Adventures on an Indian Visa: Week 2 (South Goa)
Today I bumped into my Scottish mate, Barry, who persuaded me that a couple of k away to the south was the gorgeously mellow Patnem beach. It makes Palolem look like Benidorm & I immediately felt more comfortable. The beach is lush, while the waters, tho’ a little cloudy, are silkily dive-in-able; warm & wet 24 hours a day. As for India’s sacred cows, on the beach there’s a herd of about 20, while on the back road near the beach there’s another herd, haunting the rubbish dump for snacks. Inbetween are all the shops and villas and huts, then the crescent of beach-kissing restaurants & bars.
I settled in straight away, buzzing about on my scooter, finding idyllic spots to study in, then spending the rest of the day relaxing, swimming & eating, messing about in the giant adult playground that is Goa. It reminds me of the Shelleys/Byron mentality as they lived in Italy, something which has always inspir’d my life. Being in Patnem, however, does have echoes of when the Shelleys hit Bagnia di Lucca & declared it quite sardonically to be full of the English. They, & of course the Scots, really have taken over Patnem.
After m’lady departed for other shores this morning, it seems she had left me with a revitalised mojo. First to pick up on it was a nurse from Hastings. I’d gone out for few beers, playing pool in beach bars & stuff, which led to a riotous rave at a headphone party where we I had my first proper dancing session in Goa ata place call’d the Alpha Bar – an open-air affair with great aesthetics & a stage. After. Cue some wild driving, an all-night party & a morning frolic in the waves with the aforementioned nurse. Her boyfriend is a QPR fan & she said, ‘I won’t tell him you’re a Burnley fan, he hates Burnley!’ I was like, ‘you’ve got a boyfriend, why don’t you just not tell him about me at all!’
At some point along the wild roads of last night’s drunken shennaningins I managed to total the front of my scooter, which Dinesh says will cost £35 to repair – ouch! However, it looks like I might be able to pay that back from real wages, because on returning to the Alpha Bar I have managed to secure a gig in a few days of my very own. After a few business–like chats with the boss, sat on chairs drinking chai & arguing over prices like any other Indian transaction, I pulled the thing off. God bless Saraswathi! There are two channels going at the same time so I will be playing alongside someone, but also to about 300 punters, half of which will be birds in varying degrees of hotness.
I’ve also moved to a beach hut at a place call’d the Magic Cinema, ran by this guy called Jimmy Van de Mere. I met him last night & he invited me along to see his place – I moved in straight away. Its stuffed full of hippies & healthy food, & shows a couple of wicked films each night in an open air cinema – tonight was one of my favourites, The Sting. I loved hanging out there during the day, shaded by the coconut boles & palm trees, playing chess with this mad German bird & one of Jimmy’s mates call’d Steve, whose here with his girlfriend, an Australian call’d Kate. They are the most relaxed, hedonistic couple I have ever known.
After the Sting, me, Steve, Kate & Barry bought some ‘happy pills’ from the chemist, hoping they’d be amphetamine based. At first they seemed to work, but after a while we levelled out & Kate discovered that they were, in fact, Prozac. It was time to resort to plan B. This involved chipping in together to buy a bottle of liquid ketamine from a chemist in Chaudi, the local amenity-laden town. It was shipped in on the 9 PM bus by a nice young chemist & by 10 PM it had been cooked up. Kate professionally held a metal pan over 4 candles & after a few minutes the liquid suddenly turns into white powder, smooth as untrammell’d snow.
Ketamine’s a tricky drug, you have to find the right length of line or else you fall into the K hole. However, experience & common sense paid off & we managed to have a great time at the Neptune’s Point disco, a wave-lapped promontory full of Goan party heads. Me & Barry decided to have a couple of lines on the bar & b4 long we’d met these pill’d up Norwegian birds who gave us our ecstasy lead – Curlie’s Bar in Anjuna. “We’re gonna have to go Damo, it’s what I do,” said Barry.
We didn’t go to Anjuna today. I found Barry still sleeping off on an all-night drinking binge commonplace round these parts. Barry knows some Scots out here, who basically hang out all day at the same restaurant (the Tantra). A few of the ‘in crowd’ hang out there also, from Cornish DJ’s to the long-locked Londoner Leigh, who runs the open mic nights on Patnem & Palolem. Yesterday they’d all gone off to see if some baby turtles have hatched, a story which is currently gripping the local geaches. Apparently they are all still in their eggs yet.
Today I learnt the lesson that drink-driving is fine if ya going slow, but drinking, driving & smoking charas is a definite no-no. I almost ran into this group of Indians – not touching one, mind – when all of a sudden each one began clutching mythical broken shoulders & screaming in agony. I saw one of ‘em later on, who declares he’s been to hospital, it cost him 6000 rupees & he’s complained to the police – apparently he took my photo & registration number – & if I give him the 6000 rupees he’ll take back the complaint. ‘Mate, I’m from Burnley,’ I replied – he didn’t understand what I meant, but he got the intent – you can’t blag a blagger, end of. I mean, I’m a top Goa Dj now & I’ve only been in India a week.
This morning began with me shaking Barry awake & stuffing him into the waiting taxi. It was time to score some pills. Anjuna is in north Goa, the original home of the Goan party scene in the 90s, but now a shadow of its former self, turning into something of a middle-aged Majorca. However, you can still get pills there, & we arrived at Curly’s Bar in our getaway taxi, where after initial contact, a couple of hours pass’d by slowly as we waited for a shady young lad called ‘Roy,’ who Barry swore had tried to sell him drugs just up the road a few years previously. We shared the haggling between us, & left north Goa 30 pills to the good & one each down our necks. The journey ‘home’ was magic – quite euphoric on what were flying fucking pills. Whether it was my 2-month abstinence or just their sheer strength didn’t matter so much, suffice it to say that after the scenic two-hour drive, past the deep fjord-like, jungle-backed rivers of Old Goa, I was well off my head & so was half of Patnem Beach an hour or two after our return. Another Silent Disco ensued, this time inland & surrounded by palm trees, where a wee line of ketamine initially sent me to heaven, but then spun me out for a good two hours.
“You know the thing about ketamine,” said Barry, “is that people always go on about it.” He was right, my mind was verbalising its fight back to relative sanity (I was on pills remember) – & the whole psychic mess was cured only by another cheeky half. It was then time for a damn good rave, ending up at the all night Palolem strip, whose mile-long chain of restaurants & beach bars become at night a multi-coloured ribbon of neon light – & then to Cleopatra’s Bar for pool. At daft-o-clock me & Steve drove back to Patnem, leaving his missus in the capable hands of Barry. A few hours later Steve got a rickshaw back to rescue Kate from Barry, who by now had donned some English woman’s feminine attire in full tranny flow, fuell’d by some anti-narcolepsy tablets, which contained the grail-like amphetamine kick much needed in times like these.
It seems the Siberian snap that has recently hit Europe has penetrated the subcontinent – here’s a report from the Times of India.
Panaji – the mercury dropped to its lowest this season as meteorologists recorded a minimum temperature of 19.6 Celsius yesterday morning.
I must admit, I had to turn my fan down a couple of notches in the night to keep out this unwanted coolness.
Today I met an old mate. I was sitting in this chai & samosa hut, recovering, when I heard ‘I think I know you.’ I turned round & there was Danish Rita – she used to see my mate in Bognor Regis – clutching a new-born baby. It turns out she’s married now, has two kids, & has the ability to heal people through her hands with ‘the light.’ Her husband is cool, despite not having a drink in ten years, & it was lovely getting to know them. It turns out they adore a place call’d Thiruvannamali, in a southern Indian state call’d Tamil Nadu & I should definitely check it out if I’m in the area.
At the Magic Garden, the newly-arrived Phillipa had a bottle of liquid acid, which gave my day a myriad-hued glow. Jimmy had also taken some acid & took us out to Galgebag beach, where the sea turtles had still not hatched, their eggs protected by human fencing. There’s a cluster of restaurants at Galgebag, one of which comes recommended by Gordon Ramsey, while the one next door is recommended by Jamie Oliver. Whether this is true or not, the oysters were great & the beach sands are lush… Happy Days indeed!
That night saw a party on in a place called the Secret Garden. That was pleasant enough, ‘til the police halted it mid-flow; so a big bunch of hippies, led in some vague fashion by Jimmy, hiked over to Neptune’s Point for more silent disco fun, & a little flyering for my own gig tomorrow!
There’s something about being a DJ which is an aphrodisiac for the ladies. lt was my debut at Alpha Bar’s Silent Noise night – the flyer says Palolem’s premier outdoor nightclub. It was wicked actually, a really pretty space illuminated by purple laser beams. Earlier in the day I’d been handing out said flyers along the beach – a great way to get chatting to folk actually. Come 8.30 I was the opening act, & for two hours played mi tunes out loud thro’ the speakers before the 10.30 watershed when Goa turns its music off. Then the headphones come into play & as the venue filled up, people began dancing. I couldn’t tell if they were dancing to mine tunes or the guy’s next to me. He was a nob actually, proper DJ ego. It was great to see folk dancing, tho’. & having a good time, singing along to the classics I squeezed in among the disco. Because it’s all silent, it’s a bit like Weatherspoons with everyone having epileptic fits – the only music one can hear is the cricket opera from the surrounding jungles.
After my set I was ‘pulled’ by this hot English lady who I first noticed was dancing to Cats In the Cradle by Jonny Cash, one of my favourite tunes, showing she was a cultured woman. I was soon proven right because she actually works on the Culture Show for the BBC, & after a skinny-dip at dawn I woke up beside her delectably naked form, upon silken white sheets, at her mate’s gorgeous Portuguese villa. ‘So do you have a boyfriend at home?” I asked – & it turns out she’s actually married. Apparently, she’s never done such a thing before, or ever will again – but she’d told her husband he couldn’t expect her to sleep with one guy for the rest of her life & it turns out I was the lucky fella! It was a lot of pressure to be a charming young plaything actually. I read her a little Keats & sang a song or two like a proper cavalier servente, but if this is what happens when you’re a DJ, I’m thinking about packing in the poems!
There was an episode of Eastenders a few years back – I remember it distinctly – when Alfie Moon turn’d up at the square at the beginning, & by the end of it was firmly entrench’d behind the bar of the Queen Vic. A similar thing has just happened to me. By a blend of timing, tenacity & sheer front, I am now a Goa DJ shaggin’ a hot BBC producer. She tracked me down herself & we hung out again all day, including a moonlit drive to Galgebag where the baby turtles were finally hatching – a divine sight indeed & my lady friend was so full of the romance of the moment, she took me right there on the beach.
So, it’s time to move on – it’s gonna be hard to top that moment again in south Goa – while a few of my pals are arriving quite soon at a place call’d Arambol in north Goa. Tomorrow morning I’m gonna burst my Patnem pleasure-bubble & sneak out of my lady’s bed – I’m in her villa at the moment writing this – & head north.