Settling in a bit

Now over two weeks in India. The good news is we found an apartment to live in for the next few months. After searching for a bit, we settled on it as it was the one that suited our needs best. It’s about five minutes stroll to the beach which is fine. There is a busy main road to cross first then it goes to dirt roads that converge quickly into paths and becomes green, pleasant and quiet. The apartment cost more than we really wanted to spend but life is too short to be paying for what you don’t really want. To get cheaper we would have had to go inland further which may have been quieter but there would be the constant need for transport. Probably false economy. Where we are now is close to a lot of amenities, restaurants and shops. It would have been nice to have got a quaint Portuguese villa but those come with their own problems. This place has two bedrooms and that will be great when Max is here.

Now that we have sorted out our immediate issues there will be the challenge of filling that spare time. So far little has been done about that. We met an English couple who live here half the year and they invited us to a bar where one of them plays acoustic guitar solos. He did it well, had a great choice of songs and we drank too many beers and had a few jolly conversations with other members of the English expat community.

There are at least two long trips to the beach every day. There are huts down there and endless sun lounges. As pleasant as it is, I am sure there will need to be some excursions soon. We fly up to Mumbai on 4th December to meet Max. We’ll stay there a couple of days and take the train back to Goa. We are completely excited about seeing him again as we have missed him like crazy. Despite not all things not going to plan on this big trip, it was leaving him behind that has been the only thing that has made me ever think twice about the wisdom of it. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it here too.

I finally hired a scooter and we ventured up to Fort Aguada on the hill to the south of Candolim. It was a bit of a hazy day but the views were nice. It was good it was a public holiday today as the roads were slightly less chaotic. Indian traffic sometimes beggars belief but having experienced Mumbai, this is a scaled down version. Of course, it travels relatively slowly given the general congestion. Apart from having to deal with the general chaos there are the mindless dogs that stroll into the road and the itinerant cows that roam everywhere. Given that they are a largely protected species they aren’t too worried about wandering into the general traffic without warning. Like all things you get used to it.

Walking presents its own interesting obstacles too. Paved surfaces have unique protrusions designed to trip the unwary and cow shit abounds. You see the occasional tourist stepping in it much to the amusement of local taxi drivers. Other vile unidentified substances also litter the walkways.

I wouldn’t mind a small trip in between heading up to Mumbai such as taking the bus or train to Hampi, on cooler and higher ground. But maybe we’ll drag Max into that one. Preoccupation with logistical things has meant little time for photography so that has to change. The fabulous sunsets on the Arabian Sea are always tempting. Yesterday as I walked to the beach I saw a mongoose run out of the bush and promptly disappeared into a neighbouring patch of bush. Keep catching those snakes. When I was in the sea there were a few fish jumping and a fairly large manta ray did a flying leap out of the sea. It landed quite awkwardly for such a graceful animal. These are lovely things in a quite lovely place but it is very touristy and that can have its own annoyances.

One of the worst blights on this magnificent and beautiful country is the rubbish. Indians are generally appalling litterbugs. I continually remove any rubbish I see in the sea or beach. The Goans have proclaimed endlessly to me about how all this is caused by the invading hordes descending over Diwali. All of this is caused by drunken yobs throwing rubbish everywhere and they are such an embarrassment to all Indians. I suspect everyone is guilty. There is some rubbish collection on the beach but it is inadequate. It seems to me the businesses (especially based on the beach) could make a small contribution to the collection and disposal of rubbish even if that meant employing people directly to do it. India is in dire need of a large education campaign on the subject. These have been undertaken in countries like Australia and did change people’s behviour over time I’ve seen more than a few people just discard rubbish. Then there are the fires to burn piles of it where they do collect that adds even more to the smoky haze that hangs around everywhere. The sad thing in India is the huge increase in the number of people consuming more disposable items, like plastic water bottles, and the environmental impact is huge. I think the world will strangle the oceans and land with plastic before the changing climate will get us. 1.2 billion Indians are contributing a good share.

I am now about 80% vegetarian and almost exclusively sticking to Indian food. I have the odd plate of chips or we have cooked up pasta dishes at home but we have yet to tire of eating Indian everyday, several times a day.

So the new challenges are what to do next, both in terms of travel and in day to day things.

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