Goan Routine

16 February 2013

Routine settled in after a few days, but not in a bad way. I had goggles so I could swim in the morning and afternoon around the headland or down to the river mouth. At night times I worked out the way back to my hut, avoiding the packs of dogs that took over past midnight. Gita always told me to ‘have a seat’ whenever I passed on my way to Palolem. The days grew hotter, but the evenings always brought a cool breeze and it was all comfortable.

Robert the juggler was conversely unsettled. At 40, still juggling, some new obsessions with Buddhism and stupid martial arts of which he thoroughly explained to me. He said you can knock people over and cure disease by channeling some mystical energy through you. I think he had these things to fill the people gaps in his life. He was lonely. Without a moment’s notice he would be banging on about peace and compassion, then suddenly make some poor suggesting jokes about what he would do to the right girls if he found them.

One evening I woke up from a sleep that I was unknowingly in. The performer was still strumming away to Bob Marley with some dancing around a little fire on the beach. Two girls were always walking back and forth between the water and our tables. ‘It’s Valentines day, Olly! They want intimacy. They want some passion!’ Robert said, convinced that these girls were lonely.

So we got up and walked along the dark beach to the silent headphone disco party where they and all the other lonely hearts would be.

People stood in a beer garden like way, talking casually to the people next to them. Then there was the mob bopping away with big yellow ear muffs over their heads. Five Kingfishers later I didn’t care about the strangeness of it all. Not just about the headphones, but about why I was singing so loudly with my voice completely gone anyway, Robert’s ridiculous head jerks and his little electric light fan.

The same two ‘lonely’ girls actually showed up.

Robert nudged my arm so we went over and spoke to with what we discovered were a group of four Kazakhstanis. The one who was rolling her hips the most was engaged to the bulky shirtless man who was listening to Russian rap on his own iPod.

‘Please take her, man!’ he kept saying to Robert, slapping his back. We all spoke loudly for no reason, especially Anvil about how he loved the corruption in Kazakhstan. He flashed his new iPhone proudly. Robert didn’t want to dance with the girl because of his British ‘sorry’ syndrome.

Next to the coconut tree I met a Swedish girl. We shared the spice she gave me and suddenly I realised there were lots and lots of Swedes around (in a clique as usual). I told Swedish Emmie not to worry about her damn friends and we walked down pitch black village roads out of the bar to the beach.

We had to go through a restaurant. I stopped suddenly, but Emmie kept walking through the tables. She jumped back and screamed as the dog I saw before chained to a tree lept up towards us snarling and barking. An Indian woke up and held it back so we could pass.

More dog trouble when we settled on the beach by one of the long fishing boats. One smaller dog ran towards us with its tail between its legs. Moments later a whole pack of eight dogs followed and surrounded us. Emmie jumped into the boat, pulled her skirt down, but I didn’t want to move. The orange floodlight was cast on a couple more dogs looking in our direction. Then it was really time to go simply because it was just going to get worse. I helped Emmie out of the boat and we walked through that tiny little gap between the pack to the water.

Emmie ran really well. She said she wanted to clear her head and asked me if I wanted to too. She didn’t hear my reply because she had already bolted off towards the bamboo ramp. We accidentally touched hands and she said sorry in English. I was still confused by the time we got back to my hut. ALong with the fatigue and drunkenness I just fell asleep with jeans still on.

There was a roar and a little bit of daylight peeking through the roof. The roar was Emmie’s phone. I understood and she said a quick goodbye before she accidentally opened my window thinking it was a door.

Unfortunately she would have thought that I was a player. The room man certainly couldn’t get enough of me thinking out loud about it. That’s ok, I thought. Lesson learnt? Avoid packs of dogs with rabies, I suppose. I had a routine to get on with anyway.

More swimming, reading, eating huge Indian meals with sand between my toes, and catching up with friends, then writing some of it down in this bloody little book.