Saturday, December 1, 2007

Goa = hate?

Goa has beautiful beaches, warm weather, love-dovey couples and temperate ocean waters. In short, everything I hate. I dislike Goa more than anywhere I've seen in the country and that's saying a lot after the "the Trial of Dehli". In the last twenty years, Goa has become the hotspot for foreigner beach parties and raves. Just like any touristy spot (I'm looking at you Eiffel Tower), it makes everything here feel so fake. The locals only talk to you to try to sell something like drugs, crappy trinkets, clothes. The taxi guys only ask me if I want a taxi to provoke me into hotly yelling "no way" so they can giggle. The few goras we talked to only seemed to care about the parties and the beach. I don't want to malign this famed part of India but it feels like the antithesis of this warm wonderful country.


We spent the early part of the week staying with two great guys in Goregaon (north of Mumbai), Pratsut and Bobson who we found on couchsurfing.com. We didn't do much because some unnamed traveller couldn't stop throwing up (hint: it wasn't Tessa). However, we got to watch Pulp Fiction in their home theater living room and Om Shanti Om, this year's Bollywood blockbuster, at a local theater. Shahrukh Khan, the biggest Bollywood star/advertising whore, stars in this movie set in the 70's. One dance number has over a dozen current Bollywood A-listers making guest appearances and seemed like it must have been a blast to shoot. In typical Bollywood fashion, one of the many spin offs from the movie includes a hot-selling line of 70's outfits. I love Bollywood movies. They are all sugar and song and nothing wrong very long.
When leaving Mumbai for Goa, we caught a late night train. A large number of cockroaches and a friendly filmmaker/professor enhanced our first ride in the lowest (sleeper) class of the Indian trains. I killed a few of the former and learned my first two words in Marathi, the language of Maharashtra, Bombay and Pune, from the latter. After a good night's sleep, I woke up around 9 and expected us to be at our stop within the hour. We had to get off before the end of the line so I paid attention to make sure we didn't miss our stop. By 1:30 I was pretty nervous. Not one stop we passed in the last few hours appeared on my maps and the train should have been at the end of the line over an hour ago. However, I remember my dad's words of wisdom (I can see him getting tickled by the praise from here, well, why not? sometimes it's just kinder to throw bones to an old dog): your mistake is almost always stopping before your destination instead of overshooting it. Note to Chris Ryan: This rule does not always hold true and you should probably also listen to your very pretty and very intelligent wife instead of ending up in western West Virginia on the way to Lancaster from DC. Anyway, after I resigned myself to spending the night in the middle of nowhere Indian jungle, we came to the stop right before ours in Goa. We must have slept through a long train delay that night. No worries because we still had lots of hours of daylight to get to the beach.
We decided to skip the taxi for 80 Rs (2 USD) and take the crowded and more fun bus to Mapusa, the main gate to many of the Goa beaches, for 7 Rs (18 cents). We were four rupees short but a nice English couple forked over the difference. They both lived in Oxford and decided to do a one year around the world tour before they settled down to make some babies. She worked as a speech pathologist for kids with cleft palate and he laid stone. You could see working man's strength in his arms and he told us how he had spent the last year in the office but couldn't go back. He needed to be outside laying stone again and planned to do that when he got back. I like hearing quick snapshots of good people's lives like this. My most abiding interest is people but I like to get to know them in depth more than anything. That's why I'm excited to settle down in Mumbai and start making friends.
Tessa and I wandered the Mapusa market and marveled at the sheer amount of produce in this little town. I should have stopped and gotten pictures of the marvelous colors of food and people swirling around. Unfortunately, hunger called and we got good food in a restaurant while we played some rummy. Then we took another bus to the beach town of Anjuna and got a hotel right by the beach for the rather expensive rate of 400 Rs (10USD) a night. We had dinner (everything costs more at the beach) and wandered around the tiny town. I found some local kids playing badminton and assured them I could "whup" them. I got off to a lousy start when a kid got me down 10-0 but I finally got the feel of the game again and came back to beat him by three points. No one else got close to me after that and I maintained my undefeated streak since the freshman year of high school. (hey, I don't brag about much but I'm death with a badmitton raquet). We passed out early and woke up ready for a day at the beach.
I bought a cheap pair of shorts for swimming but got quickly annoyed at the predatory trinket sellers everywhere. Everywhere else in the country, people generally talk to you out of friendliness. Here they only talk to get you into the stands or to get a closer look at Tessa (warning to all Indian teenagers: if you take a picture of my sister, I will throw your camera in the water. I am not scared of you because most of you are so skinny that it makes me feel hard as nails). Once we got away from the people, we had a great lazy day on the beach.
My favorite part of the beach is the same as my favorite part of hunting: reading books (although farting and gambling come a close second in both arenas). I could only find one bookstore so I had to pay outrageous prices for two books: Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club) and Dune by Frank Herbert (one of the classic sci-fi novels of the century). I won't do reviews now because I want to get out of hotel so I don't have to fight with the manager about paying for tonight but I will do a book review post sometime in the near future. Await with bated breath.
Rummy 500 update: 1-1
current round: 250-200 in favor of Tessa
additional rules: in an effort to wise her up, I cheat whenever possible. If she catches me, I only get half the points for the round. If she doesn't, I rub it in or save the trick for next time until she figures it out.

6 comments:

Nadia Chaudhury said...

haha, my sister is obsessed with bollywood movies and she loved the movie you saw.

and i enjoyed palahniuk's survivor. i wanna know what you thought of it.

Ned said...

This post made me laugh out loud a few times. Thanks for linking to my websites. I've warned my Internet Service Provider to get ready for a tidal wave of traffic.

Don't throw those Indian lad's cameras into the ocean, remember, you were a geeky, annoying young man yourself once...just wait...sorry. Love you.

Jared said...

Le

Goody said...

Lex! Congrats on making the over! Heading to tiger infested jungles anytime soon? Make sure Tessa has my email so I can collect from Kurt.

anna said...

just wait, what happens when you catch tessa cheating? or is she just that good?

Alaina said...

Can Tessa insert a blog on your site? I'd like to hear her opinion or side to these stories!