We are conflicted about positing with so many of our friends suffering in the cold and waist-deep in snow. We’re going ahead given that not all of our followers have the same fate.
It was time to take a break from the beach. We’d heard of a lovely place up the coast. Michael, our English friend and Chaitanya, a young Danishman, joined us.
We had exchanged a beach for a beach. Jallibag is quite similar in appearance to Agonda– a long stretch of fine sand, bordered by headlands at either end. But no tourist shops, no sun beds – not even cows on the beach. Just a couple of dusty restaurants sitting among the pine trees beside the beach. We imagine it looks like Agonda must have 20 years ago.
Which restaurant to chose for breakfast? Our Masala chai was like dishwater. Michael’s filter coffee was a paler shade of grey –“This is not coffee. Make me a stronger cup.” he demanded of the waiter.
“Ok” He obliged, and returned with a small bowl of extra coffee grounds.
“Do you know how to make filter coffee? The coffee grounds need to be BREWED in HOT water.”
The waiter took the glass away returning with a darker version. Michael, who needs his coffee in the morning, is getting more niggled. But the waiter doesn’t seem to notice. The drinks must have had some caffeine because the chatter was in full force. I went swimming…
For lunch we tried the competition, certainly it’ll be better. We consulted the menu and selected the few listed veggie dishes – Palak paneer?
“Sorry, no palak. “
“Ok. Then aloo gobi.”
“Sorry, no gobi.”
“What do you have?” Fried rice we’re told.
“With veggies?” I ask.
“Yes, of course!”
A large bowl of rice appeared with only a glimmer of a veg. Our companions’ meals were no better. We concluded you don’t come to Jallibag for the food.
In the afternoon we swam in the river just up where it meets the sea. Or at least I swam – while the men waded around still deep in conversation. Then someone suggested we explore the other end of the beach – probably me because I was getting tired of this endless conversation. There’s a long stand of tall scrubby pine trees running parallel to the beach – welcome shade and subtly aromatic. The breeze created a soothing hush.
Gerard’s still in a talkative mood, “That sound reminds me of winter in New Hampshire. It makes me feel
I’m impatient. “I don’t want to be reminded of New Hampshire in winter thank you very much. I’d rather listen to the rustle of coconut palms. They’re so much more elegant than these scruffy pines that look like they’re infested with bugs.”
“Bugs?” Gerard begins to scratch. “Where are the bugs?”
Michael says, “I could imagine staying here a week.”
Gerard agrees. “It’s so peaceful. I could stay at least a week – if it’s not too buggy.”
23 year old Chai thinks it would be a little too quiet for him, although it might be conducive for his daily yoga practice. Beginning to also scratch, I say, “For me it’s way too buggy.”
“Where are the bugs?”
“Just wait until the sun goes down.”
The taxi pulls up and the pros and cons of Jallibag continue to be discussed ad nauseam on the way back to Agonda.