Monday, 11 November 2013


I arrived in India as it launched a rocket to Mars to look for methane. It's just what the half a billion poor here need; to answer the question of  whether any life form has farted on Mars in the last few million years (the answer was discovered twenty years ago – it’s no!). The Chinese Mars rocket failed, so this is a chance to get one up on the Chinese. Gandhi would be spinning in his grave if it were not for the fact that he was burnt not buried.

The country is as vibrant, crazy and alive as ever. It is impossible to tell by observation of most roads what side of the road people drive on or the function of constantly sounding the horn. If it is to warn the other road users - it seems to have no effect; but perhaps it is a friendly greeting. If so the country is the friendliest ever as the cacophony is overwhelming particularly at junctions. Where I am, in the beautiful green countryside of Goa there are motorbikes everywhere. Locals seem to be puzzled or offended by the sight of any Westerner walking and will turn their motorbike around to insist that it should be a taxi for you. It is the one thing I dislike most about this part of India; that with so many people trying to make a living from a relatively few tourists, any apparently friendly approach is somehow connected with trying to get you to buy something. I find it hard to steer a course between being pulled in to pointless and mutually frustrating interactions and ignoring almost everyone Indian.

The things I do want, like another pair of socks, are impossible to buy among the hundreds of stalls of bright cotton print dresses and throws and Bob Marley t-shirts and endless offers of “smoke?”.  However after half a week I have now found a green salad that contains something greener than a peeled cucumber.  The chaos seems to contain a great deal of good-natured tolerance within and among the many ethnic, national and religious groupings. For example the 150 million Muslims here do not produce many of the world’s terrorists or suicide bombers. 

Here in Goa, thanks to the Portuguese colonisation it is mostly Christian, with some houses having gruesome portraits of a crucified Christ on their walls. Still no worse than Kali with her necklace of severed heads. As I write this, the electricity has just cut out again leaving only the glow of my laptop screen.  Yesterday it was down when a tall coach caught some of the wires. It eventually proceeded with two men on the roof with bamboo poles pushing the live wires up as it drove. Suddenly the electricity is back and my exercise in pure touch typing is over.  It’s time for bed.

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