Wednesday, 27 January 2010

An evening stroll with David and Anan

In the evening, when the day had begun to cool, I decided to take a stroll along the beach. As I walked I was approached by the usual array of trilby-wearing local drug dealers, restaurateurs gently plying for trade and the odd fisherman asking the most frequently asked question: ‘Hello! Where you from?’.

I then got chatting to Anan and David. Initially, I was slightly suspicious and curt with them, but it soon became clear that they were genuinely nice guys who just wanted to chat. David asked about Flintoff: ‘How is Flintoff? Is he a good guy? Is he got good character?’. I had to admit that I neither knew Flintoff personally nor did I know that much about cricket.

It turned out that Anan and David were actors who worked in Bangalore. They explained that it was hard work with 12-hour days. They’d been given 10-days leave and had come to Palolem for a break. After that they were off to Malaysia with work.

When I explained that I worked in advertising, Anan explained his sister worked in media also. She took jobs out in the countryside and was paid 50,000Rs a month which was extremely well paid for India.

I asked them whether they’d been into the sea to which they shook their heads and said no – they don’t swim in the sea because a lot of people get rashes. I couldn’t determine what these rashes were but they were adamant that they only swim in ‘fresh’ water. I decided at that moment that maybe I wouldn’t be swimming in Palolem!

The subject soon turned to why I ‘had no friend’. They were fascinated that I was 29, travelling on my own and not married. I explained that my boyfriend was in New Zealand and, with genuine concern for my age, they asked when we were getting married. I had to explain that in England, marriage wasn’t necessarily a given when you have a boyfriend and that I had to wait until my boyfriend proposed. Confusion washed over their faces…I think they found it all a little overwhelming. Anan explained that he had four sisters and no brothers; ‘They’re hard work’, he explained. They both laughed and said they were happy being bachelors.

Having walked to the end of the beach and back, and found a suitable restaurant with tables right out by the sea, I decided to say my goodbyes. They said goodbye and headed off down the beach.

It’s always refreshing when you travel to meet genuine people who demand nothing of you. Often, you’ll meet people and they’re after something: a relationship, your business, your money, your business for ‘my cousin who owns the best hotel/restaurant around’, to be ‘your friend’, to ‘learn English’, or the plethora of other ways people attempt to derive money or a marriage visa out of you. Whenever you’re chatting to someone, you’re always slightly on edge waiting for the conversation to turn to what it is they want. To be able to have an amiable chat with people and to be able to walk away not feeling done out of something is a truly great experience!

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