India Uncut

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Night of the Living Dead (in Goa)

I'm at the Dona Sylvia Beach Resort in Goa right now, attending a three-day Cricinfo conference, and it's been surreal so far. As I got off the coach that got us here, I noticed an old white couple standing there and looking at us. The lady grinned. All her teeth were yellow. Her eyes had an ominous glitter in them. In retrospect, this seems significant.

We went to the reception, and they asked me to stretch my right arm out. I did, and they put a red wristband around my wrist, attaching it in such a way that it cannot be removed without actually cutting through it. "Do not take this off," the man at the reception warned me. I was given a letter that said that I had wear this wristband at all times, or I would not be served. If I lost it, there would be a penalty of 1500 bucks to pay. The inside of my wristband reads, "15334." And in white lettering on a white background, I can also read "Precision Dynamic Corp."

We then went to the pool. There were at least 30 firang couples there in their swimsuits. The youngest person among them could not be less than 82 years old. It was like an old-age home.

As we walked to our respective cottages, we saw more and more of these old people in swimsuits, some of them in such condition that you'd imagine a limb would fall off if you bumped into them. Now, I like old people. The world needs old people. But there didn't seem to be any other young people here! That's what seemed odd.

A colleague and I share a balcony, so we sat there shortly after we got in, with sandwiches that seemed normal. "Maybe they come here to die," I said, with a characteristic insensitivity that I refrain from exposing on my blog. "Maybe the tags on the wristband have GPS, and help the hotel buggers find and identify the bodies."

Just then a phone rang from one of our rooms. We stepped towards our doors to see whose phone was ringing. Not mine. I turned back just in time to see three crows swoop down over my friend's plate. Two (interns, my friend speculated later) hovered around the plate while the middle bird picked up a French fry. Then they swooped away. (Crows eat fries?)

My friend and I returned to the edge of the balcony and saw five crows sitting on a nearby roof, staring at us with a sense of grim inevitability. Other roofs had other crows on them (This story isn't so weird that they'd have the same ones.) They all waited.

Night fell. We imagined distant figures walking towards us from the distance. As they'd approach, we'd realise that they weren't among us, but that we could soon be among them, aged, withering, hungry for prey. We would turn around and run, but as if the ground was moving in the opposite direction, like on a treadmill, we wouldn't be able to get away.

Nothing like this happened, of course, We went to the beach at 1 am. It was tranquil. There was a pleasant breeze. A full moon was in the sky. And two people stood in the distance, their backs to us, knee-deep in water. We stared at them in horror.

Then one of them, a lady, lifted her T-shirt to her waist, exposing a thong. The moonlight glanced off her bare, firm, young buttocks. We sighed, in relief.

Then the waves rushed in.
amit varma, 2:25 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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