ganesh arrived to mumbai late the night after i got there. he arrived in the evening to find me drinking some kingfisher (the most common beer around these parts) with some others staying in the same hotel near the train station in downtown mumbai, also known as colaba. the hotel is technically to the north of colaba on a nice location off the main drag and less expensive, but with friendly people and staff and a restaurant that serves breakfast. the next day i had planned to go to elephanta island, but it was republic day, therefore the queues to get the tickets for the shuttle ferry to the island were bound to be long, as the ferry leaves from the gateway of india, which is also where everyone comes to celebrate the institution of india’s constitution on this day, one of three federal holidays in india. i wasn’t sure the boats would be going at all.
anyway, we planned to get a bus that night to take us to goa. they have sleeper buses in india, which are like bunk beds, in a way, with curtains for privacy. if you have to go a long way in india and there are no sleeper trains available, taking the sleeper bus is not a bad way to go. sure, it’s bouncy, but it is better to be bounced lying down than sitting uncomfortably.
we figured out our tickets and had lunch before walking down the west side of colaba to nariman point, which is along the coast and juts out some ways into the water. the walkway was full of indians and foreigners, and the “thumb” of colaba’s hand or mitt shape was across the inlet, looking very built up, indeed, and rather smoggy, unfortunately.
of course, even with all the beauty and festivity of a holiday, there are the street dogs with terrible afflictions and the children leading monkeys on leashes and asking for money. little boys called ganesh “uncle” and one group took my picture – myself a passing tourist attraction, i suppose. fair enough. we walked from there over to the gateway, where we managed to inadvertently dodge security and go in the exit. we got close to the arch (i’ll have to upload the pictures later, as i left my camera at our house for the moment) and then made a run for it, the crowd being overwhelming! we walked back to the hotel in time for a shower and change, then packed up our things to catch the bus. we hopped into a yellow and black taxi and pulled out of the neighborhood in time to see a local shrine, up for the holiday, in full swings with drums and a crowd blocking the intersection there. we went the other direction and found our bus before its late afternoon departure. the weather here is very warm, but cools off considerably at night and you want something covering you.
the moon was full and it was beautiful to see as we made stops for dinner and tea along the way. it bathed the countryside around our traveling vehicle in blueish-white light and made for a bright ride. dinner was dal and rice along the way at a little roadside stall where everyone sits outside and service is very fast, since they cater to bus travelers. the dal tasted spicy and more south indian than north. i continued my habit of drinking the water, if it looks ok to me and the source seems trustworthy. and of course only eating vegetarian: so far so good!
we got to mapusa (pronounced without saying the “u”) and took a bus from there to anjuna, where we will go to ganesh’s friend’s wedding in a few days. after some hot ginger tea (because the air in mumbai combined with the bus travel made me start feeling a cold coming on) we took a taxi to the guest house and – eventually – found it.
ganesh’s sister, usha, recently found a new house, and we picked her up to take some of her things with us to the house, along with our bags, of course. then she and ganesh went to run errands and rent scooters and i took some time to read and enjoy the sun by her new house. her friend robert made us dal for lunch and it was just what i needed after the long day and night of travels. his house here is idyllic: red columns facing a path which leads out of the grounds and straight toward a gigantic banyan tree which grows nearby. a small dog with a curly tail patrols the house and grounds, which contain other houses and a deep well just behind the house. ganesh went to visit a friend and i rested up for that evening, when there was to be a party.
goa is one of the states of india. nearly each state has its own language or dialect and different history as well. goa was once controlled by the portuguese for a long period, leading to heavy christian/catholic/portuguese influence in the area and a language that is a mixture of portuguese and the indigenous language. it is on the eastern coast of the country, the broadside to be landed by their ships rounding africa and coming north through the indian ocean. since the 80’s goa has increased in popularity, especially among the trance dancing fire spinning set, and people come here from all over the world during the season to party, usually with the aid of hallucinogens. everyone is on a scooter, as the area is full of long winding roads to get from one place to another. usha is involved with throwing parties here and it was a birthday party as well as a full moon part that night – our first full night in goa.
though i was in goa once before, with my sister erika in 2007, we came here out of the season, in late march or early april. since it was just the two of us, we stayed near the beach and rented a scooter, but didn’t take any part in partying. especially not since she ordered fish from a local restaurant which led to her feeling ill all one night. i was fine, though, and went out to eat dinner alone. i followed my ears to a place with live music and sat alone, eating curry. i decided that if the band played “summertime,” i’d go up and sing a verse or two with them. like clockwork, the last song some and they announced that it would be “summertime.” after i sang with them, the guitarist told me that most of them were playing at a night bazaar that evening and i could come sing with them if i wanted. all very cool, but unlike the party last night.
usha and i got ready and she put on a kind of disguise – a wig of long hair over her short cut. i decided to to try my vibram five finger shoes for the night of dancing, since the party was to go on all night long with music. we took scooters and zoomed through the unfamiliar spaghetti roads on scooters and stopped in the town to have coffee before going farther into a secluded club called westend.
there were two areas with dance music – one more intense and the other more relaxed. the entire club was open air, with just some light projected on screens and the full moon shining above. people were everywhere, dancing, smoking, drinking, tripping. i had been worried that i would feel tired, but with my barefoot shoes and the perfect weather, it was easy to just lose myself in the music and movement and the joy of being with my good friends again. we took some time off to just appreciated the trees everywhere, harmoniously growing in the club space, covered in the moonight. i think of my sister erika when i look at the moon – especially when it is full, and i also couldn’t help but think she would have liked this party and this music.
we went back to dancing and the music was vibrating us and moving us with it, like cells in one giant pulsing organism. we were with usha’s friends, including robert. a friend of his joined and the two of them instantly began playing a very funny, almost slapstick kind of game with each other. perhaps his friend was mute, though he was so expressive, it is hard to say. an unusual man, his friend is indian but with bleached longish hair and what seemed to be blue eyes – real, clear blue rather than colored contacts, though he looked south indian and blue eyes are very rare there. robert is a yugoslavian by birth, inclined to smile a big excited smile, and even more inclined to do so when goofing off with his friend. my shoes were so comfortable and envied by many onlookers.
we danced until the sun came up around us and then danced some more. finally, we decided to leave to prepare for the arrival of jacqueline, usha and ganesh’s mother. we stopped on the road for some of the rich chai india is famous for and watched the sun rise orange above the palm trees. then we went back to the house and had coffee and enjoyed the morning until she arrived.
it has been beautiful day after a wonderful night with people i love. such beautiful nature makes a party so much more pleasurable and it is nice to have good air to breather, even if i have started to feel more sick. i’ll just need to rest over the coming days to get my strength back. jacqueline came in the morning and we caught up and had more coffee – it comes from her farm in kodaikanal, in the south – near where i lived with her six years ago.
she is going to travel in the south after this visit to goa and i think i will continue with her to varkala, a city in kerala where our old swami from yoga teacher training lives now and has his own ashram. it is the place i went after training finished, where i spent time relaxing and writing and playing music – a very peaceful beach and cliff with shops and restaurants lining it. jacqueline says it is much more full of shops and restaurants than it once was.
i am excited to go there again and excited to see her once more. the next few days here will be beautiful, culminating with a wedding.
well, all for now and will add pictures in later.
love and miss,