It’s been a busy month, I had a few friends come in from US and we took a much needed week off to go to Goa and Kerala. It was my third time to Goa since I’ve been here and I feel pretty comfortable there. I know my way around, I can recommend some good places (stay at Anjuna Laguna, eat at Fiesta in Baga, party at Shiros in Candolem) and I pretty much have the feel for what to do (eat mangos and goan fish curry, drink watermelon juice and vodka, lay on the beach and never, ever drink feni). The highlight of the trip was taking a bike ride to old Goa, I love riding bikes and if I wasn’t totally scared of the crowd in Bombay I would get a Bullet.
Although Goa is a great time, we don’t really get the “Indian experience”. The areas we visited could easily be any beach town in the world (northeast Brazil, Ibiza, Phillipines, Mexico, etc…), in the sense that it’s beautiful but it caters to a sort of generic, globe-trotting, hippy, crowd. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome, it’s just not culturally authentic.
We then headed down to the south east of India to Kerala. We first went to Periyar which is a big animal reserve. We got to see some elephants and monkeys which I was really excited about but unfortunately no tigers. Periyar was aight, but my expectations were too high – I was expecting to see some lion king shit and instead got a glorified zoo (the elephants were chained up). On a positive note – we stumbled into a martial arts show, which was surprisingly cool and involved rings of fire.
Next we headed to Allepy to cruise around the backwaters on a houseboat. Before going I was a bit nervous about this, what are we gonna do for two days on boat? We’re a group of young, slightly aggressive, attention deficient Americans, there’s no way we’ll enjoy this. In reality it was incredible, what’d we do? Nothing – played a lot of cards, drank a bunch of beer, ate gigantic tiger prawns, and observed life on the backwater. It was pretty surreal (one of those “I can’t believe I actually live in India” moments), and was the most relaxed I think I’ve ever been. It was a really beautiful place and I think almost anyone would enjoy it.
After my friends left, my good friend Aju invited me to his wedding. We took a 20 hour train ride (AC 3rd class) to Raipur. The ride out there was pretty intense. Everyone says traveling by Indian trains is something you have to do, though I’m not sure – it was a mess. The numberings for the seats were all wrong and there were people with unconfirmed seats also in our compartment. It was cramped and uncomfortable – I’m glad I did it, but it’s unlikely I’d do it again (unless you bump me up a class or two). The wedding itself was great though, I had no idea what was going on. I was told I needed to wear a kurta (traditional Indian garb), and bought one before I left Bombay. I changed into my clothes and went downstairs and everyone else was wearing slacks and shirts, I felt pretty ridiculous until my friends came wearing native garb as well. We also all got turbans… which was awesome. The wedding started with everyone on the groom’s side dance-marching to the wedding (20 min away) in a procession with a band, people carrying 70′s style colored lights and stopping every three minutes to light fireworks. Did I mention Aju was riding a horse? People kept trying to steal his shoes, and I think a little girl tried to bribe me. It was a really cool experience.
Tonight is the second part of his wedding in Bombay, more pictures to come soon…