tamil nadu – old and new

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next to last morning in varkala – post homa ritual

before i left varkala, we had a nice homa ritual (fire ceremony) at the ashram. these are really sacred feeling events, this one dedicated to ganesha, since it was at the beginning of a new teacher training program.

next day, a nice german man from the ashram in varkala was heading to kanyakumari, so i decided i’d join him and catch the night train to madurai from there.

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on the train to kanyakumari

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i went to kanyakumari before, but it is a special place: the meeting of three oceans. it was also hit very hard by the tsunami of late 2004 and the stalls and fisher shacks that lined the coast were washed clear away. aside from a great place to watch both sunrise and sunset, you can also take a ferry to an island to see a giant statue of saint and poet thiruvalluvar and a temple there, all out on giant rocks off the coast.

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view from the hotel window
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on the bus to suchindram

michael (spiritual name maddura) and i arrived at noon and got lunch before catching a local bus to go to a nearby tample called suchindram. i had visited it before and really loved the place, so wanted to see it again. the bus was 10 rupees and took about 30 minutes. as we neared the town, a light rain began to fall, which was unusual, since this is the dry season and tamil nadu has been in a drought lately.

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suchindram tank just after the rain – the temple gopuram in the background
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goats hiding from the rain

the temple gates were shut until 4 pm, so we had a chai and waited. devotees in black lunghees waited with us, stealing looks at us surreptitiously, wondering what we were doing there. when the doors opened, we left out sandals outside and went in. a temple guide came and took us under his wing, which was nice. kumar was very educated about the temple and showed us things we wouldn’t have seen on our own, pointing out the 2000-year old tree that was part of the original siva-brahma-vishnu temple. now there are many smaller temples inside the bigger one: for ganesha, of course, for the nine planets of astrology, for hanuman, the monkey god (one of my favorites). i read that this hanuman statue, which is 20 feet tall, was buried to protect it and then forgotten for 200 years till it was rediscovered.

there are also some musical pillars, pillars of different widths carved from granite which, when struck properly, produce tones that can make really nice music, demonstrated for us by our guide. really magical. two pillars when struck in tandem sounded like the famous indian drums the tablas.

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hindu temples in tamil nadu are painted with red and white stripes outside them
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me n maddura at the temple entrance

we visited the whole temple and left to catch a bus back to kanyakumari for the sunset. we went to the gandhi memorial and climbed to the top to see the sunset. the indian people there were more interested in the white people than the sunset and wanted to take our picture and talk with us about our native places, etc. indians are romantic and always asking if you are married when you are in a male/female couple.

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kanyakumari from gandhi’s memorial
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our admiring fans
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gandhi memorial

after sunset i bought a kerala style cotton sari from one stall and then we went to dinner at a nice veg restaurant with friendly waiters. there was a procession outside with drums and horns, devotees carrying the deity on their shoulders up to the walls of the kali temple which faces the sea, the poet’s statue, the site of the worst of the damage from the tsunami.

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temple procession

kali looks terrifying, but she is the destroyer of negative energies, the dark mother of all. i have read that the black virgin known in parts of western europe was brought by the gypsies, who came from rajasthan way back, bringing with them their dark mother, kali, who became the gentle dark skinned “mary.”

a rickshaw man took me to nagercoil junction where i got the night train to madurai. on my comfy upper berth i slept till our arrival in madurai, the temple city, around 5 am. i took a rickshaw to the meenakshi temple: everything else was closed, night still clinging to the skies. after circling it once with the other pilgrims and visiting one of the least pleasant toilets of my experience, i went to deposit my chappals (flip flops) and bags at a holding place and went into the temple, lit with ghee lamps. i went around the shiva temple and into the meenakshi side – they are husband and wife and are frequently worshiped side by side. their son, ganesha, is always there as well: he is the remover of obstacles and bestows blessings on the beginnings of things. i sat by the temple tank and watched the dark skies lighten strangely through clouds that began to rain, doppling the tank with drops, putting the many giant and ornate gopurams into silhouette.

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meenakshi gopuram
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meenakshi temple in the morning light

in my wandering i met an austrian man named christoph and we went to breakfast when the rain ceased. like me, he had quit his job and been traveling for some time. like me he is writing and a student of astrology. we had breakfast and i read his tarot cards, so he returned the favor and looked at my birth chart. the day began to pass so quickly, i bought my train ticket for allahabad and the kumbh mela and then we went to lunch and after found a tailor to make my sari top. i decided to stay in madurai, as the top would take time to make.

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my new sari (hastily wrapped) and fragrant flowers in my hair
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back view

next day we went to the gandhi museum, inspiring though it is not a well organized place. after buying some books we took our extremely slow rickshaw (not an autorickshaw, but the old fashioned bicycle kind) back across the vayai river, sacred to meenakshi. we had lunch and then it was time for me to get my bus for trichy.

trichy is home to the first of 5 shiva lingam temples, each dedicated to a different element. this one is called thiruvan coil and the lingam is for the water element. the cauvery, another of india’s sacred rivers, runs through this place and the temple is on an island in the middle of it.

i arrived in trichy in the evening and got a rather expensive place for the night, but there were few options. hot water here – a luxury! and they gave a free breakfast and even have a pool, though i won’t have time to make use of it. today i’ll continue to vaitheeshwaran koil and chidaburam for some more temple visits – another lingam temple in chitaburam and perhaps a visit to a nadi palm leaf reader in vaitheeshwaran koil. we shall see. then i’ll make my way toward chennai for my morning flight tomorrow to lucknow, and from there to the kumbh mela in allahabad. more sacred rivers, more sacred rituals. the days of goan indulgence behind me, aside from the occasional gold flake cigarette as i write in my journal.

i am interested to see how the next several days pan out! wish me luck –

love and miss,

kira

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kerala – god’s own country

varkala and i have something of a history. 6 years ago, when i completed my yoga teacher training in the neighboring south indian state of tamil nadu, my good friend jenna and i decided we needed some beach in our lives and we took the train from madurai to varkala in the state of kerala (on the west coat of india) on christmas eve. while living in the ashram for a month, there had been no coffee, no eggs, no alcohol or cigarettes or staying up late or eating out. in short, we were ready to break some rules, but in a very yogic sort of way. the pleasure of sharing a bottle of kingfisher, ordering a pizza or a pot of black coffee, and of course, going to the beach.

this time around, coming off of goa, with its chillum orgies and hallucinogens, dance parties, bars, coffee shops, etc., things are rather reversed and i came to varkala for the peace and quiet of ashram life.

usha and robert at the wednesday market in goa

usha and robert at the wednesday market in goa

my train was scheduled to leave from thivim in goa at just before 6pm and arrive in cochin 14 hours later. instead, i waited at the station for hours, eating samosas for dinner (feeding one to a train station dog) drinking chai, wondering where the hell my train was. it was 5 and a half hours late! finally, at 11:30, it arrived and i found my sleeping berth (always choose the upper berths, which are high enough to be out of the way and afford one some privacy – when day comes everyone who slept on the middle or bottom berth sits on the bottom one and folds up the middle one, but the top stays undisturbed). some nice indian boys greeted me and moved a bag from my berth, asking where i’m from etc. i managed some politeness, but i really just wanted to get to sleep. i stashed my guitar and shoes under the seat and clambered up to my bed with my backpack etc. i spread a sarong over myself and dozed off surprisingly fast.

sleeper trains are really the best way to go when it comes to traveling in india. second class sleepers aren’t air conditioned (fine with me) but they are roomy and comfy and fellow travelers tend to be really friendly. i awoke the next day and passed the time writing and eating some small bananas and other fruits i’d brought with me. indian trains also have chai and coffee wallas (walla means “seller of”) and food service that comes through selling inexpensive biriyani and other vegetarian indian yummies, but i don’t usually eat on the train unless it is a longer journey.

i got to cochin around 2 pm – not enough time to go to the museum i wanted to see – so i got a dosa (like an indian crepe filled with potatoes) and coffee and went back to the train station to catch my 4:15 train to varkala. unfortunately, this train – a local one, and not a sleeper – was packed to the gills (friday commuters!) and hot as balls. i got a seat, sandwiched between two keralan men. i was wearing a t-shirt and loose yoga pants, but many of the men on the train were in long trousers and long sleeved shirts. i guess they are used to the heat, but it was insanely hot and then the train got held up for what seemed like eternity (bad train karma on my part). we finally got to varkala at 8:30 (over an hour late!) and a rickshaw driver whisked me away to the cliff. i hadn’t made arrangements on where to stay so he took me to a place he knew, but it was full. on the way, i saw johnny cool’s – a restaurant and guest house i remembered from my last sojourn here. i popped in to say hello to the proprietor, manu, but the rooms were 500 rupees and no attached bath, so i passed. the driver took me to another place where they had a larger room with a bathroom for 400 (8 dollars – expensive by indian standards, but this is a tourist town in high season). i took it and headed off to the cliff to find something to eat.

that night i ended up in a place called the bistro, ordering pad thai that i couldn’t eat, after the long hot train ride, and a tall cold beer that was easier to get down :). one of the waiters had a guitar and played some songs and i struck up a conversation with the restaurant manager and some italian friends of his. the night ended and i hadn’t gotten the bill – he told me to come back the next day, no problem. ah india.

i walked back to my place along the road, with an italian chaperone, and went straight to bed, exhausted.

next day i got up and fed my leftover pad thai to some grateful adolescent puppies living behind my hotel. then i went to clafouti bakery – an old favorite of mine when i was here before. i remembered their nice coffee and the yoghurt (“curd” here) with fruit and muesli i used to love. the cliff still looks pretty much the same as the last time i was here, but some places have shifted or changed names and almost every restaurant has increased dramatically in size, expanding to accommodate the hordes of beach seekers.

clafouti bakery and the arabian sea

looking out from clafouti bakery at the arabian sea

people come by selling drums and flutes and leaves painted with ganeshas. one man came by selling malas (prayer beads) and i found two nice sets of nine planet malas – one for me and one for jacqueline, since both of us had lost or broken ours.

i lingered, writing in my journal and drinking my whole pot of coffee while people around me had beers with their lunches, wrapped in ‘coozies of newspaper: like the brown bag from the corner store, but craftier.

crafty coozie

crafty coozie

i finished my breakfast and went to find jacqueline who was staying at an ashram on the cliff, where our swami from teacher training now teaches. as i got to the internet cafe from which i planned to call her, there she was using the computer! (the abbreviation for these kind of phone booths is “std” – anytime you see this in india, it mean a place you can make calls from, kinda funny).

i gave her her mala and she showed me to the ashram and explained there was a teacher training session just finishing and i could come stay there the next day after some of the students vacated. she went to make some arrangements for a reiki course she was giving the next day and i went to the beach!

the main beach is only accessible via three sets of narrow stairs winding down the face of the cliff at intervals. paragliders carve bright arcs through the sky above the cliff and beach umbrellas add to the festive and colorful scene. the waves can be strong and surprising and they say there are dangerous currents if you swim out too far, since the beach is not a bay or inlet, but basically just part of the slanting bottom of the “ice cream cone” that makes up the southern tip of india.

varkala beach in all its glory

varkala beach in all its glory

i basked for a while and swam, and basked and met a nice french man who is a stone mason and a couple of friendly italian guys. the sun is strong here, so one doesn’t stay on the beach too long. i went back to my quiet hotel, this time using the little paths through the back of the cliff instead of the main road. once you know the lay of the land here, there are shortcuts everywhere.

i went out for food and decided pizza would be a good idea, since i have been rather thinnish lately and cheese is my best source of fat. meanwhile i used the wireless (another change from the last time i was here, when wifi was not the omnipresent phenomenon it is now) and drank a beer and watched the sunset. the pizza, however, was small and undercooked, bland and not what the doctor ordered. i did my best to eat it and went back to the hotel for the night.

a little about kerala: one of the two southern-most states in india, kerala is a place of sunny weather and sunny people. traditional dress for men is the lunghee – a man-sarong – which men wear with button-down shirts. lunghees are long and usually plain white with a colored border. the men have a special way of wrapping them and also of hoisting them up to make a short version of the look. if only more western men tried this look! it is kind of sexy and not as incongruous as it sounds with the button down shirt. the food here is lighter than north indian fare, and spicier. hinduism and christianity are the main religions here. the people are polite and calm, welcoming and open-hearted. it is my favorite state in india and has the slogan “god’s own country” – which suits it perfectly. a paradise of sea and jungle, mountains and backwaters.

tree trimming, indian style

tree trimming, indian style

next day it was more sun, more beach. i had curd and fruit and coffee for breakfast at the juice shack on the cliff and worked on a video from my last concert in new york (one excerpt of which you can see here :)), then went for another swim. that afternoon i moved to the ashram and had dinner there, which reminded me very much of the food we had in our ashram in madurai: yummy vegetarian keralite food (food from the state of kerala, of course). this is the food that i needed to put on some weight for my travels so as not to waste away.

mealtime at the ashram - such yummy nummins!

mealtime at the ashram – such yummy nummins!

my connection to this ashram is through my swami – govindananda – who was my teacher in madurai before he got a freak case of chicken pox and had to convalesce for the rest of the course. now he has separated from the sivananda organization and has his own course in varkala, so i can be here and relax while also practicing yoga and attending lectures: a yoga vacation.

swamiji ready to teach

swamiji ready to teach

the schedule here is: 6 am – satsang (chanting and meditation), 8 am – tea, 8:20 – yoga class, then brunch. after brunch there is a lecture and then free time till afternoon asana class, then dinner and evening satsang. after, most people go to bed early, but not this night owl! having a wifi connection keeps me up late trying to plot my next moves (and video chatting with my good friend sarah davis) :).

cute neighbor puppy bewitches all who see him

cute neighbor puppy bewitches all who see him

some of the ashram girls :)

some of the ashram girls đŸ™‚ friendly people from everywhere

unfortunately, my sickness went into my lungs, of course, and i was awoken by coughing fits at 3 am for the first several days of my stay. though it was a great conversation starter with others at the ashram (“oh that was you coughing last night? sounded awful!”), i went to see an ayurvedic doctor recommended by swamiji and he gave me quite the regimen of things to take: syrup, something that looks like instant coffee crystals, powder and oil for my head, two bottles of tonics, etc. the good news is, it’s working! the bad news: ants are drawn to the sugary tonics and come flocking or whatever it is ants do. ants are also very interested in my hankie, which can lead to some tragic ant massacres.

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lovely arrangement outside the ayurvedic dr’s place

ayurvedic meds

my ayurvedic meds

yesterday i moved to a different hotel, still with the ashram, since a teacher training course started today and those students will stay in the main building. i planned to leave today, yet here i am. yesterday i went to the beach and got to play with a litter of puppies placed there under the shelter of a large rock against the cliff by their smart mom. there they attract a lot of attention – 9 adorable puppies! people bring them food and play with them all day long.

puppy den

puppy beach bungalow

i’m hatching plans for kumbh mela, the largest gathering of people i can imagine – over 100 million people predicted to attend for the month + length of the celebration. it is in the north, in allahabad, so there are all sorts of ways i could get there: planes, trains and automobiles. i thought i’ might go back to goa and continue north from there, but now i am thinking i’ll take the train to madurai in tamil nadu – where i studied yoga before – and visit some special temples near there and a naadi palm leaf reader (will write more about this if i get to him!) before catching a flight to lucknow from chennai. i’ll have to take a train from lucknow to allahabad, but it will be a 4-hour journey instead of a 40-hour journey as it would be if i took the train from chennai. i’ll know soon! my plan is to see it during the full moon, when many people will be there. it can be dangerous to try to bathe or travel on the main days, so i’ll be vigilant regarding that, but i’m excited to see this gathering of the faithful on this historic event: the maha kumbh mela only happens every 144 years, so this is my only chance in this lifetime to see it!

i’ll leave tomorrow or the next day and might go to amma’s ashram before taking the train to madurai and continuing from there. plans are loose at best, but i’ll be in allahabad by the 22nd if all goes well.

love and miss,

kira

goin goan, gone

my time in goa has either been very lazy or very busy, depending on how you look at it. i guess convalescing isn’t necessarily laziness, but it was necessary! my cold hit hard after the party and i was sick for several days and semi bed-bound.

flowers on usha's door

flowers on usha’s door

since jacqueline’s arrival, we have established a sort of routine of waking up and coming to robert’s house, which has a more functional kitchen than we have at our disposal at usha’s new place. we have coffee (usually from the farm in kodaikanal, grown by jacqueline) and start the day on the front porch in the shanty shanty breeze.

morning on robert's porch

morning on robert’s porch

robert and i enjoying his porch - and the electric mosquito racket

robert and i enjoying his porch – and the electric mosquito racket

on wednesday, the anjuna flea market is the big affair. booths set up near the beach in anjuna sell jewelry, clothes, trinkets, crystals, incense, bathing suits, sarongs, saris, pipes, purses: just about anything you can think of. usha has a booth and sells clothes along with sandwiches from the restaurant where she works and coffee and jam from jacqueline’s farm. ganesh and i rode the scooter into town to meet them at the flea market and browse the shops.

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we met jacqueline at usha’s booth, overlooking the ocean. jacqueline had an appointment to collect money for some of her coffee at a french bakery and ganesh and i went with her. the roads in goa are crazy and more built for scooters and bikes than cars, which is kind of refreshing. we went up a dirt path onto a one-lane (for a bike!) bridge over a body of water – perhaps a river? a beautifully situated house stood in ruins in the middle of the river. we continued up the hill and found ourselves at a sweet semi-outdoor cafe called baba somethingorother. we ordered breakfast as we waited for her appointment. bakeries are highly prized in india, especially those that make european-style bread and serve good coffee. here they served it in bowls, parisian style, for dipping bread in it. we sat at a table with a man who was there alone. he was from germany and we chatted a bit about the states and this and that and then another foreigner, a brit, joined us and we ended up talking about america and propaganda and politics – very interesting conversation for me, though perhaps not for my french/indian companions. we left and went back to the market.

the french bakery

the french bakery

we walked along the beach and i looked for a sarong – the going rate was about 200 rupees or 4-ish dollars, but i couldn’t find the right one. the beach in anjuna is full of shops and restaurants. everyone who was in goa 15-20 years ago talks about how much it has changed. some of it has to do with the drug culture, to be sure. not that drugs weren’t part of the culture when “freaks” from the west started to come to goa in the 60s, 70s and 80s. perhaps it was just the erstwhile earnestness of that era that made for some of the difference, but certainly commerce has changed things.

now the once natural place has been built up and filled to the gills with: sunburnt westerners with alternative lifestyles and gauges in their ears, a plethora of dreads and tats, lots and lots of russians. with rastas and australians and grizzled hippies from who knows where? i bought some crystals for usha’s house and a bag because my bags are rather stuffed. we swam in the ocean with jacqueline and the water was the perfect temperature, the sun a lovely strength behind the cooling breeze. i realize that this is the 5th “west coast” of my travels: starting with morocco, then the west coast of france, of course the u.s., and then even the west coast of florida, which is very different from the east. and now here i am on the west coast of india. coincidence?

anyway, we planned to go to arambol, a town about 30 km away from anjuna. it was in this town that jacqueline and her late husband, thierry lived when ganesh was born. they had a house on the hill overlooking the beach. when they lived there, there was little around them – now it is all shops and restaurants, though at least they have kept the majority of these off the beach. down from their former house there is a small fresh water lake – “sweet water” as they call it here – that actually comes up to the beach from the other side. cocoanut palms were planted there, providing welcome shade for the padded chairs there. i bought 3 nice sarongs for $10 – including the blue one below.

the keitas on arambol beach

the keitas on arambol beach

we swam in the ocean water, warmer than the springfed lake. it was shallow enough to walk quite far without swimming, though it was buoyant and wonderful to swim in. then we went to the lake to swim before going for a small hike into the woods to see a banyan tree there. when ganesh and usha and their other brothers were young, this was their stomping grounds. they led me to the tree which is a strange and amazing thing to see: its branches have spread wide, sending down trunk-like roots into the red rock goa is known for. the trunk is surrounded by such branches like a lattice and even the branches are wrapped likewise. it took me a minute to realize that the tree itself had died and disintegrated long ago, but the branches and their roots had sent out a new network of their own, keeping the whole alive. an old man, very thin indeed, was singing with a drummer by a smouldering fire with other tourists all sitting around as if in a temple. there was none of the idols soaked in ghee there – the tree was both temple and idol.

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walking to the banyan tree

beneath the tree

beneath the banyan

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ganesh being one with the tree

and refuge for some. there were several sleeping areas set up in the protection of the great tree. the baba below us bummed a cigarette (baba is what you use as a term of respect, esp with religious ascetics) to make a chillum and we communed with the tree. ganesh is an avid climber and this was his childhood playground. he scaled one tree to such a height that it was almost impossible to see him.

we stayed there, seemingly suspended is time, the sunlight filtering down through the branches of the massive tree. as we made our way back, i had a deja vu from a dream long ago. there was a stone carved bowl, in situ, with the words “take if you need, leave if you have” just at the crossing of the stream.

we walked back to a place where the stream was running and a lovely yellow clay could be found and we smeared it all over ourselves for the rest of the walk back to where jacqueline waited for us by the lake.

ganesh in nature paint

ganesh in nature paint

clay smeared

clay smeared

after a swim and some tea and sandwiches, ganesh and jacqueline and i took a walk up the hill and over to the other beach and a cave which ganesh remembered fondly from his childhood. the walk was hot and steep and we arrived to the far side to crouch through the entrance to the tunnel and cave.

ganesh climbing

ganesh climbing

through the crevice

through the crevice

the water crashes against the black rocks by the sea and ganesh climbed them as jacqueline and i enjoyed the lovely and sometimes odd scene: a man passed us several times holding an uncomfortable looking seabird, casually. despite the seclusion of our spot, a man came by selling green cocoanuts just as we ran out of water. we sipped our cocoanut water and then the man chopped the flesh out for us to eat.

cocoanut man

cocoanut man

jacqueline sipping

jacqueline sipping

me n jacqueline in our hats from ganesh

me n jacqueline in our hats from ganesh

jacqueline profiting from the sun

jacqueline profiting from the sun

we walked back for one more swim before taking the scooters back to vagatore where usha’s house is.

next day we went to mapusa: ganesh for wedding preparations and the rest of us for shopping at the friday market. i managed to lose a small bag full of undies when a zealous bag checker emptied my entire backpack in london, so i needed some replacements. usha and i got some undies and tank tops and then went looking for things for her house and some other little items for me. one of my favorite stops was at a perfume stall where the man was selling lovely pure oils and botanicals.

perfume stall

perfume stall

usha buying kitchenware

usha buying kitchenware

markey in mapusa

market in mapusa

we had lunch in a diner: uthapam! then i rode back on robert’s bike, him with a new mattress between his knees. time to relax!

later that night usha was working at her restaurant and ganesh and i went there for dinner and drinks. i was still feeling delicate from my cold, but the spicy north indian curry i got was delicious. everyone else was feeling “full power” and wanted to go out, but i went home and went to bed.

saturday we didn’t have any grand plans until the night bazaar and took it easy. everyone had stayed out late, except jacqueline and me, and there was some late sleeping on all sides. the night bazaar was in a nearby town and we took the scooters there. jacqueline had eaten before, but usha and ganesh and i got yummy vegan food from a stall in the food court before going to find their friend mira’s stall in the market. i’m pretty sure it is the same place i sang the last time i was in goa, though i couldn’t swear to it.

sunday we took things shanty shanty, deciding against the beach which is apparently notoriously full of people on their day off, crowding every inch of anjuna beach and any other available spot.

it was also the day that ganesh’s friend was getting married. we planned to join for the reception after the ceremony and rode the bikes over in time for dancing and dinner. goa is heavily christian and this was a christian wedding, so none of the typical elephants and white horses you think of when you think “indian wedding.” we drove back, leaving ganesh to finish up the party.

best man :)

best man đŸ™‚

the wedding party dancing

the wedding party dancing

monday was his last day before leaving to catch his plane back to bangkok from mumbai. we had planned to go to the beach, but then usha heard of a pool party at the nearby lotus inn.we went after breakfast for a lovely day of sun and swimming and dancing in a green paradise.

glam usha

glam usha

the pool and the dance floor - in the calm of the day before it got packed

the pool and the dance floor – in the calm of the day before it got packed

robert demonstrating the chillum

robert demonstrating the chillum

swimming trio

swimming trio

we left in the afternoon to visit ramji and vesna, friends from kodaikanal. ramji is a kind of baba – respected man – and has some followers who live with him. vesna is yugoslavian, but has been in india with ramji for many years.

ganesh entertaining everyone with stories of thailand

ganesh entertaining everyone with stories of thailand

then one last afternoon at the beach. we ordered food and swam on spaghetti beach until it was time to take ganesh back to the house to get his things. we all said goodbye on robert’s porch and jacqueline was very sad to see him go.

saying goodbye at small vagatore beach

saying goodbye at small vagatore beach

since he left, it has certainly felt different. i slept late wednesday to recover from my lingering cold and then went to the market again with jacqueline. last night we went to a restaurant together and enjoyed some lovely fire dancing.

today i will leave for varkala – the first train of my indian journey. i’ll arrive in cochin tomorrow morning. i was there before. it is an old portuguese port with influences from chinese fishermen and jewish immigrants in the middle ages, this was central to the spice trade and saw greeks and romans, and later dutch, portuguese travelers all passed through, bringing their culture and traditions. and of course religions.

i hope to visit a museum there and then continue to varkala to meet jacqueline either that day or the next.

ok – love and miss!

kira