There are many far worse ways to spend sixty-two days of Winter than under the reliable sun and inexpensive living costs of Goa….but I offer a cautionary tale for all those of you considering that option: don’t overstay your welcome. And in turn, I suggest the following: don’t expect at the end of such escapism that you are returning to reality.
Lets get the slightly bitter aftertaste of the Slog sojourn in India out of the way first. When – partly through not paying attention oneself as an ageing tourist, and partly because of the Indian Immigration Service’s own incompetence – you find yourself inadvertantly two days over your immigration allowance, don’t expect any of the following:
- The Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO)’s acceptance of any responsibility
- The FRO to tolerate any pointing out of that responsibility
- The FRO’s lower ranks to help an innocent tourist
- The FRO’s senior ranks to be civil or pleasant to a senior citizen visitor
- The FRO to respect any form of visitor rights in Law
- The FRO to refrain a bullying tone and manner free from truculent racism.
Making a final taxiing approach to Goa’s main airport last Wednesday evening – after three days of unnecessarily stressful dealings with Panaji Police power freaks – I found myself tired, but still wondering what I would most remember about this latest cultural experience.
The first and by far strongest memory will be the warmth, generosity and genuine compassion evident among the average supplier of Goan tourism, and ordinary small restaurateur, shopkeeper and artisan there.
Probably second would be the disturbing triumph so far of globalist development and material greed at the expense of veritable ecological concerns – and concerted infrastructural investment to reduce pollution in India generally.
Read the Goan Herald or the Times of India, and you will see so many virtue signals on these issues from profoundly shallow Delhi politicians, the experience could be justifiably compared to a flag semaphore jamboree. But as always on Planet Earth in 2018, on the ground the reality is invasive noise, fumes, dust, serious human allergies, reduced life expectancy and incompetently laid paving stones designed to give an element of established occupation rights to high-rise hotels.
The Indian approach to car traffic strategy is a classic case in point. Cars have turned the thriving port of Panaji into a rarely cleaned toilet of existence. The Government solution to chronically overcrowded highways there, however is, um – build a superhighway flyover on top of it…..
…..so that’s exactly what they’re doing:
Third, I shall always treasure the delight I got from earnest Indian signage – and in particular, the advertising profession’s at times eccentric hoardings creativity.
A restaurant chain (Foxe’s Fiesta) promises that ‘Eyes eat first’ in its establishments. It’s a novel claim….I just have doubts about its appeal. I don’t want to eat stuff that’s had some bugger’s aqueous humor slavering all over it. Also I don’t want to eat with my eyes: I have another orifice for that, and it’s far better adapted for eating, evolution-wise.
Another place says that it offers an unbeatable Car Bar and Coffee wash. That sounds like fun.
And finally, my favourite was an upmarket gym clearly targeting the Jane Fonda nutjob joint-damage masochist fanatics sector. It’s line was ‘Train insane or remain the same’. If you are a phonetics obsessive like me, this one is irresistible: for if the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain, I suppose it’s perfectly possible that those who train insane are unlikely to stay mainly the same. However, the insane trainer on the plain is less likely to be found in Spain on account of remaining the same guy who does everything manana. Discuss. For myself, I vote ‘same and sane’.
So anyway, I’m back. Twenty-seven hours of uninterrupted trains, planes and automobiles is not good for a person. Astonishingly, 63 days after I parked the Claret Bullet in the free parking at Langon station, it was still there – unvandalised, and with a battery that turned over first time. On the train from Bordeaux, I had the most delightfully stimulating conversation with a female French life coach: she was (I’d say) in her fifties, she was funny, she was eclectically intelligent, she was sexy, and of course she was happily married. I know this stuff because I asked her. If you don’t ask, you never find out.
Life is full of such rich disappointment. It’s also crammed with disappointments that are clearly poverty-stricken in their relevance to normal life. One of these is returning to the West and discovering that the same inane, undiscerning fascism is still the dominant factor in all media reporting of what allegedly “is”.
A senior personnel selection Executive at West Ham United FC is fired because he expressed a reality – that the club had decided “not to employ any more African footballers because our experience is that they cause mayhem and are more trouble than they’re worth”. He had already agreed this policy with the club’s Board, but once he broadcast the decision, he was dead meat. That same Board was complicit in the policy, but nevertheless “after conducting a full enquiry” decided that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone and should be terminated. We are not being offered the details of that enquiry. We should be. For all I know, the patsy may be an unreconstructed Nazi arsehole. I merely demand to the Right to Decide for myself based on the empirical evidence.
An FBI memo declassified by President Trump suggests very strongly that the Bureau’s “investigation” of the candidate’s Russian links was politically motivated. The BBC covers the story (its lead item in the 7pm news) by finding an obscure US Democrat lecturing in the UK at Birmingham Uni. He offers an obviously biased view that this is all designed to stop the FBI enquiry from getting close to the “Truth” that Trump is a Russian slave in the pay of the evil Putin. For all I know – because the Donald is, let’s face it, an inveterate borrower with the emotional intelligence of a three-year-old – this may be biased but true. But I don’t need an “objective” BBC news anchor refusing to offer Trump the prefix of “President”, and I don’t need her presenting a fully paid up NYT reader’s OpEd agenda bollocks as “clearly what happened” (unquote). I merely demand the Right to Decide for myself based on the empirical evidence.
I am sick of neoliberal rednecks and allegedly liberal Reds “helping” me with my personal opinion forming. I am tired of demonisation, groundless assertion and blatantly illiberal propaganda being referred to as justifiable spin. I’m fed up to the last remaining back molar of the Nazi Right, the Stalinist Left, the Remoaner diehards and the extreme end of Brexiteers insisting that fake news only ever emanates from “the other lot”.
There are odd moments here and there when I feel like an alien on my own planet. Those times are quickly superceded by the fervent desire to deconstruct the delusional assumptions of activist ideologues; but it doesn’t do to deny the existence of those moments. For the open mind, it is entirely natural to feel that the sole objective of the closed mind is to make one feel isolated. For closed minds know only too well that, not too deep down, we all long to be in the stampeding herd along with them.