Beached Wails!

For too many nights and days , Andrew and I have been practically marooned on a first-rate beach, in a second-rate guest house, with third-rate plumbing, fourth-rate bedding and fifth-rate company!  We’ve loved it.

After the rigours of Rajasthan it has been just what we needed. An almost antidote to India, but it has taken it’s toll…

I have developed a near psychosis attempting to tan in what is constant sunlight – and yet, failing miserably. T’is true I’m wearing factor 30, but without, I would resemble a Heinz Ketchup bottle within minutes. Minus the superior branding!

It just ain’t worth it, I tell my wan, washed out self in the filthy mirror, as a geriatric Oliver Twist stares back.  Why do I always become so ‘Dickensian’ during our travels?  It’s as if I grow paler by the day. Unburnished! Despite my earnest attempts at Bronze Ageing! Still, I gain assurance from a quote from the aforementioned author, that such things take time.

‘The Sun himself is weak when he first rises, and gathers strength and courage as the day gets on.’

And so, just like that great star, I shall live to tan another day.

It’s good to read – especially when beached!

And beached we have been. Outcasts ashore. Unwilling to crawl from our hermit like shells, much like some of the other more diminutive residents down by the shoreline. Their crabbiness has rubbed off on us, especially Andrew, who is now celebrating almost a month free from the claws of Mr Marboro.

Unsmoked, he has drifted slowly into quicksand and fast booze! This is not entirely his fault, and with my own vintage and effervescent history, I am certainly not one to judge. My husband has been helped ‘roll out the barrel’ by the carbonated charm of the bar-staff, and the convenient fact that the normal beer runs out terribly early and so the ultra strong – ‘husband-beater’ – is the only pint available!

This has invariably ended with Mr Kennedy either panicking in the sea, burning his feet on the sand, or losing his footing entirely. Today, after a particularly heated conversation, which ended with me telling him to ‘travel to somewhere fiery’, (or words to that effect), my hot lover jammed his foot heavily against an obvious brick and fell head first towards the just lit tandoori oven.

It was almost ‘Andrew Tikka’ on the menu!

I hadn’t actually meant ‘Go To Hell’!

‘Sit down’ I say. He seems flushed with embarrassment, or severely burnt – I can’t tell which.
‘Oww’, he wails, sort of manfully, ‘look’.
He gestures towards his left ankle, which is horribly grazed with skin hanging and plasma oozing down to his in-step.
‘Look. I’ll never dance again’ he says. Laughing.

Pissed.

‘I’ll get you the Savlon shall I?’  I spit.  Cold, hard and impenetrable after days of sharing a hut with a less well-heeled Jack Nicholson.

The beach was bringing out the bitch.

‘Nurse Ratched’ was beginning to kick in.

‘Itsh fine’ he manages.

After the entire establishment is greeted to a loquacious treatise on the rights and wrongs of ‘Brexit’, the plusses and minuses of arranged marriage, and the growth and implementation of radical Islam, Andrew then retires for a siesta. Leaving his entire audience wanting to do the same.

Exhausted, if not amused, by his malty rhetoric.

It’s quite clear it’s time we left this paradisiacal malaise and made our way on to harsher climes. Other Kulcha and culture beckon. Colour and squalor are calling us on.

Plus the fact we have to get to a ‘Vape Shop’ fast before Andrew runs out of juice – literally.

He’s down to his last phial of coffee flavoured liquid nicotine. If the pot boils dry I dread to think what could happen. I could be the fag he lights first.

He has a quick fuse when unlit!

There’s enough to last the night, and then we’re off, to inhale the fumes of another Indian city in search of the vapours.

I do hope they stock the stuff…..

All play and no vape make Jack a very dull boy!

I’ve hidden the axe!

It’s A Real Goa!

Somewhat jaded after our month-long jaunt around majestic Rajasthan and four more ragged days spent in the arhythmic heart of New Dehli, we finally arrived in the tropical south of this giant country.

Palm trees waved a breezy emerald welcome and the Arabian Sea lapped us up like an ocean of warm salty Chai. Not a Mediterranean Blue it’s true, more like the shade one’s jeans come back after they’ve been to the ubiquitous ‘Loundry’ here. An Indian Denim. Faded, yet oh so comfortable.

The long journey here was less so, but we’re both used to that by now, and the destination is always much more pleasurable when there have been a couple of life threatening moments on route.

Our eventual taxi, to the very south of Goa, went at a pace that would have put Michael Schumacher to shame. We nearly ended up in the same condition as the unfortunate sportsman on more than one occasion. Things only improved when Andrew convinced our wacky racer to come to a halt outside a ‘Wine Shop.’ We both sank two large bottles of beer faster than our driver had completed the last ten ‘K’ – and that’s saying something! Now, as pissed as Mr Magoo in the driving seat, we were able to enjoy the blind corners and oncoming juggernauts with the same hilarity.

After our hastened arrival we settled into our modest hut, content amid the candied bougainvillea and fluorescent hibiscus, we didn’t care that we had no running water as of yet. We knew that it would probably arrive sooner or later, and anyway there was always nature’s bath in which to cleanse our weary limbs, just yards away across the almost golden sand.

I was the first to succumb to her watery charms. Hobbling clumsily over the red-hot sand,like a lobster missing a claw, I practically fell into the warm embrace of the mighty Indian Ocean. My limbs melted into the tea-like waters and the ache from weeks of wearing a rucksack dissolved within her saline cloak. As I floated easily on my back, appreciating the dusky sky, I began to daydream. Of fairytale forts, and lakeside palaces, and huge castles in the desert. Of mighty mausoleums. Of all the wonders we had been fortunate, and intrepid enough to visit. This was my first moment of real stillness in weeks, and as I sank into it, my mind melted into a kaleidoscope of colours and scents and sounds, of all that had gone before. The beauty, the poverty, the kindness, the stupidity of this great nation.

Our entire Indian adventure washed over me as if I were a giant floating canvass and this miraculous country, the most vibrant of palettes.

I felt grounded, yet aloft, as I became my own watercolour awash with a sea of memories. It was almost spiritual. I breathed in ……

‘Ooommmmm’,   I exhaled pretentiously, open-mouthed….

Then, without warning, the biggest wave imaginable crashed heavily over me, filling every orifice with a gallon of seawater and sending me crashing onto the seabed. Tumbling amongst sand, and God knows what else, I held my breath and attempted to resurface. As I did so, another massive breaker hit me and took me back to the ocean floor. I spun violently, in the uneven style of a cheap Indian washing machine. Eventually, I staggered, in the most ungracious of manners, back onto the shore. My ears, nose and mouth grit-ridden and full of seawater.

My exotic reverie had been cut short.

My fantasies were instantly drowned in that stagnant pool known as ‘reality’. Really! In an instant!

I had to smile – perhaps through gritted teeth. Yet even this experience was so terribly Indian. The sublime becomes the submerged so readily here!

If there is one thing I have learnt about this incredible nation it is to expect the unexpected – at every turn – with every smile – and with every wave!

What I’d not yet come to expect was some of the sheer ignorance some tourists readily unpack as they arrive to avail themselves of some of the more obvious pleasures India has to offer.

There is a distinct difference, in my opinion, between the holidaymaker and the traveller. I, rather snobbily, put Andrew and myself into the latter category, even if my husband can sometimes veer towards the former, the nightmare train journeys and rattling local buses surely put us firmly into traveller class. Not to mention the dodgy choice of lodgings we invariably make.

Our current abode, for example, has no air con, just a giant ceiling fan that resembles a defunct chopper. It spins so angrily sleep is made quite impossible. The only setting is ‘Chinook’! So one is either forced to swelter in silence, or nap fitfully, as dreams of ‘The Deer Hunter’ surface horrifically between fantasies of ‘Miss Saigon’! I woke several times last night whilst pressing an imaginary gun to my head and screaming ‘Do it then you bastard’  to a confused Andrew, who I was convinced was a crazed Christopher Walken…

It is not a restful room!

However, with an asking price of eight quid a night and a sea-view to die for, we ain’t complaining. Well not to the management at least! They are far too accommodating.

Others, sadly, do. I overheard a very fat British woman impolitely send back three salads yesterday because they weren’t to her liking. Not calorific enough I should imagine. All of it done in the most graceless fashion. Shortly afterwards an elderly gentleman from ‘The West Country’ assured Sandhu, our charming waiter, that the Kashmiri was quite wrong when the poor chap brought out a fruit salad with curd, as ordered.

‘What’s this white stuff ? I never asked for that!’ The old fella huffed and gruffed.

‘Yes, it is mentioned on the menu’ Sandhu smiled.

‘Get me the menu then. The MENU!’

No ‘please’ in sight, not even in the near distance.
Reading the menu properly the old fart had to concede.

‘Oh yeah. Right. With curd – You’re right’.  Still charmless and unapologetic.

Rude git!

Sometimes when encountering this, almost colonial behaviour, it can make one quite unproud to be British, especially when remembering our history here. I’m surprised these idiots don’t receive a swift fuck off please from their graceful hosts. I know what I would do were the salad bowl in the other hand!

But then I’m not Indian. It is not in the Indian nature to be rude. Certainly not in my experience. It may be very easy to mock their choice of the vernacular when speaking English, as I have heard many idiots do, but I am yet to hear an Englishman who speaks Hindi as well as they do. Or Urdu. Or many of the other 1652 local languages spoken in this land. Some of the very ordinary people we have met have been in possession of quite extraordinary linguistic skills.

A young waiter called Abdul, whom we met in the desert city of Jaisalmer, spoke five languages. Get your tongue round that Joe Bloggs!

I must emphasize it is, of course, not everyone who visits this land for just a short time, that comes with an inferior mind and a superior attitude. We’ve met some great lads, builders from South East London, (who,coincidently, happen to be old friends of our good mate Dave in Spain! What’s the chances eh?) They adore it here and couldn’t be nicer to our Asian friends, even finding time to teach them the art of cockney rhyming slang. The look on their hosts ‘boat-races’ when they get it right is a picture.

A harmonious one!

A shame all The Brits don’t behave with such class – some of them should be taking a sharp ‘Brexit’ off of the subcontinent. Just as they did once before.

Other than the odd visitor, Goa makes a great visit! Marvellous beaches, stunning scenery and replete with friendly locals and some great tandoori fish. It’s going to be hard to leave and return to the other India, but easy at the same time. One can have too much of a good thing.

India teaches you that too.

Although when we’re sweating and swearing in Madras come the blistering May heat – that may be a lesson both of us have forgotten.

This unique country wouldn’t have it any other way.