Sunday, 28 December 2008
Christmas and New Year in the safe house
Even though every news channel and tabloid cover were warning tourists to stay away from Goa over the festive season because of terror attacks, Sarah and I still decided to soldier on. We'd spent a month filming transgendered prostitutes in slums and brothels so werent going to let a bunch of Islamic militants get in the way of our deserved holiday. Because everywhere was booked up we ended up staying at the newly opened Armando Corner Luxury Beach Huts in Agonda. It's owned by a retired sea man called Armando and even though the huts are not luxurious, it is on the corner and we couldn't feel safer from all the helicopters and violent police men with their huge guns telling 60 year old woman to get off their sun loungers after 5pm. You could say, that Armando has become a bit like our Indian dad. Here is a couple of coversations with Armando.
Railway Station 6am - (arrive in Margao after the most horrific 9 hour train ride where I slept on blood stained sheets and the smell of shit was being pumped out of the air conditioner. The pully-up-handle-thing on my shitty fake Diesel suitcase that I bought here for £3 broke so the epic walk from the train to the main entrance seemed to take a life time and by the time we got out all I could think about was the beach. Armando, being our Indian dad, came to pick us up from the station.)
Us: Hello Armando nice to meet you!
Armando: You are late, isn't it. You tell me fye thirty, now it is 6am only isn't it?
Us: Yes sorry the train was late, there wasn't much we could do.
Armando: I call you one, two, three, four times.
Us: Sorry but we were carrying our rucksacks and couldn't get to the phone. We're here now though.
Armando: Why you come to wrong exit only? I come to other exit.
Us: Sorry, we just went in the direction of the EXIT sign and waited at the front of the station like you told us to.
Armando: But I come to other side only, you come here. This is wrong side. Big problem now (sweating).
Us: Sorry Armando, but can we get into the car now?
Armando: OK, but you tell me you bring only small bags, this is no small, they are big only.
Us: Sorry Armando, we thought we told you medium sized bags.
Armando: You tell me small bags only, I bring small car because you tell small bags, no big problem fitting the big bags in small car (more sweating)
Us: But look they fit, everything is fine Armando.
Armando: Ok but you come to wrong side of station. I came other side but you came this side only.
Us: OK sorry Armando, can we go now?
Armando: OK, but now we waste too much time talking, we have to go now only.
Us: Ok Armando.
Later, in the back of the car
Armando: You know Bombay blasts, too, too much dead peoples, no?
Us: Yes very sad.
Armando: Goa very most saftiest place, you no need to worry isn't it.
Us: No we aren't worried, thanks Armando.
Armando: Police say Goa red terror alert, terrorists come attack tourists killing them very very blood and violence Christmas and new year – but my Armando Corner most most saftiest. No need you worry.
Us: Oh. OK. So there isn't any threat of terror attacks near here?
Armando: Yes attacks. No attacks from Goa peoples, only attacks from Pakistani, Muslim, Hindu, Kashmiri, other peoples attacking and fighting want to killing tourists. You stay Armando Corner breakfast, lunch, dinner then no problem. Our cook Jimmy is working in U.S.A very bestiest food in whole Goa. No need to go outside isn't it.
Us: So we are safe in Goa then yes?
Armando: Oh yes Armando corner very saftiest place in whole Goa. You will be most safety here only.
Us: Ok thanks. But what if we want to go to another bar or restaurant on Christmas Day for food, drinks, or hallucinagenic drugs?
Armando: No need for to go outside, Armando Corner have bestiest Christmas party, food cooked by Jimmy in U.S.A food, nice music radio playing until 10pm.
Us: But we came here for the crusty free love and all night unregulated beach raves... Where do foreigners go to have fun?
Armando: Armando Corner only so so much fun party. Then 10pm then the police are coming with guns and very violence and smashing towards foreigners making party on the beach. Must very shut down party after 10pm only.
Armando: Don't worrying, we are making some quiet party, silent party here after 10pm. My wife and daughter here also and nice 70 years German lady in nextdoor hut making so, so much quieting party.
Us: Sounds great thanks Armando.
At breakfast that morning, we are the only guests staying at Armando Corner, along with the 70 year old German lady.
Armando: How many nights you stay here, how many dinners and lunch and how many breakfasts fruits salad, pineapple, papaya, apple, banana, you have. One every day isn't it.
Us: Erm we don't actually know yet. We only arrived today we'll let you know if we decide to stay longer and if we need to eat.
Armando: Advance booking very most important you telling me how many nights you stay, so so so fully booked every day new person, one man is coming Richard from U.S.A and 70 years German lady is here only, she likes Armando Corner only. Then also other foreigners calling every every day, "I want to stay here Armando Corner," but I tell them "no is space here, fully booked, there is no ways, no ways to stay here". I tell them this because you have the best room only, you came here first. You have the front side beach hut. I give only you the front side, the beach side bestiest side only. Everyone is asking for beach side but I say no only for you.
Us: Thank you. Sorry Armando, we thought we were the only people staying here. There are nine empty double rooms aren't there?
Armando: So, so fully booked only they coming every day but I tell them "NO no is space for you". Very popular Armando Corner, too much popular. In reserve the best room for you Sarah and Pegah only. Very bestiest room.
Us: When are these other guests coming?
Armando: They coming German, U.S.A, UK, Spain, other is every place.
Us: Wow good business Armando, we'll try to stay out of your way then.
Armando: No way! No staying way. You favourite only bestiest guests. Anything you want Armando Corner I give you. Stay here only.
Early one morning I go for a run and Sarah does some yoga next to sea. I come back to the hut.
Armando: Oh I see you running.
Pegah: Oh, did you?
Armando: Yes I see Sarah look she is running too over there.
Pegah: No that's not Sarah. Sarah is over there doing yoga.
Armando: Yes I can see her running too. She is very Athletic, very running fastly only. Good no?
Pegah: no that's not Sarah.
Armando: Yes so much athletic running.
Sarah comes back.
Armando: I saw you running Sarah.
Sarah: I didnt go for a run.
Armando: Yes you were running.
Sarah: No that must have been someone else, i definitely wasnt running.
Armando: Breathing and running very fastly.
Armando: I used to play football.
Sarah: Oh thats nice.
Armando: You want fruit salad?
Sarah: Yes in a bit thanks
Armando: When do you want it?
Sarah: In about 20 minutes.
Armando: OK, please you tell me anythings you want because Jimmy has too, too much bored, no things to do so he can make you anything you like.
Sarah: ok no problem. can we get some chai with our breakfast too please?
Armando: Tea? OK tea no problem.
Sarah: Can you make Masala chai rather than just normal tea?
Armando: I will make normal most bestiest English tea only isn't it.
Sarah; but can we get Masala chai? we prefer it.
Armando: But English tea is better isn't it, every UK peoples likes.
Sarah: actually we prefer masal chai is that ok?
Armando: Oh but English tea is less problem.
Sarah: So masala chai is too much trouble?
Armando: Yes making too much problem, time is no making chai possible. Jimmy too, too much busy isn't it. English tea OK?