XIX: Gokarna to Goa

I had a great stint in Paradise Beach. My hut was perched on a cliff above the wave-lapped bay, the toing’s & froing’s o scantily clad ladies lazily frolicking below ensuing like some Restoration Masque. I would usually wake before sunrise, both sky & sea a beautiful pastel. At this time of the day my Russian neighbor was up having his ‘cream’ – a ridiculously dodgy looking pure skunk spliff with bits of rizla hanging off the Dry Gonzo style spliff like wedding streamers. As soon as I had bought my obligatory bag of weed I joined him, watching the sun’s orb rise each day in the direct centre of a little chink between the two hills that framed the eastern end of the beach. Not long after that a boat would arrive at my local restaurant with a big block of ice to keep all the drinks cool. The day would then be divided between working on the Nalatiyar, sweating, siestas, getting stoned & going on increasingly adventurous swims. I’d never swam these distances before, & with the sea warm & easy it was a very pleasant experience. These swims took me past beautiful sepia scenery to restaurants on other beaches where I would have a tab. I would also walk into Gokarana – about 6 k – past the pair-of-boobs shaped, deliciously mellow Om Beach, over the black volcanic rocky wasteland that leads to Kudle Beach (the busiest) & finally a walk over a lush green hill, past a wicked cricket pitch (with hysterical loudspeaker commentary) before the main Gokarna beach stretched for 8k into the milky distance. As I stood there, the distant hills framing a very tropical scene, I imagined pterodactyls circling over the jungle.

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There’s no money in Gokarna really, everything is done on trust & theoretically you could stay for 6 months (some do) & pay for the lot at the end. My own stay lasted 10 days, but for the last two nights a load of hippies had turned up from a full moon party a 100 miles away at Jog Falls & blasted out techno – two nights of techno headaches later it was time to do one, setting my first feet on the ten-day mission to Heather Lodge. My journey began just before dawn – the best time for a hike as by 10.30 AM it’s very hot. I walked for 11 k, leaving Gokarna island, past little villages & the obligatory thousand hellos from the schoolkids, before hitting Gokarna Road station an hour before the train. There, to my infinite surprise, I bumped into a 57-year-old English guy called Paddy. It was rather apt, actually, because just over 7 years ago, the last time I’d seen him in fact, I’d been talking to him in Bognor Regis, saying I was thinking of going to Thailand. “Go to India,” he’d said, “its much better.” So I did, followed his advice & got myself a goddess (Saraswati) & am now returning to Britain with the Koh-i-noor of Indian Vedic literature. He was heading to Calcutta, but agreed to pop into Patnem for a drunken afternoon & a catch up. This was spent mostly at a restaurant who were selling 12 rupee beers (15p) to attract food consumers – suffice it to say myself, Paddy, Steve, Kate & the newly arrived Phillipa didn’t have any food, much to the chagrin of the owner.

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The newly-arrived Phillipa also had a bottle of liquid acid, which gave my last Saturday night in India a myriad-hued glow. There was a party on in a place called the Secret Garden, which was actually next door to my place in the Sun Sea Sand (I got my old room back) – but I hadn’t even known it was there – it was a secret after all. That was pleasant enough, ‘til the police halted it midflow, so a big bunch of hippies, led in some vague fashion by Jimmy, hiked over to Neptune’s Point for more silent disco fun. Jimmy runs the Magic Cinema here, which is going really well – a far cry from last year’s effort where he ran a bar & lost 12 grand cos nobody paid there bill. This year he’s been holding it together, replacing his own epic personal consumption of alcohol with the litres of liquid ketamine he gets for a quid down in Gokarna. However, the recent arrival of his hedonistic chums (me included) has seen the slow release of his own hedonistic nature & a right good time has ensued (his Spanish girlfriends not too happy about it tho’).

Waking up after acid is a very confusing affair, so yesterday I just drank through my sparkly come down, getting increasingly more anxious about my imminent return to the misty isles of Albion. This begins at 20.08 tonight, when I catch an overnight train to Mumbai, getting there tomorrow morning. Then, 14 hours or so later, after a quick terror tour of downtown Mumbai, I’ll be checking in for my flight to Birmingham, arriving in England Wednesday morning. First, though, this afternoon, I’m going to nearby Turtle Beach to see if the baby turtles have hatched, a story which is currently gripping the local Beaches.


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