|A Beach In Goa...Before Fireworks and Possible Accidental Maiming By Said Fireworks (all illegal of course)|
So here I am in 'Paradise'. Again. Ah, that first touchdown in Mumbai...sun scorched earth and perennially sunny skies. Then filing shell-shocked out of the small domestic plane in Goa and feeling the wave of heat and ripeness invade your senses and immediately banish from memory the sterile, starved-of-sensuality airplane vibe.
In the old days, when it was just le husband and I, coming to Goa was almost a religious experience. We knew we'd eat delicious food, swim in divinely warm waters and chug around on an Enfield, exploring empty winding roads as if for the first time - stopping only to fortify ourselves with lukewarm (but still appreciated) Kingfishers - continually amazed when a roadside refreshment stop always seemed to pop up around the next bend, in the middle of nowhere.
Then we had a baby. Little Egg, who we brought here when only an infant. This time we were greeted with open arms by the locals, who despite having gazillions of children themselves, treated our little miracle like, well a miracle, and couldn't stop grabbing/touching/clucking/clutching our wee man. We felt proud that having a child hadn't altered our adventurous sides or cramped our traveling style. We even strapped him on to our backs and rode around on an Enfield again (always an Enfield), chuckling to ourselves while imagining the horror that our respective parents would feel could they see us then.
Years later, and now armed with three boys (9,7, 22 months) our holiday(s) in Goa take on a slightly different form from our original perfect blueprint. We have to improvise and compromise. These days Goa (and India as a whole) is no longer the excitingly exotic wonderland of our youth. The internet and technology as a whole have taken care of that. No longer can you 'disappear' into the wilds of the Indian hinterland with no way of being tracked down. But we still love it. And it's still special...just in a different way.
Luckily there is a local foreign school here where we can enrol the eldest two monsters whilst here, so they don't get bored and we don't go mad. (Little boys aren't great fans of sunbathing, reading for hours or generally chilling, don't you know...and unlike Kingfishers or vodka soda's, there is a limit to how many mango juices they can ingest without sending them into spazz mode or having their little teeth fall out like unwanted mini chicklets).
But still, the ache of yesteryear remains. But then it does in life generally these days I find. Every time we come here after an absence of a year or so, it's always a shock to see how little has changed but yet how much has. Favourite beach shacks will have changed 'management' and the food that was divine last time will be distinctly average now. Or you'll take a proper look around and see how many new faces are mingled in with the old and realise that your old skool "favouritest" beach in the world is now on the map thanks to a Guardian article written earlier in the year.
But no matter. It still rocks to be here, and it will still be hell to leave and go back to 'our real lives'...which after three weeks here will begin to feel like our 'fake lives'. Half lives. Talk about existential crisis. It's not like we're horrendously lazy types who want to forego ambition for lazing about in singlets, thongs and sauntering down the beautiful beach day after day. But still. Being in 'Paradise' makes you feel ecstatic and sad all at once. You realise how fast life is storming by and you wonder whether you got the equation right, and whether it's too late to shift up or down to try and find your own perfect sweet spot before mediocrity finds you and claims you till death do you part.
I have absolutely no doubt that had le husband and I remained childless, we would have missed out on the absolute hilarity and gloriousness of having Egg, Dumpie and Squit in our lives. But I also know that we would have fabricated for ourselves, as a consolation prize of sorts, a life of nomadic adventure...spending summers in the brilliance that is the UK from June to September, and spending the rest of the year in far flung climes, writing, making tunes, drinking unpronounceable teas and interacting with a plethora of mad characters on a daily basis.
I guess the older you get the more you realise how little you truly know and how useless it is to rail against the indescrepencies of your brain. Were our memories to be wiped and we be given another go at our lives, in all likelihood we'd end up in similar places based on the choices we'd likely make again and again, given the individuals we are.
So we're where we're supposed to be I guess, and our job is to make peace with that whilst still trying to carve out interesting angles and look for places we can scratch out more meaning and push ourselves further outside of our comfort zone.
But that still doesn't stop my yearning. Such complicated creatures we are, however simplistic and universal our desires. For example, right now I yearn for a pre-sunset fresh lime soda w/ vodka, whilst flipping through my latest tome and splashing lazily around in the sea. Then I yearn to stuff my face with a veg curry, steamed rice and one too many garlic cheese naans. Then of course I will yearn to throw ridiculous shapes on the makeshift dance floor till dawn whilst wearing an inappropriately short mini skirt and downing too many Kingfishers.
(Oh yeah, and Happy New Year to all you lovely people who know me, make me smile, and make me feel that little bit less pointless in this big ol' world xx)