Something told me that I should maybe just skip over Goa. It is not the time for me in Goa as I am 27 with no interest in going to parties and chilling out at beaches unless I am writing all day. My mind has been writing for three days straight, but in my head and not turning my thoughts into words into paragraphs into chapters and then into books. Besides, with my memory in such bad shape, I am cheating myself by not writing. I need to write down my ideas, thoughts, and stories that moment, that instant, and that second rather than waiting.
Already making arrangements with a couch surfer, a bit excited about the energy that will feed off during Carnival, and able to book a train ticket with 100 people waitlisted-I thought it was a green light to go.
The train ride was pleasant and I met some wonderful people and made it over to Panjim pretty easily. Arriving I was off looking around for somewhere to store my luggage while I was waiting for Carnival to start. I walked through the old town and the market. Panjim is quite a charming little down with a nice park and municipal buildings. It reminds me of a small city I visited in the Netherlands.
I stop at a local bar/restaurant that is full of men, not one woman sitting there, but I did not care because it was just a local stop for a quick bite. I sit down and look over to my right and there appears the bus driver from the bus I was on earlier sipping on a Kingfisher beer. He smiled and introduced me to his local friends. He speaks no English and does not even try to speak. It does not matter because his smile and kind nature is just enough for us to get by.
Leaving the restaurant just in time for carnival, I get excited with the crowds, the vendors selling masks, the floats pass by, and the energy starting to flow. I begin to increase my walking pace running along the side of the street like a child. I get to the front of the action and I ask the young local boys what time the parade is starting. The boy says, “The parade is not starting-the whole thing is canceled.”
Not believing his words, I continue to go near a large group of tourists who say the same exact thing. A school bus went into the water killing two young girls and two adults. This is a definite tragedy, but it confuses me on why they would cancel the whole entire thing because of this accident. Speaking with locals and putting my common sense together, I figured out that the elections were taking place. This bus accident was just a good excuse to cancel Carnival-the whole reason I came to Goa and left beautiful Kerala with amazing Christian churches and missions-did not listen to my intuition, no Carnival, and two beautiful girls are dead.
I felt like I just wanted to leave, but at that point and go to just work on writing in a quite place, but I decided to stay and head to Anjuna Beach where my CS host was staying. It was quite a happening area, but very touristy. My host was an Ayurvedic yoga massage instructor. He was very sweet, calm, and fragile. He reminded me of a lost kitten. But he was really a sweet, kind person. We motor biked around town to his favorite spot on Anjuna beach- a tree house on the beach. We then headed to where the action is at the Saturday Night Market.
This is where I really saw Goa come alive. It was full of eccentric people, The handicrafts, fish curry and fish fry, mackerel fish, teas, port wines, cashews, spices, colors, dresses, funky hats and glasses. We had some amazing North Indian food from my fellow Punjabi friend. I walked around with my eyes wide open amazed with the variety of people.
Goa really is the place where you can be yourself, you can do and say pretty much whatever you want and no one is going to judge you. You can walk around on the streets with mismatched clothing, no shirt, a missing shoe, and no one is going to blink an eye. I thought about this place for some of my clients who struggled with gender identity issues and experiencing hate crimes for expressing their sexuality. Instead of therapy sessions and support groups, maybe their solution should be to just move to Goa? Ha!
The bands that were playing on stage were horrible. They would just play beats and people would sit and move their bodies and heads to the nonexistent beats. It is like my friend and I discussed-people move to the sounds and beats going on in their head –not the actual music ha!
Leaving this horrible music scene, I walked around and talked to local vendors. This one man selling glass elephants was hilarious with his selling techniques. The elephant had a broken piece and he says, “Ohh I’m sorry my friend-no problem you buy.” I proceed with my own comedic routine of trying to negociate a price, but he is not budging. It is common to go back and forth with fellow Indians trying to negociate a price. One could go back and forth for hours over 25 or so rupees. Oh India!After overdosing on some Dark Chocolate gelato and a homemade brownie, I head back to the stage and felt bad for abandoning my host, but I could not sit through that horrible music. Thinking it is time to leave, I quickly change my mind as I hear some loud instruments near the stage. It quickly turns into a Punjabi Indian beat and the crowd all gets in the circle and starts dancing. The band moves to the stage where the energy triples. It is some hardcore Punjabi’s dancing, a boy tears off his shirt, people dance so hard sweat begins to drip from their foreheads, little boys are dancing adorably, and I get right in the middle of the mix dancing my heart away to my roots. I am the only girl dancing the crowd and I do not care. I get stepped on and pushed around a bit, but I am ALIVE. The beats are so strong that you feel them take over your body. Up on stage, I see my Punjabi friend who runs the restaurant where I had my amazing paneer, veg kafti, and biryani. He is smiling so proudly and is commanding the attention of the audience. Oh how I can not wait to go North!