So.... I'm just back from India........Started off in Goa with Colin in Palolem where every hotel hustler, seeing our pasty ‘straight off the plane’ skin jumped on us. Stayed there for five days (stunning beach but a bit touristy) where we went to Silent Noise, one of those headphone parties (Goan Council cutting the sound for parties at 10.30 these days so only way around it). We didn’t get the headphones and propped the bar up for most of the night and met Hannah and Sarah who I ended up staying in Fort Cochin with.
We moved up north to Vagator and went to a Goan Trance rave at the Hilltop (famous apparently) where we met with Verity and Brett. Oddly enough, Brett travelled around Kerela with my partner around Christmas time. The world is very very small. Now my parents seem to think that the music I like all sounds the same but they could have played the same three tracks throughout and nobody would have known the difference. Its just monotonous base with the a few blips and a voice that talks about adrenaline or the physical effects of ecstasy (how very ‘92) every now and then. We got suitably mashed, got shouted at by the women who had little chai stalls as we weren’t buying their over priced brew and met some horribly annoying posh British people who seemed to talk inane shit at us, not to us.
For the rest of the trip, here are things I jotted during the journey;
Vagator; lovely beaches, hiking over rocks and up a hill through bushes to get to Anjuna; a hippy cliché full of white people with dreadlocks (a pet hate)…… Colin gets hit by the Goa Ear Wax Scam (or is it a scam?)…… Baga; tourist hell hole…… Arambol; nice. Sweet Water Lake; stunning…… Mud bath for a quid on the beach…… Colin and Verity doing glamour shots in the sea.…… Talking to the girls on the beach, one saying “Don’t forget to buy some of my expensive rubbish”.…… Susie Strong is possibly the most rude, loud and obnoxious person I’ve met.…… Cows are the cats of Goa.…… You are hassled everywhere for cabs but when you have food poisoning and desperate to get back to your hotel, it’s a bit tricky.…… Spending the night with both ends blazing isn’t fun.…… Colin leaves for Mumbai.…… Trying to sleep food poisoning off on a 20 hour journey on a lower bunk in second class with people sitting on me.…… Hannah and Sarah on bunks above me and spend next 5 days with them.…… I love Kathakali, it goes on a bit but a truly wonderful art form. They study for a minimum of 6 years before hitting the stage. Shame I can’t do it as it’s just for the boys.…… Indian Coffee House does great poached eggs.…… Having to battle a family of cockroaches with a can of fly spray. The fuckers take forever to die.…… Our host Mary has the potential to turn scary.…… Getting used to blackouts and different times of the day in different parts of the country.…… Ferry’s are very cheap.…… Feel very safe.…… You can have a good nights sleep in a room smaller than a toilet on a metal camp bed with birds in the room.…… Indian women and children are beautiful, the men less so with their funny moustaches and boot cut trousers.…… Massala tea is divine, as is Bharathanatyam.…… Local bus journeys are sound tracked by high energy party music.…… Kottayam is vile. The hotel receptionist keeps coming to my room, asking me questions about my ‘husband’ then someone tries to force my door around midnight.…… Amazing curried chicken and parrota for about 70p in skanky café.…… Being stalked in the hotel bar for an hour buy a creepy git then sharing a bed with bugs and fleas in Allapey.…… 8 hour boat trip down the Back Waters is stunning but can then gets a bit arduous.…… I can’t throw pens or bouncy balls to kids from a moving boat.…… I still burn despite Factor 30.…… Kollom dump so get on the next bus out of there and end up in Varkala.…… Would the person playing Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ on the beach, on a loop, on a recorder please choose another cliché.…… Sod Goa, Varkala much nicer.…… Can’t seem to shake dodgy tummy. Toilet paper is relatively expensive, I go through a lot.…… I can hear the Arabian Sea from my room in Varkala. I can see it if I pop my head out of the door.…… Big flying fish flew right past me!…… Americans are loud.…… I could murder a spliff. And the twat banging next door.…… Sitting under a palm tree, watching dolphins swim really close to the shore and reading Joan Collins’ ‘Past Imperfect’…heaven.…… Having a very painful tooth clean and polish.…… Watching a woman carry a baby in one arm, toddler in another and freshly washed clothes balanced on her head proves we don’t need all the crap we buy for kids in the west.…… Swimming in the fresh spring water tank.…… Despite my problems, feel very lucky and privileged.…… The price difference on buses depends on the ticket conductor.…… Indian boys dance like big gays.…… Meeting Melvin, David and Rianra at yoga to discover they live around the corner.…… I don’t like Trivandrum. One hotel wouldn’t let me stay for being a lone woman.…… Overheard by two middle aged British ladies; “You’d think they’d put have subtitles” during the Hindi bits while watching Slumdog Millionare in the biggest cinema I’ve seen. Probably forgot they were in India.…… When Indian men stay en masse in a hotel, they bitch like girls throughout the night.…… 32 degrees while it snows back in London.…… Mosquitoes love me despite lashings of repellent.…… Being a woman travelling on your own means some men will talk to you like shit.…… You can watch a film in Tamil and follow what’s going on.…… Gallery attendants are grumpy sods the world over.…… I seem to prefer the vibe of Hindu states than Christian ones.…… Constant curb crawling from rickshaw drivers who will try and double the fare even though they‘re already getting over double the regular fare.…… Kanniyakamari is amazing but a bit like the Blackpool of India with its abundance of cheap crap on sale.…… Stuff the power and corruption vibe of the Vatican, The Stanunathaswami Temple in Suchindram is the most incredible religious building I‘ve been to, even more so when the puja begins. Made me a bit emotional.…… Volunteering at S.I.S.P. Doing a creative drama workshop, first thing on a Monday morning with no prep and kids who hardly speak English ends up being a lot of fun. Some of the kids and their Mothers are beaten by their alcoholic Fathers. Makes me very angry that it is accepted and there is little to be done about it.…… Teaching Group F ‘The Rainbow Song’ and ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ takes a while to get right but they can’t stop once they know it.…… Taught some of the older boys the ‘Electric Slide’, but vogueing didn’t get off the ground.…… Mentally challenged kids can dance and play the sitar remarkably well. Government Minister arrives late to give a speech and spends most of it talking about the rough day he’s had, problems with his family and his busy schedule instead of the performing kids. Poor lamb.…… Sometimes it is worth paying travel agents the commission to book train tickets.…… Leaving the kids at S.I.S.P. was hard.…… 15 hour train journey to Mangalore a doddle on 10 mg of valium. Had to be kicked off the train.…… I love talking to Hindu pilgrims on holiday for the Shivarati Festival in Gokarna.…… Going for a “bucket” when you’re cold and tired wakes you up no end.…… It is very hard to find a good tailor who listens and follows measurements.…… Mosquitoes are miniature vampires.…… Gokarn is full of unwashed, dreadlock sporting, so-called traveller types wearing ‘Om’ t-shirts who push past Indian pilgrims as if they aren’t there.…… Monkeys jumping around on roof tops.…… Swapping a small radio for a drum with a guy on the beach.…… Waking sharply after a coconut landed on the roof of small cell like room.…… Some Indian families make their children shake my hand.…… Giving an elephant a rupee who tucks it under the end of its trunk, then blesses you by whacking its trunk on your head is a tourist novelty but I do it about 7 times.…… Ignorant hippies doing fire poi next to main stage during Shivarati get busted-heh.…… Sat on the beach and suddenly surrounded by 40 school girls curious by my being there.…… When the lock on the hotel door is knackered, it will take 5 men one hour, a lot of head scratching and a rusty saw to get it open.…… If I see one more hippy not say thank you or treat an Indian with distain again, I swear I’ll slap them. We’re guests in their country for Vishnu’s sake.…… A beggar asks for money for food but refuses the bananas I buy him.…… Trek to Kootle Beach, tough. Trek onto Om beach, more so.…… Sleeping in a bamboo hut by the sea is nice but noisy.…… A rooster strutting around indicates you will wake to a lot of cock-a-doo-da-doodling at the first sign of light.…… I have sat on a tropical beach, eaten a purpose bought Bounty and truly tasted paradise.…… I tried not showering for 2 days but couldn’t bear it, don’t know how hippies do it.…… Picked up someone else’s flip-flops by mistake, now stuck with smaller flip-flops……. Explaining to a 17 year old boy how periods work and that people do indeed have same sex partners is enlightening.…… Glad I came to Agonda for my last few days.…… Frustrating to see western girls walking around the streets in bikinis and topless on the beach. Spoke to both Indian women and men who find this very offensive. Again, we’re guests in someone else’s country for Shiva’s sake, put em away.…… Masseur refused to massage me as he said I has a skin disease when in fact its mosquito bites you could play dot to dot with.…… Playing Uno with two Indian girls who tell me that if I need colonic irrigation, to contact their Father. The younger of the two thinks I’m a boy.…… Being repeatedly lectured by Mathew (the night watchman who patrols his watch with a big torch and even bigger stick) that I shouldn’t drink milk, only eats beans and pulses; on the way to the bathroom, outside the bathroom, on the way back to my shack, outside the shack, when I closed the door…. He claims to be an expert in homosexual activity, gave me a steel plate, massage oil, a card with Congratulations written on the front addressed to Miss Holestar and told me to get married and study the bible daily.…… Very scary cab ride to airport at 3 in the morning on back roads that look like crime scenes with awful Akon album on full blast.…… Seeing package tour Brits at airport make me realise the trip is really over.
So that’s my 6 weeks in India. I’ll definitely be returning and spend more time there. There‘s so much more of the country to see. Probably won’t return to Goa though. Its ok but preferred Varkala and Gonkarn.
I met some ace people but many of the traveller types I found quite boring with nothing to talk about but travelling, played their instruments badly at all hours and strutted around like they own the place. I met a few who wouldn’t eat at restaurants unless other Westerners did which seems a little ignorant. I got food poisoning from a western restaurant so go figure.
The poor school at Kovalam (horrible package tourist place) was an eye opener and wish more travellers would take even a tiny amount of time out of their trip to do a little volunteer work. Giving money is all good and well but giving people your time is invaluable.
I remember when I was younger saying to a friend that the only way I would consider travelling India would be 1st class in fancy hotels. What a precocious little twerp I was. I may be a show girl but was happy to leave the glamour behind and travelled on less than a shoe string, slept in dirty tiny rooms (the single duvet cover I took was a god send), ate in rusty old shacks by the road and met some incredible people. I loved it and wouldn’t travel India any other way.
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