Yesterday I met an Englishwoman on the beach, and she invited me to have dinner with a few people she’d met. One of the guys had heard there was an 18 kilo shark caught that morning; as none of us had ever eaten shark, we got excited. And it was tasty, done in a Goan tomato sauce, but just writing the word shark now is making me feel ill. I woke at three o’clock in the morning with diarrhea, then puked my guts out. Funnily enough I could hear the girl in the next room over vomiting at the same time. I’ve spent the day in bed thanking my stars that I happened to be staying in a nice place with my own attached clean bathroom.
I did get up briefly at noon to try to eat something, but spent half an hour hunched over a table reflecting on what an odd place Goa is. I suppose it’s like anywhere that caters to tourists, yet there is a greater than normal separation here between the behavior of the locals and that of visitors. In fact, most Indian tourists barely even visit the main beach at Anjuna, I presume because they don’t want to mix with scantily-clad foreigners. Instead, you see them poking about on a rocky headland to the north of the main beach, men somewhat relaxed, but women in full sari or punjabi. They wade, but only up to the ankles. I have seen a few groups of boys swimming in trunks at the main beach, but not during prime hours, and I assume that they are modern kids from Mumbai.
The western tourists, on the other hand, loll about in bikinis and banana hammocks, seemingly oblivious to the fact that their apparel is not welcome. I have been wearing my bikini too, but I feel vaguely guilty about it. I know that as soon as I leave Goa I will need to put on a lot more clothing.
I feel about ten years too old for the scene here, even though there are people of all ages. I’m not a vacationer who will go home after a week, but I’m not sure I relate to the backpacker crowd either. I’m not interested in getting drunk every night and flirting with the other travelers. I don’t feel the need to be on the go incessantly in order to see everything there is to be seen. I feel a lot happier when I get into a situation where I can make meaningful connections with local women, but that’s tough in a primarily tourist town. This makes me feel like a liberal cliché – yes, I’m too good for the tourist scene because I’m too educated and thoughtful. I even wear Indian clothing! I should vomit again with what a do-gooder I am.