It’s 6.30 in the morning on a beach in Southern Goa. The heat has yet to descend and I’m sat, half watching the sea, half nervously eyeing two stray dogs, trying to recall my rabies vaccination history. For their part, the dogs are happy to lollop about without a consideration towards me.
Culturally and geographically, Goa faces West and because of the latter the sunrise is a bit of a non-event. That doesn’t matter though because a soak in last night’s travel ad sunset, mojito in hand, has melted months of London mental grime and made me seriously question my allegiance to the city. Hemingway, wherever you are, I get the whole Cuba thing now.
It was a brief moment of un-interrogated joy. For to enjoy a holiday in a hotel resort in the developing world is to partake in a substantial suspension of disbelief in the face of a Brechtian level of disruption.
Just this morning, between the crow dragging a dead rat into the undergrowth, it’s beak clamped firmly around the rodent’s neck vein and the dark, hunched woman, sweeping leaves from the paths amongst a cloud of DTT, it was difficult to escape the fact that, in every sense, this is a paradise built on sand.
I know this smacks of liberal hand wringing. I’m sure that tourism brings much welcomed income, employment and prosperity to the area, and that the locals are happier for it, regardless of how unevenly those gains may be distributed.
It’s just unnerving to be part of a generation of holidaying Westernised Indians returning to splash cash in their ancestral home knowing that the difference between the American girl whopping with glee in a parasail and the malnourished man with the practiced smile thatching the roof of a beach hut is a grandparent who, 70 odd years ago, looked out to that same sea I’m staring at now, perhaps with rabies ridden dogs in their mind, and thought “fuck it, I’m off.”