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Published: April 12th 2008
This chilled out town hangs along the cliff edge
We have arrived at the cliff side hippy/backpacker hideaway known as Varkala. All of the shops, bars and accommodation line the edge of the cliffs surrounding a secluded beach. There is more Bob Marley bars than you can poke a stick at and every step you take along the cliff edge is followed by the words "hashish, hashish" fading into the distance. Most of the locals wonder around stoned, mixed in with a very chilled out vibe and dreadlock type travelers swinging in hammocks hanging from coconut trees. If it wasn’t for the events of last night I would say this is probably the best beach resort we have seen in India, but to be honest the beaches in India are not all that and we didn’t come to India to find beach resorts.
Last night we went for a few beers at the Funky Art Cafe with some new found traveler friends. They had been advertising a Bollywood dance evening which attracted lots of backpacker/hippy tourists. Its low season in Varkala so Funky Art Cafe was the only bar packed with people. The Bollywood dance was very odd. They dressed young boys up as young as 8 in women’s
The Funky Art Cafe
Where it all kicked off last night. The sign says "The Most Happening Place" I guess thats true!
cloths and makeup! It was very strange and almost uncomfortable to watch. If this was happening in England, it would have been closed down. Putting cultural differences aside we put a fake smile on and sat though it together with 50 other travelers holding very confused expressions on their faces. We were half expecting Garry Glitter to turn up!
As the dance ended everyone chilled out and returned to the beers or hashish listening to relaxed music when all hell broke loose. While chatting to some friends I could see out in the street a group of very large, aggravated Hindi lads holding thick/heavy looking bamboo sticks and baseball bats. They marched past me and through the bar over to the staff and manager. They proceeded to beat the hell out of the bar staff. It was extremely violent with a distinct sound of someone’s skull cracking! The children were right in the thick of it. At first everyone looked on in shock, but then the Hindi lads began using the bats to smash up the bar, tables, chairs, lights, speakers and DJ Equipment. Everyone got up and ran for the exits. It was like a scene out of
some insane gangster movie. We also made a sharp exit. I don’t think many people paid their bills - we all got out very quickly.
While everyone quickly walked down the street to get away from the bar, groups of Hindi lads started forming on the street corners. It was obvious this was gang related and everyone was beginning to take sides. Almost all travelers returned to their guest houses and locked their doors!
When we returned to our guest house we told some other travelers who were about to head into town what we had just witnessed. Some Hindi lads over heard and came over to asked us what happened. They too then proceeded to telephone there mates, rallied up the troops and disappeared towards the town. It was unbelievable!
It was a very scary situation. I should imagine a few people are in hospital now, or worse. I am yet to see a police officer in Varkala. I should imagine the trouble continued into the night.
This morning we took an uneasy walk down to the Funky Art Cafe to check out the damage. It was all repaired and looked as if nothing had happened? We talked to other travelers who informed us that tonight the victim’s families are going to be out for revenge and not to wonder along the sea front. Like many other travelers we have decided to leave Varkala today. After all this is India, you just don’t know what’s going to happen next!
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