I’ve had 11 months of taking in lots of oddities and yet I still think here is absolutely off the scale of bonkers.

I get spiritualism (well ok, I don’t.) I get ‘finding yourself.’ But to experience it here like so many people do? Really?

There is something about dysfunctional India more so than anywhere else I’ve been that acts like a magnetic force for the lost and the loony. It’s full of the oddballs of society that have spent a few week to long in an ashram, and heard too much jangling on the tambourines that they carry with them. We met Lucy on a train who used the words ‘yeah the vibes man’ about 10 times a minute despite being from Cambridge. Then we had the pleasure of some waster playing an accordion right behind us in an hour long queue at Delhi train station at 7am. He was a preppy American of course probably on spring break.  Each to their own maybe, but India is a haven for them .It harbors the utterly left field. The majority fall into the categories of;

*Divorced women of certain age having an Eat Pray Love episode
*Men of a certain age escaping criminal charges and/or having an Eat Pray Love episode
*Backpackers who think they too cool for SE Asia
* (And this goes hand in hand with all of the above) Those opting out on life through meditation/hash/acid trance scene.

*Oh and finally some of us that just want to maintain their sanity, see the Taj, and chill in Goa for a short while.

Here’s what’s to like:

1)      Turning into one of those smug happy couples that everyone despises. :) My favorite thing that made India was first and foremost the company. Thank you Mark for flying all the way to India for me, I’d have hated every second of it alone.

2)      Chai tea, Limca, talhi, roti, parota, raita, momo, korma, hashbrowns, aloo gobi. I’ll give you this India, 10 out of 10 on the food. The North especially.

3)      The infuriating baffling yet brilliant gormless side to side Indian head shake. Who cares what it means, it’s funny.

4)      Cows in…train stations, banks, restaurants. Never gets old. Pick and animal, deem it sacred, watch what happens, it can do/stand/eat wherever it likes. Comedy gold.

5)      Connaught Place Park Delhi, Fort Kochi, Jaisalmer and the like for being tiny portals of beauty and calm that make you forget the rest of India.

And here’s what to dislike (or in some cases downright hate):

1)      Men. It’s sad to say but the ultimate downside to trying to travel as a women in India is the attitude of the neanderthal walking balls of testosterone that overwhelm society here. They will ignore you, they will push in front of you, they will harass and leer and grope you.

2)      The Indian train system.

3)      Bollywood music and it’s highpitch only-dogs-can-hear warbling.

4)      Sweltering heat, overwhelming squalor and incomprehensible poverty.

5)      Grinning and baring the “oh but you look Indian” 200 times a day. After 2 months here I can wholeheartedly say, thank god, I’m not!

Where I stayed:

Anjuli Inn Delhi Mumbai, Hotel Traveler’s Inn, Mumbai, Hotel Hridey Inn Delhi, Hotel Bright Heveli Jaisalmer, Bhanwar Vilas Udaipur, Sii Palace Agra, Elvis Guesthouse Varanasi, Hotel Adora Bangalore, Elite Guesthouse Fort Kochi, Palmy Residence Alleppey, D’Costa Bungalows Palolem, Sai Valentine Palolem, Sea Queen Anjuna, Sea View Baga, Oasis Guesthouse Arambol, Hotel Saaj Margao,

Margao, Central Goa, India

Margao – or Madagon as its also known, as everywhere has two names around here, is home to Goa’s main train station. Hence the stopover before we board the 26h Rajdhani Express back to Delhi.

If I tell you the highlights were spending the afternoon successfully miming the word ‘2mm screw’ in a handful of hardware stores (for my laptop which is on its last legs) then you will see why there’s really not much blog fodder. It has a pretty cute municipal garden with a nearby bakery that sells delish moose-cake and plays Enrique Iglesias on a loop. Except for that, we came, we ate, we slept.

Notably the return journey was not the normal adventure we have come to know and love from Indian trains. Namely as we poshed it up in AC3 class as Air-con tickets were the only ones left. Ok they bring you luxuries like bedding and three meals a day, but in all honesty the freezing temperatures just confused us, and the meals of dhal and dodgy raita were awful. It’s mucky, but give me the open windows and food roulette of sleeper class any day.

Finally, we spent our last 48 in India back in Delhi picking up my passport and doing our last bit of India type nonsense; buying tat bangles, homeopathic remedies, and a spot of palm reading. Receiving not giving. Then all aboard one last final sleeper express to Gorakhpur Junction, back in the North East near Varansasi, to complete our India loop and head overland to Nepal. 7 weeks, feels like flash and a lifetime both at once.

Arambol, North Goa, India

Another hippy enclave with a single road down to the  called ‘Glastonbury Street’ in a nod to those fire ball things you see people twizzling on the beach and similar paraphernalia. There are two beaches with viciously fun 8ft waves to KO in, alongside comedy lethargic lifeguards that have neither of their raybanded eyes on the ocean and both on the Russian girls that lay beach side.

Drama of the week was yet another rat-gate. I’m not quite sure if they have us geo tagged or are competing on 4squared to be the mayor of wherever we stay, but I’m telling you they seem to love a beach shack when we’re around. When this happened in Kampot or Palawan when I was sharing with other girls we, surprisingly, manned up and toughed it out. Now that there’s a boy around I obviously screamed the place down. Since it’s the last beach of my trip (sad face indeed) we treated ourselves to a posher, rat free pad on the cliffs, for a whole £5 between us.

Baga, Central Goa, India

15 mins down the road and it’s Costa Del Baga. It has the spirit of a Spanish holiday resort, filled with Russians and packs of Indian men in their 30’s/40s, but is a fun night out all the same. The reason for the party atmosphere is the famous Tito’s bar, which attracts us riff raff and the odd Bollywood star. Mark and I forget we are penniless backpackers and holiday it up with the girls at a hotel with a pool for two days. We all also find the time to go tandem parasailing off the water sport filled beach, which was a fun if not short two minutes ride. The rest was spent in various degrees of drunkenness, climbing over the security gate to our own hotel at 4am, and then the hangover day by the pool reliving it all. Standard.

Anjuna, Central Goa, India

And wishing for a silent disco I was after arriving here; trance music hell. Yep like off of acid/the early 90’s. Now the whole of state of Goa is pretty much filled with lost souls who still think trance, henna and tie-dye are acceptable, but Anjuna is the epicenter of all this. It’s scruffy beach is down a 5 min walk through a cliff edge village where nightly trance parties and “full moon parties” are held. It’s nowhere in the same league as Thailand’s. The demographic being aged 40 – 60 plus, dressed in outfits that I’ll describe as ‘slutty cavewomen chic’; all lycra cowboy waistcoats and shredded miniskirts with biker boots. No word of a lie. No plausible explanation of it either.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a few Bacardi Breezers one Thursday night (I told you, it’s 1998 here) and we try to get involved. Not with the outfits, just the music. Turns out all you need to do to blend in with trance dancing is to exaggerate any normal dance move ten fold, look completely off your face, and dance by on your lonesome for hours. We last about 20 mins before we go looking for some R & B.

We do however have safety in numbers, not to mention posh friends with a pool as we spend the week with my friend Rachel (off of Aldeney Yanapay Peru) and her friends Jen & Anne-marie who are all here in holiday. I’m all about a reunion.

The bit Anjuna does have going for it is its famous Wednesday and Saturday Night Markets. Someone has really thought this through by even adding a load of food stalls/sports bars where you can drop off your boyfriend like a man creche.We leave Mark watching the Liverpool match, and pick him up after an hour or so where he’s happily entertaining himself at a magic stall with all the rest of the Indian 10 year olds. In the meantime we 5 girls have filled our boots with bangles, scarves, colored lanterns, and a load of alternative medicines from a local witch doctor. He takes your pulse and within 10 seconds has diagnosed a concoction of ground up herbs for any/every ailment. If I drop dead in a month, at least now you know why.

Previous Older Entries : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

August 2020

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