Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Stranger in a Strange...
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Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert Downes - December 3rd, 2007
If any of you are weary of winter’s chill in Northern Michigan, I invite you to jump on a plane and join me on the beaches of Goa in southern India, where -- I must confess -- it’s a bit lonely going it alone under the pulsing sun.
After two-and-a-half months of constant travel on my way around the world, I’ve left my backpacking chums to roost for 12 days on the Indian Ocean as a respite from being constantly on the move.
The village of Calangute in the state of Goa is hardly the paradise it’s cracked up to be. I half expected to find 20 miles of high-rise hotels, similar to Cancun, but instead it’s much the same squalor and anarchy as the rest of India, with hotels, restaurants and shops (and hundreds of hustlers) packed into narrow lanes paralleling the beach.
Instead of pretty topless girls in string bikinis, the human scenery here is mostly paunchy Russians and Brits on package tours who look like walking conch shells, stuffed into skimpy thongs that only a stripper would wear back home. I think the Europeans owe Americans a sincere apology for claiming that we’re fat. Some of these guys have beer guts so big, it looks like they’re ready to give birth to twins.
But the locals are mellow and friendly, and since I tend to leave a big American tip of 15-20% (unlike the stingy Euros and Aussies), I am greeted with fond smiles and treated like royalty whenever I return to a restaurant.
And the beaches are a glory. You can wander for miles, watching the fishermen haul in their catch from 30-foot wooden rowboats and filling bushel baskets with flopping fish. Young Indian women splash in the waves, fully-dressed in their saris. Young men walk hand-in-hand, sometimes three abreast, without a clue that this looks gay to Western eyes. Brits play cricket on the beach with Indian teenagers, and cows ramble up and down the shore.
Just offshore is the wreck of an old Russian freighter that has run aground and is rusting away in the tropical sun. A sea eagle glides past the word MOCKBA (Moscow) painted on its bridge, while swimmers splash in its shadow.
And when it comes to spectacles,
you can keep your Taj Mahal. My choice is the Wednesday Flea Market at
Anjuna Beach.
Back in the ’70s, an international group of hippies founded a colony near the village of Anjuna, living naked,
doing heavy drugs and bopping a different partner or three every day. It was the ultimate free love dopetopia. Many are still going at it in the sames spirit, with new young recruits from all over Europe and Australia.
But there are no handouts in India, and even hippies need to eat. Solution? They launched a flea market on the beach, making their own homemade crafts. It has since become world-famous, drawing vendors from all over Asia.
Talk about your Magical Mystery Tour: It’s like driving into a big rock festival, down a long dusty road lined with three-wheeled tuk-tuks and motor scooters. Then you come to hundreds of tents and stalls, filled with all the treasures of India, China, Tibet and Southeast Asia.
You see leathery Tibetan women dressed in the colors of circus clowns with their faces dangling with at least a pound of metal jewelry. Also, little workshops along the way where custom clothing, textiles and jewelry are being hand-crafted by members of the last hippie tribe. Cows wander through the throng, which pulses with the techno and trance music that Goan raves are famous for.
And talk about characters. My own hair is rather on the long side, yet I look as conservative as a lawyer in a three-piece suit compared to the groovy cats drifting through the market. They are as picket-fence-thin as the Indians, covered with freaky Asian tattoos, and have matted dreadlocks that fall to the waist. And of course, shirtless with dozens of bangles, piercings and who-knows-whats-who-knows-where.
Yes, Goa is a bit of a trip, but this lonely traveler wouldn’t mind bumping into a few Americans, who are as rare as snowflakes in India. On the beach, I see the flags of Israel, Denmark, France and those of other countries fluttering proudly in the breeze, and it makes me wish the Stars & Stripes were here as well.
On the other hand, I guess if I wanted to see Americans, I wouldn’t be on the far side of the world, now would I?
Overall, this is a place of “good, good, good, good vibrations” that the Beach Boys were looking for, but even so, too much lounging on the beach gets old after awhile, not to mention cooking like an egg in the 90 degree heat. I’ll be happy to move on in a few days -- say to the jungles of northern Thailand. See you there.
P.S. You know you’ve finally reached paradise when a friendly cow with 10-inch horns wanders into the open-air restaurant where you’re having dinner and stands in the doorway for an hour, watching the chefs prepare the meals.
No one shooed it away -- apparently, this friendly beast drops by each evening to welcome guests to the restaurant.
And then -- another one walks in! It’s just one of the many sublime sights at the heaven on earth called Palolem Beach in southern Goa, where I’m wrapping up my last days in India...


 
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