Chilling in Goa

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End Feb 24, 2013

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Flag of India  , Goa,
Friday, December 14, 2012

Completely chilled out in Goa now and enjoying the superb food, wonderful beaches and sunshine. Sitting on the beach this morning we were treated to the sight of dolphins jumping in the sea around us – what bliss.   We've returned to a lovely quiet spot in the south of Candolim Beach and found a beach shack that offers freshly caught fish eat day, today it was mackerel.   Our hotel, Summerville, is basic but has a great pool , is in a quiet area and the staff are lovely.  

We’ve caught up on sleep, in fact we’re moving in to comatose mode.   Terry is concerned that I am only reporting his illnesses so confession that I had a 24 bug in Hyderabad and had a swollen eye due to a bite on my eyelid – attractive!

There are a huge number of adverts on Indian TV for skin whitening cream for Indian ladies.  Pale skin is seen as very attractive and a sign of being upper class.   How ridiculous this seems when tourists flock here to sit on the beaches and darken their skin.

Goa is great, but very touristy compared with other parts of India with many bars, restaurants and shops.  The food at even the most simple restaurants is really good.  The mix of visitors has changed since we were here 18 months ago.   60% of visitors are now Russian who seem more interested in the nightlife and drinking than eating in the restaurants and sightseeing.  The locals are not happy as this is affecting their business.

We met up with a friend in Goa for dinner last night. She is one of many Brits who come out here for 2 – 6 months to run away from the English winter.  It is very easy to live here on a small budget. I have been struggling to find a way to describe what it is I love about India but she gave me the word – raw.  I love the fact it is so unsophisticated, but they will call the scabbiest looking roadside shack "International Trader" or “Emporium”. 

In a country with no welfare state everyone is so hardworking and resourceful.   In our hotel Bappi is one of the many seasonal workers.  For the last 9 years he comes from Calcutta in September and works in the hotel restaurant until April the following year.   He most likely lives on tips only which on a good day will be around 100 rupees (1.20).   He is on duty from 0700 to 2300, most of that time sitting around hoping that someone will come and order something.  The restaurant has a huge menu but you never see anyone eating here, aside from serving breakfast (two pieces of toast with jam and tea) they serve only the occasional beer.  Bappi and other seasonal workers from the hotel live in a roughly constructed metal shack on the top of the hotel.  He has a wife and child in Calcutta and says that life is hard being away from his family for so long.   This is not a luxury hotel (far from it!), but the lifestyles of the people who stay here are so far removed from Bappi’s life.  There are fewer English visitors here this year and he misses them as they are the friendliest and, I suspect, the best tippers.

Today we tried out Mandrem Beach, absolute paradise and very quiet.   Control on building here means the only accommodation are beach huts which are temporary structures but positioned right on the beach.   Very tempting as a possibility for our final weeks in India.

At the weekend we are heading down to Kerala for a week and will be experiencing our first overnight train journey – excited but slightly nervous.

What’s In the News:   A few days after the parliament voted to allow foreign investment in retail allowing the likes of Tesco and Wal-Mart to open here, it is being questioned why Wal-Mart’s accounts in the US show a $25million outlay as “lobbying in India”.   That is fine except lobbying is illegal here! 

India has been named the defecation capital of the world and the World Health Organisation estimated that 626 million people here do not use toilets.   That is half the population.  We see plenty of evidence of this, not just in the countryside but many children on the sides of the road.  Of course this is a huge health hazard but in the slums without toilets people have to pay to use public toilets.   Indian may be a growing economy but it really has a long way to go to extend even basic life improvements to all areas of the population. 

What makes us laugh :    The use of the English language here is comical.  In the newspapers police are always “cops”, robbers are always “nabbed” and if someone is murdered they are “done in”.   We heard a great new verb on our flight here, the plane made a stop in Bangalore and passengers booked to get off here were asked to “De-plane”.   
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Ken on

Cracking read.... Keep them coming

Jacquie on

Hi Jo - read your blog from start to finish and just as I'm really getting the flavour I find no more entries - have you fallen asleep on that lovely beach? Looking forward to the next installment - trust you are now both well and recovered and Terry's boils clearing up ! xxx

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