“I know” my mate Pete says via text. “Lets go to Goa”. “Great, lets do it. When do you want to go?”. “Thursday I can get a couple of days off so we can have a long weekend”. “Great you have a long weekend cos I ain’t coming back”.
So the next step in my travels was organised. I went a day early and booked the digs. Pete was coming the next day. Saying goodbye to Bangalore was no hardship, I found the town had no qualities I would miss apart from my mate. I was going for the bottom of the budget end with regards digs so for the grand price of 200 rupees per night each or about 2 gbp our digs were booked and off I flew to Anjuna. I just know its going to be some quaint little indian hut we’ll love.
First day on my own and the sun was up, the waves were hitting the beach in long slow foamy swells and the mosquitoes were biting. Anjuna is not a very big place but the beach is fantastic with a laid back feel reminiscent of the old days when it was more of a hippy commune. The local traders give you a friendly wave with an invite to come into their friendly little stalls and peruse their goods. You can buy anything from flip flops to sari’s, t-shirts to hand crafted nick nacks for the coffee table and if that doesn’t appeal there is always the offer of HASHISH, whispered in capital letters from the side the mouth. Massages, foot rubs are also on offer, but mainly on the beach there miles of golden sand with beach shack restaurants available to top up you tans, fill up your belly and damage your liver with the cheap local beer Kingfisher.
Walking along the beach trying to decide where to have my first beer I was constantly harassed by the local girls all slim, dressed in stunning saris and all trying to sell me the same sort of necklaces and bracelets all guaranteed to bring me luck especially as I was the first customer of the season. Pretty amazing considering the hundreds of other holiday makers sizzling not yards from me. But I was not to be moved. I neither wanted nor needed any bracelets. I even backed into the sea to get away from one girl not realizing I was backing into an area of rock pools and not sand and promptly pitched over backwards into one of said pools. I choked and splashed, the crabs crabbed away as only crabs can and the Indian girl who I later found was called Lolita giggled and nearly wet herself. “I’ll be back tomorrow, my mate will be with me he is very rich he’ll buy something” I said trying to pretend I had meant to do it all the time.
Eventually I found a beach side cafe bar and had a few beers and lunch and a couple of hours later I meandered back down the beach a bit more merrier for the beers and maybe a little heat stroke too. “You want to check out my stall” said yet another of one of the beach sari girls as I had started thinking of them. I went through the usual spiel when I noticed by this time she was holding my hand rather intimately I thought. Ey ey I think I know where this was going and reluctantly let myself be dragged by this rather pretty petite Indian girly off the beach and bugger me she did have a stall. She dragged me into the the corner of the stall sat me down and began to show me her wares. Yup you guessed it more bracelets.
I was getting a bit fed up now and a bit wary as it seemed a bit intimate and I thought it was a sting and an irate husband and family was going to burst in wielding machetes and insisting on money. I asked her if she has a husband, she said yes and a little boy. A way out I thought. “Who’s looking after your little boy.” I accused. “Me” she said “he is behind you asleep.” I turned around and there laid on a blanket was a little lad, barely one fast asleep in a little ball. Something snapped and a couple of minutes later I left with two bracelets and a shawl and the little lad had 100 rupees in his little curled fist (its a Yorkshire tradition.
The next day Peter my mate arrived and I took him to our budget digs. He put his case down looked around and I could tell by the look on his face what he was thinking.
“Its a shed”
I looked around “yes it is a shed” I thought.
So off to the beach we went. We found a nice spot with two padded chairs under a brolly and supped our kingfishers. Some more of the sari girls started walking by while I had a swim. When I sat down Pete was bargaining with one and turned to and said “They just don’t know who they are dealing with do they?” and went back to haggling. I turned around and there was a pretty familiar face giggling at me. “Remember me, I chased you into the sea yesterday, I am called Lolita, pleased to meet you”, I introduced myself and found a fist full bracelets being shaken in front of my face like a fisherman’s jig. I’m not paying more for one bracelet then 100 rupees, and I don’t need anymore. She smiled, giggled and ended up selling me 2 for 150 rupees before vanishing up the beach with her multicolored hips swaying off into the distance.
“How much did you pay for your bracelets?” I asked Pete who had completed his deal just before me and was now sporting two on one wrist.
“600 rupees” he said. A bit expensive for two I thought.
Then I caught the look on his face, “600 rupees each” he said slowly a slight frown to his face.
With just a small grin on my face I went for another swim in the sea. By the time I turned round there was a multicolored flock of sari girls around Peter. Word had gotten around.
“Who’s Sari now?” by Patsy Cline I was singing to myself as I paddled and maybe piddled a bit in the lovely warm sea.
Welcome to Goa Pete.