Girl Gone Goa

Travel, sex, magic, and cycling in an Indian state

A Gun Search on Patnem Beach March 17, 2009

Filed under: Sex,Travel — UR @ 3:43 pm
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A short tale of guns and fetishes

Patnem Beach, Goa, IndiaTiny 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.


A Conversation with G.O.D.* February 17, 2009

Filed under: Magic,Sex,Travel — UR @ 11:17 pm
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Apparently, a little eyeliner works wonders

guirim scarecrow goaDear Ulrike,

G.O.D. here. I’ve been hearing from you a lot lately and – you’re welcome. It’s my pleasure to see you surrounded by the beautiful nature, kind people and little joys that I have tucked away for you to discover in Goa. It’s one of my favourite places, and  – judging from the volume of prayers I hear from the Catholics there – I know I did the right thing, sending the Portuguese over like that.

Sunday it pleased me to see you on your bicycle and grinning with delight on the stretch of meadow between Guirim and Parra (the one with the scarecrow woman in a patch of garden – I’m glad you notice my subtle gestures), and Monday evening I felt your wonder after I put you in the company of Nobel and Booker prize luminaries and other great minds to inspire those books you said you’d write.

By the way, what’s taking so long? You’re here in Goa, exactly where you wanted to be, you’re exchanging bon mots with the region’s finest published writers, and you haven’t even drawn up an outline?

Honestly, Ulrike, what more do you need to fulfill your life’s destiny?

Oh, right, that. This afternoon, I heard that old prayer. You were cycling up the long hill from the Betim ferry jetty and a sadness that you’d been carrying all day pressed down on your heart and the pain blurred your eyes with tears. You felt betrayed because this sadness – the one that you thought you’d left behind in Canada – had found you today, here in Goa.


Ulrike, I’ve surrounded you with love. You have newfound aunts, uncles and cousins who have looked after you; neighbours who worry about you when you come home late; friends who share chai and musings; colleagues who encourage your voice; comrades who share your passion; strangers who gift you with smiles. I’ve even thrown in a storeful of tolerant clerks, five affectionate kittens and  two lusting admirers, for heaven’s sake.

What? Sure, they’re married, but love is love. No – I’m not suggesting you sin – I’m just saying it’s  better than nothing, right?

I don’t know how much longer it will be, Ulrike. Maybe if you just took a little more care with your outfits and wore some makeup…(joke)…what I meant to say is: yes, I know you’ve had a rough time of it. You’ve fallen in love with men who didn’t love you; who wanted to change you, who missed their mothers, who hated their marriages; and who returned to me after huffing the tailpipe of an idling Toyota.

I know that one really hurt, and I wish I could explain. I know you’re strong, and now – well – you’ve learned to be humble. Sorry about that, it was out of my hands. But hold faith, Ulrike, and trust me. Be kind and honest and keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. When it’s time, he’ll find you and you’ll find him. You want a sign? Sure, I’ll send something good, I promise.

No, he won’t be married. Yes, he’ll love, respect and accept you as you are…but a bit of eyeliner wouldn’t hurt.

Oh, lighten up Ulrike! Now get started on that book and let me worry about the details.


*Goal-Oriented Director


A single woman’s dilemma February 9, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love? More like Eat, Cycle, and (eventually) Love

where good vegetables go bad

Goa: where good vegetables go bad

A few readers have complained that my blog has “Travel” and “Magic” but – with the exception of “Bicycles and Bare Breasts” (which is not about breasts at all) – not enough “Sex” stories.

There’s an obvious reason for this – I’m not getting any – but it’s more complicated than that. First, some history…

Ten years ago, I cycled solo through Thailand and Laos. I didn’t have sex with anyone because I had a boyfriend to whom I swore I’d be loyal. But I did see other peoples’ “sex”. A Thai petrol-seller told me about a French man who started a family with her then fled back to Europe; a Thai glass blower told be how he had many “sisters” (mistresses), and asked if I’d like to be one too?; a German woman told me a Thai man had pursued her endlessly then dumped her when she “put out”; a British man told me how easy it was to find a Thai “girlfriend” for the price of a pair of branded running shoes.

Sex is a part of a traveller’s experience, even when you’re not having any. I’ll keep my ears open for other people’s stories, but until then I figure I have one of six options for sex if I want to experience it before I leave: (more…)


What’s News in Goa January 3, 2009

Filed under: Sex,Travel — UR @ 6:11 pm
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What’s caught my eye in today’s Herald

Poster from outside a children's clothing store in Panjim

Poster from outside a children's clothing store in Panjim... if she was 14, she'd be allowed to hang out in Goa nightclubs.

Airlines cut fare – Following market leader Jet Airways and state-owned Air India, Kingfisher Airlines today announced discounts in domestic Indian flights of up to 65 per cent, effective January 1 2009.

Katrina won’t play Scarlet on screen – Actress Katrina Kaif will not play murdered teenager Scarlett Keeling in an upcoming film based on a true event called “Rave Party”. Not only is it incomprehensible that a film on this teen’s rape and murder on Goa’s Anjuna beach is being discussed within a year of its occurrence, but that a Bollywood star would be considered to play the controversial UK teenager.

Woman was raped close to bunker – Over the holiday season, Goa police set up a number of bunkers at beach locations to prepare for possible terrorist attack. A local flower seller reported that she had been raped at Arambol beach. Now it’s come to light that she was in fact gang-raped “just a few metres away from the police bunker.” The police superintendent is quoted as saying he will investigate whether the bunker was manned at the time of the incident…

Allegations of harassment to trawler crew on the rise – In a December 5, 2008 entry I related that, in light of the Mumbai Event, the Vasco de Gama police force were asking the All Goa Fishing Boats Owners Associations (AGFBOA) to help them out with national security and keep an eye on marine activity. I also mentioned that the fishers “…have reminded police repeatedly of the illegal smuggling activities on the shores they work.” In today’s news, “Trawler owners in Vasco have accused security agencies of harassment under the pretext of enhancing security along the coast.”

Sources in the fishing community say that they have even been threatened by coast Guard officials at gun point. “Very often in the name of search operation, Coast Guard officials demand bribes of costly fish from the trawlers. If anyone objects to it, then they are unnecessarily harassed by pinpointing that documents are not clear,” said a furious trawler owner.

As John commented in his recent visit here to Goa, India seems to be doing what the U.S. Did after 9/11: crack down on civil liberties in the name of “security.” Only in India, it just adds to the foul blend of inaction, greed, corruption and that was already in place.


Photos: Atlas Supreme DX bicycle December 22, 2008

Filed under: Sex,Travel — UR @ 4:29 pm
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Money shots for the truly geeky

A few people have asked me for a close-up look of the Atlas Supreme DX bike. Here’s a few snaps after a forty-five kilometre ride today.

Fresh from the shop

Fresh from the shop

Grips' custom tape job

Grips' custom tape job

Front and rear brake system

Front and rear brake system

Decoration and protection

Decoration and protection

Rear brake system

Rear brake system

Snap lid prevents drive-by grabbing

Snap lid prevents drive-by grabbing


Bicycles and Bare Breasts December 21, 2008

Filed under: Sex,Travel — UR @ 4:15 pm
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Here’s what they’ve got in common

Mother Earth (installation by Subodh Kerkar)

Mother Earth (installation by Subodh Kerkar)

I found myself back in Candolim area and had a couple of hours in the beach area before it got dark – Candolim is about fifteen kilometres from my house in Porvorim, but at least forty-five minutes by one-speed bicycle. I turned the bike onto one of the laneways that lead to the beach.

The beach laneways are always hard-packed rutted roads and too narrow for anything but the slimmest car. Pedalling the bicycle along them is a pleasure because the souvenir, fresh fruit and ice cream vendors are usually teens who spend the day catching up with their friends and are less aggressive than their main street counterparts. They’re also usually girls and they grin at the bicycle with its pink plastic basket and call out, “Nice cycle!” when I pedal past.

Big, flabby, relaxed bodies

At the end of the lane grassy, sandy dunes pick up where the road leaves off. I locked my bike to a sign post that pointed to the “Bob Marley Shack” and headed the opposite way. My feet sank in the soft sand and I slipped off my dusty white Crocs. The surrounding trees formed a leafy corridor, and as I continued west towards the Arabian Sea the late afternoon sun, the beach shacks emerged. I stood and took it all in – the gorgeous, relaxed touristness of one of Goa’s famous beach stretches. To the left and to the right as far as the eye could see, palm leaf and bamboo pole “shacks” lined the high tide line.

Each “shack” is actually a respectably-sized open-air restaurant area with ceiling fans, padded rattan chairs, and inexpensive Goan seafood. After the monsoons have passed, each shack owner pays the Goan government an exorbitant amount for a license, builds their shack for the November to March season, lay out lounge chairs close to the water’s edge, and wait.

They wait for the air-con buses of mainly British and Russian package tourists to wander into their own little patch of sand, and they serve them hand and foot. By the end of the day, the lounge chairs are strewn with big, flabby, relaxed bodies – brown and white, men’s and women’s, covered and uncovered.



What’s news in Goa – 4 stories November 4, 2008

Filed under: Sex,Travel — UR @ 1:37 pm
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1. What do India’s homeless have to say? Let’s ask them.

Sleeping Rough

In a thorough and thought-provoking piece titled “Living Rough” in the Sunday November 2, 2008 “Sunday Post” magazine section of The Hindu writer Harsh Mander investigates India’s homeless. He and his colleagues went into four major centres  – Delhi, Chennai, Madurai and Patna – to talk to the homeless and hear what their largest concerns were.

Writes Mander, “It is remarkable that so little is known about the lived experience of homelessness in towns and cities in India: of how urban homeless men, women and children survive and cope; how they sleep, bathe and eat; why they live on the streets and the work they do; their denials and access to public services and food schemes; and how they organise and plan their personal and social lives and their relationships.”



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