I clear away the reminders of Friday evening, pencils and crayons & sheets of once white paper now filled with flora & fauna, figures & symbols. I gave each of the youngsters that sat at this table earlier this evening a sheet of paper and asked them to draw me a map, this was to keep them occupied, as the grown ups sipped cocktails, watched the sunset and gabbled about the stuff that interested us.
As I pick up one of the kids pieces I am struck by it, it’s not a map, more a picture, of the sea, of flowers and bees. Most curiously there are maybe half a dozen hearts in the picture, one has an arrow through it, the largest heart is coloured red in a wildly scribbled way , it’s split in two with a jagged line. The picture was made by a little girl who is still in primary school, I wonder how at such a young age that love & broken hearts figure in her picture, what she was thinking about when she drew them? I would liked to have asked her. I know a little about this little girl and enough to understand that her few years of life have not been easy, but it still surprises me tp see that even in such tender years that the ideas of love are already forming so strongly. Perhaps there is nothing surprising in this, that even the youngest of us grow our ideas of love, perhaps it’s just a word they hear often.
I sleep badly again that evening, in the morning go to Yoga, I swim & I walk the beach, I jog ( rather badly ), I eat a meat free diet, drink coconut milk. I want to feel healthier, better. The results feel slow, all rather imperceptible, but from time to time I realise a little improvement, an Asana that once I couldn’t manage now is possible, or that I can swim for half an hour when once I was knackered after five minutes, but still it seems slow progress and I am frustrated with myself. In the evening after sunset I eat & have a drink or two, perhaps this is not the best way of living healthily, but it passes the time.
Saturday evening finds me sitting on the beach with my friend eating grilled fish & drinking cold beer, then we join a bunch of other people at the next table for drinks, I know a couple of them now after more than a month here, around the table we have a little UN enclave, Serbia, Finland, an Indian, one Japanese, A Bulgarian living in Canada and me the Englishman. We talk about home, wherever that may be, of Belgrade, Sofia, Tokyo, London, Mumbai & Montreal, of cold Northern winters, of snow & ice. It strikes me that there are two distinct ways of finding yourself here in Goa, sometimes you are washed up on the shores, like a Robinson Crusoe, ship wrecked on these gentle unfamiliar shores, sometimes it’s a deliberate choice to come here, to find a different way of living & being, but however you come, for whatever reason you find yourself here, after a little time the place seeps into you, the jungle that is never far away begins to wrap you in a blanket of green, the sea & the blue skies soak into your soul & maybe like me in this place that is far from home you begin to feel that for a while at least that you’ve found home.
The UN resolution after a drink or two is unanimous, we are leaving the beach and heading by Tuk Tuk to Silent Noise, the headphone party on the rocks. This is a first for me, a silent Disco, I pay my 600 rupees entrance fee, am handed a pair of headphones, I fumble awkwardly with them flip from one to another of the three channels hosted by a different DJ. I find my favourite and step forward to the dance floor. awkward, self conscious, but with what the fuck mindset, who cares how I dance, who cares other than me, precisely nobody.
During the course of the evening I dance & talk, to my new friends, to the Sertb, to the Bulgarian girl who is distinctly beautiful, to the Artist from Mumbai, all have their stories, and I think of card players, of tells, of the gestures and actions that people inadvertently show that give a glimpse of the hidden cards they hold. The Serb & I cover a lot of ground, he is Balkan through & through, pathos, gravitas, humorous, and always deep voiced & deliberate. He likes women a lot, especially young very beautiful ones. I ask him about the war in Yugolasvia, he says just one sentence, I tried to kill people, people tried to kill me, nothing more is said and the conversation moves on.
On Sunday morning I wake before dawn after a couple of hours sleep, I tally my booze intake, two beers, several vodka tonics, the fine herbal matter smoked, to the music, to the dancing, to the people, I ponder for a moment on the distinct probability that a bloke a bit past fifty should on a sunday morning be tucked up in a cosy little flat, in an undesirable London postcode, after a saturday night of vegging out on a sofa, having watched the latest BBC period drama, or having spent the evening in a busy restaurant, chattering with friends on a cold winter evening around Portobello Road. But there I am not, I am here, eight thousand kilometres away in India & I’ve been out on a late night.
When I finally begin to move on Sunday I take myself to the beach, swim in the sea and wash away a night club night from my skin. I watch the sun rise and walk along the beach to the sound of the waves rolling onto the shore. I ask myself what I am doing here, one more time, what am I doing? I look up at the sun, at this time of day you can stare straight into it, orange and glowing, rising inch by inch from the eastern horizon. I came here for exactly this, for new dawns. Then just thirty metres away in the sea I see movement, there are two Dolphins arcing in an out of the water, I stand and stare, I watch them transfixed. There is nobody else to see this, just me. I feel like I am watching a ballet, the Dolphins slip in an out of the water, like warm knives through butter, effortless flowing, I wonder if at first they are fishing, but the two of them are doing some sort of dance with each other, they are celebrating life & being alive. I stay there for maybe quarter of an hour watching the dance. As I walk back down the beach I realise that I am here in India to grow a strong Heart. Maybe the Dolphins helped to point the way.