Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Palolem, Gokarna and Sold

To get to Palolem which is 60 km south is very easy, all you have to do is change 5 buses and travel for 5 hours :S I missed one of the bus stops and ended up in the middle of the city instead of the bus stop. I had no idea how far the bus station is, and the rickshaw driver took me there for 80 rps. I knew that 80 is too much, but anyway ... when we got there, it was way to quickly and for sure not 5 kms that he said it was. I told him that it's not worth 80, but he said that it's the standard price, and ok, fine, I didn't want to argue ... but ! next time I will! Not really argue, but just give him 20 or 30 and walk. I wonder what he's gonna do! I'm reading a book now about how to be assertive, I think I should practice it more! I don't have a problem saying what I want, but I have a problem when I receive "no" as an answer ... then what? In the book it says that you give a reason and repeat your request in a loop until the successful result. Assertive people who read my blog, can you give me some tips please? :)
D: 80 rps
Y: It wasn’t 5kms, it should be less
D: 80 rps is a standard rate
Y: I don’t think the drive costs more than 30
D: No, it’s 80 rps
Y: ??? (fill in here)
Holy continued, and one guy got into the bus all covered in colors head to toe. He stood right beside the door, and all the people who came in and out had to brush against him, thus covering themselves in colors. I was so surprised that nobody said anything, and nobody asked him to move to a less vulnerable location.
Palolem is technically still in Goa, in the south, but due to lack on Russians and Trance music, I decided to include it into a different section :)
It is a very beautiful crescent beach with a little island on the side and a bunch of coconut palm trees. The palm trees really make a gorgeous view, but this is a coconut season and there were a few times when they fell down in my sight. From that moment on, when I was walking anywhere between them, I would always walk with my head up trying to escape being right under them. Some guys were making fun of me, said that its gods will if anything will happen. I said that I trust my eyes and judgment more.
A lot of the hotels on the beach are huts which are made out of bamboo trees. These huts will not survive the monsoon season, they will either completely broken apart, or get rotten, so each season the workers disassemble and reassemble the huts, which takes 4 days/hut. Thus in the low season, the beach is completely empty, not only of people, but of buildings as well.
On my last night in Anjuna I went to sleep at 4am and couldn't wait until getting to bed in Palolem. I talked a little bit to and Indian guy who works at the hotel about what to do what to see, then I headed early to bed, desperate for some sleep. On my way up to the hut (which is built on wooden columns), 2 Indian guys in the adjacent hut asked me: "What's your name", I said "Yana", they said "nice name", and off I went to sleep. Suddenly a knock on the door "Yana, open up". I barely open my eyes, not knowing what's happening, and thinking that it's the worker of the hotel asking me to fill out the registration form, which I said I will, but didn't. I said that I'm sleeping and I'll do it in the morning. More banging "Yana, open the door, I'm not a liar, I'm not a cheater, open the door" (what?????). This is not about the form I'm starting to think. I look at the watch, it's 3:30am. "Yana, open the door!" I'm lying there, and my heart is beating fast, I'm not fully awake, my head is spinning, I don't know what to do. "Bang, bang, bang". In Anjuna Sheriff told me a few ghost stories, and one of them involved hard banging on the door. I was pretty scared falling asleep that night, but now I wished that it was a ghost. I decided that it's not a good idea to lie in the bed, just in case he'll manage to open the door somehow. He then moved onto the window, trying to get it to open. I quietly got up, and very slowly (because the hut was shaking with every move) got out of the bed, put my cloths and sat waiting. "Yana, open the door, open the door!". There were cracks everywhere around the window and the door, and he was flashing his flashlight/phone. I thought to go and sit behind the door, so if he'll flash in, he won't see me. I made myself relax, take deep breaths, focus on something and quiet my mind. I was thinking of what I can do if he'll open the door. Next to me the door is shaking, and so am I, all my body is trembling while I’m trying to relax. You can't do smart decisions in fear, you can't apply all your power for your protection, the brain shuts down and you freeze. I looked at one spot on the wall in front of me and was just trying to think of it and trying to think what I'll do. I decided that if the door will be opened, I'll kick him in the stomach with a side kick so he'll fly down the 8 stairs to the ground below and hopefully hit something with his head when he'll land. I tried to practice this move in my mind while my feet were shaking so hard on the floor, I was scared he would hear them tapping against the floor. He started swearing, loudly burped (drunk?) and finally he left, but I was sitting next to the door for an hour, looking out on the street from the 2 cms of space between the door and the door frame. My heart was stopping with every noise that was made. At first I loved the waves, then I started hating them because they were loud and I couldn't hear anything when they crashed. Then I saw one guy walking around with a black hood and a stick, and the hut started to shake from my shaking. I observed the door, it was a dead bolt, and the bar went into the lock only about half a cm, that half a cm was all that held the door in place. Also you could reach from the outside inside the crack and slide the lock open. After about an hour, I thought to lie down. I didn't sleep, I was almost meditating, thinking that probably he would come back again. He did. I heard some door opening and jumped from the bed to the door to look outside hopefully to see him. For a split second, I saw someone in the red shirt walking up the stairs. I sat beside the door, and this time held the lock in place. Thankfully after 3 bangs he gave up and left. I was lying till 7 unable to sleep, listening to all the noises, and jumping to the door with every one of them. At 7, people were waking up, and there was too much jumping, and I thought that now I'm relatively safe, I fell asleep till 9. When I got up, packed everything and opened the door, the person who works at the hotel, whom I was talking to yesterday, was sitting on the stairs of the adjacent hut. I looked around and at him. Right away he asked, did you have a good night sleep, what's wrong. I said that "no, I didn't". And he was trying to ask way too many questions about my night. Then I said that someone drunk was trying to get into my hut at night, and besides him and the 2 other Indian guys, nobody else knows my name. At that point he started yelling at me, saying that what am I the only single girl who he ever saw in his life, and what am I crazy, he has a hotel reputation to protect. Then he started yelling at the 2 guys saying that he'll call the police. The door was open, and I saw a red shirt on the bed. He told him to show him his shirt, and he gave him a blue shirt that was hanging on the door, but I pointed out to the shirt that was on the bed. He just looked dumbly at me, and said huh? Other people have joined in, nobody heard anything, and there was no point figuring things out. I looked for another hotel, moved out, and went into the shops to see if they sell pepper spray. Nobody even heard of a pepper spray, when I tried to explain what it is, one guy said that I shouldn't worry, Palolem is very safe, and that guy was probably drunk. Oh, ok, he was only drunk... I can relax now!
I have a new arranged marriage theory. I think that if arranged marriage wouldn't exist, nobody will be married in India, who would marry these Idiots!!!????
The whole day, I had a headache, was dizzy and very foggy. I didn't talk to anybody, was just reading a book and walking on the beach. Palolem is full of elder British folks doing nothing but drinking and working on their tan. It's so strange how different people go to different places. Goa was full of Russians, Palolem was full of British, Swiss and Swedish.
I was sitting in the restaurant by myself, when one of the British folks approached me and asked me that if I'm bored, I could go and sit with them. After some debating, I thought that I can't be paranoid about everybody, and British are not Indian, and I should be ok. I went to sit with them, and one of them was a promoter for a silent noise disco. These are discos that happen in Goa, and especially in Palolem because music is not allowed after 11pm. Somebody came up with an idea to distribute wireless headphones to everybody with 2 or 3 DJs playing different styles, and you can change the channels on the headphones, so everybody is dancing to their own choice of music, but outside, everything is quiet. Sounds cool, but the problem was that there were no people at all. It was Tuesday, and it was empty :( The real clubs go on Thursdays and Saturdays.
At night, I came into the hut, and there was a cockroach sitting on my mosquito net. I don't like cockroaches, and was just standing there looking at it, wondering if it will run away. I had an idea to kill it, but I'll have to get it off the net first. Kinda disgusting and scary. Then I thought, what's more scary, having a guy trying to break into the room at night, or killing a cockroach. I decided that killing a cockroach was a piece of cake, took a shoe, threw it off the net and smashed it. I was proud of myself, and I wasn't even too too scared when another cockroach fell on my head when I actually went to sleep ... had to kill it too :) They're like suicidal or something :)
Falling asleep was a little bit of a challenge because I was still very sensitive to sudden noises, and with neighbors walking around, opening and closing doors, I had to do some convincing to myself to fall asleep.
In the morning Steve (British guy) took a scooter and we went to another beach, which I didn't really like. It's big and wide, but with no people. I don't think I like "no people" kind of places, especially when there isn't much to do. I told him the story about my night, and we were talking about our lives, travel, passions and dreams. He doesn't have a lot of money, he works as teacher's assistant, he's tired of England and wants to move somewhere else. He thinks about Hawaii. He wants to work in a hotel for a few hours a day, and then stay and eat there for free. I think he told me about a site called helpx. I haven't looked it up, but if someone wants to travel for cheap, might be a good idea to check it out. I don't want to work while travelling, this is not what travelling is all about for me. He asked me why I travel alone, and I said that I like my freedom and the ability to make my own decisions about schedules/places/sleeping times ... He asked me what will happen if I'll meet this perfect guy, would I be willing to travel with him (At this point, I'm sensing a lot of hinting). I said that it's not even an option for me. I've decided to travel on my own and that's it. We ate at a restaurant, and there were some books in there. I wanted to take a one, it sounded very interesting. "Start up nation. The story of Israel's economic miracle". I was debating how I should ask to take it ... I didn't really have many choices, I didn't have a book with me to exchange, and I didn't want to buy it, or borrow it, I wouldn't finish it in time. Steve told me, just ask them if you could take it ... hm ... ok. I took the book, went to front, and asked: "Can I take this book?". Sure, yes you can! :))) I think I should've paid more attention in university, when we learned the kiss rule: "Keep it simple stupid" :)
We then drove to a fort, which is very very beautiful, not really the fort itself, but the view from the fort. I discovered that most views from the forts are beautiful ... makes sense, because they're always built on strategic locations which allow for seeing great distances.
When we got back to the guest house, Steve asked me that he knows that I'm not looking for anything, but he wonders if he'll hang out a few days together, do I think that I could be interested in pursuing things further. I knew it !!! I said that no, that I told him about my last 2 weeks and I don't want to have any contact with men for a while. He tried to convince me that it could be a happy ending to all my troubles, but I still said no. What's up with guys? I mean, ok they like me, but do they consider if I like them back? How can you convince someone to like you? Besides, a teacher’s assistant ... is that even a profession?? Shouldn't you woo a girl with your wittiness, sense of humor, generosity, interesting/unusual conversation, surprise me with something that will throw me off balance or make me think, why are you unique, make be interested in you? All the qualities that he was lacking. Only because I'm a girl and he's a guy, it's a good enough case for getting together?? Stop being delusional !!!
While I was walking on the beach I noticed that most workers in the previous hotel that I've stayed in, wear red T-shirts. Aha, so it wasn’t my imagination after all!
One waiter in the new hotel started to talk to me. He asked me where I'm from. I told him to guess. He said Sweden! What??? Ok, I know that most tourists in Palolem are from Sweden, but do I look Swedish to you, or you just don't know the names of any other countries? I said no that I'm from Ukraine. He said that it can't be because my English is good. I said it's because I live in Canada now.
- So I was right!
- Huh? Didn't you say that I'm from Sweden?
- But you're not from Ukraine
- Buuuut ... yes I am!
Then he told me that thinking is bad for your brain that it makes you lazy. He also said that there is a big problem with government, and there are no jobs. People study, have graduate degrees but have to work as autorickshaw drivers because there are no professional jobs. I mean, look at me, I have hotel management degree, and I work as a waiter!
- How long did you study for degree?
- 3 months

Overall impression of India so far: very oppressed, naive, stupid, close minded, unhappy people. Too many rules on what you can't eat, drink, dress, work, talk about anything you like/to anybody you want ... has a huge toll on people!

Next I went to Gokarna. There isn't much explanation in Lonely Planet about this place, and it makes very hard to travel to. There are no maps, no directions, no nothing. I arrived, first thing that I found to be very strange is that a rickshaw driver asked me where I'm going, I said the name of the hotel, and he just told me that I can walk there, and gave me the directions! What just happened??? Next in the hotel, I asked about the room, the lady said it's 300, but ok, I give you 250! What just happened???
I went for a walk, all the streets are empty, shops are empty. Where am I? I have no idea where to go, what to do. Finally I met some backpacker, and asked him what's up. He said that it's siesta, and things will start opening up around 6 (that's how hot it is!), but meanwhile I can go to the beach, ghat, temples. Explained me the way to everything, and I wasn't lost anymore :) While I was walking around, it seemed that every house is a temple and everybody is very spiritual. Around 5 people started to get out of their caves, and here most of the men wear skirts. It's a piece of cloths wrapped around, so it's long till the ground, or they bend it in half and tuck into the top (that's how hot it is!) :)
Everywhere there are rituals going on, people take baths in the Ghat, or rather pour the water from a container on them, wash their legs and feet before entering the temples, go in bare-chested (only men)...
In the evening went to a "restaurant", it's really a 1 table establishment. But the owner was so nice, I just had to go in. He said, small restaurant, small menu. They only served Chicken rice, Chicken Chilly, and Chicken Sukka. I just had to have chicken sukka :))) (In Russian suka is a whore). It was really really good, chicken cooked in shredded coconut with onion, tomatoes, herbs, spices. The owner was smiley all throughout, told me stories, gave me to try chicken chilly, "Here, here, you try". Afterwards I wanted to go to some temple, and he explained me the way, and then stopped someone on the street, and asked him to take me there... What just happened???
This is the friendliest place I've ever been to in India. People are nice, smiley, much less pushy and give more or less fair prices.
At night it was so hot, I had to get up a few times, take a cold shower, and go to bed wet. Woke up at 7:30am (on my own) hot, hot, hot !! Took a autorickshaw (also called tuk tuk) to a beach. There aren't too many people anymore, it's the end of season. Sometimes things feel very deserted. Checked into a hotel, had breakfast, walked around the beach, and by 10am already felt like I did everything.
Saw a girl sitting on her own, and asked her if she wants to walk to the paradise beach. I'm not making that mistake again of trekking on my own... at least not in India. The trek was very beautiful, along an edge on the cliff. Needed to do some mild rock climbing which is always awesome :) On the way 3 Indian guys appeared after us. Here we go again. I already know how that's gonna go. We stopped to let them through, they went, then a minute later, they stopped as though taking a rest, we passed through, they started walking, we stopped, they passed through. Tessy finally understood why I wouldn't walk on my own. She said, but that's not normal. Once is ok, but not 4 times !! Newby ... what can I say? :)
She's here volunteering with mentally challenged kids. She said that these kids are very neglected by their parents, because the parents believe that if something's wrong with the child, it means s/he did something terribly wrong in past life. I have a more valid reason. People here have a lot of children to secure the parents future. Kids go to work, send all money home, and when parents turn old, they take care of them. So what's the benefit from a mentally sick child?
The organization takes trips to nearby villages, and is looking for these children, and tries to take them away. Usually most parents without hesitation give them away. One family had 2 kids like that, they gave 1, but kept the other despite a promise for much better conditions. Some time later, the father came, and was complaining about pain in his toe asking to heal it, and btw, here is the 2nd child. When the parents give the kids away, they never visit them again.
Paradise beach, wasn't really a paradise, just a bunch of hippies living there. There used to be hotels and restaurants there, but the government came and destroyed the whole thing. I've heard that people did too much drugs there, and 1 guy committed suicide. Or that it's government property, and hotels/restaurants were built illegally. Both are not very good reasons for me to completely destroy the whole place. What about taxes? It will benefit both the locals and the government. And about the drugs story, if the police destroyed every place where there are too many drugs, then half the India will be in ruins.
Tessy was reading a book about child sex trade in Nepal, and just finished reading it, it reads very fast, it's double spaced, and I was reading it until 2am. It's called "Sold", and I wrote out the pieces about village life in Nepal (which is I assume the same as in India) for you guys to read. It's a true story about a 13 year old girl named Likshmi. She has a mother (Ama) and a step father, and she lived 2 day walk up and down the hills to the nearest bus station. Her step father after losing in cards (yet again) all the money that his wife made, sold Likshmi to be a sex slave in India. Likshmi and her mother thought that she will go to the city to be a maid for a rich family.


- A son will always be a son. But a girl is like a goat. Good as long as she gives you milk and butter. But not worth crying over when it's time to make a stew.
- In the cold months, the women climb high up the mountain's spine to scavenge for firewood. They take food from their bowls, feed it to their children, and silence their own churning stomachs. This is the season when the women bury the children who die of fever.
In the dry months, the women collect basketfuls of dung and pat them into cakes to harden in the sun, making precious fuel for the dinner fire. They tie rags around their children’s eyes to shield them from the dust blowing up from the empty riverbed. This is the season when they bury the children who die from the coughing disease.
In the rainy months, they patch the crumbling mud walls of their huts and keep the fire going so that yesterday's gruel can be stretched to make tomorrow's dinner. They watch the river turn into a thundering beast. They pick leeches from the children's feet and give them tea to ward off the loose-bowel disease. This is the season when they bury the children who cannot be carried to the doctor on the other side of that river.
- (Likshmy got her period) Before today, Ama says, you could run as free as a leaf in the wind. Now she says, you must carry yourself with modesty, bow your head in the presence of men, and cover yourself with your shawl. Never look a man in the eye. Never allow yourself to be alone with a man who is not family. And never look at growing pumpkins or cucumbers when you are bleeding. Otherwise they will rot. Once you are married, you must eat your meal only after your husband has had his fill. Then you may have what remains. If he burps at the end of the meal, it is a sign that you have pleased him. If he turns to you in the night, you must give yourself to him, in the hopes that you will bear him a son. If you have a son, feed him at your breast until he is four. If you have a daughter, feed her at your breast for just a season, so that your blood will start again and you can try once more to bear a son. If your husband asks you to wash his feet, you must do as he says, then put a bit of the water in your mouth. I ask Ama. "Why must women suffer so?". "This has always been our fate. Simply to endure is to triumph."
- The leaves on my cucumbers are edged in brown, and Ama and I must each make twenty trips down the mountain to the village spring, waiting our turn to bring water up to the rice paddy. My stepfather dozes in the shade, wearing nothing but a loincloth, too hot even to climb the hill to his card game. The baby's eyes are cakes with dirt. He cries without fury. He cries without tears.
- That night, after my stepfather leaves for the tea shop and the baby falls asleep, Ama reaches behind a big urn for a smaller one. She feels around behind that urn for an even smaller one, reaches inside, and pulls out a handful of maize. " I set this aside in the dry months for a night like tonight". She pours the kernels into the skillet and we watch as they burst into flowers. We sit together savoring our secret treat and dreaming of the days after the monsoon. "The first thing we'll do is patch the roof". "No, child. First, we'll offer thanks to the goddess. Then we'll mend the roof". "With the money from this year's crop, we may have enough to make you a new dress". "Maybe there will be enough to buy sugar for sweet cakes" I say. "Maybe we can buy extra seed this year and plant the empty field behind the hut". We sit there in the flickering light of a shallow saucer of oil already rich with harvest money. We don't say what we both know. That first thing we must do is pay the landlord. And Gita's uncle, who sold us last seasons' seed. And the headman's wife who would not trade cooking oil for work. Any my teacher who gave me her own pencil when she saw I had none. And the owner of the tea shop, who, my stepfather says cheats at cards. Instead we linger over a luxury that costs nothing: Imagining what may be.
- The rain is so fierce, so relentless, so merciless, it finds every crack in our rood. Ama and I pack the walls with scraps of cloth, but each day they melt a little more. When there is a rare moment of sun, the women gather on the slope, shake their heads and say this is the worst monsoon in years. After several more days, when there is no sun at all, the village headmen gather in the tea shop and ask the holy man to say a special prayer to make it stop. I try to remember the days when the heat was so fierce that we prayed for this rain. When the night rain soaks the ground past the soaking point, when the earthen walls around the paddy melt away, when the rice plants are sucked out of the earth one by one and washed down the slope, there should be a sound announcing that something is terribly wrong. Instead there is a ghostly hush that tells us we have lost everything.
- City rules: In the city, says Ama, the people clean the floors with one rag and the dishes with another. Take care not to mix them up, or you will risk a beating; Get up early in the morning before anyone else in the house and be the last one to bed at night. Never sit down in the presence of your mistress or her husband or even in front of the children. And never eat your meal until they have gone to bed; Say your prayers every day and wash your skirt and blouse once a month. And perhaps at festival time next year, your mistress will let you come back to visit.
- The stepfather just sold the girl to be a sex slave for $16. He put things in the basket. A carton of cigarettes, a bag of sweets, chewing gum, a bottle of rice wine and a new hat. While he was busy haggling over a watch that has caught his eye, I placed a sweater for Ama and a coat for the baby. I add one more thing for Ama, a costly treat that only the headman's wife can afford, a bottle of Coca-Cola, the sweet drink that people say is like having tiny fireworks in your mouth.
- We have passed through seven villages, each one invisible to the other because of the mountain between them, but each one the same, with women pounding laundry on rocks at the village fountains and men sitting cross-legged in the tea shops. "Is it true that all the roofs are covered in gold in the city?". "Where did you hear that?" she says. "In school". I want her to know that I am not a backward girl. I am educated.
- 30 ruppees - that's the price for one sex act
- 40 ruppees - a price for coca cola
- The teacher gave us difficult problems, asking us to figure out how many baskets of rice a family would have to sell to buy a new water buffalo. Or how many lengths of fabric a mother would need to make a vest and pants for her husband and still have enough for a dress for her baby.
- Monica is going home in a month or so. But still, she could run away before paying off her debt. They say Monica has a child at home. If she runs off, Mumtaz will take the child, cut off a hand, a foot and sell it to a beggar woman. Softhearted people will give an extra rupee or two if you have a sick baby.
- Monica paid for school fees and medicine for her daughter, and for her father’s operations and for her sister's spectacles. When she came back, her father beat her with a cane and told her not to come back and disgrace them. They told her daughter that Monica is dead.

I don't know where to go to next from Gokarna. I was reading and reading the book and have no idea whether to go to Murudeshwar, Udupi or Mangalore. I was debating it for a few days now. No proper description in LP makes it difficult to decide. In Murudeshwar it's the largest idol in the world. It's Shiva on the beach, 15 meters high. Udupi had some temple, and Mangalore I don't know what it has. I bought a ticket to Mangalore. On the train met some girls who do student exchange in Mangalore, said that there is nothing to do in there, told me all about Udupi, gave me a hotel name and I got off in there. We saw the statue in the fog from the train. I'll post some pix from the internet.
It's hard for me to remember all these names. I feel like I'm in a first grade again, learning how to read. Ma-ma, pa-pa, Ud-ha-ga-man-da-lam, Thi-ru-va-na-ntha-pu-ram. People ask me where I'm going ... uummmm ... Thimururuderu, Thikumeshmaru, Thishlamaladala??? Wait, let me get the book! :)

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4 comments:

  1. Why you need pepper spray in India, Use just hot
    pepper in the nappking in the pocket and use it if you need

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  2. Interesting advice. Hair spray might work too, if sprayed directly in the face/eyes

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. You are one brave young lady, Yana. That story really spooked me.

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