s still better work than in Karnataka, the neighbouring state where she lives during the monsoon season. During monsoon season in Goa, almost everything here is taken down, because there are no tourists and the buildings can’t survive the storms anyway. A few months later, all the huts and restaurants are nailed back together and painted again.

We laughed about the Italian buying girls’ shorts to swim in, and of how bad the Russians are here in Goa. She rubbed her eyes a lot from laughing. What was funny in a different way was that I ended up going to dinner with Monica, the thirty eight year old Austrian. Basically the Italian didn’t want to go so I thought I should. We both knew it could have been really strange which is why we talked about pretty much everything that came to mind until two in the morning. She shared lots of personal stories about how it was difficult to get here with being a mother of three and her boring husband. Her friends also let her down so she came with a friend of a friend but they didn’t get along too well. We stayed much later after they turned the lights off in the restaurant.

However we weren’t the only ones at the restaurant. A little after I finished the drink that Monica bought me, she left. I was already speaking to a Norwegian couple and an English guy about the northern Ireland situation, then about the nordic influence in the English-speaking world, then about some other political stuff that would have been amazingly boring sober. So it was ok at the time thanks to Kingfisher and some foresight of when I will speak to older folk during interviews or at beach resorts on the Arabian sea.