"And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home."
Wendell Berry

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Goa, Mumbai, Ad…

With Ad it felt easy. Easy between us and easy to travel. It was a huge relief to have so much of the work of traveling lifted from me, even for a short while, and I found myself leaning on him more than I expected. He explored the neighborhood while I worked. He paid attention to where we were going so we could find our way back. He got me coffee. He asked directions and hailed cabs. I could leave my stuff at the table when I went to use the bathroom without worrying. And, of course, it was wonderful to have the one I love there, in person.

We’d planned on three days in Goa, but instead we vegged out for five full days, taking in sunshine, lots of food, and one another’s company. There were vendors and touts everywhere, and one guy, in particular, so wanted to sell us light-up devil horns that he gave us a twenty minute demonstration of every one of his products. Goa is supposedly “ultra Western,” with bikinis on the beach a regular sight. Not my experience. After about ten minutes of being leered at in my bathing suit, I resigned myself to a t-shirt and pants. The staff at our hotel was highly entertaining, as was the dog and Mr. Bigglesworth-like cat pair that playfully attacked one another.

28th birthday was spent sipping pina coladas on a beach in India with one of my favorite people. Culture, love, and more than a few gray hairs. Not too bad. But the best part of my birthday happened a few days before, on the train ride to Goa: sour patch kids. No that wasn’t the real best part (though we did demolish those in hours—thanks, Mom!). The real best part: We were bored, and Ad said, “I know something that will pass the time,” and brought out a stack of envelopes. Oh, man—letters from friends and family! You guys made me laugh and cry, and some (Connie’s) did both, simultaneously and with snorting. I miss you all so much, and it was great to have a little piece of you halfway around the world with me on my bday. 2011: best yet.

In Mumbai we stayed in Fort, near Crawford market. We decided to do some sightseeing and passed the British-constructed Gateway of India to take the ferry to Elephanta Island. There we saw the extremely old (specific, right?) caves that had taken 1,300 years to complete. Imagine your whole life spent chipping away at one piece of stone. They were incredible. There were also monkeys everywhere. Sad monkeys, monkeys drinking Sprite. I’ll never get over the sight of monkeys, just lounging about. It always seems so improbable. I got too close to one nursing mother monkey who responded by almost biting my face off. Woah, there.

Another afternoon, we headed out to see the Haji Ali Mosque rising from the sea, where there were lots of families beautifully dressed up, and teenage boys pushing one another into the water. At Chowpatty Beach, we watched couples shyly hugging, and we spent a lot of time just walking around Mumbai, eating sweets and taking in the tightly-packed streets, the rushing motorbikes, and the fabric stalls.

Then, way too soon, Ad had to go home, and I had to leave the home of Bollywood.

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