How to survive one day in Goa – A not so useful guide
By Kai Teo
Names have been changed to protect the reputation, jobs, relationships and possibly marriages of those mentioned.
Good morning world. I’m writing to you now, bathed in the soft, golden rays of the rising sun. The early birds have already risen to the crackled croak of a restless cock. It’s business as usual in Goa. And it’s 26 degrees warm.
The beach dogs running wild and free. The beach humans running off their hangovers and running away from their guilt of perhaps that one, last, unnecessary line that they so nonchalantly breathed in from a stranger’s cracked iPhone screen. The waves are like a tireless liquid orchestra playing you the epic soundtrack aptly titled “Can you hear the fucking ocean?”. They too, are working, helping to wash away the remnants from last night’s Psytrance party, and wash off what’s left of your desire to ever fucking leave.
Welcome to a part of our world where the clocks tell only one time, and you know that it’s probably the most accurate time there is – Good times.
My view of Goa doesn’t need to be seen through half-opened eyes or dilated pupils. It’s not shrouded in fluffy purple haze or clouded perceptions of realities. To me, Goa is not just a place where faux-hippie travellers stop by (sometimes for years) to get fucked face. It’s not 24/7 parties with laser lights and giant speakers and shit. It’s… well, come, let’s go for a little stroll.
And never mind the touristy shops selling hippie stuff that you don’t need to buy, or the fresh-faced leap-year travellers getting their cheap “Om” symbol tattooed on the back of their necks. Oh, wait, there’s a cow coming through, you don’t really want to be in the way of that beast. “Ma,am, sir, you want buy something? Help me, just buy one. I have many colours and because you are so pretty, I give you best price.”
No thank you, I don’t really want hippie-approved bling bling right now.
The restaurant on the right here has a nice rooftop view, and they serve wicked pizzas. And you see the café with the purple signboard? Yea, that one with the little boy peeing outside. It’s got the best cheesecake in the whole of Arambol, and some say Goa.
This one, they say the steak’s pretty good, if you think having cow on a plate in India would be a wise, safe, and culturally sensitive culinary decision. That one, yellow signboard, yea, good seafood, fresh catch everyday.
And now, my friends, we come to the little guesthouse I call home. It’s called Cock’s Town. I know. I know. They didn’t get a fucking brand consultant to do the job. They could’ve picked “Rooster City” or something. But from the moment they printed their big signboard, their fate was set. No backspace or ctrl-Z to revert to something that isn’t remotely phallic.
Well I mean, for safe measure, they threw in a few live roosters and let them run around the restaurant, which, I hope they don’t realise, serves chicken. There you go, branding 101.
“Good morning JC, you look amazing today.” That’s JC, one of the most reliable, trustworthy humans that I know. It’s his 7th year here. Not consecutively though. He takes breaks from this and goes back to Russia to detox during the summer months.
And that one’s Antoine, yea, the guy peeling off his sunburnt patches. He’s the resident hot French man. Oh, and he’s a writer too. I know what you’re thinking, but nah, he’s taken. Girlfriend’s right over there, white bikini just by the sun beds, Johanna from Sweden. Makes amazing jewellery, and has an infectious laughter and a hard-to-place accent.
Here’s Gizmo, boss dog of this place. Yea, she makes sure everyone’s safe here. She can smell bad intentions as well as she can smell your Chicken Tikka Masala. No shit. She barks like an insane bitch when someone she doesn’t like even comes as close as 10 metres from her perimeter security.
Ok, and this is my little humble hut. As you can see, they don’t do the “It’s a stone’s throw away from the beach” bullshit that you read in brochures, we are on the beach. It’s rudimentary at best, no fucking TV or any of the first-world nonsense.
You have a bed, a bright light bulb, a fan, incredible sunsets and star-lit night skies.
Heard the screaming man wailing in half-ecstasy and half-despair? Yea, that’s Camilo, the drunk mascot of Arambol. Long story. Sad, but moving. But that’s a man that deserves his own article. So let’s save that for next time.
“Ajay! One ice-cold kingfisher for our new guest here! Thank you!” Oh, anything you need, the boys that work here will go the extra mile for you. Extra 4 miles, full power India style, with masala thrown in.
Here’s the thing, Arambol beach is not one that I would put on a postcard. It’s not THAT pretty. But the thing that makes this the ultimate beach resort for me, is the people.
People who see through the veils of Om-chanting and preaching, people who are living embodiments of the love revolution, people that you only need to spend a week with to know that they’ve got your back for a lifetime. You know, the real stuff.
We don’t get much of the “I’m in India to search for my inner peace” people. These friends have found that peace, now they’re just at peace. They don’t have anything they need to prove to anyone, neither do they flaunt their spiritually awakened souls with loud signboards that say “I do yoga”.
I came here 4 years ago, stayed here for 2 months. But it felt like I’ve never left. The feeling of knowing that my adopted family is waiting for me to come home to their arms, being greeted with tonnes of hugs and kisses, and ordering my first watermelon juice from my hammock, is a fucking amazing one.
Once you start getting to know every one of these people, you will realise that everyone’s just doing their best to be the best human beings they can ever be. It’s in their core, and life mission, to do that. And when you a put a bunch of these good folks together, magic happens.
At Cock’s Town, the right things are being valued. Greater human values such as loyalty, respect, equality, honesty, and lovingness is the currency we use to exchange for lifelong friendships. No one cares about your sorry-ass 9–5 low-satisfaction-long-hours-average-paying job back home, as long you’re a good person here. And no one really asks these things. They’re kinda unimportant. Because they don’t define us as humans, at least not here.
No one preaches about themselves being vegan, feminist, socialist, or whatever-ist. Well, because freedom. We’re all adults, and we trust that you’ve thought about these before and have made your conscious decision. Accepting someone as whoever they want to be is placed on a much higher priority than waving our own philosophy in that person’s face.
We’re all here escaping something. And to me, being amongst these people and living this way is my escape from a society that measures my worth from the number of zeros I have in my paycheck, a world that actually believes that bombing for peace might be good idea, and a faded people that have lost touch with realism and let their lives revolve around the chase of the material.
Cheers, oh, do you know that Kingfisher, India’s favourite beer, actually contains soap to make it a little more fizzy? Yea, they say it kills germs too. Don’t worry though, the one you’re sipping on right now is the ‘for export’ edition, they’re not allowed to add shit to that.
Here’s our itinerary for today: Nothing.
Yea, it’s an art. People get all jittery and shit when they don’t have shit to do. “I need to go to the shops to get new flip flops, buy toilet paper, find some souvenirs…” Nope. Today we just sit, and tomorrow, and the day after, fuck it, let’s do it for two months. Some travellers go for this 10-day Vipassana meditation thing that makes them sit for 10 days in total silence. I go to Goa and do that in my hammock instead.
Something troubling you in your head? Hold on. “Ajay, one Old Monk Rum please!” Yea, wash it down with some good ol’ Indian rum. It always helps.
Come, finish up your drink and we’d stroll down the beach to the drum circle. It’s a cliché, but when you put a bunch of beautiful dreadlocked hippies in a circle, give them some drums, and light some torches, it becomes something primitively infectious. It’s so natural, just stomping your feet and swaying your body to the beats of someone hitting something again and again.
“Sir, madam, you buy something? You remember me from this morning? You say you promise. I give you best price.” Emotional blackmail, from an 8-year-old. They’re hardworking as fuck though. For about 10 hours everyday, these kids just walk up and down the beach selling everything from bracelets to sarongs and massages and keyrings, hoping that before they get home, they’d have enough money to help feed a family of 6.
See that white guy with dreadlocks down to his knees, looking holy and all that? He’s not really a holy man, or baba. He claims to know tantric yoga and energy healing. A conversation with him usually ends up with him telling you that you have too much negative ‘female’ energy and it needs to be balanced out with ‘male’ power. In other words, his penis. And believe it or not, these fucks actually manage to convince people all the time, especially those who just got their “Om” tattoo.
Right, Lina’s cooking dinner tonight and we’re invited. Nothing too fancy, just something tasty. And everyone’s coming.
So here you go. Goa, or my version of Goa. Forward thinking people living in truth, honesty and love. And you’ll quickly become part of the family too if you’re nice. That’s the only criteria.
And try to get some rest. We’ll have loads to do tomorrow. Just like today.