We have arrived safe in India. We live in the little Catholic grotto called Girkar Waddo of the small fishing village of Arambol, Goa. Every year at dry season this little village is overrun by foreign travelers, who rent out houses and scooters and buy chai and clothes and everything touristy on the main street. We are some of those people this year.
The beach is about ½ mile from our house and the water is warm with plenty of starfish and boogie boarding. There are huts and restaurant huts on the beach, with fabulous Indian food. Sanjay is the owner of the place we like to go. He let one of the loose beach dogs have puppies in his restaurant, so the kids love to go there and play with them as much as possible. The good times are plentiful.
The trash is also plentiful, since there is no trash pick up here. Everything burnable is burned every day, and even things that shouldn’t be burned. Plastic is everywhere. Trash is everywhere. The smell of toxic smoke permeates the air, but thankfully usually happens only in the evening. Pigs and cows and dogs and rats roam around freely, eating whatever is their hearts delight.
Every year during the rainy season (monsoon), mold takes over Arambol and everything decays. Houses have to be painted every year or they are covered in black smut. All the cushions and clothes and fabrics are mildewed. It rained for a few days when we first got here, but is now clear. Many of the locals speak some English, and all they talk to us about is how much rain the monsoon brought this year, how crazy it is. Blue tarps and parts of tarps are hanging all over the place, hopefully to be taken down when the rain stops for good.
Right now Saraya is at the back of the house with Nikita and Cressida, two Indian girls with whom she has made friends. They were playing hide-and-seek, but now I think they are painting her nails. The Indian girls and women here are so beautiful. One of the fisherwomen has hazel/green eyes, which is shocking with her leathery dark brown skin. I really want to get a picture of her.
Yesterday, Jacob gave me my first scooter riding lesson. The Indian guys all laughed at me. I think I would have laughed at me too. We’ll see how I progress with that one.
Also yesterday, Rachel and I went to Mapusa (pronounced mopsa), which is a bigger city about a half an hour away. We went to the market. It was kind of like Denio’s meets Mad Max. I don’t know what to say about it, it was just crazy. Rachel says its nothing compared to Varanasi or Delhi. I can’t even comprehend how crazy those places must be. The day before, Jacob, Chinua and Shlomy all took scooters to Mapusa. The police tried to stop them, and even grabbed Shlomy, but thankfully he got away. I guess it’s common here for the police to be thieves. They stop you if you are a foreigner and make you pay them to let go. So if they try to pull you over, you just wave, floor it, and keep going. This is India.
The food is amazing. I mean amazing. And Josiah can eat most things here, even though he is allergic to wheat, corn, soy, and nuts. Rachel knows how to cook many incredible things and Shlomy too, so I am hoping to come back with the plethora of good recipes. Our friends here run a Christian meditation center on their roof, and after meditation time every day we have a big meal with everyone. Not too many travelers are here yet, and the meetings haven’t started, but I know things are ramping up.
Cate says I should start a business dreading people’s hair and make a ton of money. The Russians would go crazy for it. Maybe I will. I tried to locate some henna at the market yesterday, and found some, but it was questionable. I will have to keep looking. Living in India without henna would be quite a sad situation.
The other night at Sanjay’s we met some travelers from Iran. They were so hospitable and fun. One of the guys was a rap singer who rapped in Farsi. He told us he spent three years in prison in Iran for his music. It is illegal there even to listen to any non-Muslim music, so he went to jail because he sings rap. They are waiting for a revolution in Iran. The girl who was with them wore a ton of makeup and a gold-sequined mini-skirt. Someone said that ‘this is what the girls in Iran are really like underneath their burkas.’ I believe it.