India: The Peacock

Aaaand I’m still in Goa!

Yeah, pretty much as I planned and anticipated, Goa has been a little holiday within a holiday – hence the lack of writing. I’ve not been doing much in the way of exploring or learning. I stayed at Jungle hostel in Vagator for a total of ten nights, which was probably a little excessive but a lot of fun, and have now journeyed a couple of hours south to Palolem, South Goa, which I keep mistakenly calling Paloma, or Palooem, or Palooloo, because I’m thick.What has Goa gifted me so far? Friendships with a lot of rather splendid people, the onset of a beer belly which I am desperately fighting in vain, a decent sun tan, a fuck ton of pretty sunsets, and mucky feet. I’ve hit my travelling stride now, I think. I’ve stopped missing home comforts and culture shock, if there ever was any, has completely abated. The heat and humidity are fierce, but I’ve learned to listen to my body and, guilt-free, do whatever it is telling me. I’ve turned down a lot of opportunities for exploration and adventure, purely because I can tell I’m dehydrated or socially jaded – and my body doesn’t lie.

As I sit here typing this it’s approaching 3pm and the friends I have travelled to Palolem with – Jack, Bam, Lily, Connor and Pierre – have shot off for the day on mopeds to find some famous local waterfalls. I’m good here for now, writing and staying cool. The group I’m with are a fun bunch; all very very different people who met in Delhi a month ago. Travelling together, we’ve repeatedly bumped into backpackers from other hostels across the country. India is unfathomably huge, but the actual backpacking route here is a very specific line. It’d be an adventure to break away and rough it across rural towns in central India, but it’d also be very lonely and difficult. Maybe I’ll give it a go one day, but not on this trip. I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, and I’ve decided I need to focus more on being kinder to myself.

We got in trouble a few nights back in Vagator. The whole hostel hit up a psy-trance rave at an outdoor venue called Hilltop. Psy-trance is a weird hypnotic, pounding kind of dance music that perhaps 50% of the attendees actually enjoy. Everyone else just goes for the atmosphere. Around 20 of us where down there from the hostel, and everybody was on drugs except for myself and Krish. It would have been easy to find, but my thinking goes that if you wouldn’t eat the local meat in a country, maybe don’t smash local class A’s. I mean, I did try the ket a few nights ago. But whatever. I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite.

There were neon trees and giant speaker stacks, there were hundreds of people, there was cheap booze. At the back, away from the throbbing dancefloor, a bunch of us sat relaxing and messing around trying to do yoga. Lily and Conner began exploring some little tents in the dark at the back of the compound, and stumbled across a gigantic peacock costume; the kind of thing you’d see in the middle of a parade with three people inside it operating it. And they got it in their heads that it’d be a good idea to steal it.

First they tried to throw it over the white stone wall, out of the compound, where they could scurry around later and collect it. But the wall was high, and in order to toss the peacock over Connor had to climb on top of a large tarpaulin and balance while Lily passed him it. He was perched atop the canvas roof, and right as he took the weight of the giant bird, he plunged through straight through it, into the tent. He rebounded off a couple of stacked shelves on the way down and landed in a heap with the peacock on top of him. But, though one half of their team was now bleeding and with a possibly-cracked rib, Lily and Connor were not discouraged.

In the early hours we rounded the troops up to leave the party, and Krish and I had tried in vain to distract everyone from the idea of stealing the massive peacock. We made absurd games up, we gave each other massages, we danced and danced, but it was no use. The peacock was going to be stolen, or they’d die trying. Imagine, if you will, twenty drunk people trying to discretely carry a fifteen foot peacock out of an open-air club, past the bouncers and all the staff. Imagine how well that would go. You’d imagine it would go wrong, right? Yes, you are correct. It went very wrong.

I hung back behind and smoked a pensive cigarette as I watched everyone try to nonchalantly wear the peacock out of the party past the bouncers, Trojan horse-style. I can be a daft bugger, but I like to think I take calculated risks rather than blatantly stupid ones. They made it through the entire party without so much as a word from the staff until they reached the exit, whereupon the bouncers glanced up and were, understandably, fucking exasperated.

The nearest meathead started yelling something about stealing private property, flipped the massive bird off of Connor’s head, and grabbed him by the collar. Connor tried to duck out of it and flee, but was spun around and grappled with. Krish told the bouncers to calm down, but was shoved to one side, and as I stood watching, I sighed with the realisation that there was probably going to be a brawl and I was going to have to get involved and help my friends. However, thankfully this dude called Crushan (sp?) was able to chill the bouncers out and apologise on everyone’s behalf, and rather than being beaten to a pulp, Connor was simply instructed to carry the peacock the shameful fifty metres back through the party and put it back in the tent (which now had a gaping hole in the ceiling).

I followed along behind, just to ensure the bouncer didn’t slip Connor a crafty nibbler in the dark of the tents, and with Crushan guiding Connor by the hand, our pack of dick heads left the party in shameful silence. And burst out laughing the second we got into the street, of course.

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