How many Goans can you get onto a scooter?
The answer is six: one person to drive, and five others to share the experience. I know you think I’m joking, and I wish I was. But listen, I didn’t include the minimum of three smartphones on board, or indeed the absence of crash helmets. The driver must, however, have two arms: one to sound the horn, and one to tell his brother Rashid that he’s on a scooter with his girfriend, Auntie Monica, Monica’s brand new nephew and two of his younger sisters. Women don’t crack jokes about men being unable to mulltitask in Goa; when driving here, all your primary senses and most of your digits have to multitask.
My primary senses are overwhelmed by it all. I don’t do multitasking because it involves doing lots of things nothing like as well as you could if you focused. I was going to hire a scooter (before I came, friends told me it was essential) but I have no intention of doing so now I’m here. People driving four ways along a two-lane road, and cows wandering along the middle of it, are fine when you’re ten years old and enjoying the dodgems at the fair: sixty years on, you need to be superhuman to do that shit on a real live highway and live to tell a counsellor about it.
Yesterday was Liberation Day here. It was, to the day, fifty five years since the Portuguese colonists decided to buck the trend, and keep this delightful Indian enclave all for themselves. A swift invasion by the Indian Army changed their minds. Way back then, the self-determination of strong national cultures was accepted as part of that colllective wisdom colloquially referred to as The Bleedin’ Obvious.
This is not so today, when any and all attempts to avoid being mucked about by hare-brained believers in multicultural SuperStates are regarded as Far Right ultranationalism.
In the 1940s, the Labour Party taught the world a lesson by giving freedom to its overseas subjects, and managing to stay friends with them. Today, that Party gives blind support to the Imperialists of Brussels who bully (and if necessary destroy) all those unwilling to toe the line.
Aside from Kate Hoey and Denis Skinner, I wonder if any of the PLP do actually ponder on the disgraceful obscenity of all this. I’d replace ‘disgraceful’ with ‘hilarious’ if the core values of human dignity and liberty were not being ground into the dust by the likes of Federica Mogherini and her mates in NATO.
I am 100% illiterate in Hindi, and so far have only six words in my vocal lexicon. So I accept fully that giggling about amusing mistakes in Goan ‘English’ is a tad offside. But as I’m sure that my new friends here find my stumbling attempts at their language funny as well, I can’t resist some of the more hysterical notices I’ve experienced thus far.
My favourite without doubt is the sign outside a Beach Shack that promised ‘Buy one beer – get one beer!’ In advertising, hyping the offer is a bad idea….but that one was hard to top as an example of scrupulous honesty.
Another one encountered the day before yesterday told all the passing traffic paying attention that the hotel owner had ‘Rooms and Cheese available’. What is a room without a copious supply of cheese, we ask ourselves. But few combinations could tempt the alcoholic seafood devotee more than ‘Gin and Tonic calamari rings a speciality’.
Or indeed, if you’re addicted to loud noise, what could be better than ‘All-day dinning available’?
More good news: the Indian government has banned any high-rise hotel development beyond the Mad Max main traffic strip here. As Sikhs, Hindus and Catholics seem to get on perfectly well without anyone losing their head, there is zero appeasement of Islam. Father Christmas himself, however, is deflated by the Christmas hype:
Poor chap. He feels let down.
There is an excellent bookshop called Literati, selling new and used books. I bought a biography there yesterday, in the hope of starting to fill the gap where my knowledge of Indian history should be.
Next to the bookshop there is Gusto! – a restaurant where they know what they’re doing, set in grounds of lush green shelter from the heat. There at any time from 10.00 am to 10.30 pm, a person can sit and read in peace while nursing a glass of wine that has been properly kept.
The bad news: there is a restaurant near to Piccola Roma that shares that eaterie’s belief in serving empty promises instead of good food. It is called Top Notch, but should be rebranded Bottom Rung. Think Fawlty Towers sold by Basil to Manuel, and you’re about there.