Children beg, dogs roam, cows stroll whilst tuk tuks, cars and bikes screech past. My senses have been smashed from side to side. I’ve seen only some of this chaotic and colourful city but it’s time to move on. On my way back to Andheri, I jump through the open doors and onto the pulling away train, happy I’d made it. Slight problem though, I’m on the ladies coach. It’s too fast to get off now. In India, women and the disabled have separate coaches. Luckily for me, the women are understanding and tell me to get off at the next stop. I’ve noticed so far that the men are very forward on starting conversations but the women less so. In fact, some will not even stop in the street to talk when I ask for directions, let alone look at me. I fear this may get worse the further away from the city you get. The majority of people on the street, or in public are male. i learn that the women are at home, cooking, cleaning and being a good wife. Some are educated and work, which I’m told is becoming a more frequent sight in the cities only.
I pack and make a move to the CST station for my first sleeper train experience. Time to relax a little. Destination Goa. I’m told the monsoon is over and sun, sea and sand await me.
I find my platform, which is surprisingly complicated, and I find my coach and seat. I’m accompanied by seven intelligent and beautiful women. A mix of English, South African and American. The conversation is good, I’m appreciating the female company. The weather however is not as enjoyable. The monsoon rages and the water comes in through the windows soaking the luggage on the floor. Damn, the guys at the hostel warned me of the weather. I’ve made my first wrong move. I’ll learn from this. I’ll enjoy my 2 days in Goa and then move up to Rajasthan where the weather is a nice clear hot.
I arrive at Thivim. A mini bus takes me to Mapusa. It’s heaving. I get another less busy bus directly to Evershine hostel, in Anjuna. I meet Diana and Mr Switzerland in my dorm. The shop sellers are intense, the food is OK but no where near as good as Mumbai. The rain has delayed the season starting and I sense the businesses are almost desperate for my custom. I check out the bars on the beach at night which seem pretty empty, but I retire early to get a well deserved, good nights sleep.
The following day I rent a scooter after a torrential down pour. A river of water floods into the hostel garden. I’ve never seen rain on this scale before. I go to see all the beaches on the way to the capital, Panaji and Old Goa. I love the feeling of being on a bike abroad, no idea where i’m going or what’s ahead. Exploring. Darkness falls and on my return to the hostel I meet Eric and Oliver, two Danish guys. Rum, coke and laughter entice all the people at the hostel to socialise with us. We hit the beach, drinks, bars, Curlies. Where are all the women? Everywhere seems to be flooded with Indian men!
The next morning Diana jumps on the back of my scooter and the Danes follow me down to Arumbul beach. The police stop me and as I don’t have a license they call for a 500R baksheesh. I haggle them down to 200R. I don’t get a receipt. Note to self, remember to get a new license sent through ASAP. Lesson learned.
I bought some hippy trousers and necklace. I’m in the flow, I’m embracing the climate and the new country I am in. I’m good at haggling. The ladies I bought this from were polite and flirty almost. However when I agreed to buy this item that I didn’t even want for 20R instead of their original 400R, they turned on me. Sarcasm and scowling looks completed the sale. What a strange transaction, after such a great transaction maybe this will entice me to buy more from them.
Evershine was nice. Goa was OK, potential there definitely. I’ll come back in peak season for the nice weather and parties. I’ll make the journey to Udaipur next, starting with a 12 hour bus ride back to Mumbai with my tail in between my legs. I’m learning, I’m independent and I grow in knowledge and confidence daily. I can do anything and go anywhere I want. I’m free, it’s been a long time since I’ve had this feeling. I’m a backpacker, I want to do this forever!