<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Rachel Kellett: Life and Times

Life and Times

2000 Goa Girls


31 December 1998 

5am, Goa. "I'm a party girl in a party world, Life is plastic it's fantastic", blasts out of loud speakers hocked into the coconut trees of a quiet North Goa beach. Still dark, although light is arriving, enough to see the red dust earth, I walk up track holding my irritation. Welcome to India. It's a wedding. The girls are brushing their hair nonchalantly. I meet Leslie on the way back.
‘Oh well, it’s a wedding’, she sighs, an old India hand now.

The resident population of River Cat Villa - 7 dogs of variations on a theme of brown and 8 cats/kittens/ streatch, run, fall over, wag tails. Reno, the proprietor, is deciding which counter morning music to play, at the same time as throwing back orders to Om Prakash to clean the floors of the ample rice and piddles from animal breakfasts and discharges. Bob is upstairs pounding away at the keyboard on "Life is plastic", the smell of his morning cigarette wafting down. Leslie arrives with coffee for us all 

Over breakfast (curd, honey, fresh pineapple, banana) and cigarette – not unlike like the old days of the gym in London – we discuss the days strategy. 

We need to avoid starting Pal, our idiosyncratic car (an original Fiat, circa 1952). Not that we haven’t had some beneficial breakdown adventures: while broken down on road-side Leslie was invited to walk round a garden; we’ve got to know the Pal owners club and learnt a good trick to get it started ourselves (engine off, hand on air intake), and found a man who – before breakfast – will suck petrol from its saturated old tubes ("I wouldn't do it for my own car let alone a complete strangers" observes Leslie) So it's usually a day without Pal. 

Bob and I work on plastics. Patrick, one of the guests, usually provides morning distraction, he's an easy talker with a diverse life. Leslie takes a walk into Mandrem, our local village, to get provisions. At mid-day we all take a swim to cool down, before an early lunch to digest food before 'hanging' at 3.30. It's the beginning of yoga with Sharat. 

Sharat is the reason we're here. He's the Iyenga yoga teacher I met last year, and we're all here for his gentle, firm, tough, painful, relaxed, meditation on a position, yoga. We learning to stretch our stiff limbs, elongate our rounded backs, and gravity is the pull. We hang upside down for 10 minutes before the excruciating standing positions. "Tension with relaxation" repeats Sharat. Before sunset we walk over the dunes to the beach and dig holes in the sand to put our heads in for the most important of all yoga positions, the shoulder-stand. We maintain this for as long as we can before collapsing into halasana – lowering legs forward over the seat of a (PVC) chair. Breathe. Some Om's and meditation as the sun sinks into the sea. 

An evening beer on our balcony before deciding which shack to eat at. It’s a choice between the End of the Word (with Effie, Vincie, Steffie, and Tracie, - we introduced ourselves as Leslie, Bobee and Rachee) serving the best tiger prawns (one hour later), and the African shack with Kiswaheli, Zaire music, news of rave parties we've missed (avoided), and usually a bit of local weed. 

Home for Double Dutch apple pie (a successful tourist enterprise) and early bed – who knows what will be our next early morning alarm call – a crawk of crows, or dog fight, or church bells or Nessum Dorma. 

Happy New Year - from Bob, Leslie and Rachel 
Ps Bob and Rachel are leaving Goa Jan 4th for Bihar and silence for 20 days. Leslie off to her Maharana of Udipur adventure on January 6th.

Sharat's house Dharamsala
Bob and Leslie
Leslie and rachel rachel