I made it to India! It was such a weird yet wonderfully familiar feeling touching down on Indian soil. I had a long, 8 hour transit in Chennai airport, which let me tell ya, was nothin’ to write home about (even though I am). My boredom was interspersed, however, with quiet chuckles as I was reminded of the wonderful idiosyncrasies of this country I love so much.
The amiable customs official who stamped me into India wearing a delightfully stained shirt directed me to the wrong terminal for my onward flight; the curious parking attendants hovered around me as I sat on my luggage trolley outside (they wouldn’t let me inside as it was too early), staring conspicuously.
A waiter advised me to ‘go and sit with my friend’ in a packed restaurant with no free tables, offering a grin and a head wobble (he was referring to the only other foreign woman in the place). The kindly check-in guy took my hand in his and wished me a very happy birthday for two weeks time as he handed back my passport.
On the short, one hour flight from Chennai to Goa, my heart pounded and my head swum with nervous thoughts. Though I have never been on a blind date, in a way this was like the most extreme blind-date ever, only our online relationship was platonic.
I was about to meet my ‘internet friend’, and though I was pretty sure I would love Hannah, a little voice of ‘reason’ filled me in on some interesting facts:
a) I did not in fact know the people I was flying across the world to stay with
b) If they were complete twats I was in for a pretty sorry Christmas, oceans away from my family in Australia and my boyfriend in the UK.
But another part of me was unbelievably excited at the prospect of the unknown. Meeting my friend who I only knew throughsome lengthy email conversations; a friend who invited me on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and was happily opening her home to me over Christmas.
I couldn’t believe this was actually finally happening, a moment I had been looking forward to for so long. A new adventure that had once been so far off in the distance, a safe distance, was now here.
It wasn’t difficult to spot the petite woman striding through the sea of taxi drivers outside arrivals at Goa airport, her blonde locks trailing behind her.
Did I look okay? Did I smell?
After a long day of travel and transit, the answers were ‘no’ and ‘yes’, respectively. But it didn’t matter, the moment had arrived and all of my apprehension drifted away in the balmy Indian evening air. As I embraced my little friend for the first time (she’s pretty tiny!) I thought, okay, she’s real.
I was in Goa! With Hannah!
We chatted all the way back to her house, nestled on a quiet bay, near Patnem beach in South Goa. I dumped my bags in the gorgeous little room she and Lee had prepared for me, complete with a beautiful pink ‘princess’ mosquito net.
That evening, we dined at a lovely beach-front restaurant on the sand, though it wasn’t until the following morning that I would actually see the wonderful place I was in.
I had never been to Goa before, but can now definitely see what attracted Lee and Hannah here. Their home is simple and lovely, in the most delightful location. There is a peace that inhabits the lives of the people here, and I can understand why Hannah hasn’t blogged in over a month – she is so ensconced in her way of life here.
The view of the bay from Hannah and Lees’ back porch
The yoga shala next door
The pets (well, some of them)
I have slotted into life here better than I expected. I have met the friends, the neighbours and the pets. Hannah has adopted a lovely white cat and three gorgeous kittens who were born shortly after she arrived, and the other day while she was out I performed a rescue operation of two kittens who had somehow climbed into the roof beams and couldn’t get back down.
Life here is slow and somewhat dream-like. Cows wander along the beach, palm trees bend towards the sea, and rich curries are washed down with sweet lassis. There is time to talk; to see; to breathe.
The people I have met so far are interesting and open, with conversation topics leaning towards healing, creativity, spirituality and the pursuit of freedom.
I think I’m gonna like it here.
Goan Fish curry anyone?