With garlands of Jasmine flowers strung around our necks, glasses of Indian whisky in hand, my dear friend Ali from Delhi lighting the big beautiful fireworks bursting overhead and our arms over the shoulders of new friends from all around the world – literally, from Botswana to France to Afghanistan – we welcomed the new year. Starting our countdown at 30, we yelled out “Happy New Year!” at the top of our lungs then embracing each other, kissing tanned cheeks and relishing in that moment in time that would soon be over with people we would most likely never meet again but will always remember, in a story we will all share many times in our lifetime. The story of how we celebrated the end of an incredible year full of travelling, meeting new friends, new loved ones and creating new development both within ourselves, at work and at play. 2015 was everything I would have hoped it to be and nothing I expected it to be, and it seems 2016 is already beginning to follow this trend. I truly do feel so blessed for every village, town, city, country and continent I was able to experience and travel through this year and more so for the people I met and my dear friends and family at home who were always there to support me and encourage me to see more of the world and do what I love doing. I believe that everything happens for a reason and every person we meet in life makes a significant impact on us whether right away or 20 years down the road.
We are currently in Arambol and it is really beautiful. I personally think Palolem is more gorgeous with its thick line of palm trees and peaceful atmosphere, but at such a busy tourist time in Goa, I can only imagine how packed it would also be for the holiday season. Arambol is a lot bigger though and the beach is lined with tons of beach huts, cottages and bungalows all with restaurants serving up delicious seafood dinners, cheap beer and Goan curry dishes. After sunset, they all prepare their tables along the beach, a beautiful white candle on each, making nightfall such an incredible sight to look out on while enjoying fresh, grilled king fish or salmon (or the most amazing Coconut Chicken Curry I’ve ever had – all at Om Café by the way!). The entire beach is sparkling with candles resting atop hundreds of tables, setting the mood for romantics eating dinner as they enjoy their first dates of 2016, families as they reminisce on the beautiful memories over the years they have already been lucky enough to experience and for new and old friends, as they prepare their travel, work and play plans for a brand new year. Daytime isn’t exactly the same. Although the beach is beautiful, and you can always find a decent space away from all the wandering eyes, there are a lot of Indian men who come to just stare at girls in their bikinis and it is extremely uncomfortable. Harmonie and Louise were in the water having a swim while I laid on my stomach, letting the sun graze more freckles upon my back, when I felt an eerie chill roll up my spine and the sound of heavy breathing. I turned my body to see behind me and there stood a man at the foot of my towel, fingering his belly button which set low on his perfectly round pot belly, while his blood shot eyes feasted over my body like a piece of meat. I was in shock of how he didn’t even react to me staring back at him. “CHALO!” I yelled, “GO!”. He removed his finger from his belly button and slowly began to walk away, not letting his gaze stray from my body. Ten minutes later, when Harmonie and Louise had returned to dry off, I spotted him again, trying to take photos of us with his cell phone, his red eyes revealing everything that crossed his dirty mind. We yelled again. We actually had to yell at him three times before he walked away out of sight to disturb another group of young girls I’m sure. We’ve actually encountered endless situations like this since we arrived; men pretending to take selfies or pictures of the beach when really they are taking a picture of our half naked bodies to use for who knows what later on. When we finally discovered a more private beach on the other side of the rocks, we could have literally jumped for joy.
Like most smaller towns and beaches in India that are popular for young tourists, i.e. Pushkar and Manali, most of Goa has been taken over by the modern day hippy culture which consists of “organic” being the only adjective for all menu items, trance and very strange electronic music playing at most bars and restaurants, very un-Indian like clothing for sale that usually just looks like rags stapled together and then sold for a ridiculous price. Everyone has dreadlocks, is most likely high on acid by 10pm, covered in tattoos and piercings and do very strange things like walk the beach for an hour at sunset with a microphone and drums singing over and over “Nama Shivay” like they are loyal Hindus. I’m not exactly judging them but you can seriously tell the different between someone who practices Hinduism compared to some kid with dreadlocks singing a song on a beach. I sometimes wonder if maybe they’ve crossed the line. What do the locals think of this behavior?
While in Goa, we’ve been living on vacation schedule: wake up around 10am, bathing suits on, a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit muesli with yogurt, fresh fruit juice, coffee and toast at Rendez-Vous on the main road along the beach, then we grab our towels, sit on the beach for about 7 hours, shower, dinner at a candlelit table (usually at Om Café) where we hang out for a few hours with some beers, then the night is followed by whatever is happening on the beach or some cards on the porch of our adorable bungalow at Holiday Village. It’s been nothing but a peaceful and rejuvenating start to the new year and we are all dreading tomorrow, our last full day before heading back by bus to Mumbai then onto our flight to Delhi followed by a train to Bikaner – unfortunately it’s time to get back to work and to get there, a solid three days of travel is needed which means three sleepless nights. I think it’s fantastic that you can get so far in India by overnight transportation via bus or train but man, definitely not my favorite part of the travelling experience.
Here’s to what’s left of living in paradise and to everyone who is back to work tomorrow.
2016 – LET’S DO THIS!