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Stories from oversea Tales of joy and sorrow from a travel junkie

Mating dragonflies in Arambol, Sunsets in Palolem, and goats in Kochi

INDIA | Saturday, 8 November 2008 | Views [1332] | Comments [5]

The long awaited blog begins....


India is incredible. It's immediately apparent when you arrive that juxtaposition and contradiction are everyday commonalities and in order to get by, you have to give yourself up to them. One minute it seems everything is going smoothly and Indians are the loveliest people on earth, the next, you're cursing them for trying to rip you off or hassling you into something you don't want to do or buy. One minute you see a man begging on the dirty street with only one arm, the next you see a forest of palm trees with wild monkeys swinging from tree to tree.

Arriving in Mumbai was like getting hit by a bus. I don't think its possible to arrive in India gently. It toughens you up in one full swoop rather than over time...which there wouldn't be time for here anyway. We flew with Air India...maybe for the first and last time! To cut the story short, the plane was an hour late then another hour driving round the runway, it was about 40 years old which might explain the loud banging noises as it took off and when it was mid air and we sat in darkness for the first half an hour with no welcome on board. Anyway, being thankful we survived that, Mumbai greeted us with a hot and sweaty hug. Because our flight was delayed, we arrived at the hostel we had booked a couple hours late so they had given up our room. We ended up in the Salvation Army hostel sharing a bunk bed dorm with 6 other girls, some dirty matresses without sheets and some bed bugs. Welcome to India.

All i can say about Mumbai is i've never seen so many people in one place before, and im sure that thats going to be a common sight accross all the main cities in India. Crossing the road was a daily challenge. "please ok horn" is written on the back of every taxi, rickshaw and bus and considering they make every effort to abide by this common rule, its difficult to understand at first how it actually helps them when all you can hear is one constant horn after the next. However, the more time i spend here, the more i understand how it works. ok not how it works, but the fact that it does work. It actually works. somehow.

After a few days, we finally found a train to whisk us away from Mumbai which, took us 16 hours later to Kamarli in Goa. The train really is the best way to travel India, the views during those hours where incredible, so diverse; from miles of flat land to the jungle with waterfalls. Our destination was Arambol- Goa, somewhere i'd heard about and been recommended by someone at home.

Arambol is in my heart. It was pure paradise. Tucked away on the north Goan coast, it's a beach side village that is still relatively quiet and untouched by tourism. Ok, there are signs of tourism, in that the european food choices and many of the people are from everywhere but India. We met iraeli's, spanish, italian, ethiopians, english. However, it is relatively untouched by full-on commercial tourism which i heard before i came that Goa was all about. In Arambol, you can still feel the 70's vibe (you can actually see it in the ageing hippies that clearly haven't left since the 70's) that in most places has gradually been bulldozed over by concrete, and it was amazing to be able to experience it before Arambol, too, becomes a holiday package destination.

After about a week in Arambol, we hesitently left for Anjuna to meet Micaela's friend John. We spent the day looking around the flea market which was incredible with all sorts of merchandise from Kashmir to Tibet and really, the only reason you'd visit Anjuna. So, after pursuading John that that was the case, we left, once again, for Arambol the next day. But not before my first bout of food poisoning which i suffered all through that night...

In Arambol the second time round as well as the first, we had some great experiences from meeting a lovely shop owner called Rham who tried henna tattoo on my hands for the first time with a very funny result (photo's soon), a Korean who called himself an "energy scientist," one of the most intelligent and genuine people i've ever met, sweet lake; a natural spring lake, some yellow mud that is good for your skin, a night or fire throwing and other fire related skills and meeting some really great people. After many years (aside from a brief meeting in Brighton), my friend from Argentina- "CuCu"- came to meet us and to say that i've met up with someone on three continents is pretty amazing.

So then, Micaela, John, CuCu and I travelled to Panjim, the capital of Goa for one day and night, and said our goodbyes to John before heading off to Palolem via a couple of short trains. Palolem is simlilar to Arambol but bigger, with a more beautiful beach and more commercial. There are some beaches that are totally undiscovered and one day we (micaela, CuCu, Jack and Lindsey- friends of a friend at home, Hannah and Lukas- a German couple we met in Arambol, Amanda- friend of friend at home and I) hired mopeds and visited a place called Agonda. Having never ridden a moped and not having a driving license...and driving on Indian roads...with Indian drivers...and cows chilling in the middle of the road...it was pretty crazy at times. However, once we got into the country it was clear roads and easy enough to pick up. I've never seen such a beautiful and empty beach. We sat in the only cafe they had for a drink with the view of the sea and dolphins swimming by. They swam from afar all the way to directly in front of us and then proceeded to jump out of the water, like they were performing for us.

There's more to say about Palolem but beacuse i've left this so long to write, its a bit of a long one so i apologise and i'll make sure i keep them short and sweet from now on. After 6 days in Palolem, we said goodbye to CuCu and took a 14 hour train overnight to Kochi- Kerala to meet Jack and Lindsey and Hannah and Lukas who went on a day ahead of us. Its instantly noticeable how much more friendly the people are here, always willing to help and always with a smile on their face. There are mkore goats than rickshaws here. Tonight we went to see a traditional Keralan theatre performance called Kathakali- "Katha" meaning "story" and "Kali" meaning "play." Its a story that is acted out in mime, music, dance and acting. For the first hour you watch the actors apply the make-up which is made from natural sources- coloured stones that are mixed with coconut oil to make the colour dye. The whole thing is incredbily disciplined and really entertaining.

Tomorrow we head to Allepey, further south in Kerala.

I hope you're all still awake at this point and that life is treating you well. I'm off for a masala chai,

love love




Wicked write up Jess, sounds like you're having an amazing time -- you describe it really well, and it comes through that you're totally enjoying yourself.

I would write a blog about how lovely the weather is in London right now.. but it's not, so I won't.

Kisses, and good luck.

  Thom Nov 10, 2008 8:51 PM


glad you're having good times my love! india have a thingy orbiting the moon right now. cool


  lulu molloy Nov 11, 2008 12:36 AM


Sounds awesome hun.
You should be a Journalist for a living! Instantly made me want to buy a ticket and come over.
Take care of yourself out there though. I can not believe you've managed to get food poisonong already.

  Alissa Nov 12, 2008 1:01 AM


Great to see ure blog at last.You write so descriptively that I could almost smell the smells and hear the sounds and see all the madness and beauty of it.. Looking forward to future blogs and will be the first to purchase the travel book that you are sure to have published! Love yoo munch.... xxxxxxxxxxx mawmy

  MAWMY Nov 12, 2008 11:04 AM


Brilliant Jerk! So Jealous but so happy for you! India sounds crazy! Your kinda place eh? Cant wait for the next blog, take care x

  banny Nov 27, 2008 8:23 PM

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