Sunday, 25 August 2013

Roam In The Rains

In the middle of the monsoons and sitting at my family's place in Assolna I wondered where I should roam in the rains. Bijapur would have been a good treat, visiting Hampi a second time didn't really appeal to me. Then I thought that I should see some of what I like most about India: The landscapes. I searched for places near Goakarna, a place that had been recommended to me by a friend back in Berlin. I found out that the Jog Falls, waterfalls that is, weren't too far away, about 160 km or so. I thought about it, but it was when my aunts driver Vintesh mentioned that there was a train leaving Margao at 2:30pm, that I decided to pack some shirts and essential stuff for the trip. I missed the first train because our driver didn't know the schedule that well and I caught the next train to Bhatkal instead of Murdeshwara where I intended to stay for a night. Although I wasn't happy that I had missed the train I wasn't as worried as my aunt who was very suspicious of Vintesh's indications. As we were waiting on platform number two, Vintesh asked an elderly man how to get to Murdeshwara and found out that he too was going there. So I ended up sitting with this man and the two women dressed in black burquas as we got into the train. One of the ladies held a girl wearing a pink dress and holding a bag with a blond Barbie that was posing with a bag, a miniskirt, a white top and showing her plastic perfect smile. I wondered whether he, the unknown “bhai sahab”, was the father or grandfather of this cute girl who was stretching and jumping from one woman to another. The ladies didn't speak to me but they seemed to be smiling with their eyes and I felt welcomed by them. - or at least I wasn't bothering them by tagging along. And thus I accompanied this family and started my trip to Mudeshwara. I took some pictures from the train but was quite fed up off shooting from the doors after my previous trip from Mumbai to Goa. The only thing that impressed me was that one could see Shiva Temple and the big statue in Murdeshwara from the train. The man and his family were so kind to take me in a rikshaw from the Bhatkal railway stop to the bus station, barely fitting the 5 of us into it we managed to get there and then catch a bus to Murdeshwara. At Murdeshwara I was looking for rooms that seemed to be too expensive for the quality and I settled for something quite decadent for 250Rs. It hadn't rained much and I was walking around without my backpack and ended up eating a fishplate, with some rawa fried fish a curry and some rice. I'm not the best at eating rice with my fingers but I'm improving I would say. Leaving the 50Rs at the counter I moved on some 300 metres towards the shore and the temple. As I stood in front of it it started to drizzle, a warning wind pushed a cold breeze towards us, warning me that it was going be to be good monsoon shower. Like most people I ran to the RNS restaurant that is an artificial concrete island on the beach. As I sat down it really started pouring heavily and one could see the heavy raindrops plunging into the water, like larks hunting for fish. The waves were bigger than those in Goa. Reminding me of those days when its almost flat at Guincho and you still get into a wetsuit because, you're addicted to surfing or need to paddle out even if there is barely anything surfable. The scenery was beautiful but the company failed to leave a positive impression. Loud groups of young men that were ordering and eating got on my nerves. Primarily because I had come for the flora and not the fauna of India's civilisation. Give me forests and ruins I thought, I needn't alway be confronted with the world of today, I can deal with that some other day. - Yes, it might be again another form of Orientalism, but who said that my south asian gentics would keep me from falling into traps of western education?- The rain intensified making everyone go quiet, a moment of peace, brief as it was it did put things to rest. I won't stay here long I thought: First thing in the morning I'll be heading for the Jog Falls, I imagined. Before heading off I took some snaps. Wondering how I could possibly not go by cab to the falls and thus avoiding the cost of 2200Rs. I prayed like many an agnostic to the unknown, for that there would be some form of public transportation. - Baba, be careful what you wish for.   

Monday, 19 August 2013

Mumbai to Goa

As I waited for the Mandovi Express in Dadar, Mumbai I thought that I had come far to early given that it was only 6:55 and the train was scheduled for 7:22 AM. Better this way than the other way around, I thought, but the dirt and smell of Dadar didn't help much. Even after shooting for a couple of days in the slums of Bombay I would have imagined to be somewhat more resistant, but nay, I wanted to get out and wasn't all too patient. After figuring out where the D3 section of the train was I waited for sometime until the train came. But this wasn't the Mandovi Express, so again, after the longest 15 minutes I waited once more for the train. I walked in and found my seat, number 19. The number 19 was written on the seat with a permanent marker, or something of the sort. I waited for a while before sitting down because my seat was wet. Seated and curiously looking through the steel bars I saw how we passed Thane and then Panvel. There we were behind the Hills that mark the end of what I consider to be Bombay. The lush green fields were mixed with some random houses that seemed worn out by weathering but new in their form and architecture. I was later woken up by a girl who claimed my seat was hers. She asked to see my ticket, and  i replied, I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours. It would have worked If I hadn't noticed that I wasn't supposed to sit in D3 but in B3. I asked the crowd if someone happened to know on which side of the train B3 would be. "AC. AC." somebody said, but I failed to see who said it and whether they were pointing, as the girls mother was trying to make me move away, speaking loudly form the platform through the prison like bars of the window in the non-AC compartment. Afraid that I would miss the train if I didn't I run, I ran. Only then I realised just how damn long the Mandovi Express is. With my backpack another bag and a small tripod I ran along the platform. When i finally found my spot, nr. 19 on B, yes B3 a man had asked me if I could go to B4 where he had been allocated but separated from his family. I said yes, and asked what his name was, Alley he said. Alley Rosario. Another Catholic I thought. I wasn't interested in talking about Goa or anything, i was just happy that I wouldn't forget his name in case there would be an issue with the switch and all. I sometimes think that some people in India like permissions and documents more than their own lives. But It all worked out. I finally sat at the seat 36 in B4 the AC compartment. The windows in the AC compartment don't have bars like in the non AC, but they are polarised or filtered with yellow and blue foil, depending on which side of the compartment you find yourself. Our window was tainted blue, but that didn't bother me too much because the doors at the end of the compartment were open and I would be able to take a look and also make some snaps while I was at it. Speaking of which, you, dear reader will find here, some impressions of what I saw and liked as I travelled from Mumbai to Goa on the Mandovi Express.