Our little beach paradise here in Goa is full of characters. I, like everyone else I'm sure, have my favourites...and my 'not so favourites'.
Ranking top of my list (just behind my good friend, the proprietor of 'Ali Baba Arts Emporium', purveyor of fantastic jewelry...for obvious reasons), is a lovely young teenage girl I've nicknamed "Happy". This is because her real name is 'Appie' and she is always smiling and always so....well, happy. She runs a little drink and snacks stall by the beach and we got to be friends last year on account of all the ice creams the monsters were going through at her place.
She is convinced that I am a 'movie star' or some such and is always complimenting me on how 'pretty' and 'sooo lovely' I look. Beats me. When I look in the mirror I see an exhausted mother of two young boys, hiding eye bags behind designer sunglasses, and covering ratty knotted hair with increasingly larger hats. In addition, I have taken fashion to a new, very bizarre level, with my pairing of random sarongs and whatever clashing 'London' tops I feel to be most lightweight for this sweltering Indian sun.
I have told her I'm a musician and so now she hounds me daily to play her some of my songs. She says she wants to hear my 'sad ones'. I have loads of those and am happy to oblige - only I keep forgetting to bring my ipod and headphones down to the beach. At any rate our daily exchange is pretty much this verbatim:
Me: Hi Appie...I'm so sorry...I forgot my headphones again...
Her: No problem Natasha. You are looking sooooo beautiful today!
Me: (incredulous and embarrassed) Um...oh thanks Appie...I don't think so but that's sweet of you to say
Her: No really. You are looking like Movie Star!
Me: I'll try and remember the headphones tomorrow ok?
And so it goes....
Now at the opposite extreme is a character I and many others (I can verify this having been merely eavesdropping on the beach...you'd be surprised what you hear) find smug, annoying as hell, and so cliched as to be offensive. I've nicknamed him 'Monkey Man' for he most resembles a primate in both stature (he's 5'4 if at all), hairy back, and his exaggeratedly long limbs and hint of a torso.
What has this poor man done to inspire such distaste in us 'sorta-locals'? Well for one he's the most expensive 'Masseuse' on the beach - charging double for a 'rub-a-dub-dub' what everyone else does. Secondly, he saunters around, head held intentionally aloft, parading his nubile body up and down the beach, his very gait inspiring instant dislike.
Finally, (and this is where it gets personal for me) every bloody morning I have to pass him on the way to my beach run, where he is contorting his lithe, yogi-like body in a succession of such extreme and bizarre poses, that it requires a double, and even triple take in order to ascertain that the figure in front of me is indeed human and not some sort of monkey monster hybrid (or worse, a disembodied murder victim left in a heap on the pavement...legs tucked away behind his head or twisted twice around his body or contorted in some such extreme show-off fashion).
Were Madonna to alight on these shores, no doubt she'd snap him up as a guru, faster than you could say 'anorexic granny' and the two of them would practice trying to outdo their respective inventive crotch-work.
At 7am, shattered from a typically bad nights sleep, sorry if I don't want to see every nook and cranny of some guys crotch first thing. I feel almost as intimately familiar with his nether region as I do my husbands. That can't be good.