I forced myself to take a few walks into (the infamous) Tito's Lane that first night.
You get out of life what you put in.
A good time does not come to you, you have to go to it! (unless you're a pretty chick, in which case just go ahead and rewrite the entire laws of physics, because you totally have your own gravitational field!!)
On each occasion, I looked for some welcoming sign, some hopeful pull that would draw me towards the direction of a particular bar or club.. but each time I got nothing.
It had been a long day:
'I'll come back with a vengeance tomorrow. Paint the town red!'
I reassured myself as I took the easy option of heading back, thus avoiding partying all by my lonesome (with the exception of all the other 'sausages' at the bars).
I retreated to my nearby hotel and sat in the lobby where the wifi signal was strongest and surfed Facebook and Trip Advisor... again.
People were still having meltdowns at the election of Trump.
The serfs will always be serfs and the lords will always be lords; voting with where you spend your money will shake things up more than which box you tick at an election...
but what the hell do I know.
A young couple came and sat in the lobby and did the same thing as me; the three of us staring into our phones.
They chatted occasionally whilst I did my absolutely perfect impression of the invisible man. The guy was Italian and the girl from America.
After about twenty minutes of being antisocial, I made the best decision I made during the whole of my trip to India.
I started chatting to a couple strangers.
I do that shiz ALL the time in London!
Chatting to randoms on a night out, and to be honest.. those fcukers aren't the most appreciative audience of my wit and friendly nature.
Goddam people in London just wanna mind their own business or are just plain rude... unless they're from Essex.
People from Essex are always up for a giggle and a chat!
“A journey is best measured in friendships made, not miles travelled.”
I read that on a mug in a gift shop.
I didn't buy the mug, but I stole the quote!
No matter how exotic or tranquil the location, no matter how far you've travelled, metaphorically or physically; there are few things in life not made better by good company.
The Italian guy and American girl were actually husband and wife and very good company.
We chatted into the early hours and then met the next day for breakfast. There was a lot to bond over; our despair at the world, our despair at the fact our usable Indian currency was now extremely limited, our despair at having to despair while we're on holiday!
We actually had nothing but laughs.
We went our separate ways and agreed to meet for dinner.
I headed into Calangute to hit up the bank and convert my monies!
I decided to walk, because in London, that's how we roll. We walk.
In India, it's not so straight forward; the fact that there's no pavement means you're caught sharing the road with all the crazy cars, scooters/mopeds and cows! Not to mention having to avoid huge dollops of stinking cow sh!t every hundred yards or so, all in the blistering heat... magical times.
The banks were closed.. except the Bank of Baroda.
I bypassed the crowds and went in; sat down with some old geezer who told me there was nothing he could do for me; I had to be an account holder.
'This is a big problem for tourists' I warned.
'It's a bigger problem for locals' he fired back, suggesting I call my embassy.
Great! Left to the mercy of British bureaucrats who've probably been outsourced to India anyway.
I returned and went to the beach (Baga).
Now that was what I came here for.
It felt like I was in an advert for 'Bounty' or something.. behind me a horizon of towering coconut trees, in front of me a horizon of a calm glistening sea, above me blue skies and sunshine.
I strolled along the beach clutching my notepad and pen, trying to find the ideal spot for inspiration to do its thing.
One of the main reasons I had come to Goa was so I could clear my mind and do some writing. It's no secret that my film scripts have been a little hindered in their journey from my mind to my pen, and this was an opportunity to 'unhinder their path', shall we say.
But as I sat there, I felt so at peace, just staring out, that I didn't want to disturb the stillness of my mind by forcing it to think (yes, I know how that sounds, but it's true).
Back home, my mind, like my desk, is always cluttered. There's always something to preoccupy you and distract you and steal your attention... not to mention the pressure of always keeping up with the latest 'news' (and I use the term loosely; it's mostly just propaganda these days).
A clear mind feels good!
So I sat there and enjoyed the feeling.
As mentioned previously, Goa is NOT a place that welcomes a single man; and like every other part of the world, especially a single Indian man (ironically). But that night I was with a couple, and a white couple at that, so was welcomed everywhere!! They even let me photobomb the selfies people were asking them for (after they told me how everywhere they went in India people wanted selfies with them, and I told them my sob story of not having been asked to be in a single selfie!).
We mostly spent the night in one bar, and danced the night away; it was really good fun, and there were even a some chicks there! But my mama didn't raise no fool! There was no way I was gonna try it on with those Indian chicks and risk a humiliating slap, or one of their male friends acting the hero and 'rescuing' them from my apparent 'badmash' ways. So I just stayed in the corner and happily danced by myself.. which I increasingly prefer these days; more freedom to express myself through the medium of dance.
Still, the Indian girls there seemed friendlier than the ones back home; at least they weren't acting aloof and giving me dirty looks. Haha.
Over the next few days, I found the money problem wasn't as big an obstacle as it had been that first day, or as big as it is right now, over a month later.
The bars and restaurants would accept our 500 rupee notes.. they just wouldn't give us any change!
That said, I did go to the bank every day!
It was on the next day that I had my only luck in that regard.
I was back in Calangute and just joined the back of a long-ass queue outside the State Bank of India.
Behind me was an elderly lady from Yorkshire (or somewhere from up north); another dude from England had just told her that foreigners could skip the line and go straight through, so suddenly my English accent became more pronounced and off we went!
Poor locals had been queueing for hours and hadn't moved an inch, and there we were, bypassing the crowds and straight to the dedicated desk especially for foreigners. Great idea!
Long story short (it was a long story, as I had to go back, get I.D., photocopies, etc, etc.), I had 3000 rupees in useable money, as well all those other thousands I would continue to offload as best I could!
I was actually supposed to be heading off to another part of Goa, but extended my stay in Baga by one night so I could continue to hang with my new best friends!
It was their last night in India and we were determined to make it one to remember!
We were also joined by a new member to the team; an adventurous American guy who had just come from Kathmandu and Everest basecamp! He was so disgusted by the pollution and swindlers/conmen in Delhi, he immediately booked a flight out of there and made for the beach!
So now we had our couple and a wing man!
AND, it was Friday night!!
Let the good times roll!!!
To be concluded!