Published: May 20th 2008January 19th 2008
The metal bird touched down on Indian soil once again. I stared out of the window at the shacks by the end of the runway and felt an immense sense of homecoming. I had seen that view perhaps 40 times in my life. Heidi and Paul sat beside all sensing the adventure of being back in India. For them it was to arrange and enjoy their wedding, for me it was a wedding and a long vacation away from the astounding cold and dullness of Europe in January. Some other friends of mine had landed the day before in Mumbai and we were to meet up at Mondy's.
The taxi dropped us off at Chaitanya Towers, home of the lovely Braganza's. It was so great to see Veeru and Ekta again. Bags stowed, beers opened we just sat and enjoyed a night of chatting and listening to music with Tushar smiling between naps.
Two days flew by in Mumbai. Heading to Colaba to meet Einar, Sverre and Jørgen. Managing to unite after missing them 2 times and having to email them to tell them where I was. Finally spent some good time together in Mumbai, heading to Banganga Tank
and sitting in quiet meditation at the wonderful calm offered in the middle of an insane city... watching the children playing... men carrying geese... people flying kites... rituals performed on the ghats.. old men smoking bidi's... the righteous performing ablutions in the murky water.. a game of cricket in the neighboring street spilling cries and delight throughout the courtyard... Heading to Santoor to eat an incredible feast... then to Ghetto (our Mumbai local) for some drinks and pool.... then home to the 16th floor to play Wii and fall asleep under the hypnotic dance of the fan....
Heidi and Paul left the same day me and the boys did. They flew down to Kerala to sort out their wedding preparations, we took the Spice Jet flight down to Goa for some serious rest. I met the boys at the airport after listening to Erik Satie all the way through the drones of Mumbai traffic. We checked in, boarded on time, and within an hour the plane was descending over the lush palm forests and silky coastline of Goa..
We jumped in a pre-paid taxi and headed to Vagator.. to Chinatown... to eat some Thukpa and Momo's.. to see
Bishal and Santosh and Raj again... Stayed at Bethany Inn and suddenly it was as though the year in between visits had not even existed.. everything was right. Three days in............
I am surrounded by trees adorned with trinkets...bells and necklaces shifting position ever so slightly in the breeze..the heavy toil of incense curling from under pictures of deities and coconut halves, the rub of sari's and lungi's passing by. The air is thick, a moist drapery hung like an acrylic of some hidden mans paradise. The sand is cool at night. Inching forwards and backwards as the seas come and go. Hordes of India wanabees flock the bars and restaurants at night dressed in clothes that look alien on them. Swapping suits and watches for patterned skirts and the token dreadlocks they all seem to suddenly acquire. Attempting to escape whatever nightmares they dreamt at home, and slip on the skin of a new person, new personality, new persona... spiraling downwards in a hangover of drugs and excess... If the path of truth was in excess we would all have died in our twenties. The old hippies sit quietly in the background, smoking their chillums, sipping their drinks,
dressed in normal clothes and talking of their childhoods and imparting tales to anyone who will listen. They sit there, content as such. Laughing at the hippie-sters, groaning while overhearing a woman speaking of the wonderful healing she experienced at some guru up in the mountains obscured from view.... ordering more drinks and not checking the watch at all. I sit there wrapped in nostalgia. Many of my friends are still here. Many have left. Many have died. The place feels almost the same though it looks very different. It is people that make a place, ultimately. I still like it. I like sitting at Santosh Bar and listening to tales... i drift off in my own thoughts when they start repeating themselves... I like sipping drinks and watching the cows walk past and the Nine Bar Crowd coming down the hill as high as kites... I like eating at Chinatown and talking to the waiters... I like driving down to Vagator beach for a midnight swim. In all this chaos and conformity there are a few souls worth sharing your time with. There are a few worth sharing a lifetime with.
Waves curled and spread their white foam
onto the glistening sand. We sat, perched atop a restaurant roof, watching the final minutes of sunlight... The mighty fire sinking behind a wall of water... following his silver path. Einar, Jorgen, Sverre, Simon & Martine all gathered around a table, sitting on cushions, drinking coctails, playing cards, listening to Cluster, smoking cigarettes, resting and reflecting. Just before we made it to the beach we were all sat on similar seats at the German Bakery playing Texas Hold Em all afternoon, battling it out for a 100 rupee note (which I won) and eating and sipping beers. The days in Goa have been lazy ones... but thats what I needed. To not have any pressing appointments.. but to just plan your day according to your strength or mood. Its been a wonderful first week. The wedding will be soon, the mountains a little later... the jungle.. a lot of good things to look forward to, but I am only looking as far forward as lunch or dinner here.. because I am enjoying not needing to bother.
Ragged bodies washed up last night at the German Bakery... with hungry stomachs and weary heads... a day spent playing pool on the
beach and sipping cocktails was enough to almost justify bed at 7pm. Instead we sat under an amber lamp on mats on the floor, by a low lying table, ordered food and played some poker. After Calamari with Garlic Butter Sauce, Chilli Prawns, and various beers were emptied we headed for the familiarity of Primrose to play some pool while listening to Can and Popol Vuh. Instead of heading home at 1am Einar and I decided it better to waltz down to Shapora for one final beverage at Santosh and a couple of omelette sandwiches made so expertly by the fine young men at the side of the road. We chatted for a good hour while watching the lunatics embroiled in their bliss, then headed home up the snaking road for a final chat and bed. I now sit at Bethany Inn's internet cafe, listening to Blixa Bargeld, writing this. The only plans for tonight are to head to the beach, watch sunset, drive some Go-carts and probably head down to Shapora for a bit of a rave-up since its Simon & Martine and Sverre & Jorgens last night. Einar and I will stay on in this "inemuri" like state
and wait on Heidi & Paul and the legendary John Hung from Taiwan... all coming this week!!!! I think I will go lie down, charge my Ipod, then head down to the beach for a swim and sunset! Cheers! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Perched beneath tangled branches and the weakest of lamps we sat and played cards. Rich folds of marble-like ripples ran through the inky sky. A distant incense stick danced wildly. Music flowed and retreated as the wind turned through. Einar was on the receiving end of a 3 hour massage as the rest of us cuddled around tables and drank beers. We had just been at the Go-Cart track and arrived at the German Bakery sore and elated. After his pleasant ordeal was over we all headed to My Place for a goodbye meal to Simon & Martine and Jorgen & Sverre. We opened a fantastic bottle of wine and sat eating wonderful food for a few hours....entertained by the owner Amore. With stomachs exceptionally full almost everyone went home, but J&S and I headed down to Shapora for a final couple and talks to Simon and Santosh. Then it was back on the scooters, up the hill, into bed,
woken up by the departing Danes, fell asleep again, then up once more to say goodbye to the Norwegians... then down to Chinatown to mull over some food.. and soon down to the Market to see if anything takes my fancy! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Yesterday afternoon Sverre and Jorgen left in Raj's taxi. Off to Mumbai by plane. Then Norway. Einar and I left alone. Then everything changed in a moment, and plagued by back problems Einar decided to jump in a cab and drive through the night to Bombay to try get on the same plane as the boys.... ah well... and then there was 1. Funnily enough I decided to head down to Shapora and was sitting having a couple quiet ones with Simon when all of a sudden Alex came walking down the road. Alex who I hadn't seen for 6 years. Hilarious being that we used to drink at the very bar we met in again. So I went off to meet Blake and the baby Ocean. We sat and chatted all night and at 1.20am I rushed off to meet Verner at the Sports Bar for some football. What a great surprise. Heidi and Paul arrive tomorrow.
Can't wait. John flies in from Taiwan the day after! Excellent!! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
It was fantastic to see Heidi and Paul again in Goa... the wedding preparations had gone better than expected and almost everything had been set up in the 10 days they were down there. Now it was time for some serious R n R before the venture south again. The next day I hired Raj and sped through coconut plantations and villages to the airport to pick up John who had flown in from Taipei. It was fantastic to see him again, and always a treat to be able to show off India to a first time visitor. The days passed in unison. Swimming. Eating at Chinatown. Flea Market. Drinks at Santosh. Sports Bar for football. Saturday Night Market. Alcove for sunsets. Boom Shankar for the odd afternoon beer. Spaghetti beach for strawberry drinks and sunbeds. Long afternoons lying in bed reading books. And as usual the pull to leave arrived. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
We caught the 3 hour delayed train from Thivim to Ernakulam after bidding farewells once again to our Goa counterparts. The train journey was sweet and almost all of us got a good nights rest. 3
days in Fort Cochin sped by, seeing the Chinese Fishing Nets, walking around Jew Town, meeting up with Joseph and hanging out at the Yacht Club eating French Fries and sipping beers...watching football late night..before heading south again on the train.. this time back to Varkalla. We had a short stint in Varkalla... John and I, ate a meal, watched a sunset, then headed down to Kovalam by cab.... caught in a monsoon moment... Suddenly on the streets we found ourselves in a procession/festival... and sat in a cab watching elephants walk by ornately painted and the bizarre priests with huge swords and arrows pierced through their tongues and cheeks... all in a days work in India. Arrived late at Lighthouse Beach, checked in.. met Heidi, Paul and Timmy P and settled in for a night of bevs and watching Arsenal at 1.30am! Dedication!
Ten days flew by in Kovalam. Meeting lots of new people... preparing for the wedding.... going to the airport to meet Neil at 4am... going back to meet Ann later on.... eating meals and Leo's and reading books on the balcony... having drinks at night and playing cards with all the Kiwi's... escaping all the
Kiwi's by heading into the jungle to eat at Lonely Planet.... meeting Ajesh again after 7 years... walking along the beach at night... organizing Paul's bachelor party... welcoming Ola, Blake and Ocean to the fold... and then the day of the wedding arrived.
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