Then the Bollywood movies began – the DVDs were played on a TV at the front of the coach, with no individual control over volume (which was, as always in India, cranked to the max and then cranked some more just to be sure). It was initially quite amusing to watch, but the novelty wore off for me after about an hour when I just wanted to go to sleep without the unwelcome addition of Hindi dialogue and Bhangra music being blasted through the bus. It seems that Bollywood films all have plots which essentially go like this – there’s a good looking bloke and a good looking woman, they fall in love, and everyone sings and dances about it a lot. What occurs around that fundamental is neither here nor there really. Bollywood movies are a priceless fusion of Action/Adventure and Musical/RomCom. I reckon I could knock out a Bollywood script easily (having said that I bet anyone could). There was one component in the first movie we saw that I did appreciate however – the delivery of slow motion Bombay Bitch Slaps ™ to the bad guys. I enjoyed those segments, especially when the naughty fellows flew 50 metres across the road and through car doors and plate glass windows after the delivery of said slaps. Pure genius.
At about 4 am the driving got really hectic – I have no idea what happened to the road, but the driver was weaving like a mentalist and slamming the brakes on way too much for my liking. This went on for a good couple of hours and resulted in my wanting to heave badly (despite having taken travel sickness pills – they clearly haven’t tested Stugeron on Indian bus routes).
We missed our stop at Mapusa which turned out to be a blessing since all the jack the lads who had boarded in Mumbai disembarked there. We reached the last stop of Margao around 9am in the morning, and didn’t have to pay for the additional distance we had driven. Bonus. The town is slap bang in the middle of Goa. After walking around for a while and realizing that it was chock full of the club 18 to 30 psytrance hippy/raver crew and the over 60s package tour crew, we decided to bail on Goa and swiftly boarded another bus to Gokarna, Karnataka. Nix told me beforehand that Goa would not be for me, and she was absolutely right. She knows me too well ;) We are in the 40 something crew floating somewhere in the nowhere land between the 18 to 30s and over 60s ;) It seems there are only a few folk in the 40 something crew on a travelling tip – most have settled down with families, mortgages and serious jobs I think. The 18 to 30 crew have not yet fallen into that, and the over 60s have been there and done that. As we sat at the bus stop waiting to board our escape vehicle I noticed that the usual supplications to Hindu Gods adorning buses elsewhere in India had been abandoned on the local buses. In Goa they prefer to appeal to the Holy Trinity via such crafty slogans as “Jesus SFX!” (my guess is that is meant to convey that Jesus rocks, or that he is particularly good at special effects, which he must indeed be as he created the world in a mere seven days) and “Holy Mary light our way” emblazoned above the windscreens. Their Christian slant is a throwback to the Portuguese colonization of the region I believe. Anyhoo, we were glad to leave on all fronts. Five hours later (and twenty four hours after leaving Mumbai) we arrived in Gokarna.
Most of the other Westerners who had been on the bus boarded rickshaws bound for Om Beach a couple of kilometres away, so we decided to stay to in Gokarna. There are still a lot of Westerners here, but not nearly as many as we think there will be in Om Beach. Nix and I have been very fortunate in our India travels – we have found places to visit and stay that basically have no or very few Westerners. We seem to be allergic to them. Gokarna is the most Westerner populated place in India I have been to, which makes me really glad we didn’t stay in Goa.... I’m not sure why I am so over Westerners. Maybe because there are so many at home ;) It definitely brings a different vibe being in a place that caters so heavily for the Western massive. It doesn’t feel as authentic as venturing to far flung and remote regions of India where you get a real taste of how things roll (there are for instance barely any Indian food items on any of the restaurant menus here – it’s all burgers, lasagnes and falafels. If I wanted that I would have gone travelling to Pick And Pay).
We eventually found a great place to stay in a family home five minutes away from the imaginatively named Middle Beach and about half an hour away from the town – we’ve got a kitchen (minus any cooking equipment but a kitchen nonetheless!) and big room with en-suite shower/toilet, all for Rs 200 a night. After the expense of Mumbai (where 2 coffees cost over Rs 300), we were chuffed to say the least. It should help to bring the expenditure situation back on track ;) We cruised around town on bicycles today and found a very quaint post office where we posted off the plans for a DIY plastic bottle water heater system I had printed out in Mumbai for Raju. He doesn’t have access to internet, so mail is the only way he could receive the info. With a bit of luck he’ll be able to decipher the plans (the inventor of the system is Portuguese speaking and the translated plans are not in bestest English, mind you Raju is Hindi speaking so it probably doesn’t matter!) and have hot water running for his family in Sangam which will cost him nothing in the long-term ;) We also ventured into the Arabian Sea – it was as warm as bath water. I could have stayed in for hours.... No floating poos or raw sewage outlets in sight either - two thumbs fresh. Gokarna is India’s version of Thailand. It is lush with coconut palms lining the roads and beaches, the temperature is very hot during the day, and pleasant at night, there are flat seas and lots of beach shacks/cafes/restaurants and tourist shops in the town. Fortunately it is very quiet where we are – we walked along the beach without being hassled by anybody. I wasn’t expecting that, and am very pleasantly surprised by it. It makes for a breath of fresh air from the mania found elsewhere in India.
We slept like the dead last night. I had a strange dream where Bobby Friction nicked my cellphone and put an app on it which turned reality into an endless rerun show about death. Nix and I were both stuck in this rerun. The only way to get out of it was to accept what is. You would then be taken to a lift, dissolved into blue light and never have to return. Nix sussed this out early on. I didn’t. It was a dream that didn’t make me feel too good, and it was peculiarly realistic.
Canon Crisis Averted - 3rd December 2013
Leaving Mumbai today... Miraculously Nix managed to get the last Canon Mark II battery charger in Mumbai delivered this morning, with the help of Laiq sweet talking the Canon Mumbai distribution manager at 10pm last night. That conversation would have gone down very differently if we had called the Canon distribution manager at that time in London or Cape Town and asked for a delivery to be done first thing next morning.... ;) Big ups India!