Yesterday I decided to come out my comfort zone and challenge my judgements. I struck up a conversation with an elderly Russian lady sitting at a table opposite us in our local beach cafe. She was very easy to talk to, and visits Gokarna for six months every year to escape the harsh Moscow winter. Can’t say I blame her. I think everyone on the planet would like to live Summer all year round. We also found out from her that there is some holy spring or other at a temple on the hill near the town which sounds worth a visit. Curiously, throughout the day and evening following that interaction we had several other foreigners smile at us, say hello, strike up conversations, offer us food at a restaurant and invite us to dinner at their house - in stark contrast to previous days. It’s amazing how rapidly things seem to come back to you here. The minute you think about things in a certain way, India throws more of that at you. It serves as a good reminder that if I stay open the likelihood of rewarding interactions dramatically increases. Simple I guess, but so easily forgotten in the land of generalizations and fixed viewpoints (where I spent far too much of my time living).
After chatting to a heavily tattooed Brit at a chai shop (he asked me where I got my sleeve done – turns out we both know Alex Binnie and Curly, the tattoo artists who did the work for me), we discovered that Kutli Beach is a short 20 minute walk over the hill (which is not what local rickshaw drivers would have you believe – if you listen to them it’s 10kms and worth a Rs 300 ride). Kutli Beach is much smaller and busier than Middle Beach, but seemed nice enough. Lots of foreigners however have attracted lots of touts who were prowling the beach with their wares – I spotted one making a beeline for me so ran away before he could hit me with his sales pitch. That didn’t stop him trying and he shouted after me “I have good necklaces! Maybe another time?” Maybe another life mate. Nix and I are both very happy to be where we are at Middle Beach. Tomorrow we’re going to trek to all the main beaches in the area if we can – Kutli Beach to Om Beach to Paradise Beach to Half Moon Beach. It should be a good hike, although we’ll have to set off early to avoid walking in the searing midday heat. And we’ll have to quaff a few coconuts along the way ;) Drinking coconut water is brilliant – tastes great and is meant to be excellent for health too. You can’t say fairer than that.
We wandered around the quiet backstreets of Gokarna at sunset and came across an amazing walled ghat area, filled with lotus flowers, jacaranda pads, omnipresent rubbish and.... a resident crocodile. We were fortunate enough to see the croc having a rest on the shrine area in the middle of the water. It was as if we’d been transported back through time. Just a few hundred metres away was the busy main road filled with foreigners, shops and restaurants, which felt like another world. The buildings in the walled ghat area looked older/less gaudy and the residents of several were singing prayers which added to the ambience. The croc was the cherry on top. We were travelling again.