The time machine, The Darkness and The Light. .

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
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Trip End Oct 01, 2006


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Flag of India  ,
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Time travel is possible here. The space/time continuum is shattered when it comes to Goa. I've seen it so many times already: people come with set agendas, itineraries, planning to stay only a couple of days in the beach town, and the next thing you know they are there a week, two, or more.
Time itself speeds up and slows down according to where you are and what you are doing. Blink, and two weeks have passed, but during the afternoons, the time somehow goes slower. It is an easy life, and so one that is hard to leave even after the time comes.

The season is winding down, however, having had my experience with Arumbol and the End-Of-Season Madness there, I am well prepared to read the signs here, and the vibe has changed. There is a palpable difference to what it was a week ago (or was that two weeks? I don't know, somehow. . .), and it is getting to be time to mount my trusty steed, Rocinante, and head for the hills. Even this presents it's own little problems, before leaving, one has to gear up mentally for it before coming up with a deadline and sticking to it. This is the trap of Goa. You have been warned.
You might say to yourself: "well, that wouldn't happen to me," and I promise I won't say I told you so when you end up staying in Goa a month when you intended fully to stay only a couple of days. Life is that good here.

The end of season Madness is becoming eviden, however. People are acting a little funny. The other night a middle aged Glaswegian was starting trouble with a lot of people in the bar, and by the time he got to me, he tried to slip his hands around my throat as I was talking to the staff and a few other Indians, who have proven to be good friends, and one of whom (given the nickname "walking tall") was nursing a cut up hand from bouncing another troublemaker earlier in the night.
As the twisted up Glaswegian (Glasgow, for those not in the know) tried to choke me, I just grabbed him by the wrists and held him, him pleading for me to "let him go" and myself telling him sternly, "We don't do that here, we are guests in this country, this is not Scotland, this is not America, this is India." 12 years of carrying heavy stuff up stairs has done wonders for my grip and arm wrestling ability, and after all that, I despise that stupid meathead pub pissing contest crap. I can go get that at home if I want it, not here in India. So I made him promise to stop messing with people before I finally let him go, him rubbing his wrists, and slurring some unintelligible sounds.
A few minutes later he started in on the staff, and it being 4 am and not busy, they were all seated (along with myself) at the bar having a few jokes and looking at "walking tall's" hand which had a couple of pretty good abrasions on it. They asked me if I knew the scot, and with a laugh, I told them no, though I thought he wanted to know me a bit better. I advised the man gently and evenly that he should just walk away and let it go, whatever it was, but apparently in Glasgow when they get stuck on something, they don't let go. Like a bottle of Lowland malt. .

Well, in the end the man got what he obviously came for, Indian Justice. They do it quietly in the beach so as not to wake any guests, and it is meted out quickly. Needless to say, my friend Walking Tall (as he had been christened that night, for a number of reasons), had one more pain in the hand.
This same night also a drunken Australian decided it would be a good idea to take a whizz on the pool table, and was also ejected with some force.

A warning to Meatheads everywhere: Leave your crap at home, and don't mess around with Goan barkeepers. They will take a lot from drunken Westerners, and give you many many warnings, but when you persist in looking for trouble, they take care of it quickly and quietly and with some amount of force. A peaceful lot for the most part, they, like myself, abhor violence, though unruly drunks are allowed so long as they are happy ones. So Meatheads, consider yourself warned: just because you are far away from home, it does not mean you can do what you wouldn't do at home, in fact quite the opposite: One should behave graciously to their hosts here, and be on good behavior. These are good people, they work hard to make things as nice as they can, and deserve respect.
Palolem and India in general may be like a frontier town in many ways, but that is no reason to act like a cowboy. If you want to do that, just stay home, you are not welcome here, and they will back that up. And if you give the police any problems along the same lines, you will find out what the term "bamboo massage" means firsthand.

So, my advice to fratboys, meatheads, and cowboys done, I will get on with another story. Feels good to tell a bit about the dark side as well, though.

Rocinante had a little loose chain problem, and so, having the shop manual and a set of tools, I set out to give her a tighten. I noticed a whirring and an occasional cog skip on the way down, so I did not want to beat up her sproket too much and set out to do my own repairs. A simple job, really, but this is India, and though things are simple, they happen on their own time.
So after putting the word out for a small sheet of plywood or a plank with which to put her up on the center stand (it is all sandy here, and so bikes tend to sink), I got one that afternoon, and set to work. Problem is, Enfields are all done with imperial (standard) measurements and one will sooner find a clean hotel in mumbai central than a good set of standard spanners.
After loosening the castle nut and the brake stay nut, I tried the 27 mm on the main axle nut, and found, to my disappointment, that it was too small. Asking the restaurant staff for tools, I found that they had no adjustable wrench big enough for the task, though plenty of hammers. . There is a mechanic next door to Mama's house, and so I tried to inquire there about borrowing a wrench for the job, or just seeing if he wanted to do it, what with it being a 15 minute task and all.
Well, of course the man was not home, as he runs a taxi service as well, and his wife had'nt the foggiest idea what I was talking about even after I drew a picture of the tool I needed. Through the few english words she knew and some sign language, she told me to come back in the evening, and when I checked in then, same story. . "airport" she pointed off in the distance. . "taxi, you come morning," and so this went on for a couple of days. Finally this morning, I saw a Westerner with a loaded Enfield come out of the spare room that they rent out on the side of the house, and with some relief, I realized that he spoke English quite well, what with his being a Brit and all. He knew where the tools were and soon came out with an adjustable which we checked on the axle of his Bullet 350 to make sure it would work.
Roger was on his way up to Arumbol, and so I gave him a few connections up there, and also in the traveller's style of information trade, he gave me pointers on avoiding the Baksheesh station at the Goa border with Karnataka which presumably is supposed to be a truck weigh station.
As we talked, our elusive mechanic friend returned from wherever he was (probably hiding from me) and he actually gave me the proper tool on loan (for free, if you can believe that) and asked me to just leave it on the porch rail when I was done. Then he was off again. This is how a simple 15 minute job in India turns into 2 days. (see "time machine" section at the top. . )

The operation on Rocinante was a success, and the whirring loose chain sound is gone. Tomorrow I will take her in to another mechanic for a looking over, a carb adjustment, and an air filter cleaning, so that I can plan on leaving for definite on thursday morning.
The nice route that Roger had given me runs within 80 km of Hampi, a popular destination for its rocky caves and river, though very hot in the day, and as of late hard to get to as the buses do not run except from Margao and Panaji here this late in the season. Perhaps the bus drivers are afraid of trouble from drunken Glaswegians, and do not like to clean up Aussie urine from the back seats. Who can blame them?

After that it is making time down through the hills of inland Karnataka, and to the mountains, where I will probably cool my bones for a day or two, then on through Kerala (though no more beach towns, to easy to get stuck) to a little point at the tip of India where, it is said, one can watch the sun rise and set over the ocean in the same day. From there it grows somewhat looser. . .

Well, then it is back to my seat on the front deck of the rainbow cafe. Perhaps I will have "Mama" make me up some of her paneer tikka masala, which is just brilliant, before playing an energetic beach volleyball game with my local friends until sunset, at which time I will serenade the cafe. After the sun goes down, in the early evening, Mama and/or one of her many relations invariably asks, "music time now?" and they all sit in the chairs and hammocks under the shacks as I go through my repertoire for an hour or so. They love the music, and it brings in business for them, as people are coming to listen more and more. Sometimes the cook sings or whistles along with the chorus--it would seem he has quite a musical ear, and also in the same department, one of the nepalese lads from the "Chinese" restaurant next door has bought a guitar, and I am teaching him a bit. Ain't easy being a Goan Rock Star. . hee. . . hee. . .


Perhaps you are growing a little weary of me getting stuck in certain places, and to tell the truth, dear reader, I have had itchy feet for quite a while. I will miss Mama and her family, who have all but adopted me, but Rocinante is repaired, polished, and calls to me in my sleep.

Perhaps you can understand, on the other hand, how hard it is to leave such a place. But with the End Of Season Madness on the way, I know now not to make the same mistake twice.
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