Heading south in search of Dru's esteemed detox Juice bar

Goa Travel Blog

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Palmistry On Baga Beach Road

Guru Shruti Prakash has a billboard on the roadside advertising ‘ Natural Healing, Soul Realization & Mysteries Experience Centre’ with the sub heading ‘Here You Have Session Of Reading Of Lines Of Your Palm’. Next to it was a big picture of a hand.

Debs & I both professed ourselves to be complete sceptics, then promptly decided to have a session. I went first.

Shruti is small and neat with intelligent eyes and a kind smile. His workplace is the front room of his cottage; the floor is covered with padded fabric and there are piles of unidentified ‘things’ in each corner. We sat cross-legged In the middle of the room. Shruti took my right hand then my left and examined both closely.

Flearidden Rupee
He explained that the left hand details the past and the right the present. By reading them both he can identify possible paths to be chosen -or avoided- in the future.

The first thing he said was that I was ‘strong’ both in my past lives, of which there were many, and in my present life. I wondered if he might just be reading the slightly haggard look of my hands, acquired from years of mucking-out at the stables, but then he said ‘Emotionally strong, even when bad things happen you are strong’.

He then examined the middle of each hand more closely and exclaimed, quite excitedly: ‘you are brilliant at work, brilliant!’. ‘Wow’ I thought, ‘that’s nice. Completely untrue, but certainly very nice’

He then asked what I did, and I explained I had worked in TV.

He asked if I liked it and I said yes. He said that TV was perfect for me, because he could see I liked fun and creative things that have a purpose. He said I should continue working in TV. I remember thinking 'Typical! That’s so me; travel half way around the world to find my place in life, only to discover it’s exactly what I left behind.'

Shruti clasped my hands again, this time examining the middles then turning them to the side: In a far less positive tone, he said ‘ahh relationships’. He looked into my face; ‘you are not in a relationship now?’ I shook my head, no. He put my hands down and rummaged into a pile of nearby stuff. Pulling out a small protractor, he asked me to ball my hands into a small fist & he measured the distance between the wrinkle at the bottom of my little finger and my ‘heart’ line.

He then did a small calculation before saying;

‘You already know the man and 2005 is a significant year.’ Silence.....

‘Does that mean anything to you?’ he asks

‘Umm, maybe, could do...’ No idea, did I meet the love of my life then?? …. Did I loose him??.’

Shruti frowned, looked sympathetic, leaned in and shared his wisdom:

‘For harmonious relationships you mustn’t resist the male, you must allow the symbiosis of both, it’s about balance, like day and night, equals’

I nodded sagely, whilst wondering.....what?? What is he telling me?

He continues ‘I recommend you learn more about Tantra’

Oh, I see! He’s telling me I’m crap in bed. Great. Thanks.

He then talked for quite a while about a laid-back life philosophy, which I can’t remember at all, but it sounded very agreeable.

We finished off with some numerology. Guru Shruti took down my birthday and told me that my elements are Mars, Sun and Mercury. This proved what he’d said about being strong, apparently. A few calculations later & I learnt that 1999 was ‘ A very influential year to your whole life’. Tried really hard to remember 1999: second year of university… smoked healthy amount of dope, bit blurry…lost half my body weight and believed life would be wonderful…Guess that’d be a turning point of sorts.

And that was it; apart from learning that Tuesday, Friday and Thursday are my lucky days and my First Best days are 9th, 18th & 27th.

Said friendly goodbyes to Guru Shruti, who I thought was truly lovely. I'm still not clear on whether there’s genuinely "anything in it" but then he did tell me that I need to ‘open myself up to spirituality’, so it’s probably my fault I’m not yet converted.

Patnem - heaven

Letter Home 13/11/06.

I've completely fallen in love with Goa (Patnem Beach specifially) and don't want to leave. My return flight is booked  to depart in 5 days time, so I must be quick as I need to find somebody willing to marry me before then.

Will write more soon - T X

PS - Found Dru's detox bar (It's called Blue Planet) and drank a glass of something green that tasted strange.

Sunrise On Patnem

Morning Routine:

• Wake up to any or all of the following: dogs barking, cockerel crowing or devil-woman next door screeching. • Climb out from under mosi-net • Remove pajamas • Pull on bikini • Leave room. • Walk onto beach & into sea. • Swim & float for however long admiring the quiet of the empty beach • Return to room & shower • Put on sarong • Join Debbie for breakfast of museli & fruit, with a banana lassi.

Could not be happier ☺

Sunset on Patnem

The beauty of the sunset over Patnem beach on our first evening was so overwhelming it will stay with me forever. The sun seemed to pour molten colour through the Sky and it was thick with red, orange & gold. The sea mirrored the colours and threw them around in a psycadelic display. From our position on the beach everything, absolutely everything, was ablaze. Debbie & I just gawped, both transfixed by the magic of the scene.

“I have to go in…..

Swimming in the sea reminded me of that (not very good) Robin Williams film where he can step into paintings- The whole scene was just like that; I went deep into the water, submerging my head so that I could just see over the surface- the view was fantastic: half of my vision was thick ripples of gold, the other half was filled with Lava Sky.

I treaded a 360, looking back at the shore where the palm trees were silouetted black against red. I know I’m going on a bit, but it was moment in time that simply blew my mind.

Tuk-tuk incident,

One evening, only about 9 pm, Debs & I were travelling back from Palolem beach to Patnem in a tuk-tuk. (otherwise known as an autorickshaw) Whilst this little machine would stand out like a clown at a funeral in Britain, you see loads of them all over Asia. A standard Tuk-tuk comprises the engine of a 50CC motorbike with the configuration of a wheelbarrow, the casing of an upturned skip and sticky plastic seats like a 1970’s Fiat. The driver occupies the front half where he operates basic handlebars, gears & brake.

Tuk-tuks are always garishly decorated; most often with pink or yellow writing across the front (ours said ‘TANTA’); a garland of bright flowers and a figurine Jesus or Ganesh- depending on preference. On the back seat there’s space for two passengers to sit side by side. (In Jaipur we managed to squeeze 5 of us into one tuk-tuk, which involved me and Andrew sitting on a parcel shelf with our protruding feet getting grazed by the wheels of laughing motorcyclists- but that’s a different story). On this evening it was just me &  Debbie.

We’d just left the lights of the main street on Palolem and were heading into a palm-tree shaded S bend when 3 things happened simultaneously; there was an almighty crashing sound; a gazzillion little shards of glass torpedoed us from in front, and the tuk-tuk wobbled madly.

My shamefully un-cool response was to bury my head in Debbie’s shoulder and shout ‘FUCK!’. Loudly. When I looked up the tuk-tuk was at a standstill, the driver was gone and the road was dark and empty. Debs & I scrambled out and stood looking about us dumbfounded. We began deliberating ‘What Just Happened’ and came up with the following 3 possibilities:

1) A passing motorcyclist threw a brick through the front window- based on Deb thinking she saw a bike going in the other direction. If this were the case we surmised that we’d probably been inadvertently caught up in the cross fire of tuk-tuk gang war.

2) A coconut fell through the windscreen.

3) The driver, who’d been doing a bit of a Schumacher, had hit a cow or dog.

The problem with each of these theories was that there was no coconut, brick or dead dog to been seen.

More over there was no driver! Further poking around in the tuk-tuk yielded no clues, but instead deepened the mystery when we discovered the keys still in the ignition. We really started to worry: what would compel our driver to abandon his tuk-tuk? Had he been seriously injured and gone to seek help? Was he thrown into the nearby undergrowth? There was some unaccounted for blood on my leg (actually a teeny dot)- was it perhaps a smattering from the drivers head?? Still shaking bits of glass from our hair, we made a move towards the ditch at the roadside, fearing the worst for Mr Tuk-tuk.

Just about then a lady came towards us from the direction of the town. She was doing that half walk, half trot thing that people do when they’re either unfit or not quite sure whether their hurry justifies a full-blown run.

The trotting lady (who turned out to be a Brit too) had seen some of the incident moments after impact. She explained that she’d heard the bang, seen our tuk-tuk wobble and the driver leap out and jump into another tuk-tuk going the other way. She’d gone after him a while to see what was going on. It did cross my mind that whatever the hell had happened, mine & Debbie’s safety hadn’t been at the top of anybodies priority list! but it seemed a bit rude to point this out, so instead I turned attention to the practicality of continuing the journey home.

Damian is the son of the lady who runs our guesthouse and I’d taken his mobile number just the day before. I rang Damian & explained, in what I think might have been rather hysterical tones: ‘We’ve been in a crash, something weird has happened, we’ve got a broken tuktuk and we’re in the middle of the road, please come get us’.

Damian speaks great English, but it’s slightly what you’d call ‘faltering’. This has the knee-weakening effect of making almost everything he says sound Bond-like. ‘Stay Where You Are Natasha, I Will Be There’. 5 minutes later he was. By this time a small crowd had gathered a little way up the road  and I'd begun heading towardsit. Debbie climbed in the car and Damian shouted, very sternly; Natasha - Get In The Car. Feeling like a naughty child I did -quickly. Damian then drove us up to the throng, leaned out of his window and exchanged a quick and gabbled conversation with one of the throngers, We then turned round and went home. Damian’s explanation was brief; ‘ An American on a motorcycle came around the corner carrying bamboos. They went through your window.
No wing mirrors!
The driver caught him, They are sorting it out’.
This wasn’t quite as exciting as the rival gang warfare we’d imagined, or as exhilaratingly random as the plummeting coconut, but nonetheless Debbie & I spent the rest of the short journey home yabbering like over excited school girls about our brush with death. Damian drove on in -what I guessed was- condescending silence.

So that was the Tuktuk incident.

A couple of follow ups though: we subsequently befriended our tuk-tuk driver, who is called Ramesh and is the proud owner of a shiny new windscreen with TANTA painted back on.

Damian turned out to be not so gruff after all and a few days later, as he and I sat on the beach long after sunset, he explained that local traffic accidents are often resolved through on-the-street justice, which could get nasty & his intention was to get us out of there as quickly as possible.

Our Hero.

No more has been heard of the bamboo wielding American motorcyclist.

Pulsar 150

On Sunday and Monday we’d had crappy weather at Patnem. The sun couldn’t break through, the rain kept coming and the electricity was sporadic at best. We got bored. So on Tuesday, when the weather had returned to normal I vowed to take a break from Patnem and Do Something Different.

I hired a motorbike with the intention of going north and checking out Benaluim beach as a possible next destination. For just 300 Rupees (about £4) I was handed the keys & a filthy looking helmet which I hastily abandoned, given it was not a legal requirement and looked positively toxic.

I had been given the choice between an Enfield and a Pulsar. The Enfield is a sit-back bike, a bit like a Harley. Considering how I’m neither a man, hairy, tattoo-ed or over 50, I opted for the sportier road bike.

I don’t think girls ride motorbikes much in India so I drew some attention, which was embarrassing enough but then further compounded by my complete inability to even start the thing! I’ve only ever ridden bikes that fire up by simply pressing a button on the handlebar, but this little dinosaur needed to be started with a kick-lever. I had neither the necessary strength nor the skill, so it took me about 49 attempts to even get a feeble ‘put-put’ from the engine. When it did finally catch, I pulled away feeling very embarrassed.

I rode the bike all day and it was wonderful, terrifying, familiar and alien all at once.

The best part -and I realise how un PC this is- was taking it up to 80 kmph on a smooth straight, feeling the wind through my hair in the warm sunshine. It’s an experience I just have no hope of recapturing back home (not without getting arrested anyway!). The worst of it had to be riding through the towns, where hundreds of vehicles big & small jostled chaotically for space, honking and weaving in blistering fume filled heat. At intersections I had to contend not only with these manic road users, but also with meandering cows, darting dogs and pedestrians who would wander about utterly unfazed as wheels skimmed past their knees and arms.

What I hadn’t foreseen (but really should have) was the condition of the road surface which was often strewn with potholes, sometimes forming in clumps of up to 100 yards. I’m not sure if I did the right thing, but when riding through this type of cluster, I found the only thing I could do to keep balance was to gently open up the throttle and stand on the peddles like a scrambler (which I’ve never tried, but I think must be fun). I suspect a better rider would have been able to navigate round the crevices, but I would have ended up in a road-bike sandwich for sure.

Got home just before sunset, happy, exhausted and just a little surprised to still be in one piece.

Riding Pillion with my Honda Hero

Damien told me I’d taken the worst possible route on my motorbike trip and that I’d missed out all the best bits of South Goa. To elevate my disappointment he offered to take me on a personal tour on the back of his bike. Nothing could have made me happier - I absolutely love riding pillion, having recently taken a blissful ride around North Norfolk a friends’ BMW.

The morning was bright & very hot as we headed into the national park, but a bit of shade & speed kept us cool. The empty roads twisted through valleys & hills of lush green vegetation, occasionally flattening out into paddy fields. All around there was an abundance of animals including birds, dogs, cows, monkeys and even some distant water buffalo, spotted as we took a bridge over a wide river.

Our first stop was a huge Hindu temple in the midst of reconstruction. After D reminded me to remove my flip-flops, I was shown inside by an old man- presumably the priest. Once inside he rang a bell hanging about 6ft from the floor & gestured for me to do the same; I stretched up & patted it trying to keep the sound as quiet as possible.

The body of the temple is open & empty with high up windows letting in huge slices of light. At each end little coves hold shrines to various gods, including Krishna (and his cow), Ganesh (Elephant God), and the Monkey God (forget his name). Tucked away in a corner a lady was worshipping at one of the shrines; she’d lit candles and incense at his feet and was chanting. I guess she was giving thanks, or maybe she was asking for help or guidance? Whatever her purpose, I felt quite intrusive witnessing such a personal scene and looked away quickly.

After leaving the customary deposit in the donation box we scooted off toward the coast. Damien showed me three beaches: each completely different, but each totally deserted.

The first beach began with big boulders lapped by crystal clear water and stretched away into yellow banana crescent. The second beach tapered into a harbour hugged by small plain houses; D had played here as a child and slept out by the waters edge with friends. The last beach was a tiny semi-circle surrounded by crumbling man-made sea defences; whilst we were sitting gazing a man came over and welcomed us, saying the beach was his property. We apologised & got up to leave but he invited us join him in his house for fresh juice. Damien said ‘Thanks but we ought to be going’. As I was saying goodbye to the man, he clasped my hand and said ‘I can see you have a good heart!’ which was unexpected & made me feel quite glowy.

After a little more time on the road (which I wished would last forever) we visited a Portuguese fort that had once defended Goa from invasion. There was not a great deal left to see but for a pretty costal view and a couple of abandoned cannons. This was our last sight of the day, and whilst I was looking forward to the long ride home I was sad this perfect morning was coming to an end.

A Hammock Full Of Ghosts, TBC

Soundtrack & Booklist

On the Pod:

• Down To The River by Alison Krauss

• Brainbug feat Judge Jules: Nightmare

• Tiesto: Adaggio for Strings


• The Dalgetty Flyer by Brian Milton

• A Fine Balance by Rohiniton Mistry

• (Still not read the Lonely planet guide to India)

'Wandering' Part1

Wandering...What (to do when I'm home): I am certain after the volunteering project that I never ever want to teach. This was never a consideration anyway, but it’s good to know something for sure. Goa has got me thinking that I really could not face working in a city or an office again. But to be realistic, I''m fairly sure that all but the most dedicated corporate types feel this way after a holiday.

Wandering Where (I want to live): Matt from the Cove tells me it’s possible to hire a basic little house in Goa for 5 months (October to Feb) for about £700. This in mind, I’m seriously considering working in the UK for 7 months, then living in Goa for 5....But can't keep pets if I do this though :(

Wandering Who: Still dreaming of the one all my friends have told me to forget.

rcpilgrim says:
Great Blog!
Posted on: Apr 08, 2013
Jamesqadery says:
cool, keep up the awesomeness!
Posted on: Oct 19, 2011
hennahands says:
Thanks for the great blog - particularly loved the tuk tuk story. I really missed those tuk tuks upon returning to Canada. Such an exciting way to get around!!
Posted on: Oct 05, 2011
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Flearidden Rupee
Flearidden Rupee
Patnem - heaven
Patnem - heaven
No wing mirrors!
No wing mirrors!
photo by: chiyeh