Monday, July 07, 2008

Week 19

Day Minus Three (7th July)

How I indulge in departures and arrivals...it is indeed the ultimate high. And thus the only way of keeping myself mentally healthy. The friends and places I shall revisit - how much has changed and how much remains unaltered.

And then those places and friends become too familiar and my home too small and so it will be time to leave again.

I was musing about all this yesteday while I sat on the pebbles next to a creek inside the Molem forest. LV and the rest of the party had gone for a walk and I stayed behind, near our resting spot. In the middle of the river was a big tree and the water ran crystalline around it, with a strong current thanks to the rains.

When they returned from the walk, Valmiki showed me a little leech he had spotted and picked up. Placed anew on the ground, the leech started taking relatively giant leaps in the air towards the direction of sensed heat - me. Its body stretched like a serpentine and then recoiled and in this manner the leech advanced.

Likewise the leech, my travell is much dictated by the search for warmth, human and climatic.

In the hope of refuelling my vital saps.

Returning to Pangim, I had dinner at Edu's with PVG and PV and again talked about arrivals/departures and stalemates. In both of these state-of-minds, poetry and coincidences can and often do happen.

Now, I confess to sadness upon facing the task of closing the suit-case.

I wish I could just travell without it.

Day Minus Two (8th July)

A lazy start in the morning led up to lunch with AS and Romain at the Internationa Centre. The conversation eventually went towards the foreigner issue in Goa. And AS, being the only Goan present, kindly refrained from delving in the topic. I know he welcomes strangers and expats like us - still, the threat is real and people are reacting and it might just be a good thing that I take off now and let some of these things be settled by the Goans in my absence.
Later came the meeting with PVG and NT at the (in)famous Kala Academy cafeteria. On the table were the usual courses of Indo-portuguese cooperation regarding Heritage under the A.S.I.
At 19:30 was the reception at the Consul's residence, with the average selection of drinks and canapees. A holder of the cross of the Infante order struck up a jolly conversation about the lack of balls amongst the Portuguese in general since some remote past dating back to 1974, 1961, 1910, 1830 or 1665. I further believe that this lack of balls has also been afflicting the Indian male pool countepart for some time now...as I'm sure the cross-holder would agree. Therefore, I am doubly cursed by this handicap...where can one attend a "Have Balls" crash-course?
Dinner ensued a little later at Biblo's house. The carefree and hospitable Goan spirit was at its best...not to mention a bebinca accompanied by scotch. A wonderful farewell dinner from Goan Lands.

Time came to pass and I was back at LV's house, lying on the archbishop's bed and staring at the fan, as has happened time and time again during my stays in India. And now it occured to me that this four-poster bed, made out of Zimbó wood, with the sacred Heart of Jesus at its head, if clad with Ivo's trippy paintings on all sides and on top, instead of the common mosquito mesh, would become the perfect synthesis/metaphor of Goa - the Goa as I have known it so far...

Day Minus One (9th July)

I got up fresh and early with a sense of patriotic duty to be perfomed. This lasted untill breakfast - which was fortunately in the company of PVG and PV. By then, the patriotic feeling had subsided as I reflected upon the kind of information that I ought to provide the minister regarding Old Goa. It is such a sad story of disease, decay, abandonment and...overall lack of balls - even to this day.

Anyway, I followed the protocol and tried always to be close to the minister during the guided tour. This was not easy...these experienced ministers move very fast ahead.
A diplomatic analysis might state that the tour had two high points: the informal discussion regarding Heritage between the minister, the ambassador, the consul, PVG and NT in the middle of the transept at See Cathedral; and the visit to the nuns in Sta. Mónica.
In this last place, I could make out that the minister was moved by the warmth and hospitality displayed by the sisters and the novices.
At the door of this convent, and with the door of his Merc already open, I dismissed myself from the minister's company, wishing him a good journey back. I then returned my "uniform" (a Dutti shirt) to PVG - I still can't afford one of my own. At this juncture, I bade farewell to my two benefactors.

The last lunch was at the Velho's kitchen table: the sunniest spot in the whole of Goa. I was dropped at the airport by the extended family and made my way smoothly into the plane and then smoothly into Delhi.
After greeting Neeraj and Manasi, we had dinner in Rajouri Graden.

Day Zero (10th July)

Why does the prospect of going back to Europe make me nervous? Two main reasons: first, I owe a lot of money there; second, I possess a lot of material things there that require my attention and dedication.

You guessed right: I am not a very practical person.

My last night in India was therefore of troubled sleep.

However, I must confess that one thing strongly attracts me to the West at this particular time. That is the collective mood of crisis - narrowing on despair - that presently looms over the Portuguese nation. I feel that a people thus convulsed and confused tend to be rather romantic, quixotic if you will. Disillusionment brings the poetry back in to society as people live day-to-day in suspense regarding their future. I want to witness this as much as I want to see the sparkle of India glow...

Early breakfast was mango and tea. Neeraj's driver dropped me at the airport after dropping Neeraj himself at his office. The check in was prolonged but went through withou hastle.

I now board my plane...we fly now over Rajasthan, over Pakistan, over Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, the Caspian...we fly now over the Caucusus mountains...

We are in Europe.

At Heathrow, I headed towards the TAP desk in terminal 2. And - what a surprise! - at the desk was a beastly and arrogant woman, well into her fifties. Still, the telegraphical exchange in Portuguese was somehow conforting. With my reservation confirmed, I thought on ways how to entertain myself during the next 10 hours - the time lasting untill my connection flight to Lisbon.

I bought a sandwich and some chocolate and bunked down in the lounge.

At around 11, I stretched out across the chairs as was being done by other fellow-travellers.

Day One (11th July)

(The muffled sounds that pervade my wave lenghth while I try to sleep in the airport lounge: two Japanes girls talking in whispers, slightly suspicious of their surroundings; the constant flow of the rolling escalader; slight sounds of people coming and going and looking for places to rest; a party of italians that just have the opera vibes inside them and really distress me; and, every 15 minutes, the all imposing orwellian announcement that strikes like an electrical shock upon this otherwise cozy and peaceful corner of the airport: "UNATTENDED LUGGAGE WILL BE REMOVED AND DESTROYED"...)

Day one in Europe: the flight to Lisbon; the taxi in Lisbon to the train station (paid with five euros and one pound); the train to Aveiro full of beautiful Portuguese girls.

I have arrived.

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