Today I am staying again at my favourite point at Devbag Sangam, which is where the Kurly river meets the sea. Yesterday evening I impressed, or maybe more amused, the locals by climbing up a coconut tree to pick a coconut because I was thirsty. It is amazing how different a really fresh coconut water is compared to one that has been picked days if or hours before. The water is almost fizzy and tastes alive. I'm sure it must be more healthy to drink that fresh - it at least feels so. Later that evening I played cricket with the local boys. It was a lot of fun to practise my catching skills, which I had not done since school. It has also been very nice how welcoming the family has been that has provided me with a room. I have been watching how they cook with a traditional chula. It was obvious to see that a simple fan could have greatly improved the efficiency and heat output of the fire, but I was surprised how little smoke there was at ground level where the mother and niece were cooking. Based on my observations of chulas I must agree with someone else I have heard suggest that the claims that indoor fires are seriously affecting peoples health are probably over exaggerated. My experience of frying a chapati is that the smoke was as easy to avoid as if you are sitting by a camp fire. I could easily hold my breath when the smoke came in my direction but it did sometimes smart my eyes.
Far more important for health reasons is to solve the problem of burning plastic. In built up areas it can be difficult to get a breath of fresh air between the stench of smouldering plastic. Burning the plastic in a properly ventilated stoves might help as more of the toxic gasses would be burned. Such stoves could be made locally from used cooking oil tins of which there are many. Ideally all the plastic bottles should be recycled but this only accounts for some of the plastic. All the crisp packets and food wrappers are thrown on the ground and are mixed up with leaves that are swept in piles and burned on every corner. I wonder if all of these piles were collected and incinerated how much electricity could be produced.
27 January 2010
I am back in Goa trying to decide if I'll leave tomorrow morning and where I shall go. It is a bit of a bother that my visa ends on 13 April which does not give me much time to travel around the South of India and help out at the tree plantation at Auroville, let alone to volunteer on an organic farm. New emigration rules say I have to leave the country for 2 months before I can return. I considered going to Sri Lanka but I don't think I am ensured for that as the British government recommends against it and I wonder if it would feel a bit trapped being on an Island for two months. Nepal is a long way away and also feels a bit like an island because the only country I can enter from it without paying bribes is India, to which I will not be welcome. I think I would be allowed travel through India though if I wanted to visit Bangladesh.
28 January 2010
I am still in Goa. I managed to lose my key last night and could not break into my room till this morning so I decided it was my sign that I should stay another day. The problem was that the key was only attached to a piece of string, so being very light it must have slipped out when I took my bike keys out of my pocket. Despite having only visited two places since having the key last I could not find it. Luckily, despite the impressive size of the lock, it was just a cheap Indian lock made of soft iron that was not difficult to cut with a hacksaw blade. I think my own miniature locks are harder to break.
There is not a lot to keep me here yet it is a hard place to leave with my host and cafe staff on the beach asking me to stay a little longer because they want my custom. The sales women on the beach have also been fun to talk to. They too mainly want me to buy things but I have only bought one over priced shirt as I don't need anything else that they have. But I have been happy to buy some food and drink for them. It has been interesting hearing about their lives. I have mainly been talking to three sisters. Not surprisingly perhaps I have learned that they are quite well off with a new big house about 400 km from here where they come from. They are beautiful girls and having been working on the beaches since they were children and have mastered the art of charming single men that they are happy to pay extortionate prices. One of the first questions they asked me was if I was single and were very friendly when I said yes. One of their tricks is to ask for some foreign money as a souvenir and gifts of £10 or £20 worth equivalent from such men seems to be quite common, which is big money in rural India. You have to feel a little sorry for them because they have been denied an education by their parents (unlike their brothers) and now are being forced into arranged marriages and have babies with men they don't particularly care for. Because they observe the freedom foreign women have here I think they don't accept Indian traditions like their parents did but tell me that arrange marriages provides them with much greater security.
Tomorrow I plan to leave for Gokarna.
29 January 2010
For some reason I forgot to bcc my blog with this post. I am now in Gokarna on Om Beach. First impressions is that I will find it hard to leave. It is a pretty chilled place that is still less comercial compared to Goa and people seem much more friendly. :)