Among the many things I love about India, and particularly here at the beach, is living outdoors. Reinforcing this is the climate: dry and sunny for eight to nine months of the year, while the remaining months are monsoon rain. Our room opens on to the shared balcony that wraps around the upper story of the guesthouse, and during the day the door is always open. Meals on the balcony and in the evening walking down the long road bordering the beach to our choice of outdoor restaurants. And after dinner, again the leisurely walk home to the guesthouse. Growing up in a climate where for the majority of time it was too cold or too wet to leave doors open, we lived buried deep within walls, walls that had rising damp…walls with peeling paint and plaster…walls surrounding rooms that were dark and gloomy. I always wanted to escape, any excuse to pace up and down the small steep high street of Totnes, monotonous but outdoors. Now, in New England at least we have a summer- spent in the garden or sitting on the front stoop – but too much of life is still indoors. To me it has always felt more natural to live outside. And by some miracle, we find ourselves back here again in Agonda “plein air”!
Last year we talked about “a fine balance”. Well, there’s no balance anymore. Tourism dominates. More restaurants and guesthouses have crowded in. Not the flashy high rises and discos in other parts of Goa, but commercial none the less. The proprietors complain the tourist traffic has not increased accordingly although Gerard thinks there are more people on the beach this year. But our end of the beach remains for the most part unchanged. Same guesthouse, even the same room! Our friends the two couples from England are here again, as is an elderly Swedish couple. In our guest house is the usual group of French suspects. At breakfast when they are all sitting in the garden before mounting their motorbikes and taking off for the day, the animated conversation makes us feel we’re in France. It’s possible to strike up a conversation in English with the men, and especially Jamaal who’s originally from Morocco and loves music as much as Gerard. But the lack of English among the women bothers me because my French is no longer adequate.
One night, Gerard and I ran into a Dutchman married to a Russian who lives in Siberia during the summer and spends winters in India. We first met him in a small restaurant in the Himalayas where the food was passed up through a hole in the floor from the kitchen below, which we all found very entertaining. His story was so unique it was easy to remember and so exciting to see him again. Divanshu (his Buddhist name) had also been to the KuluValley where we discovered the Russian painter, Roerich, last year. He not only knew about the artist but is a big fan. Also like us, Divanshu is going to Darjeeling and Sikhim for the first time, surprising for someone who’s been coming to India for the past 20 years. He’ll be there before us and promises to give us the lay of the land.
It would be repetitive to describe Agonda yet again (this is our fifth visit here, and third staying at Dominic and Rita’s). So instead, I’ll provide links to earlier entries for those who may be interested.
A Fine Balance (2/24/12), Same, Same but Different (2/7/2012), Back on the beach again (2/13/11)