Last weekend, a Scottish expat, her French roommate and I drove down to Kashid, a very small village on what’s said the be one of the nicest beaches in India outside of Goa. It’s about 160km (100 miles) south of Mumbai, which, given the state of the roads means a 4 hour plus drive. They both speak and read a bit of Hindi, so we took the wrong turn only once, since they can actually read the road signs, and understand left and right, whereas I, embarrassingly enough, still can only remember straight.
Apart from the at times disastrous roads, it was a pretty nice drive. We drove down the Mumbai-Goa express highway, which is a little road with one lane in each direction without a median. Of course, that meant that we had to practically stop on the side of the road once or twice, because some maniac bus driver coming the opposite direction took up our entire lane as he was passing some car or truck. But the views from that road are nice, it was very green and mostly fun.
On the way there we passed through Alibaug, a small crowded town by the coast, and then later some monstrous industrial estate that looked like they were mining red stone. Kashid has absolutely nothing other than a green background and a long beach. There were a couple of options to stay over night, and we settled for a small place that had very simple rooms for Rs650 each. Probably overpriced for what it was (and I should have brought my own towels and bedsheets), but ah well.
I also tried to check out the fanciest place in town, but before I could even ask any questions there, I got stopped at the gate, they wrote down my license plate number, and then I was told that they are booked and, no, I cannot get in to check out the place. It later turned out that that was A Good Thing, because we could hear some horrific disco music all the way from the fancy place to our little spot.
As probably was to be expected, but it never fails to amaze me, even this quietest of quiet places, in the middle of nowhere, near a long sandbeach, was not all that quiet. Apart from the disco music coming over from the fancy place, there were a bunch of guys in the hotel who insisted on playing their car stereo, making a lot of noise fooling around, and laughing like little children – at seven fucking AM the next morning.
A similar bunch of boys was hanging around at the beach. The Tata truck parked by the beach, all doors open and car stereo on full throttle. For some reason, they decided it would be cool to play every shitty song on the 80s US charts for five seconds and then play the next one. Of course, they also came over and asked whether they can take a picture of us with them. Not sure why, but this happens very often. I was in a good mood, so I said, sure, why not, but regretted it immediately. When this happens with Ksenia, she always says no, before they can even finish the question.
Anyways, so of course they were taking the picture of themselves with the girls and then they buggered off. Unfortunately, I am now considering not taking any pictures of kids either, because, while it’s cute when little kids want their picture taken (and they always go completely crazy with laughter when they see themselves on the LCD monitor), it is very bloody annoying when teenage and older boys do it.
The beach is pretty long and sandy, but not exactly clean, and the water isn’t exactly blue or otherwise inviting. So we didn’t go for a swim, but that was ok. At least the air was nice and despite the boys, it was quieter than Mumbai. We took a different and very nice route back, and stopped at some place for dinner. It took them a lot of official maneuvering to set up our table and to give us the menu and to take the orders, only to then tell us that they don’t actually have a single thing from the menu, but only some sandwiches or something. So we went somewhere else, and that was great.
In other news, my phone was ringing with the same unknown number that had been trying to call me for days now. I usually don’t take these calls, because it inevitably turns out to be my bank, which for the tenth time is trying to sell me some investments on my mobile phone. Sometimes it is the local liquor store that has delivered beer a few times now, trying to sell me some wine that they apparently just got in. Anyways, so it was Airtel, my mobile phone service provider, and the woman is telling me that I am way over my credit limit with them. I think last time Airtel had called me, the woman only spoke Hindi and was in complete disbelief that I only spoke English.
Anyways, so the conversation went something like this Hello, Sir, you are over your credit limit. – I have a credit limit? What’s my credit limit? – Excuse me? – I didn’t know I had a credit limit. How much is my credit limit? – Sir, you are over your credit limit [this goes on in a loop three more times] Your credit limit is 5000 rupees, Sir. – Ok, so what’s the problem, my last bill was 8000 rupees, and I paid that, no problem. [Yes, I am spending a fortune on international calls from my mobile these days, but two hundred something dollars is still bearable] – You are over your credit limit, Sir – Ok, so what do you want me to do? – Sir, can you pay the bill now? – Well, send me the bill and I will pay it. And please stop calling me while I am at work. – I am very sorry, Sir, but can you pay the bill now? – Well, I don’t have a bill. You need to send me the bill, then I will pay it. – But can you pay the bill now, Sir? – Well, no, I can’t pay any bills when I don’t have the bill, right? – Ok, thank you, Sir. Have a nice day.
So, I don’t really know what to make of that. I guess I will be waiting for the bill now. Meanwhile, I still have the original of my rental lease, which I had needed to buy my car, over a month ago. Now, the relocation company that took care of the legal stuff has been wanting that lease back ever since. Since apparently noone here would ever even think about using the postal service, they keep calling me in the afternoon, asking whether they can pick it up from my apartment, either now or tomorrow. And for many weeks now, I have been telling them, you have to come in the morning, when my maid is at home, or I can bring it with me to work, and you can pick it up there. And for many weeks now, they never actually come by to pick it up, but just keep calling me (sometimes twice a day, two different people from the same company), asking the same question again. Maybe they are hoping that they might catch me on a sick day, but basically, the concept that someone, anyone (maid, mother, wife) might not be at home, is completely foreign to them, it is kind of bizarre, and apparently just showing up at a certain place at a certain time is impossible.
Anyways, I think I need a vacation. Luckily, Ksenia is coming back next week and we are off to Thailand in two and a half weeks!