Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Going, Goan', Goa

So last Wednesday was the beginning of the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, which is basically a ten day festival celebrating Ganesh's birth. There are statues of Ganesh all over the city, including in my room, and eventually they have to be thrown/submerged in a body of water. Because of this, we didn't have classes last Wednesday, and since most people don't have classes on Friday, it was basically a very long weekend.
A lot of people left for some sort of trip on Tuesday night, skipped classes Thursday, and came back Monday. At least twenty people decided to travel to Goa, which sounded like a lot of fun because it is basically just a giant beach and tons of people I know would be there. However, we (being myself and the girls I generally travel with) wanted to save money, so we decided not to leave until Thursday evening.
We hopped on a sleeper bus Thursday night, and I was pretty excited about it. Basically, it was the Night Bus. It had a/c, provided pillows and blankets, and was awesome. The only down side was that there wasn't a bathroom on board and we had to switch buses for some reason at 2am. It was also incredibly bumpy. Like, at some points my entire body was lifted off the bed,  but it was just part of the adventure.
We got to Goa around 8am on Friday morning and then grabbed a cab to take us to Anjuna, which was the beach area everyone else was already staying in. Once we got there we immediately ran into some other friends and they directed us to a couple of guesthouses. Kaia and I stayed in a little bamboo, beach hut that wasn't actually on the beach. It was really just a square room with an area partitioned off for the bathroom.
We were all changed and on the beach by 10am, and thats where we stayed for the rest of the day. The others we knew that had already been there were kind of wandering around the area with their rented motor bikes, but we saw them throughout the day. The beach was beautiful and hot. The sand, other than being absurdly annoying, was made up of very small pieces of shells,  so if you looked closely it was full of  beautiful colors. I collected a few really fascinating shells. While the beach was fabulous, it did have a major downfall: Indian women.
As soon as we laid out on our towels we were immediately surrounded by Indian women trying to sell us jewelry, trinkets, henna, ect. And they wouldn't leave. I mean, I felt like a total bitch but the only way to get them to go away was just to completely ignore them. You couldn't say "No thank you," or "Maybe later," because as soon as you gave them an inkling of attention they latched onto you like a spider monkey. Eventually they wandered away, but Alanna had it really bad. She just couldn't ignore them, so I'm actually not sure if she had any beach time without being surrounded. Even though the rest of us were trying to ignore them, they would just sit at the edge of our towels and stare at us. I was getting extremely hostile so I had to put in my headphones.
Alanna and her horde
I just had a problem with the whole system revolving around these women. Some of these sellers were children who should've been in school, and I have always had a huge problem with working/begging children. Some of the other people that we met up with said that the women that were following them openly admitted to be beaten if they didn't sell enough, and they said it as if it was just no big deal, because to them thats an acceptable norm. Another woman, visibly pregnant (or at least with a tumor/cloth bump) told Diana that her husband wouldn't give her money to go to the doctor. Even if these stories were true, which they probably were, the entire exchange is solely targeted towards Westerners. The groups of women don't congregate around Indian families on the beach. One time Diana even pointed to an Indian couple and said, "Why don't you go ask them?" and the woman said "No, they're Indian."
I refused to buy anything or even acknowledge these women, because I would not support their system. Yes, it might've given them money that day, but it's an unsustainable and abusive system.
Really this is just a continuation of my hatred of being targeted because I'm white.
Corpse of St. Thomas
For dinner we met up with a lot of our friends at a restaurant they had discovered down the beach called Curley's. The food was reasonably priced, really good, and came out really fast! They also served Hookah, so we ordered a Mango one. Everything was delicious.
On Saturday we got a late start, but got a cab to take us to Old Goa to look at some historical churches (oh joy...) and towns. Overall it was kind of boring, but we did go to the Church of [da] Bom Jesus. It was founded by some St. Thomas in the 1600s, but every now and then they bring out his body/corpse for display during special holidays. We didn't get to see it, but it's an odd practice. We had dinner at Curley's again and had a mint & kiwi hookah. A lot of people stayed out and partied, but my old woman came out and I went to bed pretty early and read.
We didn't leave Goa until Sunday afternoon, so we just walked on the beach and did some shopping in the morning. The bus ride back wasn't on a sleeper bus, so I hardly slept at all.
Now I'm back in Hyderabad and things are back to normal, well, Indian-normal.

The two puppies at a nearby restaurant I fell in love with
Church of [da] Bom Jesus
Largest Church in Asia
Goa at Sunset
Le Beach
Stretch of Anjuna Beach

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