GOING BACK TO GOA: Off Season

Monsoon in Goa
Monsoon in Goa

SEX IS NO FOUR-LETTER WORD. BUT GOA IS—if it just so happens you wash up on her Arabian Sea shores during an off season experiencing the wettest monsoon in sixty years. You see swollen rivers overrunning bridges with brown, muddy water. You see boats run aground or half submerged. You see roads broken like cracked eggs. You see newspaper articles of people dying. Houses buried under mud slides. Animals washed away. Trees splitting in two. Towns and houses thigh-deep under water. Drinking wells filling with undrinkable muck.

Coconut palms in the rain
Coconut palms in the rain

Nobody, I’m told, knows the precise etymology of the word “travel.” Some believe it derives from the Old French word “travail” meaning “work, labor, toil, suffering or painful effort, trouble.” And that derived from Late Latin trepalium, meaning “instrument of torture,” probably stemming from the earlier Latin tripalis “having three stakes” (Online Etymology Dictionary). Yikes, an instrument of torture with three stakes—those feisty Romans really knew how to fight boredom.

Suffering, painful effort, trouble—no, these are definitely not qualities I desire in a normal day, and especially do not need or want during a sojourn into some developing country with hospitals and poor sanitation that make Auschwitz seem like a Raffles Hotel. But I suppose travel can sometimes turn itself into an instrument of torture. Some cup-half-full-type people say: “well, hopefully, it will become a story you can tell later and laugh about.” However, when I’m traveling, the very last thing I desire is to be laid out in some instrument of torture with three stakes just so I can have a story to laugh about later. Only a Paul Theroux might desire something like that, something he could put in a book (like the time a taxi driver hauled him into a whore house instead of his hotel). I like to think I’m closer to a cup-half-full kind of guy. But I prefer to laugh about things all the time, not later after an episode of enduring and grimacing.

M
Brown ocean and palms dancing to a monsoon tune

I scribbled this in my notebook as my plane descended into Goa: “30 July—India from the air. Brown ocean, brown clouds, brown river, rain. Everything wet. Everything brown. 36 degrees C. A baby cried all the way from Sri Lanka. Note: Buy earplugs.”

My bag was the first bag to appear off the plane into the Dabolim Airport Baggage Claim. I’m thinking: “very good sign, I like it here, good karma going down, YAY Goa.” Until I step outside. It’s not raining cats and dogs. That is elephants and hippos coming down out here.

“It’s been like this for days,” my taxi driver Joseph says.

Street scene during monsoon
Street scene during monsoon
Shopping during monsoon
Shopping during monsoon

India….Joseph….Right. But way back in the days when Europeans were setting sail to India to find spices and new Christians, the Portuguese ended up with the area of Goa, India’s smallest but perhaps richest state these days. The Portuguese built towns and houses and forts that still stand and lend Goa—if not elegant, at least—a civilized foreign flair to the place, and nothing like your-average-Indian style. The “traditional” Goan house is anything but traditional, as they are a colorful mixture of designs and styles from many places in the world. Goans traveled with the Portuguese on their sailing vessels, and brought back an array of architectural models from their journeys. You might call Goan architecture an eclectic mix of 18th century Neo Gothic fused with Early Jamaican Rasta. One thing all houses here have in common, however, is that they were designed to suffer comfortably through monsoons.

Goa untraditional traditional house
Goa untraditional traditional house
Almost dry palm leaf
Almost dry palm leaf

Today, Goa appears to have a decidedly large middle class: they have cars, they have time to hang at the beach, they sit in cafes and Skype. And, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t remember seeing one beggar in Goa—remarkably odd for India. If you ever want to spend time in India and not see beggars; or people pooping in public; or for that matter, India, fly to Goa. The local people are mostly Christians. Churches and cathedrals abound. And many people have Christian names: Anthony, Paulo, Sara, John.

Joseph drives me through what feels like the wettest place on Earth—humid is a weak adjective for the volume of water in the air. This is Mother Nature giving her 110 percent. It’s a long drive from the airport to the very small village of Assagao, where I’ve rented an apartment for the summer, located in a tiny enclave of local villagers, most of whom speak no English. It’s only about 30 miles, but even on a good day when the roads are clear, the drive will take you an hour. Today, when some roads are broken, and water floods everything, it takes over two hours and a bit of back-road, higher-ground driving. So much for the good karma lasting all summer.

Dancing in the rain--maybe not
Dancing in the rain–maybe not

But it gets worse. The apartment I’ve rented is extremely—shall we say—“affordable” for an apartment with a kitchen and washing machine, so I’m not expecting the marbled class of a Taj Mahal, but I am a little surprised at how “basic” it is. And this is a contemporary, two-story apartment building, not your traditional 18th-century Gothic-Rasta. The guy I rented it from “forgot” to mention the apartment has little furniture: a small wooden table and plastic chair, two folding lawn chairs, a coffee table, and get this, a 6-foot-tall, stand-alone dressing mirror. There are plenty of windows, with no glass in them; they are meant to facilitate ventilation, which is fine as I’m on the second floor, and the windows are covered with an iron mesh (to keep out animals and birds and cat burglars). In the bedroom, a double bed. The bedroom windows do have glass and a small air conditioner in one window, which I truly, truly appreciate these days while traveling. Fine, call me a tourist. Go read Theroux if you want three stakes in your story.

Lawn chair in the living room
Lawn chairs in the living room
Mirror, mirror on the wall....who's the baddest monsoon of all
Mirror, mirror on the wall….who’s the baddest monsoon of all?

It rains all night. It rains all day the next day. It rains all that night. It rains the next day. And that night. During a “normal” monsoon season, it might rain a bit during the night, it might rain a bit in the morning or afternoon, sometimes it might rain fairly hard. But then, it clears up, the clouds move away, the air emits a fresh and clean aroma, the sun shines, and you’ve got yourself a pretty fine rest of your day, with lots of lush greenery to photograph and ogle.

Many locals say this time of year is their favorite time of year. Perhaps the best part of visiting a country during “off season” is that there are no crowds of tourists; you have the place pretty much to yourself, and the prices are much lower. Perhaps the worst part about visiting during off season is this: they call it “off season” for a good reason—most people do not want to visit at this time, for some very good reason.

Monsoon is one good reason…even during a “normal” monsoon. But, find yourself baling buckets of water out of your bodega and placing six plastic pales under your leaking roof and fending off leeches during the mother of monsoon hell, and you might find yourself praying to your god or the cosmos or the myriad of local gods that you might find this funny at some point in your future and laugh about it then. Are you lifting one eyebrow, questioning my half-full cup? Bite me.

Pigs love monsoon season
Pigs love monsoon season
The bread delivery boy may not love a monsoon
The bread delivery boy may not love a monsoon

It rains for days. Night and freakin’ day. And not just a drizzle. Downpour. Continual downpour, biblical magnitude—elephants and hippos out there, maybe a rhino or two. And me on a friggin-uncomfortable folding lawn chair with my feet propped on a bamboo coffee table waiting for Godot, for days. And days. The rain stops every once in a while. There’s only so much water in the sky. Assagao is a small village with no real stores. When it stops raining, I race down to my motorbike and drive toward the nearest town, Mapusa (pronounced Map-sa), to buy groceries. It’s about a 10-minute bike ride to the Mapusa Central Market from Assagao. The Mapusa market has almost anything you could desire: onions, mangos, bras, umbrellas. Sai Baba nag champa incense. Mirrors. DVD’s. Pig heads. But no yoga mats.

I get half-way there. It starts raining again. So hard, I have to pull over and seek shelter. It’s difficult holding an umbrella and trying to drive a motorbike. I find a kind of dilapidated, wooden lean-to by the side of the road. I park the bike and slip into the shelter. But…I am not alone. A very dry brahma bull with wicked horns is calling dibs on this place. He’s not extremely huge for a bull, but large enough to make me slightly uneasy. He’s a bull. He has horns. I’ve been to Spain. I’ve seen bull fights—the matador does not always win, you know.

We share the space in silence, except for the incessant snare drum of raindrops on the roof. I’m marginally relieved I’m not wearing red. I give the bull a name: Paco. I speak with him—I let him know I’m a vegetarian. I offer this caveat in a very soft whisper…mostly vegetarian. Well dammit, a guy needs a burger when a guy needs a goddam burger is all I’m going to say about that. And don’t hand me that crap about a vegie-burger being a burger. It’s not. And vegetarianism, like Buddhism, is not a religion. So you can’t excommunicate a guy for a perceived indiscretion, like eating. So quit judging. I tell Paco he is very special. I let him know that I know that he is “sacred” even here in Christian Goa. Paco lifts his tail, plops a surprising huge amount of poop on the ground inside our lean-to, then shakes his head with what I perceive is understanding, and acceptance of our shared condition.

We huddle in peace, safe and dry from the storm. I have time to peruse Paco’s features. Dark, calm eyes make him appear wise. He has fairly large ears, and his horns have a fine grain, and I’m relieved to notice that they point backward. He has a large flap of skin along his neck and chest, called a throatlatch and dewlap. Nobody knows exactly what the hump on his back is for, and although it resembles the hump on a camel, and brahmas easily tolerate excessive heat better than any other cattle, the hump does not store water. His fur appears lusciously healthy, thick, shiny, a lovely shade of brown. And he is remarkably clean for a place like India during a muddy monsoon. I get the notion I might want to come back in my next life as a sacred cow.

Paco in our lean-to after the rainS
Paco in our lean-to after the rains

The rain slows to a sprinkle. I bow and namaste a farewell to Paco. I hop on the bike, get two blocks down the road, and it’s elephants and hippos all over again. What kind of karma is going down? I pull into a tiny parking area. I have pulled into the parking lot of the St Joseph Bakery. I find wonderful fresh-baked bread, and a wall full of pastries that would seem right at home in a Paris Left Bank pâtisserie. I would never have discovered this place; it’s a little off the road, and while driving on the left in India, you better keep your eye on what is happening in the road. Apparently sometimes, you have to give thanks for little things given to you in your life even if you have to squint to see them as good karma coming your way.

Half a baguette and three chocolate brownies later, the rain subsides, and I finally make it into Mapusa. Where, of course, you guessed it: rain starts falling again. Most people are wearing rain gear and/or carrying colorful umbrellas. Rain gear seems a logical idea. I sign-language to a biker asking where I can find a rain suit like the one he’s wearing. There seem to be different levels of quality in rain gear available. Some are cheap, thin plastic. Some are thick plastic. Some are a rubberized plastic. Some have two layers: rubberized plastic on the inside, nylon on the outside—these are the highest quality. This young man is wearing a higher-quality brand, Zeel. I want the best, like his. He points to the far side of the market. I hightail it over there, dodging water-filled potholes, cow patties, and tri-shaws in the road, and find a shop that sells a fine set of Zeel—designer rain gear!—pants and jacket with hood, pockets on the inside of the jacket and a drawstring its the waist; the pants have an elastic waistband. Name and logo on a strip of iridescent material sewn on the back, for safety and perhaps a little prestige. A fine sartorial addition any monsoon connoisseur would be proud to add to his luggage.

Rain suits, umbrellas, Coke, and phones--what's not to love
Designer rain suits, umbrellas, Coke, and phones–what’s not to love in Mapusa

The rain suit, turns out, makes all the difference in the world to quality of life in Goa during monsoon. You can ride your motorbike in the rain and remain completely dry. On the other hand, riding a motorbike in the rain is dangerous, for more than one reason. The road is a slick marble floor, you could easily splatter your butt all over hard asphalt. You could easily get hit by a truck. You could hit a cow. You could hit a child—people walk in the road as though it were a footpath for pedestrians, seemingly not caring a hoot about traffic or rain, or visibility. But then again, you can only sit in your folding lawn chair inside your exceedingly affordable apartment photographing a monsoon out your glassless windows for so long.

The front door to my apartment is not solid, not wood. It is made of a steel frame with steel bars covered in wire mesh. Since I’m on the second story, it’s a perfectly fine door under normal circumstances—it assists the air-flow cooling. But elephants and hippos are stampeding through the mesh in my door and flooding my living area. We install an exquisite piece of blue plastic tarp over the door, giving my place a glamorous, exotic air of nouveau-plastique chic.

Lawn chair and nouveau-plastique chic door
Lawn chair and nouveau-plastique chic door

But the lawn chair is truly uncomfortable after ten minutes, or so. I’ve read all three books I brought along—Joan Didion’s White Album, Lewis Thomas’ The Lives of a Cell, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I’m living in the sub-continent burbs, there is no internet. I do not own an iPod or smart phone, I have no music. All yoga studios are closed for the season, and I can’t find a yoga mat anywhere. I’m beginning to understand the concept of “cabin fever.” I’m getting tired of photographing mango trees and palm leaves blowing in heavy wind and rain. I’m getting tired of photographing my feet. I’m getting tired of photographing myself wearing a designer rain suit in a six-foot mirror in a room with Depression-era furniture. I’m tired of the squirrel finding a way into my place and chowing down on my mangos and papayas. I’m tired of the electricity going out at night: no light, no air conditioning. It finally gets to the point where I realize I am having no fun at all.

Travel. Travail. Instrument of torture. I get it. My psyche is beginning to feel three sharp stakes. And most certainly, I understand travail and trauma could easily be much worse for me than ennui, like it is for many local people here right now who’ve lost their homes, possessions, or family members. I know my life is blessed. I do not take this lightly. Some people say, “God does not give you any more than you can handle.” You have to wonder just how strong these people here must be, just how much more could they possibly handle? I look up at the sky. Dark. Wet. Cement porridge. Huge drops of rain still falling. I decide. I’ve had enough. I say it out loud. “God…if it rains one more day, I’m leaving.”

My neighbors, almost under water
My neighbors, and a papaya tree, almost under water

I light a stick of nag champa incense. I sit in my folding lawn chair and sip fresh mango juice. It feels right somehow to have made a decision. Home is a fine place, a dry place. However, I do not quite know how I should feel: sad, that I am not a stronger man; or happy, that a god believes me this weak and need not suffer more deeply. Perhaps, simply grateful for all I have and don’t have.

It rains all night.

In the morning, I awake at 5 am. There is no rain. I make myself a cup of Starbucks. If you ever travel to Goa, take your own coffee along because the only coffee you may be able to buy in stores here is Nescafe, instant coffee. Only a cretin would call that coffee. I travel with my own coffee because I like to brew it myself in the mornings. I’m a morning person; I always get up early; it’s usually still dark outside, and coffee shops or cafes or hotel restaurants are not open yet. And, of course, I’d have to leave my place to buy coffee somewhere else. No, I brew it myself. I carry my own Bodum stainless steel French press and double-walled insulated mug in my bag. And also, one of those heating elements you stick in a cup of water to boil, in case I find myself in a place with no kitchen or kettle. Fine, call me a travel wimp. You think Vasco de Gama didn’t bring his own coffee along?

18 NesCoffee 3568 E1

I wrote this in my notebook in the morning: “10 August, Friday. 0800 hours. Sun shines. 1st morning with no rain. But, sky soon turns to a gray cement-colored soup. But much longer gaps with no rain. God…are you actually listening?”

I decide to stay another day or so and see what happens in the sky. I’ve said many times during my lifetime that I cannot make it through a day without a miracle, usually small miracles, but still. Today, it appears we just may have a miracle, big miracle, in the making here. For those of you who would call this coincidence, fine, I say this: “I can’t get through a day without some fine coincidence.” For those of you who prefer to say this kind of thing comes directly from the hand of God, fine, I say this: “thank you, God.” Whatever floats our boats is all I’m saying.

Four days later, I write in my notebook: “14 August. First day with blue sky. Cumulus, too. Not really blue. Hazy blue. Is that you, Lord Ganesha, Protector and Remover of Obstacles? Note: next trip, pack yoga mat.”

When you are sacred, you can sit where you like
When you are sacred, you can sit where you like

That afternoon, I ride into town on the motorbike. I arrive at the Mapusa Central Market dry as a bone, and wearing no rain gear. I begin to believe I know what it’s like to survive—if only a slight—travail. I discover a local restaurant and eat some of the finest Indian food I’ve ever tasted: curry over fluffy Basmati rice, chana dal, Punjab samosas, buttered nan. For little more than a dollar. I order a second plate to carry out.

But it gets better. By what appears to be sheer chance (yet I define as one of those small miracles in my day), I find a tiny shop on the far side of the Mapusa Central Market that sells still-warm, hand-made chapattis. But it gets even better. This store also sells….wait for it….peanut butter. Sometimes perhaps, the moment when we tell the story and laugh about our torture with three stakes arrives sooner than expected?

Everything is luscious and green when the rain stops
Everything is luscious and green when the rain stops, even algae on stone walls

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Coming up in next post: Good God, It’s Goa All Over Again.

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You can find other DP Photo Challengers here: Off-Season

You can find other DP Writing Challenge here: In a Crisis

115 comments

  1. Salutations, Badfish.

    There’s many things I could say about this post, but I’ll cut to the chase.

    You know all those digital advisors and writing websites and other modern know-it-alls that always tell us “the book is dead” and “the future of publishing is online” etc…. well, I have never believed them. Give me a good oldfashioned book, any day.

    Well, let me tell you, this post has changed my mind. The future of publishing is in the BFB. Paul Theroux, eat your heart out. (And, Paul, trains were never called iron roosters anyhow. Try the “high iron” ( literally translation of the high speed railway, hey I should make a post about that) )

    But I digress. Badfish, this post had me so riveted I even started reading it out to my 11-year old. Who laughed. Out loud, yes – at the elephants and hippos.

    Forget the umpteen books for the summer holidays – all anyone really needs is a good dose of the Badfish blog. You should PDF the ‘best of badfish’ and sell them off for holiday reading. You could make a mint.

    And thank Ganesh that the rain stopped – just think, you could have missed the best curry of your life.
    You see, miracles of some dimension do happen every day. Was this before or after the missing-eared, broken representation of Ganesh from Bali?

    BTW, I’m serious about making a little electronic mini-publication. We all need a good dose of humour sometimes. Often.

    Lord Ganesh? send Badfish the wherewithal to sit on a not too uncomfortable chair and write his travel book. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Debbie, You have made my day once again! Maybe every master procrastinator needs a cheer leader. Or Chips. Not “iron rooster”…isn’t that so Paul Theroux…to make things up. 11-year-olds…hmmm, now that’s a new audience I hadn’t thought of. Might need to mind my language better? Funny how things change–I used to think I wanted to write a book and didn’t write a blog because I thought they weren’t “professional” enough. And it turns out, the blog has offered me the discipline to sit and write. And Chips to cheer.

      Like

      • HI BF, master prcrastinator indeed…. story of my life in many ways, or at least when it comes to writing. me too…. i’m very good at getting many ideas, and writing lots of starts and chapters — even full on finished novels that need a lot of work — and now i have finally stepped into the blogging world, and loving it.
        even then, when i started only in the beginnings of this year, i thought, mm, i want my blog to look ‘professional’ and its taken me till now to realise, hmm, its… like… a BLOG>

        and blogs allow one to communicate with one’s readers, have converstaions etc… not to mention some rather different kinds of fish and chips …..:)

        glad i could make your day!!!
        now to find some chippies for my blog… maybe they would be the Dim Sums, lol 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, that is one good thing about blogs…you communicate with readers, and you get some kind of feedback about what you are doing. You’re not sitting alone pondering this and that. You are simply producing something and putting it out there. I find it not only satisfying, but motivating. I also find it dang time consuming!!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. PS – only AFTER I made my comments, did the photos appear. Great pics – love the bull, the chairs, the badfish…. hang on a minute, do fish have … FEET??….. and the green algae.

    I think Paco in the Shelter has to be my favourite though!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well … wow! I have been to India and spent a Monsoon season there, so I relate to a lot of this. I had a good experience in India, but that might have been because I had lived just previous to that, for three years in the driest part of Brazil, the Northeast and was used to seeing extreme conditions, including abject poverty. I do have to admit, the poverty in India was of a further category. We used to say Brazil was the 4th world and India the 6th (with Togo being the 8th, let’s say).

    We did not have a strong Monsoon that summer in India — just enough to cool things off. It wasn’t exceptionally humid like, let’s say, Washington DC in August. I didn’t get sick and had no mishaps, but that was just luck.

    Goa sounds intriguing as I do speak Portuguese at least if that would help there. The closest I can come to understanding its socioeconomic profile is Sri Lanka, which is similar — and equally humid but so so civilized.

    May I just say, a Gardenburger (brand) is delicious and I just don’t compare it to meat. It is simply itself, with the right additions, a great sandwich. But that is coming from a 30+ years vegetarian.

    I look forward to every one of your posts! Funny, informative, unique — your insights are preferable to any in guide books. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth…you write comments as long as your posts almost! I hear you on the “6th world.” I wanted to write in the post “third world” but these days people (whoever is writing the rules on political correctness) are saying we need to call those countries “developing” countries. It just doesn’t have the same ring as “third world.” Or 6th! I love that.
      Let me just say, Gardenburger smargenburger! Messing with you. And right, you can’t compare it to meat. You just enjoy it for what it is…beans.

      I heard no Portuguese in Goa. But you speak it? How interesting. I can speak Spanish but never learned the tenses, so only in tiempo presente (similar to Portuguese?). Thanks for hanging here!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read so much on-line about Kerala and Goa in the monsoon season that make it sound dream like… I think only if you are fast asleep, does this seem dream like. I am now convinced that on season in this part of the world makes sense. Great for you for staying sane and waiting it out. For many this would make INDIA fast become the I’ll never do it again… however I am not in that camp but nor did I do a monsoon like you did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know a number of people who like monsoon season. It is lush and greeen. But a heavy monsoon can spoil a short visit, so if you only have a little time, maybe summer is not the best. Or just hope it will be a regular monsoon where you can still enjoy the place!! Thanks for stopping by and hanging out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh..I remember when I was in Goa during the monsoon – we did not think it would be that bad 🙂 – but we still stay there for couple days and just wandering around – no beach days of course. Your post reminds me of those days 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indah, ha! Well, I have to admit, after the horrid part of the monsoon, the rest of the time was very pleasant. But right, no beach days! No diving happening then.

      Like

      • The best thing about off-season is getting there early monsoon,before it starts raining bricks… the weather here in India is bipolar to say the least. It rained in September! That’s not supposed to happen. If you visit during on-season to a place like Goa get ready to get crowded with the domestic tourist in almost all locations. I find the off season to be more peaceful provided the weather’s good.

        I have to say Goa like 7-10 years ago was so much better, now it’s gone commercial, the very thing that made it so special has gone. 😦

        Like

  6. Fish, I’ve read Bill Bryson’s Down Under (which my friend Kim sent me — she lives in Perth), and I didn’t enjoy it nearly half as much as I did your post. Your writing outshines his, imo. I hope with all my heart you’re collecting this for a book! The pictures were amazing!

    You know what stuck out to me the most, though? ” I’ve said many times during my lifetime that I cannot make it through a day without a miracle, usually small miracles, but still…” I am SO on the same page with you here. Life is so full of small miracles. Our eyes are just not trained to see them. That comment made me feel really close to you.

    Terrific post, and I can’t believe I actually a notification this time! {{{BF}}}

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like Bill Bryson’s stuff, but I have to admit, I thought his Down Under was fairly mediocre, not funny nor informative as his other stuff is. What’s an “imo”?

      Miracles: it is true. I just wouldn’t be able to operate without them, every day. And thanks for hanging out here, and being you, and making my day a little brighter.

      Like

  7. You have really done a great job with this post. I am planning to send it to my Goan friend that lives in Queens, New York. I hope I can get your permission before that….. You have really captured the old world charm and added a great narration to it.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Another amazing piece of writing. I not only felt your frustration, but laughed aloud at your wry quips, “….a guy needs a burger when a guy needs a goddam burger is all I’m going to say about that…..” I just love that I can find it all in your posts – education, humour, great writing, and good pix!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much A, for stopping by, for commenting, and for making me feel good about my torture! I’m so glad you understand and appreciate my stuff. And are not offended by a couple four-letter words. And laugh! sometimes I read one of my lines and laugh, and then wonder if others laugh at what I find funny.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Badfish your posts just keep getting better and better. Alison and I never went to Kerala during the ten weeks we spent in Tiruvanamali, even though we heard great things about the place: I knew that once I left Tiru I’d never want to go back there again, and the tales we heard about Kerala made me think we’d better just tough it out in Tiru. I loved your vignette about you and Paco in the lean-to, and your lines about it raining elephants and hippos. Gems, every one of them. Thanks. Don

    Liked by 2 people

    • Don, thanks so much for reading and hanging out here. I’ve been “thinking about” going to Kerala for years. Never quite make it there…fear of monsoon. You think there’s a phobia for that? And after Tiru…I can see why you may be a little gun shy to go back. cheers…where are you guys now? I’m having problems deciding where to go/what to do this summer. Just canceled my flight to Amsterdam, lost $700–fee & special seats.

      Like

  10. Another masterpiece badfish. I was captivated right til the end. Many memories flooding back of our time in Tiru and our sparsely furnished apartment, though I suspect it was a palace compared to what you had. We had dining chairs or those upright plastic lawn chairs. Most comfy place was on the bed. Your descriptive writing, and the humour woven throughout is fabulous. I am learning from you. I feel I need to make more notes in the moment so I don’t forget all the details. It’s the descriptive details that really help take you there.
    What Don said – Goa, Kerala, it’s probably all the same to whichever god you choose.
    I too believe in miracles! Yes! Our entire life is full of them and the more you believe the more they show up. I also agree that finding the bread shop, and finding the place where you got that fabulous meal, definitely qualify as miracles.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Alison. I wonder sometimes if others will like what pours out of my head. I write a line sometimes, and laugh, then wonder if others might find it humorous or interesting.
      Notes: I always carry a notebook with me, especially when traveling. At home, I get few insights, but as soon as I’m packed and out the door, thoughts and ideas flow out of my head…even in the cab to the airport. And right, good to keep track of certain things at the time: a single cumulus, a red wagon filled with chapattis, the writing on the wall. My memory was never that good, and now…well, let’s say I need those notebooks. And miracles! Can I quote your line on miracles above, sometime?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Spending the monsoon in any Indian city is an experience as we have really ” elephants and hippos coming down out here”. 😀 But every city has its own set of characteristics, different from the other.

    I love rain, I’m almost a pluviophile and so enjoyed this piece of yours a lot 🙂

    I hope you’ve visited all the beaches in Goa and the famous churches… have a great time . 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Being a ‘glass if half full’ gal myself, I have to say that I am delighted with the beautiful images and entertaining narrative that manifested from your torture in Goa. Magnificent. Can’t wait to see more of your travels. I hope they are really painful (unless you can create such beauty from a place comfort)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eeewwwww! is right. What’s good about a leech? I admit, my first glance at Paco made me take a step back. As though I’d just seen a wild animal or something dangerous. It’s a cow for crying out loud. But odd, how things make you feel and act in foreign, and strange, circumstances.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Let me start saying that Debbie said all the right things and I fully agree with her. Native speakers know better how to express themselves than us.
    I felt like stopping the tram I was in, while reading this post, to ask everyone to listen to your story. If I also had a 11 year old next to me, I’d have read to him as well. And I am sure all of them would have loved this post as much as I did.

    Everything works perfectly well here, despite the monsoon. The story is fascinating, the photos are superb, the layers of content are magic, each one of them bringing a bit of information about India’s culture, as well as about your knowledge, beliefs, preferences… and humor, lots of humor.
    It is clever, it is a piece of art, carefully woven and missing no detail.
    You delivered a exquisitely spiced post! It is so inspiring that I felt sad when it ended. I wanted more. I wanted to read the book 100 years of solitude of Badfish in Goa. Eating India food.
    Please write….bring more. You are brilliant.
    Go back to Monsoon!

    PS. Back in July 2005 I was caught by a terrible monsoon while being in the Rajasthan, so I had to say in Jodphur a whole week as I could not catch my flight to go back to Mumbai. I have exhausted all my creativity to use my time there. If I had not gotten ill there, that would have been much better. Still, I had a good time and never rode so many camels in my life…
    Guess what, I started writing while there.
    .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoa. I guess I’m really glad you and Debbie didn’t comment on the same day! Still, a guy can only handle so many really good women making his day. I am so glad you liked it, and I have to marvel at the way you have expressed your feelings here. And…100 years of solitude of Badfish in Goa–I love it!! I am no Marquez, but I love that you love my stuff. And now that you mention it, there is something missing from my piece–dead people talking to me.

      Monsoon in Rajastan! Isn’t it odd the things that prompt us to write, and what prompts us to write about. Were you ill because of food? Mosquitoes? Asp bite? Camel fever?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Since Gabriel Garcia Marquez is officially dead, maybe he could be your dead man talking to you, okay? The Ghost of Garcia Marquez in the Rajastan Monsson. There’s your next blog title. or novel. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • You can handle all of us here!
        And write this book. Don’t get carried away with the prospect of getting a cut from my youtube video, which will make me a millionaire. If you write a book you will be a billionaire.
        Of course I love everything you do in your blog. Your photos and words are eagerly expected and never disappoint me. You are no Marquez, and that is exactly why we all love your writings. You are authentic and unique, your are the Badfish!
        Dead people talking to you? Tell me more….

        I wrote the whole story of my vacations turned upside down by the monsoon. It was quite a hassle to get a train to Delhi instead of Mumbai, which was flooded. There were no flight tickets available to Delhi anymore. While in Delhi, I had to wait a few days until finally securing a place in a flight to Amsterdam. Even though I had a business class ticket (I was there first for business and extended one week for vacations).
        My niece joined me during this trip and that made the trip epic. Wherever we went, all men came after her, calling her ‘Katrina’ and trying to touch her. I was scared at times and felt like a bouncer.

        The trip back to Delhi, overnight, was simply dreadful. We could not sleep, so afraid of those men, staring at her in adoration, and asking to talk to her. I stood there angry, and after I screamed at them, it worked. I got some respect. It was Rajasthan, think about that. The place were they rape more women than other places.
        Long story short, when we arrived in Delhi, and our travel agent came to pick us up, I shared the story and she said that my niece looked like a British-Indian famous Bollywood actress, called Katrina Kaif. How funny!

        By the way, we were both sick. Food poisoning. My niece got so ill that when we landed in Amsterdam, she was so relieved that she kissed the floor of the airport.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Lol that’s too funny Lucille – 100 years of solitude of badfish in goa!!! Many moons ago I started reading 100 years in spanish, gave up and read it in english instead. then i got hooked on magic realism. that’s why – badfish – i believe in magical mermen, you see.

      BTW Lucille, the 11 year old’s a she. Hop on that tram with a printed BFB ( badfish blog) and start reading out loud! Hey here’s an idea – video it whilst you do and upload it on youtube! Ya never know, you could make millions! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I was serious though. Badfish writing is great material, and we should keep telling him that until he goes back to monsoon vacations for more inspiration. 😉
        I read it in Portuguese a long time ago. I would like to read now the mermen book! I love it.
        Can you tell more about you findings on magic realism?

        Say hello to the 11 years old! And thanks for the tip to make me a millionaire. I am already thinking of going to the busiest place in Amsterdam, bring a megaphone, and read Badfish posts. Maybe I could bring a computer and display the photos somewhere on a screen. Well, that could deliver a good youtube video, isn’t it? 😉

        Liked by 3 people

    • Aquileana, Well thanks sooo much for the nomination. An honor coming from you. One thing, though, I’m a procrastinator, may not get to the rules part for a little bit. But I’m on it! Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Send me some of those hippos and elephants, I am dying here to see even a drop.
    You don’t go out during monsoon season in India.. its definitely going to a nightmare, you just enjoy it from your balcony with chai and samosas 🙂
    OFF season …. switch “off” yourself season …. hmmm maybe this what they meant !!! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I just wrote a long and meandering comment here, only to lose it before I could hit post comment… and why? Because I needed to look up a word. How frustrating that is.

    I’d kept this most amazing post in my email, until I knew I’d have the time to read it. In certain times the necessity of sitting with the words, rather like in meditation, requires time. Today was that day – life has be snarky lately, with outside insinuations on inner dwelling.

    I remember beginning the comment with saying “Ah, I’m sated.” This, a direction connection to having been brought into the moments of your journey, into the rain, so that I was drenched, drops plopping down onto my notebook, smudging the words, so they are now unreadable – swiss cheese mind does not afford a return to the specifics of my own response.

    But I shall say, I’m ever so thankful that I realized that I was simply in my email reading – so riveted was I upon your every word – perhaps believing your were E.F. Hutton – that I was not aware until afterward that your always amazing pictorial display was the missing element. Easily remedied, of course, by simply clicking the link and then there, in beautiful colors, in the rich, lush hues of what your words depicted, I was able to fill in blanks – I so wanted to see Paco! SUCH communing is to be highly coveted, I can tell you, from my perspective. And the market, and the difference between what my own brain conjured up to be a lawn chair – yes, sadly, I imagined a aluminum rimmed, plastic woven beach chair, such as those seen on Rockaway Beach. Sad, isn’t it…. But the real chair, was almost akin to a hammock – so I have some kind of imagination that morphs things into being bigger than they perhaps are… meh!

    So, I’m sorry that this does not do justice as a comment, but then I think… there probably were things said, that might not have been meant for public consumption.

    LOVED every moment of it… all your angst, all your exquisite description, and all your photographs… which btw, I can now add to my own journey – coming up next month. I have a camera. Nothing fancy – from the some song or album of the same name…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Fimn, I’m sure your original reply was every bit as riveting as this one was – as far as I am concerned your comments always equal the BF himself’s way with words.

      take this for example: outside insinuations on inner dwelling.
      Aint that the pits! a bit snarky indeed, love the turn of phrase.

      and this

      swiss cheese mind does not afford a return to the specifics of my own response.

      lol, i can just imagine you drenched with fictious rain as you sit on your own version of a plastic woven “lawn chair’ ( we would call them deck chairs) reading the BFB.

      now, just as i’m contemplaing the specifics of my own response, i need more tea to gather them.

      toodle-oh, as the brits would say. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Fim, you are so funny. So noir. So spooky some times. And yes, I absolutely hate it when I take time to write something and then something happens in cyberspace, and my words vanish. I simply no longer compose emails online. It’s Badfish Rule number 18. I’m wondering if there’s a way I can get back to and find all the comments I’ve made, and that others have made? Some are so interesting, they would make a good beginning idea to a post.
      The lawn chair looked nice at first. But if you notice, there’s a piece of wood just at the bottom of the back, just at the point where someone’s lower back or butt would sit. Not good.
      I’m so glad you liked the piece. It took for-freakin-ever. And it’s so freakin long. And that’s only the first two week’s of that trip!
      Good luck on your trip. Take lots of photos. Listen to the soundtrack of your heart…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Last first… “Listen to the soundtrack of your heart” OMB! I’m getting a tattoo (were I allowed) of that somewhere – uncertain at the moment exactly where I’d put it! THAT is – pardon the pun – pure music to my eyes!

        Normally, were it actual email, I’d have been writing my answer in a wordpad doc thingy. BUT, this was in comments, and usually I’m able to navigate the tabs at top. But the goblin mud has been thick lately and I’m stuck in it a lot now-a-days. It’s time for the ‘Enough is enough of this goblin mud’ ritual! Of course, I’d have to get off my butt an find all the implements of goblin destruction and I’m way too lazy for that right now.

        But it’s a worthy Badfish rule!

        I remember you commented somewhere over in the catacombs of my postal babblings, about a suggestion Debbie made *waving at you Debbie* about having a separate commentary hangout. GREAT idea, Debbie! I’m going to try to find that actual comment, and we’ll pow wow about it!

        okay, lunch is waiting for me to make it – how lazy is that? It can’t make itself. Where are the food replicators I ordered?

        Peace out!

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Thanks for this amazing post! Certainly worth all the travail (sp? oh, our French is fleeting). We especially enjoyed your encounter with Paco. What’s with all the sodas, anyway?
    Gotta love the water, I guess. Even if it does come from above. (Notice that Goa rhymes with Noah?).
    Good luck herding the hippos! Jean &Alex 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • HA! Right…Goa…Noah. Spot on. Paco was cool, indeed. Actually a fairly amazing period of time. A bit like encountering a lion in the savanna in Africa. OK, not like that, but you know what I mean.
      Indians drink a LOT of soda. And it’s much cheaper there. This was the backend of a little store, I think.

      Like

  17. Brilliant! Transporting! Love this post. Felt like I was sitting next to you in the rain, day after day, and it was FUN! And I love that you found some great food in the midst of the drenching.

    Like

  18. Ha! Travel writing at its best! Evocative and hilarious. I don’t recall Paul Theroux making me laugh quite as much….I particularly enjoyed your interaction with Paco 😀 Have you tried pitching to travel magazines? Any editor who rejects this needs to have his head examined.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Badfish, this is just fabulous. Paul Theroux harrumphed about the people he met – you were just harrumphing about the weather like any reasonable person would do. It’s raining cats and dogs here in Hong Kong (wet season now) and I had the fortitude not to bring an umbrella… I got soaked in the 10 seconds I waited to cross the street. Could have sprinted ahead of the oncoming traffic but I’d rather be wet than dead, you know? My favourite part of your post was being in the lean-to with Paco – it takes skill and imagination to bring an encounter with a resting bull to life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • James, thanks so much. I can still envisage Paco when I think about that time with hime in the lean-to.
      But monsoon with no umbrell…that takes some fortitude all right! And right…Hong Kong traffic is not something you want to dash out in front of! And they drive on the wrong side of the road, right (left!).

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m backed up on blog reading and commenting, so cannot take the time to write more, but please tell me, a proud Greek, that “Cretan” was an autocorrect or that, unbeknownst to me, the residents of Crete have a thing for Nescafe!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lex, oh poop. I read many years ago that “only a cretin would read a book without bending the cover first.” Every time I read a brand new book, I bend the cover carefully and remember that sentence. And that phrase stuck with me. Spelling error, wasn’t thinking! No denigration intended on Cretans, dude! Only a cretin would denigrate a Cretan on a blog about Goa. And I’m not sure it’s politically correct to even use the word “cretin.” I wish I’d never read that sentence.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. You and my wife are the same – you want to have fun all the time. I am okay with a bit of suffering as long as I am saving a lot of money on a godawful bus or something.

    That rain looks intense. We experienced some monsoon in Indonesia recently, but it was the 2 hour afternoon Biblical downpour followed by 22 hours of dry variety.

    Thanks for sharing. This was a very entertaining post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fun all the time: what’s not to like. I like your wife even more now than just from your tales. And right, unless you’re traveling first class, there’s going to be some suffering. I’ve spent many nights in $4 hotel rooms—it never felt like “suffering” at the time. The monsoon was a different story, not fun after the 10th day of it. Normal monsoons I rather enjoy. When I go to Bali in summers, it’s monsoon and it’s just part of the wonderful day…

      Like

  22. Goa was a lot of fun. I was there during “high season” many years ago.
    I spent the monsoon in Northern India and Nepal, near Himalaya. At one point I was driving my motorcycle and only had a few kilometers left to my destination when the rain started. I decided to keep on driving since I was almost there. The dirt road quickly turned into a small river and it took forever to drive those few kilometers. When I finally reached my destination, I had to choke the bike and ask some random guy to turn off the ignition and hand me the key: I was so freezing that I couldn’t even perform such a simple task. My hands were simply too cold to grip the key.

    Liked by 1 person

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