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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 49: Christmas Eve

INDIA | Monday, 24 December 2007 | Views [788]

Sunday 24th December

After breakfast, I set off once again for Palolem to get a present for one of the girls in the group, after we decided it would be a laugh to do Secret Santa. There wasn't a huge choice, even if we weren't buying within a budget, but I eventually managed to get some ankle bells that are often used in traditional Indian dance. I met Pete for lunch in an organic restaurant that serves a variety of multi-coloured foods that are undoubtedly very good for you. After an avocado salad (topped with assorted bean sprouts and crushed pine nuts) and an orange juice, I felt I was beginning to push the barriers of fibre intake to new levels. The standard 5-a-day was starting to seem like a joke to me, I laughed at how pathetic that number had become. I was now ready to raise the bar and, dare I say it, push it up to 10.

After my afternoon swim back on Patnem Beach, I went to the barbers for a shave and a face massage, just to get myself cleaned up for Christmas Day. Most of the guys had visited a masseuse called Deepak over the previous couple of days, paying 900Rs for the privilege of him pulling and twisting them into unnatural sounding positions and shapes, and these reports invariable told of the pain and the screaming. Everyone said that it was well worth it, which led me to think that there might just be a few masochists within the party.

One of the shacks along the beach had an offer of Christmas dinner advertised so, not wanting to miss out this year, we all plumped for turkey and all the trimmings. There was no better setting: a warm evening on the beach, with fireworks - let off by tourists who had bought them in shops behind the beach - providing some entertainment. The atmosphere was relaxed, everyone grateful and content to be here at this time of year. The moon was at last full and the usual Christmas songs played quietly in the background. All was good.

The food had been very good so far, so there wasn't much to suggest that this meal would be any different. Cooking a turkey and a few spuds is no more difficult than cooking curry. Alas, this would seem not to be the case. When the food came out, it looked and smelled just like a standard Christmas dinner: all the ingredients seemed to be there. I was keen as ever to tuck in and the first few bites were promising. However, my third attack on the turkey was proving fruitless, with my search for some meat lasting for several minutes. This wasn't normal; turkey usually supplies an abundance of meat. It was all very worrying. After further inspection, made more difficult under candlelight (perhaps deliberately so), we concluded that the bird was merely skin and bones. They also seemed to have hacked off any and all of the bird and stuck it on the plates. The dessert that followed did little to redeem the main course, making it officially the worst Christmas dinner that I have ever had. Oh well, that's what you get for going to Goa for Christmas.

We tried to cheer ourselves up by buying some fireworks ourselves. We did a whip around and managed to come up with a kitty of over 2,000Rs, and with this we were able to buy about six big rockets and a box of smaller rockets. A few of the guys kindly did the honour of setting them up in a display along the edge of the water, and they went off very well, getting a few decent 'oohs' and 'aah's' in appreciation. However, just after the last firework exploded, we heard a piercing yelp from about 15 metres away, and one of the dogs that hang out on the beach came running towards our table. At first, we didn't know what had happened, so some of the group tried to pour water on it, thinking its coat was on fire. It was quite distressing to hear it scream in such agony, but it ran away further up the beach before anyone could get a hold of it to help it and calm the poor thing down.

After things had calmed down, we realised that the dog had tried to pick up the just exploded firework in its mouth. One of the guys said that he could see flames and smoke coming out of its mouth! A few of the girls went to look for the dog to make sure it was OK, but it seems it went into hiding for a while. This put a bit of a downer on the night, as we weren't sure whether the dog was OK. However, given that dogs here are mainly strays and are free to roam where they please, it was always likely to happen that one of them would get hurt.

Tags: Beaches & sunshine


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