Arriving in Benaulim last night was lovely. People remembered me. The ladies who run the guesthouse I stayed in two weeks ago seemed chuffed that I had come back, especially after I told them it was because they were so nice. They have a boy repainting the exterior of the house bright pink, which is fresh and clean, but he’s not exactly, uh, paying attention to detail. Enough to give an architect a conniption.
At breakfast I noticed scrawled on the walls: “Every minute of anger you lose 60 seconds of joy” and “Every need has an ego to feed.” Amen brother!
I went into town this morning to buy my train ticket to Mysore. The best way to go is through Bangalore, and those trains leave in the afternoon, so I decided to stay another day at the beach instead of hurrying off . I tried in vain to buy a copy of ‘Trains at a Glance’, the bible of the Indian Railways. Like the real bible, it is thick and glorious, packed with useful tidbits and long-winded poetry but also cryptic information, often conflicting or even missing completely. One does not understand the trains ‘at a glance’ or even after hours of perusal. Some of the stations that I know exist do not make an appearance in it. And yet I am determined to buy this book and master it. Watch this space.
In the Margao covered market I bought a pot for soaking fruit and vegetables and a fork and spoon and vegetable peeler. I’m tired of eating every meal in restaurants and I miss fresh vegetables. You can buy beautiful produce on every corner, but it’s not safe unless you soak it in chlorinated water. Now I can!
It’s so easy to be seduced by the fabrics here: any color combination, any pattern you can imagine, often shot through with silver and gold embroidery. The market itself is a warren of stalls: easy to lose your way and never emerge. But anything you need to live other than sunlight exists in there.
In a country of a billion people, twice in the past two days I’ve had people say they’ve seen me before. The first was a boy on the train in the Konkan yesterday: he said he’d noticed me in Panjim ten days before, 150 kilometers away.
I get so many compliments when I wear a punjabi or my bejeweled green dress. “Nice dress.”” You look like Indian lady. ” Over and over again. It makes me loathe to go the beach where I will wear my scandalous bikini.
The water is noticeably warmer than it was two weeks ago; another degree and it will cease to be a relief from the sun. It’s hard to stay cool here. Indians don’t seem to sweat, but I do, in buckets. It’s embarrassing how the midsection of my dress is always wet, and even though I apply deoderant two or three times a day, I can’t stay sweet-smelling for long. It’s probably a good thing that I’m traveling alone.
Among the hawkers who stroll the beach (sarongs, fruit, henna tattoos, drums, ice cream, DVDs, jewelry) is a young man selling maps of Goa. It would be more to the point to sell a frigging map of the Indian railway system. I’m pretty sure ‘Trains at a Glance’ does not contain one.