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INDIA | Monday, 1 September 2008 | Views [609]

Postcard worthy hey?  Palolem again.  Daily sunset watching.

Postcard worthy hey? Palolem again. Daily sunset watching.

28/08/2008 - 01/09/2008

Palolem Beach, Southern Goa.

With a final meal and then a farewell at Joe's house, i returned the trusty 'Splendour', the night before leaving. He was obviously sad to see us go, and both he and Julie insisted we have cake at their house. A few photo's, some tasty mud cake then the 3 of us crammed onto Shai's scooter back to Anjuna. It is really great to meet such genuinely nice people. Of course i am meeting nice people all the time, but Joe and Julie were exceptional. Their lot in life is by no means fantastic (and yet i would dare to say above average here), but they are truly happy, grateful for what they have, always willing to share, and are so incredibly friendly. They truly embody the Indian ideal that "the guest is God".

We awoke to a lovely day at Anjuna, and set about getting ready to migrate.. While packing my things, it came time to put away the still not working laptop. Deciding to try one last time before either sending it home or diverting to Mumbai to get it repaired, i sat on the end of the bed, and pushed the little silver button. In the 3 seconds of dark before BIOS hits, i had already decided it would still be screwed. But suddenly, there it was; the ASUS BIOS splashscreen. She had repired herself! My journal would live on. I had tried writing it by hand, but it just wasn't happening. If i didn't have a smile on my face already that morning, i certainly did after that. After restarting it about 6 times just to be sure, with a new spring in my step i very carefully packed everything away, ready for an epic day of buses.

After saying our goodbyes to Brahma and our view, we donned our packs, and wandered to the bus stand. Taxi drivers were obviously keen to take us - for Rs.1200. The bus might set us back a few extra hours, but what was the rush? 4 buses, Rs.60 and about 5 hours later, we were in Palolem. It was relatively painless however; not much waiting between buses, they were only ever crowded for short times, and they were easy to work out. It could have been so much worse!

Didi and i parked ourselves in a bar to have a beer while Shai went searching for rooms. Palolem is known as the "Bamboo Calangate" - bamboo and coconut shacks wall to wall along the beautiful stretch of beach. But, being the off season, all the shacks were dismantled, and the beach was reasonably sedate. Still, compared to Arambol in the north, it was positively lively. To me it was perfect. Enough people that there was plenty of restaraunts and shops open, yet few enough that everything was cheap. We got a good room on a quiet part of the beach, and set in for a few days relaxing. With Didi's birthday less than a week away, maybe Palolem was the place to be?

On the final bus that day, there was a German couple also. And, after being accosted by the same man as Shai, they had ended up as our neighbours in the Samson Guest House. We had said hello a few times, but only in passing and by the next day were wondering what the deal was. They were together, but not. Staying in the same room, but always alone on the beach; going to breakfast together, but leaving seperately. It's funny the stories you create to fill in the gaps when you don't know people, and with 'zee germans', it was no exception. Being Israeli, Shai had plenty of ammunition - lighthearted of course.. Sure enough, we knew the answers by the next morning. While Didi and i had gone to bed early, Shai had gone out after dinner to a party. And who was there? But 'zee germans' of course. Didi ended up with zee whole story in the morning. Mathias and Francesca were flatmates from uni - not partners. He was gay, and they were travelling together for 6 weeks in India for the holidays. He was rather confronted by India so far, and wasn't very receptive to anything. Yet Francesca was enjoying herself. Hence the tension. The truth is always so much better than the shit you make up.. And the truth got better - when asking something about her, Shai told Didi to be quiet; she was in his room!

Some Palolem romance flourished over the next few days for the jew and zee german. We spent a fair bit of time with Mathias, who seemed to really open up to Didi. A great guy, though maybe still a bit confused as to where he fits in life. Francesca was a lot of fun, and once she got used to Shai's 'Holocaust Humor' and learned to laugh it off, it was incredibly funny to watch them together. And it turned out a bit more than a travellers one night stand; the 2 of them nearly inseperable for the 5 days we spent there. I can say that it has been educational also. Obviously, the Israeli's have a picture in their mind of Germans. Of course it's inevitable, with so many people directly affected by the holocaust. And Shai seems to have a lot more interest than others; he admitted to have read lots of material on the subject, and his grandmother still has her tattoo - a constant reminder of her time in Germany. Then there is the German attitude towards the holocaust; it is something NEVER to be joked about. So to watch these two together was great; watching their socially conditioned opinions and attitudes change.

Our Palolem time was spent in much the same way as Anjuna - swimming and sand; good food and company; chai and sunsets on the beach; and of course, a bit of riding. While there were no long road trips or adventures, we of course had a scooter to get around locally. And now we were 5. Maybe a birthday 'party' for Didi was on the cards? After 5 nights there however, we had seen all there was to see, eaten everywhere, and explored all the shops. We'd even done a day trip to Agonda beach, enjoying the extreme quiet there. So while it was a really nice place to be, to stay longer just for Didi's birthday would make it a bit stale. We'd had a great time - it was time to move on. Where?? Well, on Didi's list of vague ideas and destinations was Om Beach. She had heard lots from friends about it. However, when i asked her where it was, she had no idea. But, funnily enough, where was Shai headed next? To Om Beach of course. It was in Karnartaka - the next state south. His last 2 destinations were Om Beach and Hampi - both on Didi's list also. I think that there is a secret guide to India. It's called the Israeli Planet, and while i've never seen a copy, they all follow it to the letter. You won't see an Israeli in say Kochi, or Pondicherry, but go to Goa, Delhi, Rishikesh, or anywhere in Himaschal Pradesh, and you could travel using Hebrew alone...

It also turned out that we didn't need to say goodbye to Francesca and Mathias - they were coming with us! We had determined that we could do the trip to Gokarna in local buses, and hopefully reach Om Beach before dark. 5 of us and our backpacks on local buses. This was going to be fun!!!!!!



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