February is here, it’s time for some new years resolutions, better late than never.
More exercise, more yoga, swim more, eat better, stop being a dope around women. This is not a finite list by any means, but it’s enough to be going on with that’s the main thing, you have to start somewhere. You need to focus, to get things done, let’s start tomorrow, better to start with a fresh day.
Day one, my walk along the beach for half an hour is serene, just me and the early morning air & the sea and the sand between my toes, then two hours of Yoga, then breakfast in the organic cafe, where I have muesli & fruit & honey. Bloody perfect. Now what?
After brekkie I decide I am going to Nirvana (this btw is not a state I hope to find myself in, but the given name of a cafe), there are several dozen along the beach, I could have made it Tantra Cafe, but to be honest it’s a bit racy there, too many bikinis – distractions you see, I dont need distractions, and Om-shanti well it’s a bit too chilled there & it’s full of old crinklies, I dont want to be an old crinkly, even if the reality is otherwise.
So Nirvana it is, I bag a sunbed and lie there soaking up the rays, order a lime soda ( sugarless ) and read my book, an autobiography of Kushwant Singh, a Sikh author who saw partition first hand, became friends with the Gandhi family and for a while lived in London and travelled widely in the US & Europe, he wrote books, was a member of the Indian parliament, had a career as a journalist, and lived a long life, giving it up in his ninety-ninth year, all of this with a life-long predilection for Scotch & an eye for the ladies, I figure I might learn a little something from Mr.Singh.
As I sit there baking and reading I find my gaze drifting to the right hand side of me, there is Kranti Yoga School, the sun beds on the sand outside the centre are filled with a bevy of yoga students, entirely female, all in skimpy bikinis, bronzing in the sun. Mr Singh looses my attention, instead I pretend to read, but am actually looking over the rims of my reading glasses and bikini watching.
Eventually the futility of this pastime occurs to me and instead I walk up and down the beach, walking is good for me.
I plug in my headphones and select Albeniz, on my iphone, classical spanish guitar, calming & melodic. My mobile has a step counter, I am going to start writing down how many miles I clock up each day. By midday it’s darned hot. I walk up and down the beach from Colomb at one end to Talpona river at the other, then back again. Along the way are more bikinis on display along the beach, I think this is at once both a blessing and a curse, the sea on one side, bikinis on the other, just remember not to stare, too much.
I walk for forty five minutes and with my best powers of concentration fail entirely to remain oblivious to the views. After the walk I am hot as hell and dripping with sweat, I cool off in the sea then swim for a while, one end of the beach to the other. Then I crash out on the sunbed, knackered. By the time I’ve dried my stomach is beginning to rumble, I find my thoughts turning to food, I am hungry, but I’ve decided not eat lunch. This becomes a major issue, I can think of nothing but food, of curries, of grilled fish, of all the cafes I could go for lunch. That’s it, I will go and buy some fruit, I will eat fruit for lunch. Healthy.
At the fruit and veg store, I buy a kilo of fresh figs. I immediately eat half of them, one after another, like a starving man that hasn’t seen food for a week, which of course I am not, each time I bite into one I think of the potential effects on my digestive system and yet still I munch my way through them. Disgusted with myself I retreat home for a power nap.
When I wake an hour later I am thinking of food, again, why am I hungry? I look at my watch, 2pm. I can’t eat now, I must not. Five minutes later I am parking my scooter outside a cafe, they do the most amazing Mango-Coconut cheesecake, they are only small portions, one is ok, isn’t it? I am taking out my keys from the ignition when I hear someone saying hello. I look up and standing in front of me is a drop dead gorgeous young woman. She has long dark hair and deep dark eyes and is full of curves, Do you know where there may be a Yoga class near here?
I immediately feel as though I have grown magically a little taller, this state is brought about by the idea that to this young woman I may look like a man that would know where to find Yoga
Well yes, there’s loads of places…… I think for a moment on how to give directions to the various options, you know what I say, it would be easier to show you on the bike. She looks at me, I wonder if I have just said the wrong thing, if it’s inappropriate. I await the embarrassment of a polite no…………. If you don’t mind….. she says that would be great. Happy to I say, you are helping me stay off the cheesecake.
We scoot off, me and the young woman, I take her to a few yoga shalas in the area, she checks them out and we talk as we go. She is a New-Yorker, Jewish, she now lives in Israel, had set herself up near Tel-Aviv and had just finished military service. she is spending a few days in Goa then then on to Rishikesh like the thousands of other westerners each year, to do a Yoga teacher training course.
After the Shalas I suggest a tour on the bike, I show her around the area and we spend a while at Turtle Beach, a dreamy little spot with a white sandy beach that goes on forever, backed by Pine trees. We talk rather easily, she makes good company, she tells me about growing up in New York, and of leaving there, she explained that her family had all moved, her father to Atlanta, her mother to Portland, ( my mother has been having her mid-life crisis she explained ) I say it is not unusual, I’ve been having my own for a while.
Just before you met me she says, I had lunch in that cafe, you know what happened? I was eating my lunch when the waiter came over to me and said he wanted to tell me something, he leant over to whisper something and then kissed me, I couldnt believe it.
Really, you are kidding I say.
No, he just leant over and kissed me, I could not believe it, I made such a scene. The manager apologised and said I didn’t need to pay, but I said it was not good enough, the boy should be sacked. I stormed out of the place and said I would tell everyone I met to not go there.
As the sun began to slip down into the sea I say we should head back to civilisation as I need to be somewhere later. We scoot back in the failing light, she grips tightly all the way, her legs are snug against mine, she feels strong and full of life. I drop her off outside the place she is staying, thank-you for the afternoon, thank-you I reply it was fun. She leans over and and kisses me on the cheek. I don’t complain or make a scene, just ride off into the darkness.
Shortly afterwards I arrive in Palolem, a busier beach than the one I am living close to, I am here for a meditation class. I park up my bike and immediately the aroma of grilled meat wafts on the evening air right up my nose. The idea of hunger occurs to me, A state of panic kicks in, the meditation goes on for an hour, then theres a good walk up to the beach & back again, maybe I will be hungry in the class? Maybe I wont be able to concentrate? I come to a kebab stand, it makes the late night kebab stalls of London, even the grimiest look tame. Salmonella turning on a spit, deliciously. I have to have one, it will stave off the hunger. I pay my sixty rupees and walk along the beach in a state of utter contentment. Five minutes later half way along the beach the kebab is gone, I look at my watch, twenty minutes til the class, I will have to hang around. That kebab was rather small, I turn round and walk all the way back to the stall and order another. I toy with the idea that I am a pig and answer myself that really they were very small, sort of. As I walk back up the beach for a second time I see Fay & Jess, two English ex-pats based here, Fay hands me a flyer, coming to the party she asks? For a moment I think to myself, party – alcohol,music,women of course I’d like to go, but I have decided on meditation I will stick to it. I explain I’m going to a meditation class, I mutter something about balance and that maybe I will come later.
The last few hundred metres of the walk are in complete darkness, this end of the beach has no cafes, no lights, just a river meeting the sea and a wooden bridge over it to the Yoga Shala. I arrive five minutes before the meditation begins, eight other people join me, seven women and one older chap. Yvette is guiding us through the meditation, she is French, probably no more than thirty, pretty and leggy, we are asked to take yoga mats and cushions if we need them, we are told we can sit or lie as we choose, the older fella plumbs for a chair. We sit in semi circle with Yvette at the open-end. I am on her left, sitting at a 90 degree angle to her. She asks us to look in front of ourselves and to fix our gaze on a specific point and to breathe in an out deeply. In my direct line of vision is the open sleeve of her baggy t shirt, I can see the rounded flesh of her right breast rise and fall with her breathing. I try to focus elsewhere. This meditation thing is never easy.
After a few minutes I like everyone else in the class decide to lie on my back. Yvette then takes us on a long meditative journey, she has a strong accent that reminds me of a Monty Python sketch, I find it difficult to concentrate on her English, but I try.
“Emashine, yu are waking aloong a bootyful passway in ze foreyst, u are a loon, but you fill very saf. Zere are flew-urs to yur lift and yaour rat wat bootyful coolers, you fill vary calme, zen u hier see saound of watur flow-ink you wack two-wards zee plising saound your hears, you feynd a bootyful strim seet besade se watur how it spirkels in the ras of the soon, Lak jew-eels glituring in the leet. Yu fil vary ril-exed. you de-seed to stey hear for a wheel and lea downe to rust.
I am going with it, as best as I can, rusting by the waters edge in the forest, and there beside the water amongst all that loveliness Yvette makes a suggestion.
Emashine that if sere are probe-lamps in your soughts, sat wey hevurlee you peek sem up genterlee in ur hends and cast sem into see strem, and yu witch as say flew away gin-tilly on the cur-rant
I get where she is going with this one, but I’m not sure it will work for me, I need something much stronger, in my meditation I find myself on an iron bridge here over a river in Goa, beneath flows a large river, the Talpona, I am pushing my ex over the railing, it’s a bit of a struggle, she is heavier than I remember, she has put on weight, it’s contentment I think, how annoying.
She insists I put her down, point blank I refuse. I explain, this is not real it’s a meditation, she is not even real, I’ve just conjured her up in my thoughts, this is part of the process, I need to be able to let her go, to forget, I need to throw her in and watch her float away.
To underline my case I explain that anyway she swims like a fish, that the water is warm & the water safe. But she is having none of it, we struggle but eventually I manoeuvre her over the barrier and she falls into the river with a resounding splash. Job done.
As the current carries her off into the distance she is laughing in that rather hysterical way I still remember, she turns back and shouts, pointing menacingly towards me, I will be seeing you again.
I make my way back to the forest meditation and the flowers and the stream. But Yvette is nowhere to be seen, I eventually catch up with her on top of a mountain, how beautiful the view is she suggests. I am feeling very content, very happy on the mountain, apparently. So I sit there for a while. Later Yvette tells me that, though I am happy looking at the view I decide it’s time to leave the mountain, so I walk back down hill, to the forest, past the stream, and back to Goa. I end up back in the Yoga Shala, At the end of the class Yvette collects 200 rupees from each of us, if that was the price for a little inner peace it would be a great bargain, if it worked. I head back to civilisation wondering exactly why I am so crap at meditation, I cross over a rickety bridge, through the unlit beach I pass dark figures in the sand, and realise it’s couples in various states of connectivity. Further on as I approach the party cafe there is no music, it’s the Indian election in a few days time, I figure out the police have closed down the sound system.
I walk past the party bar, there is a crowd of people chattering, laughter and bright lights twinkling I avoid the temptation and walk on with just a little bit of determination.
At home before bed I tally my progress in a notebook, it reads thus:-
Yoga 2hrs, ( Tick)
Meditation 1 hr ( abysmal fail )
Swimming half hour (tick)
Food,: muesli & coconut milk, figs – 1 kilo, kebabs (small) x 2. (fail)
Alcohol Nil. ( tick )
Walked 7 kilometres ( no count of bikinis viewed )
Letting go & detachment, (fail).
Kisses, 1, (unsolicited)
Not quite the start I had in mind, but tomorrow is another day.