Sunday 17th January Silver Star Restaurant 0835
Another breakfast venue but slower in service and the eggs are not so nice. I decided to go back up north after Andy tells me about the party in the Shore Bar at Anjuna, held after the market every Wednesday. Sounds like fun after too much peace and quiet. Friends Kay and Richard are due to arrive yesterday from England so I have another incentive to return. Spent the day lazing about, sunning myself. What a hectic life I lead lately....
Sunset on Palolem Beach
Monday January 18th
Today I went into Chaudi with Des and Lisa and the kids. We ate vegetarian Thali for lunch (most meals are vegetarian here), I bought what might be athletes foot cream which worked immediately. I am not sure if I have athletes foot but it itches terribly in the heat. Piling into a three-wheeled rickshaw, we speed precariously back to the beach community to play in the surf for the rest of the day. I have great fun with the children, a rare opportunity for me to be a kid myself.
Later, we ate at the Natural Garden, a recommended restaurant on the road in the village, great food but I am perturbed by the sight of a captive crocodile and turtle trapped in rancid water in a covered pond in the restaurant's garden. I hate the way India treats its animals, exploiting them at every turn. We are joined at the table by a man Tony found in another bar, proclaiming to be a BBC correspondent. Des asks if he knows Kate Adey and has he been to bed with her? Nobody believes this guy at all. India is full of bullshitters, haha. The Sea Bass was delicious, by the way
Tuesday 19th January Natural Restaurant 07.40 - On the road again
Now I am waiting for the bus to Margao. The crocodile still looks miserable in his disgusting cage. Andy hasn't made it but Libby and her boyfriend have, (I met them at Brendan's a day or two ago). I share fruit for the journey and we're off to Margao, the bus filling rapidly as we draw nearer. (beats me how the chassis can take the strain).
Sheldon Resort, Baga Road - Back to 'civilisation'?
I booked in here for the night but can hear the road even from the back. Its expensive too. I'm off to find alternative accommodation in Vagator as soon as I get a moped together. At Britto's restaurant, next to St Anthony's, I find Adrian and his wife. We pass the time with a drink; they are on their way to Palolem tomorrow, I tell them where to find the lads, then we walked together to my resort, where I crashed out very quickly.
Wednesday 20 January - The Night the Party Began
Moped today, can't stand being on foot any longer, the distances are so vast. Found a place, Lee Ann Cottages, room with shower, 150R. I look for Kay and Richard at the hotel they should be at. Having no
surname made it hard to trace them, impossible in fact, so I left for the Primrose Bar in Vagator, to find Andy. The action doesn't start here until midnight. Anjuna market was the next stop, I chatted to a few people, hearing that the party would be in Disco Valley tonight. This party spot is near to my new accommodation, great news. Finding the Shore Bar was not easy after sunset but after a few wrong turns I found it packed with people and throbbing to the trance beat. Anjuna is the place where the trance revolution was born, and while I realise the music's not everyone's cup of tea, I find it hard to keep my feet still as waves of sound wash over me. A hand taps me on the shoulder as I dance on the soft sand dance floor at the foot of a flight of stone steps. Wolfgang, the Dane from Palolem stands grinning at me. We share a hug, a beer, and news - Susan is not here and Andy was still in Palolem that morning. I'm disappointed. Another face appears, a guy I joked with just yesterday in Palolem. We chat, watching the gyrations of the dancers, then I go to visit the chai mats where I find Sam, a friend of my best mate Ali, living in England. They said I'd see all the world in Anjuna! We smoke a joint
and compare notes until it's time for the real party to start in Vagator. I leave at 11 to motor towards the Primrose Bar, where people gather to get warmed up and swap news. Here is where the address of the party is found, often pasted on the notice board. I must take a moment to tell you, dear reader, about the set-up at these all-night parties (Raves). There is an area for dancing (obviously) with a DJ behind a huge PA system, a bar, and the chai mats, provided for vital rest periods needed between sessions of hard dancing. Remember that Goa's temperatures are in the 20's C even at night, and heat exhaustion is common, so Indian women armed with beach mats claim an area of ground for themselves away from the dance floor, to sell chai (Indian spiced tea) coffee,cakes, fruit, whatever the party-goer needs at an inflated price. Here, lit by gas or paraffin lamps, folk gather to smoke a chillum and enjoy the company of friends or cool down after dancing the night away. This, the mother of the Chill-out room found in many clubs in Europe, a vital feature of the (Rave) party.
Armed with my local area maps, I head for the music at midnight, following a stream of mopeds and motor bikes through the night. Disco Valley is near to my digs and a few minutes ride brings me to the top of the cliff below which is a magical sight. Chai mats are spread to the right, gas lamps twinkling like chemical stars in the darkness, to the left, the dance floor, lit by black-lights (Ultra Violets) bring into focus the artwork, fuorescent-painted tree trunks and rocks, shining brightly under the lights in brilliantly garish splashes. I realise the artists also have safety in mind as I step onto the dance floor around which every rock and tree root is painted, making it visible in the dark. No broken legs at this gathering. The music is thumping away hypnotically. The bar charges an unbelievable price for a bottle of water - 30R for a 10R bottle - must remember to bring my own next time. I boogied with Wolfgang for a while until admitting defeat at 2 am and leaving for bed. Now the down side -from my meagre little room I hear the music clearly. Oh dear.However, I am so tired I fall asleep in minutes.
Disco Valley in full swing
Thursday 21st January - Morgim Beach
I woke in time to return take this panorama of the party scene, still going in brilliant sunshine. As I watched, the police came to close the party down - obviously someone hasn't paid the necessary 'baksheesh' to placate the local constabulary. A howl of protest goes up from the crowd, but the cops are adamant - the music must stop now. I left the scene to come here, a quiet beach with few visitors an hour's ride to the north across a wide river mouth. Morgim is the home of 'Planet Hollywood Goa", a palm frond beach shack sporting a photo of Bruce Willis in the menu forauthentication. I wonder if the famed trio of owners know about this branch of their empire?
Planet Hollywood, Goa
I waited for service while a party of five, arriving after me, are served first. Thiis display of chauvinism and rudemness is enough to make me mad, I walk to another beach shack where I am the only customer but the service doesn't improve. The beach beckons, soon I lie in the sun, browning the parts where the sun normally doesn't reach. At 1230 I decide to return 'home', crossing the river once more via the ancient ferry boat which takes all forms transport to the other side. We pass a half finished road bridge, high above us, where the workers laze in the heat of the day. No wonder its 3 years overdue for completion, this bridge. Looking down I see huge jellyfish floating around the boat's keel, strange how they do that, they look particularly vicious, their long stinging trailers floating behind them. I'm reminded again of Crete, when I stared down at Portuguese Men o' War floating around the keel of the Piraeus ferry in Souda Bay harbour....I pass through Siolim, a very well heeled town kept a secret by the Indians. Beautiful brilliantly painted Portuguese houses line the road, covered with Bougainvillaea. At my 'villa' I shower and change, washing clothes in water heated in plastic bottles left in the sun. No modern facilities here I'm afraid, but you'd be amazed how refreshing cold showers are when the temperature is in the 30's. Driving into Baga, I watch the sunset at Laxman's while eating a delicious curry, and although intending to go out later, I fall asleep at 2130, exhausted by the sun.
Friday 22nd January - Lee Ann Cottages, Vagator
After breakfast in Chapora village, watching the cows trundle down the narrow main street, I plan to go to Mapusa for shopping at the special market. I bought a big cloth bag to carry the expected over-spill of souvenirs; earrings; ankle bracelets (worn by every woman here); a little dress, and a long cotton skirt. I think I'll try to call Robert today. I plan to go south to Gokarn tomorrow to find Des and Lisa, perhaps I can leave some of the weight behind to pick up later. Finding a phone shop I manage call Robert, arranging to meet him after I return from my travels. The call costs nothing but its such a nuisance to get to on a phone here, lines are frequently cut off in mid flow. After a sunset meal on the cliff-top listening to music coming from the nearby Nine Bar, I put on my party dress to go in search of fun. As I went to the bar for a drink, Andy was standing next to the DJ! We spent hours talking, overlooking the moonlit bay of Little Vagator, until the bar closed. He told me where the party was and warned me to watch for police as I rode towards Anjuna, they have a habit of stopping people after midnight, demanding 'fines'. I should have listened or taken another route - I slowed to crawl over the speed breakers placed near every school when a uniformed officer melted out of darkness to hold out his stick, forcing me to stop. This is how it went:
Policeman: May I see your driving licence?I see the way it goes, and fumble around in my bag, trying not to let him see the other 50 Rupees I have in my purse. As I pull out the 50 Rupee note, I tear it in two. This is disastrous because Indians won't accept torn notes. I hand over my remaining 100R and now very angry, speed off in search of the party.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry, it's back in my room, I'll go and get it for you.
(move to turn the moped around)
Policeman: No, it is an offence not to carry your licence, you must
pay a fine.
Me: Oh I see, I can't bring it to your office in the morning?
Policeman: No, you must pay a fine.
Me: OK, how much is the fine? (sarcasm dripping like venom)
Policeman: 500 Rupees
Me: I don't have that much money. (hoping he doesn't see the 600R
in my back pocket)
Policeman: How much do you have?
Me: 100 Rupees.
Policeman: That's OK, the fine is 100 Rupees.
Saturday 23 January - a market and a party
Changing clothes from the party, I go in search of Robert and Riet, at the Café Roma on the southern tip of Candolim beach, some kilometres away. This area is bereft of the hawkers present on the northern beaches, and is very clean, no cowshit on this pristine landscape. We move on to visit the beach home of their old friend Heidi, a resident for years in Goa who knows all the ropes. Her boyfriend Gregory entertains us in her absence and after a very pleasant hour we leave for Villa Marbella, where I get to see first hand the lovely rooms available.
The new Saturday night Hippie Market is due to begin at 4pm, so we set off in tandem to look at the entertainment on offer at this open air site next to the river in Baga. I am introduced to many people, most of whom are 30 year residents in this hot clime. Jessie, a charming American, Heidi proves very friendly and other smiling Goans pass by to say hello. A troupe of acrobats and fire eaters entertain the crowd while various stalls offer a variety of wares, mostly hand crafted clothes and jewellery. I enjoy a coffee at the expresso bar then at 10pm I bid farewell to my new friends to join the party crew for the next night of fun.
Tonight the party goer has a choice of venues to dance the night away - a party at Bamboo Jungle (which everyone insists on calling Bamboo Forest) and the Paraiso (Paradiso as everyone calls it). I spend the next 4 hours driving my moped between the two places in Anjuna, finding no familiar faces. I give up, retiring to bed at 3 am. I can't sleep until 4, thanks to the incessant barking from the neighbour's dog, setting off every dog in the area barking. I shouldn't complain - he's just doing his job, dogs are the security guards around here, anyone moving through a gate is instantly announced to everyone in earshot - just what you need given the number of burglaries the Goans suffer each year.
Sunday 24th January
Woke early, returned to search the party crowd again for the missing Andy, eventually I went to wake him at his room. We had breakfast at noon in the Old Daynite, where the gang always eat. I have met his circle of friends, a motley crew of various nationalities who have come together every year for the last 10 years. Prerhaps the fathers of the trance scene, they smoke like chimneys the soft, black charas. Nothing else must sully their cylindrical clay pipes. The ritual of choosing the engineer, the firestarter and the honour of first toke are very serious matters in this circle. Then the person who cleans the 'tube' after its use is another matter. Some folk won't have their chillum lit with a cigarette lighter, strictly matches for these champions of natural smoking. Some members of the club are downright greedy in their consumption, others peck like a bird, accepting a little puff here and there. The dark, pliable hand-rolled charas makes me cough, personally, but each to their own. In my day chillum smoking was a communal ritual also, requiring each member of the circle to contribute what they could to the brew, making for potent and confusing cocktails. In this group it is more a matter of taking turns, with the heaviest consumers urging the rest to donate their stash to the ever-hungry mixing bowl. The worst proponent is Mike who can be very insistent when shaming people into getting one together. When he is absent, less is smoked, that's for certain. I sat there all day, meeting people all the time, eyeing the talent available amongst the Israeli lodgers walking about the place (some of those men are really luscious). Andy agreed to store my extra bag in his room, I'll have less weight to lug to Gokarn in the morning. Time to travel again.
Monday 25th January Margao Station 1240hrs
Returned the moped at 9.30 and caught the bus. Befriended two middle aged Dutch brothers travelling to Mangalore, we spent an hilarious time waiting for the delayed train, leaving at 1410. I've had a delicious Thali (mixed curry plate) for 20R. The ticket is all of 24R (Dfl 1.10) for a journey of 150 kilometres Try that kind of price out on Dutch Railways! When the train arrives, it's a fight to board - Indians have a habit of pushing onto transport - and few seats were available. I rode in the corridor next to the open door, occasionally poking my head out to catch the cool breeze. A seat by the window comes free, I grab it eagerly to stare for 2 hours at Karnataka, Goa's neighbouring state. The countryside rushes past, a green and dusty landscape. On the train, a party ensues with music and song, whilst the train stops in the middle of nowhere. No station buildings are present, yet people still board the train miles out of the local towns. Why they build their train tracks so far from civilisation is a mystery to me along with many other mysteries in India. I guess this way the rickshaw and taxi drivers get a piece of the action as there's no other way to reach a train station than by hired cab.
When the train crawls into Gokarn, the 15 tourists alighting are completely alone on the bare platform. No taxis or people are present, so we walk, baggage in tow, the 2 km to the road. My bag seems to gain weight every time I pick it up. Fortunately for us, a bus is arriving. Despite being packed, we are squeezed in amongst the staring passengers. Our luggage is piled on top, and we speed into Gokarn, where the driver moodily ejects everyone before the end of the ride, dumping us with bags in the middle of the town. To get to a hotel means a walk of another 2km to the beach, passing through a narrow main street full of houses and temples. Gokarn is very religious, the houses of the priests are painted gaily with notices proclaiming their history. Open doors and windows display the images of various Hindu deities in brightly coloured splendour. People sit on stone porches clad in white dhotis watching us trudge past. They are reliant on the money we tourists bring to keep body and soul together but their eyes proclaim their discomfort at our presence. As I pass the main temple, dedicated to Shiva, a notice informs foreigners that they are not allowed into the temple even without their shoes.
My arms are about to collapse under my bag's weight by the time I reach the beach, to find the hotel where Des and Lisa should be staying is full and they are not there. They must have gone down to Kerala as planned. I ask for help and an ageing Indian grabs my bag, leading me a very long way to a dirty beachfront guest house which is also full. I'm just about fed up with this now, and another long walk back brings me to a hotel in the town, the Om hotel. I've heard of this place - the manager is a rip-off artist by all accounts. I refuse to pay the sullen coolie and join another couple as they walk around the corner to another hotel, where I take a room for 150R. I've a shower and WC in the room and a fan overhead. The bathroom is alive with mosquitoes, I complain but to no use, fly spray doesn't exist here. I kill them all with newspaper and determination, and cover the WC so no more can hatch.
I stroll down the street where the Gokarnans are performing maintenance on the town's huge festival 'car'. This wheeled structure is used during important festivals, dressed in bright colours and pulled along the main street. The gods travel inside and people throw fruit into it as an offering, it's supposed to be lucky if your banana goes in without touching the sides, it is a massive structure as you can see from the picture:
Festival car, Gokarn
At the beach I find a Tibetan restaurant. I eat listening to the
pounding of rollers on the sand and a Greek conversation at a nearby table.
I haven't heard Greek in so long, it's a pleasure to listen in. On the
way back to the hotel along the main street, a procession moves slowly
past the darkened houses with a demi-god on a wheeled cart with burning
candles on the front. Everyone comes out of their houses to 'collect' fire
from this cart, acknowledging the deity within, returning to light their
homes with the holy fire. I stand aside, watching with interest as the
people worship their Gods. Gokarn is very different from the strongly Catholic
Goa, here they keep the ancient Hindu traditions alive.
Tuesday 26th January - go for a walk!
I was rudely awoken just after 5 am by a woman's high-pitched voice as she cursed her husband, making the most awful hawking noise to clear his throat. Here people are rude and ill-mannered, nobody cares about public urination or the way men spit everywhere. Today is Republic Day, a public holiday, all but tourist places are closed. I walk down the dark red earth street and am told by a passing man to go back to Goa. Obviously not everyone hereabouts likes the presence of tourists. Fine, I decide to leave tomorrow for Hampi, and at the nearby bus station I notice a bus to Panjim which I'm sorely tempted to get on.
At 0900 I take breakfast at a beach shack, accompanied by a Kashmiri man calling himself Ashrami, meaning peace. He recommends I walk over to Om beach, the main attraction around here. He failed to mention the distance would take me 90 minutes to walk over two mountainous hills before the beach would be visible. Judge for yourselves if it was worth it. (Don't ask why the camera changes the colours - I have no idea)
I collapsed on the sand for a few hours sunbathing, watched by hordes
of Indian men tourists fully clad in their holiday clothes. Strangely the
return walk seemed to take less time. I packed my bags ready for morning
and went in search of food. A traditional restaurant in the centre of town
served a lovely Thali, all the customers watching carefully to see if I
would make the cardinal mistake of using my left hand to touch my food.
I didn't, being by now well practised in Indian etiquette. At the beach
café, Ashrami was chatting up a pair of Swedish girls (he likes
tourist women).Returned to the hotel, buying fruit and cheese for the journey
tomorrow. Two Indian families have moved in across the hall, chattering
loudly while they wash laundry and children, who stare at me even more
than usual. They have no qualms about coming into my room to investigate
the 'foreigner's' luggage, quite rude really but very Indian.
Wednesday 27th January Gokarn Bus Station 0615hrs
Even at this unearthly hour, people are milling about catching ancient buses to other places. The buses are TATA, the same make as in Morocco, they rattle around, bouncing over potholes at breakneck speeds. People load the contents of their households onto and into these leviathons, determined to stake a claim on a seat. The only way to ensure a seat is to get on at the starting point and fight for entrance.
Hubli station - train to Hampi 1210hrs
This is the city of chaos. After a gruelling journey I rickshaw across
the city to the station in time for the noon train to Hospet, for the ancient
Hindu capital of Hampi. I sit in the ladies compartment, at the back, where
peace reigns. No mad crush to board this carriage. I chat with two ladies
about the differences within our respective societies over the 4 hour journey.
Its good to be on a train again after the discomfort of being crushed against
bus windows by some big fat Indian man with smelly breath. Being the only
tourist in the carriage, I am stared at unmercifully by all around, including
a few men who have no business in this carriage at all.
Arriving at Hospet I take a bicycle rickshaw to the bus station, change to motorised rickshaw, bumping over the terrible road to the ancient city. Along the route magnificent temples with carved deities shine in the sunlight. I make the driver stop for photos. We have to pay 5R to enter Hampi, a magnificently carved city set in a landscape of massive boulders in a desert environment. The Shanti Guest House where I wanted to stay, is full, so I am taken to another guest house, the Shambu, where the rooms are named after gods.
From the roof garden restaurant, I see the magnificent tower of the
main temple of Virupaksha towering above me. Photo opportunity again. Here's
the side and front view:
The Virupaksha temple, Hampi
Walking along the main street, it is apparent how tourism pervades life here. Apart from westerners, Indians come in droves to see the ancient capital of the Vijayanagar kings. For almost a thousand years people have walked this street to enter the Virupaksha temple, a street fringed by an ancient colonnade now housing dark, dirty restaurants and money changing offices. Children beg from everyone, simply staring at you with an expression of arrogant expectation.
I sit in the Shambu roof restaurant nursing a lemon soda, listening to nice ambient music from another restaurant nearby. I can't believe I'm here in 1000 year old ruins listening to 'Fluffy Clouds' by the Orb. The waiters here like a bit of house, and the customers are soon tapping feet to a newer beat. Wandering the narrow alleyways, I am accosted time and again by shopkeepers and stall holders begging me to buy anything I see, most disturbing and certain to annoy. The travelling took its toll, sending me to bed at 11.
Thursday 28th January - walking again
At 7 this morning I climbed to the top of the nearest ruins for a staggering view of the countryside. Massive boulders piled on top of each other spill around as far as the eye can see. A quiet peace descends as the morning mist dissipates. Monkeys scramble over the temple's lofty towers, squirrels flash amongst the scrub bushes growing all around, birdsong fills the air, a parrot flies over my head, then four Indians appear, chattering loudly. Trust man to disturb the peace. I wander up to Ganesha's temple, and that of Hanuman, the Monkey God. There is an overwhelming stink of human waste all over the place, the people here use the ruins for a toilet, showing how much they respect the holy ground. A gang of children latch on to me like limpets, following me around, making comments. Time to leave.
I wander to the other end of the main street where the ruins are even more awesome. This Vijayanagar dynasty was some outfit. I see a policeman. stationed in the ruins to deter thieves who prey on tourists. It is not safe to be among these ruins after dark, nor to carry cameras with you. I sit awhile, astounded at the carvings on every wall and column. The cop guides me to another temple, pointing at the sexually explicit carvings on the walls, touching me occasionally; almost unnoticeable, his hand slides along my arm or brushes against my back. I hear personal alarm bells. Indians do not touch strangers, especially women. I take my leave, walking further around towards the Vitthala temple where people feed begging monkeys. Lots of people mill about the bathing site on the river's bank. They bathe in water in which they urinate, defecate and wash clothes; incredible what they put up with here. As the daylight fades, I walk up to the Jain temple overlooking the Virupaksha, sampling the chai at the shop on the hill. The sunset is marvellous, another photo opportunity.
Sunset over Hampi ruins
Returning to the hotel, I book passage on the overnight sleeper bus to Goa, wanting to be back for the full moon party in a couple of days. Tomorrow I plan to walk to the high temple and the citadel built by Krishna.
Friday 29th January Rama Restaurant 1325hrs - sore feet again
I sit, looking out on the Virupaksha temple from the Rama chai shop, which has become a restaurant (things have changed, Rupert) I came to find this place last night but instead, got involved with a Kashmiri trader next door, who gave me lovely saffron tea while showing me his wares. It was so hard to resist the temptation to buy.
This morning, my early night paid off as I woke at 5 (again) to set off before the sunrise around the citadel which was the home of Lord Krishna, he of Hari fame. A magnificent display of temples and buildings proclaimed the engineering skills of the god-king in the 13th century. I walked for 6 hours, returning just now, tired but better educated on Hindu mythology. I had to climb over some very difficult terrain, the road must be original, could be 500 years old and forces you to ford a stream to reach Hampi. I am glad to be sitting down again, to be sure. I'm due to get a bus to Hospet at 4pm to catch the sleeper coach overnight to Goa, I will relax at a café for an hour or two.
Hampi from afar
I decided to tour the big temple of Virupaksha or Rama, approaching its huge white towers reverently. Photography and videocameras are frowned upon so I kept mine under wraps. When entering, shoes are deposited at a stall, and one pays a small fee to go through a beautifully carved gate to a courtyard containing a sanctum, three ante chambers, a pillared hall and collonade of fabulously carved pillars. Immediately left as you enter th gate, stands an elephant, there to perform a party trick. If you put a rupee in his trunk, he will give you his blessing by banging said trunk on your head. Quite a rap, he gives you, be warned. I wandered about, receiving a blessing at some shrine, not sure which. Knowledge of Hinduism badly needed here. At 12.30 the drums sound and bells ring as the door to Rama's, (or Virupaksha's) shrine is opened, revrealing the god in all his golden glory, lit by candles and fanned by incense. The waiting throng patiently sitting in front of the door under the shaded carved pillars, now enter by the left doors, buying coconut and water offerings to present to the deity. I watch for a while before joining the line to receive the blessing of the god, wearing red and white dye on the forehead, bathing in the heat of flame, and drinking scented water. I paid 10 rupees for this service, hopefully I will achieve true enlightenment very soon. I am usherd along with the rest, out of the right hand door, then all the doors close again. The god goes to sleep until the next scene, at 6.30. I felt very reverent but still sensed the air of predatory beggary about the place. They found another three excuses to make me part with cash, all well rehearsed. Now I must get moving for the sleeper bus at 6 pm.
Saturday 30th January Infantaria Cafe, Calangute
At last I am on familiar turf. The journey on the coach was awful. A German girl and I were shut into a boxlike compartment on a bus that stops at every point between Hampi and Goa in an attempt to fill the one empty box with a family of eight. By the time we reached Goa at 5 in the morning, the gangway was full of standing Indian passengers, baggage at their feet. This is some rip-off journey when you can take a train from Hospet to Hubli then Hubli to Old Goa, just down the road from Panjim, for as little as 50R, rather than the 350R the bus company charges. I intend to advise all travellers not to take this service. I am now ready to get a bike and a bed in that order. My throat hurts and I feel the oncoming of a cold. In this climate? A cold?
Old Daynite Restaurant Vagator 12 Noon
It took a tour of the guest houses to find a room at the Tellen Guest House for 100R a night. It'll do, even if the shower is outside the room again. There's a nice garden all around me and its right on the road to Andy's place, there's even cupboards and clothes hanger for my stuff. Must ring Robert today. Andy hadn't turned up by 2 so I went to find him still abed. Lazy bugger. Collected my bag, fixed up the room a bit and returned. I'm intending to go to the movies tonight to see the Big Lebowski at Jaws, a restaurant which shows a movie every night with dinner. However, the best-laid plans of mice men and me......
Sunday 31st January German Bakery Anjuna - after the party
What a night. At the Nine Bar I found Robert and Riet, invited for dinner with them to Cosa Nostra, a great Italian where I had home made pasta and delicious wine. We meet again Tuesday to sample the delights of Basilica, where we couldn't get in without booking. Missed the movie but at the Daynite I am told the party is in Anjuna. Time to boogie again. Arrived 0030, left at 0430 to grab another 40 winks, returning to the party at 10 to dance for another couple of hours. I'm now having muesli and mint tea for breakfast in this delightful restaurant. I really enjoyed myself last night, the DJ, Gunther, was great, at least he kept me dancing.
Later, Tellen Guest House Vagator
Met a very nice American man named Jovis, a didgeridoo maker and yoga freak. Talked with him on the beach for a long time before joining the posse at Shiva's restaurant at the other end of the beach. Artisans work at this end of Little Vagator. Jovis makes didges, Craig makes mixing bowls, one young man carves chillum cleaning sticks, still another makes drums. Each person content in his artistry, peacefully working to the sound of waves on sand.(Small world department: Craig is a traveller with the Golden Moon Café which moves round all the English festivals. He has probably served me my breakfast at Glastonbury!).
Walked up to Nine Bar with Andy, met a Dutch couple, Dave and Wendy from Spliff coffeeshop in Beverwijk, they came to dinner with us at Daynite. She and I got on very well. It was nice to speak Dutch again. I left the table to go for petrol for Kate's bike, but miscalculated the turn in the sandy driveway, I ended up on the ground with the bike on top of me, my right forearm in tatters again. This is becoming a habit of mine, falling off mopeds. I wash the damage but still go for the petrol, passing by my place for antiseptic cream. When I return the table is empty. At the Primrose I find there is no party tonight and I retire to bed to nurse my wounds.
Everyone who's anyone parks their bike at the Nine Bar
Monday 1st February Shiva's Restaurant Little Vagator
I got to work early repairing the moped. I called at Starco corner in Anjuna to check the address for Basilica and a chat with a friendly taxi bike driver got me a new front faring for only 250R. I waited with coffee while they fixed it for me then drove to Calangute where the best rate of exchange is available for miles around. The bike rental man was pleased to see I'd repaired the moped, grinning all over his face. I felt the same way as I drove here, I'd expected another Mapusa visit and much more expense. I chat with Jovis at his beach workshop. At the pharmacy I got cough medicine, making me drowsy. My cold has hung around, and still plagues me. Later I eat superb pizza with Robert and Riet, they do make a mean pizza at that place. Found Andy at Daynite, we went for a beer at Primrose until 0130 when I left for bed.
Tuesday 2nd February - a quiet day in paradise
Spent the day on the beach, the evening at the Nine Bar and the night at the Daynite. No party (again) and no prospect tomorrow either. Andy agrees to come to Anjuna market with me tomorrow. I'm meeting Riet to do some good hard bargaining.
Shiva's famous beach shack at Little Vagator
Wednesday 3rd February - this little girl went to market....
After a couple of early hours at Shiva's I awaited the arrival of Andy. We set off on the bike together to the market. Riet and Robert found us sitting in the main café and she and I wandered off to buy a couple of nice throw overs for presents. I already bought my peacock feather fan for 40R, not the original 150 I was quoted. Andy and I watched the world go by for a while over a coffee in the expresso bar before we left for Vagator.
It seems Kate ( the youngest of the posse) and I are on the same flight home, so I can keep her company until we reach Amsterdam. I want to see Bombay but she does not. At my digs I noticed my best yellow top was missing from the washing line, and some bitch checked out today. India is full of thieves. The evening went as normal, Nine Bar, Daynite and bed. A party was organised but according to Sebastien the music would be rubbish so nobody was interested. I find it becoming passé now, this party lark.
Thursday 4th February - a day in my birthday suit
This morning I woke early, drove to the Paraiso where Jovis was dancing in the morning sunshine. We chatted awhile, he is such a nice person. It was still quite early when I drove onto the ferry to the northern beaches, arriving at Querim beach at around 11. I was totally alone for the day, naked as a baby, lying in the sun. I can't get the arm wet so swimming is out for me for a while, I don't want the gash to get any more septic than it is, it's scabbing nicely now. This beach has just 3 shacks, and 10 fishermen keep their boats further along the shore. I had to walk for almost an hour to get to where I could find the peace of Palolem without the bars.
At 1500 I decide to leave, much as I would like to stay. I have to get to the doctor's at 5 for her to clean my infected arm, which she does very well for 110R. The usual routine until 11 when I went to bed for 3 hours, waking 0230 to go party on the Hilltop site until 0930. Took some pictures, had some chai and a nice chat with Michael. Has he been in the wars! What an abuser. Amin, the big Israeli resembing a heavyweight boxer, was nice too, such a sweet man. Ashrami from Gokarn turned up again, as did Mohan who gave up his life as a Wall Street stockbroker to be a hippie on Anjuna beach. Amazing what brings people here.
Friday 5th February - last call for Mapusa
My last chance to shop at Mapusa market. I leave the party at 10 to get to there in plenty of time for lunch which I take at Ashrok's, a famed Indian lunch spot. Of course I take Thali, its becoming my staple food now. I bought a sari for sister Poli but upon investigation it proves to be 2nd hand, musty smelling, and marked. I return it with an argument, choosing one in a dark green with gold sequins on it. No way could I send this to Poli, I'll have to get her another one. Saffron is 450R a box - wow, I'll have to cash more dough for that. The market is full of colour, noise and smells again. The most elaborate fountain in Goa is right in the middle of the market, like a classic sculpture. Back in Vagator I prepared for another night of revelry.
The only party planned was playing straight music for Essex girls. I know, I went at 6 in the morning to check it out, returning to bed half an hour later! The Nine Bar has had a death in the family so they can't play music for 5 days, out of respect. People still gather up there in silence to watch the sunset.
The Nine Bar, left side view
Saturday 6th February
Drove to Mapusa early in search of dry cleaners for the sari. No dice. A pair of lovely Indian ladies took me to every one in town but nobody will touch the thing. Drat. I bought another sari for Poli from a shop, better be safe than sorry again. Returned to Vagator beach for the day. Jovis plays in the hippie market tonight, I intend to see him. No party planned for tonight again. What's wrong with this place now?
I met Robert and Riet at the market, she has bad news - her brother is very sick and they must cut their trip short, I must cancel Tuesday's booking at Basilica. Jovis played at sunset, so I missed his set. I bought a lapis piece for Avril, met up with Layla and her German friend for a coffee then left at 10 for Daynite. The party was at Hilltop. I felt wonderful when at 6am, Andy drove us to the south Anjuna beach party where Goa Gil was playing.
0930 - South Anjuna beach party of February 7th 1999 Second view - same party
Sunday February 7th - Hello Mr Dodo!
At this venue I really went to town, dancing on top of a big rock for a couple of hours, conducting the party so to speak. I saw a face inthe crowd which interested me, an outrageous man dancing wildly at the back, wearing the most silly hat with a little yellow flower sticking out of it. We danced off each other for a long time, becoming more outrageous as we went along. The sun was roasting me before I admitted defeat, climbed down from my perch and together we dived into the sea to cool off. What an enormously fun party. Dodo, as he is named, lives in Bombay. He invited me to visit, I mentioned Thursday when I have an afternoon to overnight wait in the airport. He said come over. I can't wait. I shared cool drinks with Mohan, then Andy came to join us. It was afternoon now, I watched the party being dismantled, the coolies carrying everything up the steep paths on their heads. Amazing these guys. Andy drove us home and I collapsed for a few hours. Woke at 9pm, went to join the others at the dinner table in Daynite then returned to bed at 11, exhausted like the rest.
Monday 8th February
Came to Calangute to change money and confirm my flight. The travel agency tried to charge me 150R for doing it and gave me some cock and bull story about taking my ticket to Panjim. I told them stuff it and went to phone Air India myself, which cost me nothing. When I returned to the bike hire/change office some idiot had gone off with my keys, left on the desk by mistake, forcing me to wait around at the German Bakery until after noon when the keys miraculously returned. I sped to Vagator and spent the day at Shiva's listening to music provided by Sebastien, Mark, and another guy I forget the name. Shiva's was packed all day - goes to show what a bit of music will do. Everyone was at the beach today. Washed the last of my laundry and began to pack the bags (notice the plural here). Did the rounds until late, there's supposed to be a party at Bamboo Jungle tonight.
Tuesday February 9th - almost the end of the road
I got up at 5 am to look for the party again, finding Dodo and his partner walking along the road to Bamboo Jungle. It was the hat that gave him away. Soon we were three on a moped trying to negotiate our way to a party which when we reached Starco corner, the grapevine said was cancelled. Rumours abound that the cops asked for more baksheesh at the last minute, knowing the Israelis would pay it. Well they didn't. I leave the boys there to drive off to find my bed again.
Woke at 0930, went to the beach where even at this hour Michael wanted to smoke a chillum. He is the driving force in the organisation which I have nicknamed the Chillum Club, known as the Abuser. I decide to immortalise him by featuring him in a novel I'm planning. The crowd has its would-be clowns too, a gaggle of head shaved young men who have a violent feel about them, with names like Spew, Mad Dog, and Sausage. I've seen their like at festivals and behind the barriers of angry road protests. Here they seem more subdued, more laid-back. It must be the sun. Or the music. Or both.
The beach fills up, each shack catering to a different crowd. We hand around Shiva's, the Israelis go to Gollywood, The Germans to Bom Shankar, the Italians to another of the 15 shacks lining Little Vagator. Through this scene wander Indian tourists clad in their office clothes. They even paddle in their suit trousers, the women swim in sari's, it's a weird sight to watch. Later I attend the party last night cancelled - the Israeli party. A dull evening listening to Meiko and the Mossad Posse . I must be getting good now, I can differentiate between different DJ's, haha.
Wednesday 10th February Anjuna Market Expresso Bar
I crawled into bed at 0930 for some needed slumber then came here an hour ago to peruse the jewellery for the girls at home. I now sit at what has become a stall for Jovis' didge shop in the expresso bar. It seems an apt location for such instruments, an expresso bar. I am lost for a gift for Alec. Its hard to believe this time tomorrow I
will be on my way to Bombay (barring delays of course) on my way to cold reality and northern Europe. I'm tempted to come straight back but must see what can be arranged, perhaps the charter offer with hotel is possible. This warm place full of warm faces and hearts has captured mine. I will miss some of them sorely. Jovis' quiet strength and intelligence; Sebastien's offbeat humour; Layla's pale grey eyes, Michael's enthusiasm for abuse; Dominic's ready smile. Most of all I will miss Andy, my reluctant side-kick, how glad I am we crossed paths.
Now I must attempt to capture all of this in words - a daunting task indeed. The dusty, dry hot world of Anjuna spins around me, the unrelenting force of money changing hands, the grind of making a living goes on. Children come to sing their Hindu folk songs, dressed in costumes, faces painted brightly. They are for the most part, ignored. What a life they have, these old people in children's bodies begging for the basics of existence.
I retire to the Shore Bar at 7pm, but the scene bores me. I leave, passing legless beggars parked on wheeled boards along the road, human trolleys begging for life. I head for the Nine Bar. No familiar faces there. I find Andy at the dinner table and as no party is apparently planned, went to dance a little in Primrose, despite the awful music. At 2 am it transpires there is a party at Bamboo
Jungle again (twice in a row? Well it could happen). I drove us to the venue where we danced apace for a while until I decided enough was enough and left to sleep. A cab is booked for 10 am to the airport, I want to be ready.
Thursday 11th February - time to go home
At 0850 as promised, I return to the party. I've already dropped my bag at the Daynite from where the taxi will collect Kate and I. Andy sees me through the crowd, smiling broadly. I go to the chai mats of Syreeta, the chai lady long favoured by the posse. I want them to sit on it and remember me. I tell her I might be back in a week and leave for the dance floor to spend the last hour dancing with the faces I've come to recognise, smiling, happy people with nothing marring the joy they find in the dance. I dance my goodbyes to Jovis, to Frankie, to Amin, and other faces with no names, finally I hug my friend Andy in front of the speakers that pour forth the most addictive drug of all - the music. Kate and I take our leave at 0945, biking to Daynite for a rushed breakfast before the cab comes. I speed into Calangute to return the bike while the cab takes Kate to her bags,picking me up half an hour later, speeding us off to Dabolim airport, and home.
Friday 12th February - Mumbai airport 0350 - exhausted doesn't begin
to describe it
Well, the 1055 flight left at 1425, not bad for Air India. On the flight I have again the awful seat without legroom that they gave me on the way down, and we were late (naturally). I dropped my bag at the left luggage office before calling Dodo. With instructions in hand, I bussed to a station where I caught a train to Castlegate where he lives, passing some of the worst slums in India. I was in tears as I watched the most appalling sights and the mean conditions some people live in. I feel very very lucky to be white European and free. Dodo picked me up in a quaint little car with a window you can't wind down because it falls out of the bottom of the door. We hugged and sped off to see the harbour. Now in darkness, it was a formidable sight. Mumbai is built on a peninsula, something I didn't know, so there is water on each side of town. I was shown some fantastic places, like the wilderness in the centre of town that belongs forever to the Parsi sect or Zoroastrians, of which he is a member - where the Parsis 'bury' their dead in a well left open to the elements so that the birds can eat their flesh. I wasn't allowed to see that but he showed me the little cottages the relatives come to stay in for a week with their dead relative, saying goodbye and performing the burial rituals. Its like a holiday home for the next world where the grieving process can go on in peace, away from the home environment. I liked this place, high in the hills, a lovely wilderness in the heart of a city.
Dodo, Sam and I after dinner
We collected his partner Sam and went for thali in the best place in
town, where they just keep filling up your plate until you are stuffed.Dodo
is a dancer and choreographer with a following, he is about to go on tour
of a few cities with a new show. We finish the meal and the tour of Bombay
begins, me in the back seat ogling beautiful buildings. I remember the
Gate of India going by but I was
beginning to fade out by this time, almost 11 p.m. Back to Dodo's spacious art deco style apartment for a couple of hours sleep, and at 2 am I wake him to take me to the airport. I can't thank this lovely man enough for his kindness, I want to be his friend for a long time.
The flight was 2 hours late again, we barely made the connection in London for Amsterdam - my bag didn't come back until later in the evening. The first thing I saw was the 6 inches of snow on the ground. By the time I reached my flat I had already decided to return to Goa as soon as possible.
That's why I'm leaving next Tuesday!
End of the first trip, now go on to read about the second trip!