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Published: March 13th 2020
In bed the night before, I searched to find a comfortable and safe position for my damaged hand. It was not easy because I had to leave it sort of dangling and I wasn’t able to change my position as often as I would have liked. I awoke ready to administer a damage report and plot my next move.
What was this?! A miracle had occurred! My hand, which I could barely move the night before, was improbably and drastically healed. It was still tender to the touch, but the swelling had gone way down. Even more miraculous, I could presently move it around at almost near full range of motion. I marveled at the ease that I could touch my pinky to my thumb. And what was even crazier was the fact that, since I was alone in a random hotel in the state of Goa, I had not even been able to put any ice on it whatsoever. Besides taking a few Advil I left it to the power of prayer.
A thrill went through me, body and soul, when I realized that my prayers had been answered. I love how these “God instances” sneak up on
you when you least expect it. Sometimes they are so powerful that all the hairs on the back of your neck rise in unison. Just when you think all hope is lost, you are reached out to and touched by the divine. A broken hand is healed and the gathering dark clouds are vanquished.
It wasn’t all peaches and roses however. With my hand now not inflicting me with blinding pain, I became aware that my left shoulder was not feeling very well either. Also, the gash on my elbow/forearm was still deep and somewhat oozing. This being India after all, I did not want to take the chance of it getting infected. So I made the sad, but wise, decision that I would not be able to swim in the ocean for the rest of my stay. I could not be sure just what kind of bacteria and pollution was floating around in those waters. It was probably a miniscule risk, but still I did not want to chance it.
With my hand miraculously healed though, I was no longer going to cower in my room. I was going to enjoy my last two days in Goa
and that’s all there was to it. I could at least go to the beach and strut around listening to Bollywood tunes in my earbuds. I also could sit down and maybe collect some selfies. While I walked, I was only occasionally stopped, but once I sat down it was on. In no time I had once again become the subject of many Indian vacationers’ trip photos. In fact, one time a guy sat down next to me and then used my sore shoulder to lever himself off the ground. It was at this moment when I truly realized the extent of my injured shoulder.
The sheer number of Indian tourists here in Baga was amazing. Maybe they were here for Goan carnival? I decided it was time to move along to grab lunch and chill out again at the Starlight Shack. I am not much of a cook, but I know well how to combine things to make delicious meals. It was in this vain that I conjured up a wonderful combination. I ordered an Indian dal fry and the fish and chips. Then I mixed them both together in one fabulous fusion dish. East meets West. So
good! I washed it down with a refreshing cola and of course multiple Belly Bomb shooters.
For dinner I went back to St. Anthony’s to fulfill my promise to return and try the Pork Chili Fry. When I arrived I was seated by a nice waiter. Just as I was about to sit down, the waiter from my previous meal came running up as fast as he could. “Remember me? I am Dev!” This set off an animated discussion between him and the other waiter in Hindi. Dev fought hard however and won the right to serve me. So once again I got a pitcher of Kingfisher beer, but this time with the Pork Chili Fry. Dev was right. This dish was beyond phenomenal, although hyper spicy. Luckily, I had a whole pitcher of beer to cut the spice with.
All throughout dinner I could hear a karaoke night starting next door. I struggled to restrain myself. “Settle down, Karaoke King” I told myself. I knew I was feeling better, but my injuries still demanded caution. I did however want to satisfy my curiosity about a different nearby nightlife spot that I had my eye on since I
had seen it earlier. I walked over and sure enough there were a group of super attractive Indian girls out front. All night I had not seen a single westerner. I decided to walk in and take a look around. The venue was great with tables, bar, and a wide open dance floor. However, it was still kind of dead inside. I figured it was still too early, and there was no way I was going to hang around for another few hours waiting for things to get going. So I walked home, picking up two choco pies along the way and called it a night.
* * *
Noon the next day and I was resisting getting out of bed. “Oh, poor you. You have to go drink tropical shooters and eat scrumptious seafood in a beach shack. Yeah, you’re really hard done by” I scolded myself. That snapped me out of my lazy sulk pretty quick. In no time I was back at my beach shack restaurant. It was little more crowded today and I was sat next to these Russian youths who had brought portable speakers with them. They were blasting Russian rap out of
them. It was atmospheric I guess, if you wanted to feel like you holidaying on a Russian beach.
I again noticed that the westerners who came to Baga mostly preferred to cluster around the day beds in front of the beach shacks. I recognized some customers from previous days who had also returned here. It seems we are all creatures of habit. We also have a tendency to self-segregate. One beach shack would have a mostly western clientele, while one next door would have an all Indian clientele. In front of me I could see a couple of large Russian tourists lolling about, all muscly and buxomy.
I went back to the hotel for some rest. I had one more thing left on my Goa travel checklist. I wanted to see a sunset from the main beach in Calangute. Let’s mingle with the crowd and see the sun set into the Indian ocean one last time. I could have stayed at the hotel and witnessed local life as well. It was 5pm and a large group of Indian revelers had taken over the hotel. They were all behaving as if they had never seen a pool or even
been on holiday before, maybe they hadn’t. Some of them were swimming in their underwear. And there was so much yelling. The hotel stereo system was loud enough and had enough bass to be an actual club. And these guys weren’t college aged either. Maybe in their 30s, some maybe even 40s. I decided to leave them be and went out in search of sunsetted bliss.
I was amazed. Simply amazed at the amount of people on the beach awaiting sunset. I had seen the beach in the morning, midday, and at night, but it had never been like this. It was such a happy crowd filled with positive energy. Of course, like everything else this week, the crowd was almost entirely Indian holidaymakers. There were so many people frolicking and splashing about in the water. And they were all taking selfies with their friends. These would be the quintessential holiday snaps that would wind up in their Instagram feed for them to cherish forever.
I was heading for Calangute, the epicenter of it all. I had to use my extra-long legs and walk briskly. The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky and I desperately
wanted to arrive there for the final flourish. I zoomed past families, people on jet skis, and even a cluster of sun worshiping cows. No one was stopping this long striding yank for a selfie.
I reached Calangute with about five minutes to spare before actual sunset. Might as well sit down and chill. As soon as I did however, a local guy sat down too. He was practically on top of me. He started talking to me excitedly in Hindi. I responded “Hindi ne” with a shrug of my shoulders. I smiled and gestured to him that I was here to watch the sunset. He smiled and then just contently sat next to me in silence. I didn’t want to look like I was shunning him so remained with him for a few more minutes. Eventually, I got up and motioned to him that I was going to the shoreline to take some photos. He looked disappointed, but he broke into the biggest of grins when I reached down to shake his hand.
Calangute at sunset was a scene, man. The whole place pulsated with Bollywood tunes from a nearby beach bar. There were so many people
running into and jumping about in the ocean. It was such a festive delighted party atmosphere. With the beautiful colors enhancing all this activity, it felt like a stolen slice of communal paradise.
The sun began setting and disappearing into a cloudbank on the line of horizon. At this point even more people ran into the sea. However, from down the beach came driving a jeep full of lifeguards and a loud megaphone. They spoke in Hindi, but I could tell that they were ordering all the revelers out of the surf. It took some convincing, but eventually they all complied. However, as soon as the jeep drove down the beach to spoil some other people’s fun, everyone ran back in. That’s right, stick it to the man, youth of Goa!
I took one last mental picture of the magical evening before leaving the beach for good. Night had fallen by the time I had finished eating dinner in town. I walked home along the main road. It was my final non-airport night in India. As I walked, my mind thought back on everything that had occurred on this trip. I felt like I had accomplished what I
set out to do, which was to truly give a better account of myself and not shrink back from the India experience. I did not let a dread illness or treacherous fall stop me. I had kept going no matter what.
India was not a dangerous place per se. I felt safe and secure at all times. It was simply that being in India was constantly bewildering and exhilarating. And always I was surrounded by the Indian people, who never ceased being endearingly curious and friendly. I would have liked a bit more partying, but I certainly did not shy away from any opportunities to do so. I went back and looked into every nook and cranny. I had no regrets.
* * *
The morning of my departure I walked down a leafy little lane to eat breakfast overlooking the inlet I had walked across every day on the way to the beach. I ordered a marvelous breakfast of coffee, banana lassi, French toast, fried egg and Goan chorizo. A sweet stray dog wandered over to join me and I rewarded her with a few treats. It was a perfect feast in the most tranquil of
spots. It suddenly dawned on me how much I would miss what I could finally see as an absolute paradise. It was hard for me to see it before then, but I could see it now. Namaste India.
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