Goa: Part II.

The plane ride to Goa was uneventful. Typically, Mawii and I both slept most of the way.

After landing, as we filed our way into the Arrivals lounge, we noticed that the doors and windows were painted with garish Father Christmases and giant pink and white striped candy canes, and splashes of green I think was meant to be holly, and unlikely looking reindeer. 

"Looks like they forgot to take their Christmas decorations off," said Mawii. 

"Or maybe they just keep it round the year to give people that happy feeling," I said, staring at a life size painted mud sculpture (badly made) of a fisher woman selling fish, right in the middle of the airport.

While I waited for my duffel bag to make its appearance on the conveyor belt (Mawii's had, infuriatingly, arrived long before mine), Mawii went to find out the cheapest form of transport that would take us to Anjuna beach (the only beach that matters, according to Aditya). 

"Bad news," she said, coming up to me as I hauled my bag off the belt, "there are no buses and the airport taxi will cost us more than two thousand rupees to get there," 

"Bastards," I said, with feeling. 

We made our way outside though, and found a pre-paid cab booth that wasn't cheap, but better than anything else on offer. 

We didn't say much during the ride, we just sat back, content, occasionally exchanging gleeful I-can't-believe-we're-here glances. Goa is very green. We passed through lots of little villages, and each of them were almost identical - ridiculously small colourful shops, crooked wooden shacks, and trees everywhere, and all of it lay glittering under the bright sun, and the scent wafting through the rolled down windows was that of the sea. The streets were so clean we couldn't bear to throw our cigarette stubs out - we put them back in the box instead. We passed a group of local boys on cycles; one of them was singing 'Baby, Hit Me One More Time'. Not a song I would choose to sing while cars and lorries whizzed past me. Finally, having crossed a bridge that lay over a broad, still, silver river, that seemed vaguely familiar to me, the driver asked us where in Anjuna we wanted to go. 

We exchanged glances. 

"I'll call Aditya," I said, sighing. 

But Aditya did not pick up, and neither did Siddharth, and the driver dropped us off at a small crossing that he said was Anjuna junction. 

"The beach is that way," he said pointing to the road that led to the left. 

So we hoisted our bags over our shoulders and started walking up the road. 

Siddharth called. Asked where I was, I said I was apparently walking towards the beach. He was remarkably unhelpful, and a short while later, Aditya called as well.

"Describe where you are," he said. 

"I'm on the road to the beach."

"Which road?"

"The one from Anjuna junction." 

"Anjuna junction?" 

"Everything's shut," Mawii said behind me. 

I repeated this to Aditya. 

"Everything's shut in the afternoon," he replied. "People sleep there a lot." 

I told him I'd call him back if we couldn't figure out what to do. Mawii by that time spotted a convenience store, and going inside, she asked the lady whether there were any places to stay close by. 

"Go behind the store," said the lady. "It's the orange house."

We went behind the store, and sure enough, there was an orange house, and it was called Orange House. We could see a little office at the end, which we walked towards, and said hello to the man who was sitting behind it. 

"How much is a room?" said Mawii. 

"Well, it starts at seven hundred," said the man, whose name we learnt later was Jordan. 

We shook our heads regretfully. We were trying to keep to a strict budget, and Mawii asked him whether he knew of any places that were slightly cheaper nearby. 

"How much are you willing to pay?" He asked. 

"Five hundred," said Mawii. 

He looked thoughtful, but said that would be alright, and then took us round the back of a house to a little room with an attached verandah. It wasn't bad at all - a big bed with a loud floral cover, a television set that I knew we would never use, a cupboard which Mawii, meticulous as ever, started putting her clothes into, a bathroom which was clean and which had a real working shower, and best of all, the attached verandah, with two cane chairs and a little table with an ashtray, that overlooked a low orange wall, to a patch of ground beyond, framed by banana trees.

We changed into our swimming costumes (Mawii had bought herself a multi coloured candy striped bikini she was very excited about) and, after Jordan gave us a map and warned us it was a dry day because of elections (did we look like alcoholics, I wondered briefly), we set off. 

It was a long walk to the beach, and on the way, a gust of wind rudely tore the map from my hand, and sent it into a ditch at the side of the road. It did not land on the green grass that surrounded us, of course it didn't, it landed neatly on a pile of garbage. 

I sighed, said a lot of curse words, and climbed down into the hollow. Trod my way carefully over the garbage, handed the damn map to Mawii, and tried to climb up, fell off, attempted a second time, cut my knee, and sprawled ungracefully on the side of the road. 

First mishap of the holiday - I braced myself for what would come next. 

As we kept walking, I insisted that my skin was burning and asked Mawii whether I'd managed to land in poison ivy. Mawii assured me I hadn't. I continued to insist I had. However, we made our way to Curlies which I was very curious about, because everyone who goes to Goa goes to Curlies. We went through a deserted flea market, past a little girl who was waving a stick violently at an interfering cow which was trying to enter her shop. She paused in the midst of her activity to wave at us, and we waved back. 

"I can hear the sea," said Mawii. 

I listened carefully, but all I could hear was the sound of a workman's drill. 

We walked through a grove of trees and suddenly, there it was, the sea - a blue grey sea with large waves that splashed white foam over rocks. 

"Curlies is to the left," I said, looking at the map. So we climbed over a bed of rocks, and stepped on to the beach. I could see Curlies up ahead. I could also see a white man playing a game of what looked like ping pong, except without the table, by the sea. He was wearing a thong. I averted my eyes and hurried by. 

Curlies is a two storey building, made of ramshackle wood, overlooking the sea. Downstairs, there are tables and chairs, and a bar, and a pool table, and upstairs, is a room with a ceiling and no walls - just a balustrade surrounding the perimeter of the room. There were chairs and tables, but by the balustrade, there were colourful mattresses and those long cushions that in Bengali are called pash balishes, and low wooden tables. 

We sat on opposite sides of a table, each sprawling on a mattress, and the winds hurling their way from the sea blew our hair about, and stung our faces, and the sun slanted gleaming rays through the open spaces, and through the cracks in the roof. 

I ate a steak - real beef - for the first time since leaving for Calcutta. As I did, I thought smugly of the cow which chased me on Valentine's Day. I wasn't eating the same cow of course, but I felt satisfied all the same.

While we ate, I looked out towards the beach and saw the man in the thong still playing enthusiastically.

"Did you see the man in the thong?" I asked Mawii.

"Yep. You could see his package,"

"I didn't look at his package," I said huffily.

"I did," she said cheerfully.

"He has to be gay. I don't know any straight men who'd wear a thong."

Mawii waved her hand airily. "He must be one of those yoga types. Into womanising and tantric sex,"

"Tantric sex?" I said, intrigued. "You think?"

"Oh yeah,"

I kept watching the man in the thong - I have to admit, he was incredibly toned.

"Now I'm imagining him having sex," I said to Mawii, a little annoyed. I wanted to enjoy my steak in peace. I didn't want to imagine a toned white man with wild hair in a thong having sex.

"I know," said Mawii dreamily.

"You think tantric sex is good?" I asked her.

"Has to be," she said. "It must be so s-l-o-w,"

We caught each other's eye and because we knew we were thinking the same thing, we burst out laughing, and laughed for a long time. 

After eating, we went down to the deck chairs on the beach, and I ran into the sea and dived into the first wave I saw. It felt like coming home. After our swim, when it started to get dark, we sat in a little shack lit by lamps that overlooked the beach - not that there was much beach left, the sea had risen - and drank fresh watermelon juice. The walk back to Orange House was very long, and for long stretches, the road was lit only by the moon, but we started singing ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall, and that kept us occupied. 

We got back by the time we were down to twelve bottles of beer on the wall, and by nine pm I was asleep in bed, looking forward, after what seemed a long time, to what the next day would bring. 

1 comment:

Whippersnapper said...

You stop short of actual cliff hangers but this is almost as mean. Sweet but mean.