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Archive for March, 2009

At Home in Anjuna

January-February-March 2009                       Anjuna, Goa, India

 

         Granddaughters Katie and Dilyn asked us to describe our new home, so this post is for them!

 

         Anjuna caught us with its vibe.  When we looked around Calangute Beach and Baga – the hip places of the 1980’s – James remarked, “Look at all the ole farts around here!” 

         I replied, “James, young people would say the same about us.”

         “Look again!”  he pointed out.  And he was right.  We’re not really typical specimens of our age group.

 

         In addition to the hipsters, Anjuna has young families.  30-something Europeans who are raising their kids here and therefore have come up with their own cool businesses.  So there’s bakeries and health food and concerts and movie nights and bookstores and internet cafés.  The old Goan families have their own little empires – guesthouses and restaurants/night clubs and Ayurvedic health spas.  The beach, though, is what got us.  A long expanse of sand with thatch beach shacks and a mellow vibe.

 

         We arrived here  toward the end of January to look for a house.  All the grand old Portuguese homes with gardens had been rented since November, and we had little to choose from.  Even so, we found a 2-year old, very clean, 2-bedroom house in a compound.  Really nice landlords who live next door, and 2 dogs for security.  Reasonable rent ($300/month), sparsely furnished, but at least furnished.  The bed is way too hard, but we found that to be true all over India.  Good location – ah, but too good!  We are right on the main road of Anjuna (incessant traffic, and in India, that’s loud!) AND a main cow path (wandering cows set dogs to barking).  I located my office at the back of the house and turn on my I-Tunes when the traffic surpasses a certain level..

 

         Throw in some buzzing mosquitos and you have a nasty recipe for a light sleeper (James) or someone prone to insomnia (me).  We don’t sleep that well here.

 

         On the property of the compound is a little thatch-roof, dirt floor restaurant (no sign outside – you either have to live here, or know about it, to find it).  Francis and Elizabeth (they’re Catholics, hence the odd names) cook up fabulous food most days.  I can’t tell you what a relief it is for me to know that when I’m working to the point of suddenly realizing I’m hungry, all I have to do is walk next door and get a 3-5 course plate (a thalli) of whatever they’ve fixed, for about $1. That means:  dahl (lentils), 1 or 2 curried veggies (cauliflower, peas, eggplant, fenugreek greens, cashews, etc.), chutney (they call it “pickle”), yoghurt (“curd”) sauce, and a chapati, all of which I add to my own whole grain. On Sundays the price triples because they fix the local speciality:  Goan Fish Curry – a delicious blend of peppers and coconut milk and curry over delicate white fish.   It’s fantastic – and 20 steps away!  How lucky could we get?

 

         You can see pictures of some of the rooms of our house in the post entitled “A Day in the Life”.

 

         Altho we’ve attended the infamous outdoor dances, the Goan trance parties are a little too techno for my taste (still searching for who’s playing tribal trance music).  So we’re not shakin’ it with the youngin’s too much.  We’ve mostly fallen in with the yoga community.  There are 2 excellent yoga centers here, and I attend morning classes in a screened-in pavilion under big trees. 

 

         We were invited to a Valentines’ Day party, which was a multi-segment event starting in the afternoon and going into the night, and totally my style:  Upon arrival, we were smudged and then sprinkled and dabbed with fairy dust.  Then we sipped an Ayurvedic herbal aphrodisiac tea and chatted in the lush tropical garden.  At sunset we gathered around the fire pit (in a stepped amphitheater smoothed with dried cow dung, like adobe), where we called in the directions, burned old habits in the fire, and other ceremonial fun.  Then the mega-speakers were cranked up for trance dancing under the palms and the moon.  At 10pm we all (about 60 of us) sat on the ground for the thalli-style meal served on banana leaves, followed by a concert by an amazing Russian guitarist.  I think they did a slide show and who-knows-what-else later, but we left around midnight.   But that gives you an idea of who we’re rubbing elbows with.

 

         In Anjuna there’s a group who gather to do Sanskrit chanting, complete with a bunch of musicians and drummers, and sometimes I join them. 

 

         James is out much more than me, and has made friends with all the beach peddlers (women from the hills – more on them later…) and tourists, mostly Europeans here for a week or so.

 

         It’s a mellow community but lacks a coherent center.  I have talked with a couple locals about that, and  NO, I am not going to organize anything or do anything about that!  James and I are very content with Goa just the way it is!


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A Day in the Life

Winter 2009                                                     Anjuna, Goa, India

 

                  Our days go basically like this:  I work from morning till night at home,  and James goes to the beach. 

 

         The water therapy is doing wonders for his knee, and James says he’s in less pain now than he’s been in for years.  At the beach he’s also doing research for our book.

 

         Once a week I make myself go to the beach, and hopefully once a week I take my books with me to the nearby Hotel Bougainvilla, where they have a delicious spring-fed pool, do I can work and take refreshing spells in the cool water.

 

         So for all my friends to whom I’ve been less-than-constant, all I can say is:  Good thing we’re not friends in Goa!   I am now absolutely merciless about keeping to my writer’s schedule.  On rare occasions James pulls me out of my studio to eat out, or meet friends, or sit by the sea, and I must confess, I need those times.  Otherwise, I am indulging completely in the freedom to write, and am very grateful for it.

 

         Most of the beach pics, etc. that you see on the blog are from my weekly day-off.   Otherwise I am happily at the grind!

 

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