A short tale of guns and fetishes
Tiny Patnem beach is a curve of sand just south of Palolem Beach in south Goa. It is beautiful, intimate and moneyed in an unassuming way. Landscaped beach bungalows with au courant names like “Home” and “Cuba” provide bed linens and filter coffee to slim, healthy-looking visitors.
I am here to “work.” In the last few weeks of my time in Goa, I accepted an assignment with Canadian magazine Vancouver Review to write about bike culture in Vancouver. I rode my Atlas cycle to the bus station, negotiated to load the bike on top of a bus, and arrived here at Goyam Luxury Bungalows ready to research and write.
“Excuse me,” asks one of the handsome young men from north India who run the place, “Does your laptop have internet?” I’m sharing an early lunch with a Swedish family and my fork is suspended above my mushroom and spinach omlette. The laptop is over at another table.
“Er, yes,” I reply, “Why?”
“Can I use the internet for just a couple of minutes?”
“Sure, but it’ll cost you thirty rupees a minute,” I joke. This is an outrageous rate, but yes, yes, he reponds without hesitating, no problem. I finish my lunch, go over to the computer and start it up. I move over to the next seat, and he leans into Explorer, then Google.
“’How to buy guns in India’” he keyboards into the search bar. He has a flash drive handy.
“Whoa, Whoa, WHOA!” I exclaim. “You want to buy guns in India?” The other patrons – sipping espressos and mango lassis – turn curiously.
“I have a serial number,” he explains around the thatched cafe. “It’s for a particular gun.” He clicks a link in the search results page and I imagine how someone, somewhere will see this on my cache and hunt me down. In typically Canadian fashion, I meet his boldness with politeness.
“Um, I don’t feel completely comfortable with you searching for guns on my computer,” I suggest. Surprisingly, he quickly relents. I reach over and slam the door on Explorer.
“No problem, no problem,” he says, receding back behind the bar counter. I slide the laptop over, launch Firefox and return to my own research.
“’Bicycle fetish’” I type. “’Man sex with bicycle‘”. A BBC news site comes up and I feel nauseous and reassured at the same time.