A day trip to India? (By memory)
By Jon Searle
The current London weather has forced me to rely on memories of hot weather. This started off as a strain on the mind, but after a while, I found long lost experiences flooding into my mind’s eye. As the memories are distant and few, I decided to condense all of them into one day in Goa, as if it were a day trip.
I had never been on a holiday before so stepping out of the plane onto Indian soil was an exciting, yet expensive new treat for me. Everything appeared different, from the strange cars to strange smells.
Upon entering my hotel room with my family, I did my own test for the temperature of the overpowering sun. I took an ice-cube from the freezer and threw it onto the pavement outside. Before my eyes it went through three stages of matter: solid then liquid then vapour. English summers were in a completely different ballpark to this degree of heat, so i thought sunburn was a myth until I ventured out onto my first adventure the next day.
Navigating the markets was much harder than it sounds. Being slightly under cover was just enough to trap in the humidity from the enormous amount of people plus their perspiration. The smells were all potent but for very different reasons. At one stall hessian sacks were filled with exotic looking spices with the smells to suit. But for every good smell there were bad to counter it.
The smell of fish comes to mind.
Coming back to the hotel we all had a lounge by the pool with a lager (a rare treat for my age at the time). My uncle arrived after spending the day on a motorbike with his girlfriend and was completely black from the dust and fumes. Only an extremely distinct patch covering his eyes, where his goggles had obviously had resided, remained his natural tone. Without a two minute gap from his arrival, I could see another guest sprinting across the grounds. It was quite obvious where he was aiming – the pool. After crossing an imaginary line from which he had judged his ability to jump, he leapt up and flew the remainder of the distance landing in his desired location of cool liquid bliss. One problem – he hadn’t removed his camera from around his neck.
Dinner that night was at a recommended place known as ‘Dick’s Corner’, my brothers and I found this extremely amusing. It turns out that Indian cooking isn’t as much ‘spicy’ but more ‘Spiced’, the flavours were incredible, even to the undeveloped pallet of a 12 year old. The cauliflower pakodas had here are still a vivid memory which developed into this being a favourite dish of mine to this day.
I didn’t leave the restaurant with a happy memory though unfortunately. Slicing bread with the clumsy hands of a 12 year old virgin is not a good idea, so inevitably I cut my finger. This turned into a trip to the chef/doctor who was wielding a bottle with no medical translation on it. I remember thinking as he was trying to grab my hand talking in a language I didn’t understand, some professional translation of Hindi at this point would be perfect. Please?