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Published: January 28th 2008
After negotiating the chaos at heathrow, mumbai and goa airports I arrived in a taxi and the driver told me NOT to put my seat belt on as it was not necessary - I knew from that moment I would like it here :-)
After passing lots of Portuguese style houses and avoiding cows on the road I arrived in south goa (as north goa is too built up and too party stylee) and went to a village called Bendaulim and found a shack on the beach amongst the tropical gardens for £2 a night. I had the most amazing biryani (80p) dish. After watching some top fire dancing and fireworks I took in some much needed sleep and then spent the day at the beach reading :-)
After two days of hanging out with a guy from London and acclimatising (and eating the best biryani the world can offer) I headed an hour south to palolem. This is a jewel in India as far as beaches are concerned. The scenery throughout goa is ace and full of rice paddies, tiger prawn, peanut and banana plantations. The Indians are so friendly and respectful and call everyone sir and everywhere
is so safe it is untrue.
I met a Serbian and Slovenian and they have been in India for months and gave me the low down on getting about etc, they had some funny stories about guru's who wanted to fondle them, Indian men with the sexual maturity of 13 year olds and other stories. We went to visit a local yoga place to enquire and a 110-year-old yoga master (well he looked it) in an orange nappy told us about yoga and how it relates to our kundalini, it was very funny and I definitely felt like I was in India. We later saw the sunset in the amazing palolem beach (cows where also sunbathing on the beach heheh).
My new friends had to goto Gokana (in the next state south) to pick up some bags so I went along as I was invited, plus I wanted to get out of goa and see the real India. Goa is catholic and Portuguese in essence, so is not really very Indian, plus much of it is for people on long holidays. A good start but time to move on.
After a long train ride that involved being
stared at by Indians we arrived in the next state south and after a rickshaw (tut tut) we got to gokarna. This is a Hindu holy town where pilgrims from all over the country flock to daily. It has a really good atmosphere with symbols drawn everywhere and cows walking the street being treated like gods. There where some temples in the small cute town and some very large offerings on wheels - bit like a Trojan horse. The whole town has ancient Hindu roots and one of the temples was busy and when I humbly tip toed-in my head banged one of the bells - oops.
As it was full moon there was an all night local music festival at a temple on the hill by OHM beach (ohm' is an Indian mantra). The music was really good with different artists on every 30 minutes. The ambience was very chilled and perfect. We decided off the cuff to take a bus to hampi in the morning...hmmm my loose Indian plan was to travel the north but I am heading more and more south but all feels good so go with the flow.
After 3 hours sleep we got
the 6am local bus to hampi, this took 9 hours and was hell of an experience. Everyone wanted to speak to us and meet us; we stopped in villages and towns and stopped on "the main highway" for buffalo to pass many times.
Hampi is a world heritage site in the middle of nowhere in the state of Karnataka. It is 58 ancient temples near a river in the middle of 10sq KM of massive boulders in strange formations - like a massive Stonehenge, it is awesome. The town is a crazy bizarre full of cows, elephants, dead people being carried, ppl dancing and much much more. Hundreds of people sleep every night next to the 12-step pyramid style massive temple (hmm maya similarities) and others are washing and cleaning clothes in the local river.
We hired a battered up moped for 80p - gave no name or address and headed around hampi's outskirts, we climbed the 600 step monkey temple to take in the views and check out the monkeys, then hacked off through the lush green tropics exploring. We came across a village of mud huts and they all came out trying to communicate with us. The
mopeds brakes and power where both allot to be desired and some schoolboys caught up with us on their bikes! - They invited us to their school. We went in and everyone crowded round us, we where taken to the headmaster and discussed the differences in European and Indian schools. The thing here is all the children feel privileged to have a school to go to and they do not need discipline. I did not bring up the truancy, stabbings and drugs at English schools due to embarrassment.
The teachers here also have a say in the syllabus.
After a couple more days in hampi and a dodgy korma we got the cheap local train back to palolem (my backpack was still there as I thought I was only leaving for one night). The general class on the train (8 hours for £1) is unreal. Steel seats, ppl lying on each other and the luggage racks are more comfortable than the seats. Crazy ppl singing for money and selling crazy stuff. The scenery from the train was amazing again but next time I will definitely go second or sleeper class or discintry may kick in.hell of an experience tho.
I am now back in palolem (south goa) for a few days to recharge, do some yoga and then I am heading to the state due north away from my eastern European friends and holidaying types. Tonight there is a silent party a few miles up the beach with everyone wearing wifi earphones and dancing heheh, I am giving it a miss, as I am knackered.
palolem is so beautiful with pigs, cows and an array of birdlife, a really chilled vibe and some good people.
The Hindu’s are all very happy and live within a lot of good, but one comment made me chuckle "I pray to god every day to make me rich" one women said.... I think she may be missing the point. Hinduism is something one is born into and children are brought up with stickers of the hundreds of deities (manifestations of "oneness"). But the Hindu’s seem much in touch with nature.
After talking to many Indians, doing research I have a pretty good idea on my loose route north :-)
There is the caste system (like class system but by blood) in India too but I don't know enough
about this yet.
I will also try to work out what the Indian wobbly head means, sometimes yes, sometimes no and sometimes maybe, this needs much contemplation.
Over and out.
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