GOA! (But I think we got there about ten years
I first realized that Goa was
different from the rest of India when we took a taxi from Mapusa, where the bus
dropped us early in the morning, to Anjuna Beach where we had decided to stay. It was about ten in the morning when we
finally approached the beach. As we
rounded a corner, we suddenly came upon a field filled with half-naked dancing
figures and heard the dull pounding of incredibly loud "house
music". Originally this "house"
music had come out of the clubs of Chicago but it had been picked up by DJs in
the hot clubs in Ibiza, had been relabeled the "Balearic Beat" and
was now to be heard all over the dance club world. As we traveled East, we were to come across this sound in many
different settings. I personally found
the music rather inhuman and irritating for it didn't have any melody,
progression or resolution and the beat was brutally fast. But it was hard to ignore. It was not music to listen to, but music
to dance to and was definitely linked to the new drug culture which had
blossomed in Britain during Thatcherism.
A whole new generation had grown up without work or opportunity
prospects and had turned to acid, ecstasy or hard drugs and a new pseudo-religion
in their hopelessness and frustration.
If you took a lot of drugs, the music made more sense. Otherwise continual exposure to it could
drive you crazy. It was funny to see
this party still going strong although it was mid-morning. Obviously, Anjuna Beach was a heavy party
We arrived in Goa on the day before
Christmas Eve and quickly found a nice guesthouse, the "Dalroy Inn",
to stay in. It was just off the beach
that stretched without apparent end in either direction. Suddenly we found ourselves in the Tropics
for Christmas. It was incredibly hot
and the reflected light from the water and the sand dazzled our eyes. There was another beach dance party that
Full Moon night; in fact there was a huge party almost every night that we were
in Goa. After a day on the beach and a
late dinner at one of the restaurants dotted amongst the palms along the beach,
we went out to check out the scene.
Nothing happened until well after midnight when the moon was a huge
silver orb flying high in the night and reflected in the sea. But the music was incredibly loud, there
was a good light system and over a thousand people danced on the sand under the
palm trees where little Goan ladies had spread out cloths covered with fruit,
cakes and drinks for sale. It was a
truly fantastic sight and we danced for hours.
One thing about the scene in Anjuna that was immediately
disturbing were the large numbers of Indian tourists, all men, who had come
down to Goa to get high and to cruise the foreign women. The first morning that we spent on the
beach, there were literally hundreds of Indians arriving by special buses with
the sole aim of seeing undressed Western women They even came up close to take
photographs of them. I opened my eyes
as we lay on the beach to see an Indian standing over a woman friend of ours
taking photos of her bare breasts. Of
course our behaviour was extremely provocative by most standards and our friend
would probably not have lain bare breasted on a beach in America. An Indian woman walking bare-breasted up
Fifth Avenue in New York would attract at least as much attention, I
imagine. Still, this voyeurism didn't
add to the quality of our life on Anjuna Beach.
As I stepped out of the Indian
Ocean, the oldest sea of all, I couldn't help thinking that perhaps we had
arrived about a decade too late.
Around me, the Indian voyeurs were taking a break from their photography
and relentless cruising and were rolling around together in the surf. There was a lot of physical contact between
them, they wrestled together, splashed one another and chased each other
through the shallow warm water. It was
both amusing, for it's easy to laugh at the sight of two soldiers holding hands
as they played together, but also a bit depressing at the same time. The relationship between the sexes in India
would appear to be unsatisfactory to both parties. But who was to say that the western system worked better? Arranged marriages generally lasted for
life while four out of five western marriages ended in divorce. By expecting less from a marriage and
emphasizing the importance of the family system, Indian society had created
repression and a huge gap between the sexes.
By demanding greater intimacy and allowing a lot of freedom in a
relationship, the West had created a society of self-indulgent children who
believed in instant gratification and the idea that the next relationship would
be better than the last.
Christmas Day was, for me, a
mercifully untraditional occasion. We
spent it on the beach and didn't eat our Christmas dinner until 11.30 at
night. Tai came back from the previous
night's dance party with an account of being hassled by policemen on the beach
who were looking for drugs at three in the morning. After Catherine and I were stopped and searched two nights
running by young barefoot cops brandishing bamboo sticks, we both began to feel
that Anjuna wasn't the place to be and that we should make plans to move on.
While we were in Bombay, I had been
lightly grazed by a passing motor scooter as I crossed a street and although
the wound in my calf had been very minor, it had become infected when I swam in
the sea in Goa. In Europe, I would
have expected the salt water to have cleaned and disinfected the cut, but in
Asia I discovered that the warm seawater was full of organisms and that it was
important to keep the wound dry and to stay out of the sea. So we live and learn. Pretty soon my leg was badly swollen and it
became quite painful to do much walking.
But I managed to struggle up from the beach every evening and cross the
rice paddies to walk up to the "Disco Cabin", where we would watch
excellent video movies every night.
Video bars like this one were to be found all across Asia, we later discovered.
The nightly raves on the beach and
the pulse of acid house music were beginning to bore us and I think that the
New Year's Eve party was the worst.
The novelty of the format had worn off and there were far too many
drunken Indian voyeurs around for comfort.
We were becoming very resentful of the local police and their continuing
attempts to earn a little baksheesh by this time too. And even though we finally ran into Jerry, an old Ibiza face who
invited us to stay at his house in Anjuna, we were anxious to leave and to see
some more of India. In retrospect, I
should have stayed on at Jerry's until my leg had healed but its always easy to
see these things clearly afterwards.
So I went onto a course of antibiotics, which I unfortunately was to
stay on for some months in the end, doing heaven knows what short-term damage
to my immune system. I've never done
well on antibiotics and am strongly affected by them. I become nauseous and very emotional after awhile. But we both felt strongly that it was time
to make a move.