Well that was a crazy month.
Sorry for disappearing, but thanks for all the concerned calls and messages. I made it through a month in Goa (and a few crazy days in Delhi before that)! I left Goa with no money, some (I say some, because a few nights have just been blurred out by alco-tipex) incredible memories, and possibly minor liver damage. It’s safe to say I had an amazing time.
I’ll begin at the beginning. So I left Jodhpur full of much more emotion than I expected. I had grown really close to Liv and her excellent boyfriend Simon, and Manju, Bhanu and Ramsingh at the guesthouse, and Manoj in the office, and didn’t realise until I was about to leave that they had all become something of a replacement family for the 3 months I was there. I felt childishly scared of leaving, and it’s not that I’m not a good traveller – I love travelling, but it suddenly dawned on me that I’d hardly seen anything out of Jodhpur in India, and India is a bloody big place. I was wandering off into the unknown after spending three months in it.
After an uneventful sleeper train to Jodhpur I arrived in Delhi just in time to ruin the normal sleeping pattern of Rila, who had let me stay on her sofa for the 4 nights, I think, that I was there. It was about 5:30 I think when I got to her apartment, and she had work that day. The apartment was in South Delhi (where all the fun bits are), and has this wonderful large balcony which looks out onto the street below. I took a nap for a few hours, then had the frankly ridiculous idea of doing some yoga on the balcony at about 10am. Exhausted and full of coffee, I was there trying to tie myself into knots while shaking and looking like I had a deathly hangover, as suddenly all the other housemates and the maid started wandering in and out of the house. That awkward moment when you have to decide whether to meditate or introduce yourself. I meditated, but i worked out OK in the end.
The next few days were great. By the time I left Delhi, I was convinced I would turn all attention to getting a permanent job there (as with most of my plans, that changed pretty damn quickly). OKOK stop getting distracted…Delhi in summary:
Particularly Excellent People:
- Rila – well, obviously. She let me stay, let me sneak around Nikhilendra’s house while I waited for her to finish work one day, took me out for lovely food and drinks (very welcome after so much veg. food in Jodhpur – she is a carnivore after my own heart), and made sure I was very well looked after.
- Rohin – Rila’s boyfriend. A really kind guy who was so laid back and welcoming; he introduced me to a bunch of his friends and made great company.
- Robin – an Englishman in Delhi (whoo!) living in Rila and Rohin’s apartment who was eccentric and charming. Particularly good value when slightly pissed, I discovered.
- Marina – Robin’s wife, a Russian yoga instructor, with a heart of pure gold. She was an absolute gem, one of the most down-to-earth and friendly people I’ve met in a while.
- Abhilasha – I met Abhilasha through Robin and Marina. We ended up trying to go to the Delhi Museum of Art or something then after an hour and a bit of walking discovered that it was shut, so decided to go and get drunk. A good decision, because it turned out to be a thoroughly worthwhile day of nattering and joking around.
- Ayesha – what a character. Ayesha needs to be put in a room and studied for a bit, so people can work out how she is always in such good spirits, and use it to help the miserable buggers out there. She was also very very smart I think.
Particularly Excellent Experiences:
- Going to see the Qutub Minar, this enormous 1000 year old minaret. I went with Robin, Marina, and their friend Miranda, as it was getting dark, and the whole thing was quite otherworldly and surreal. It looks like something from the set of Lord of the Rings.
- Going to a little bar/club called Cafe 27 with everyone, getting really drunk with everyone, and ending up at the Northern English DJ’s house for an after-party before he went crazy, a bottle of vodka got smashed, and everyone kindof slipped away quietly without me noticing. Nonetheless great fun.
- Going to the Indian Food Festival with Marina, Robin, Miranda, Ayesha, and Abhilasha. Endless stalls of ghee filled goodness (badness, more accurately), and suspicious sweets and herbs wrapped in bitter leaves and chewed (paan), and smells and smoke. Very good fun, we all felt sick afterwards, but in a good way, perhaps.
- Spending a day in a bar with Abhilasha, and later Rila. A good old day in a pub like I was back in the UK, but without the crippling bar bill.
- Finding a guitar in Ayesha’s house. Short lived joy, but joy nonetheless.
- Eating at a place called Grey Garden in Haus Khaz (the trendy up-market restaurant and bar place in South Delhi). Great Italian food with a full compliment of people I was more than happy to be hanging out with.
So, that’s Delhi in summary. I thoroughly recommend having a friend in Delhi who is fun. Friends make Delhi fun. When it came to leaving I went through the whole panic and not wanting to leave and nerves and big untold adventures thing, but I knew Goa was at the other end of the flight. Goa, famous for: hippies, beaches, serving beef, drugs, people having fun, alarmingly cheap alcohol, more hippies, acid trance. Let the adventures begin.
I was going to learn to make sushi, obviously. When someone thinks of Goa they normally cite something in the list above, not a 21-yr old from Oxford and a 47-yr old Chinese guy from India who has lived in Sweden for the last 20something years teaming up to rustle up some Japanese cuisine to drunk Mumbaikers looking to escape the city for a few days. But that’s what I did.
John Chu, the sushi master, is married to Rila’s aunt (that’s how I got the chance to go to Goa in the first place – I never could have afforded to pay the extortionate high-season rates for accommodation). I had only communicated to him very briefly, uncomfortably briefly, via facebook and I had some serious concerns that I wasn’t going to be what he expected to receive. So I got a dream-shatteringly expensive taxi to Baga, in North Goa, which I later discovered was the busiest party section of Goa. John was living above the Thai Foot Spa on Tito’s Lane, which had 5 clubs and about 15 bars on it’s 150m length. Music starts at about 9pm in most places, and went on till 6am for most days I was there. This was definitely not Jodhpur (nor was it in any way a reasonable place to expect people to get any sleep). Within a few days, I was rolling salmon maki rolls for dinner, then creeping away from the sushi restaurant at about 10pm to do the nauseatingly stressful procedure of making friends in a club when everyone else is roaming about in large drunken packs.
OK this is going to become unreasonably long if I don’t split it into parts, so I’ll call it a day. One thing I must add is a little bit about John. For all the randomness of the situation, John turned out to be an immense stabilising force over the 2 weeks that I stayed with him. After work some days we would sit on the balcony, drink Old Monk (great, sweet, super cheap dark rum – it’s about £1.70 for a .75 litre bottle), and talk about the big important stuff while we pushed up our noses at the stumbling wasters below us. On other (most) days I would end up joining the rabble, go to bed at 6 or 7am, and he’d be up and about in the afternoon with some home cooked lunch and water to make me less of an alco-prune. I was sorry I couldn’t be more useful to him, but I did my best to make and sell some sushi, and to be good company.
Over and out. Expect some heavily edited drinking stories and a serious financial crisis or two in the next part, as well as a bit of romance perhaps.