Awake well before sun rise, i shift from bed to plastic chair overlooking the pigs, an ancient gnarly tree, mango’s on the cusp of turning ripe, pigs grunting and trotting as the transition from dark to light is aided by cigarettes, vodka and my iPod. Sitting in underwear being something i am fully appreciating as it wont be for much longer. Ten days. Legs perched on a concrete plinth, shimmering in mosquito repellent. I feel below the surface of something, bones and veins running towards the knees, visible below the skin.
Chickens and pigs. Chickens on pigs backs all free trotting. Trees triple my age, gnarled, hanging spiny lengths to the floor, providing a perfect vista as the silence rises with the warm light. Pig tails flapping, wings rising, their equivalent to repellent or just habitual?
The night-light globes finally turn off, another swig as i am almost ready for the day, but somewhere partly drunk. It’s morning. Longing to see, hold, touch those i have missed for so long; a list that could go on for sentences, including a tripod cat. The deep inhalation of the green. One more cigarette.
Five more minutes and i will return to my bed, asleep catching up on the lost but gained hours. Mangos pigs chickens.The sky full of light. One more aid to cancer, one more swig and my final word, sleep.
The joy of chopping garlic, the smallest of slimy Indian cloves, crush and peel. My very own cooker in my first kitchen in eight months. The joy of washing plates in real detergent, not sand or a plastic bag. The pleasure of washing the most beautiful tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, arranging them in my rented fridge, in my rented kitchen with a look of the 1950’s.
The joy of skimming froth from boiling red lentils, frying onions and egg plants in olive oil, cooking bringing happiness in my very own space.
A rented apartment on the beach in Goa, amongst the palms and the pigs. Just us and the pigs and the palms. Local vegetable stalls and independent village stores, having the choice of whom to support, food one tenth the price of food in England.
The joy of drinking a glass of red wine, vino from a vineyard i visited in Nasik, on the porch, eating a pasta dish as the sun sets. No restaurants, no waiters, no tips and no getting ill. No curry.
Sinking back into my love for cooking and being domestic. My choice of music on the stereo, in my own little house for the final fortnight. Wine, pasta and the beach five minutes away. A perfect transition for returning home.
“Oh Thom, we met a huge group of girls from Trinity College yesterday and it was such a shock….and i had my first pice of meat in days…..it was sooooooo yummy!!!!!!!!!! Hows Barney and Flip??? Oh classic! We just had a red snapper ya, and we were surrounded by candles on the beach, it was like being in heaven, Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa……Im so done with this being vegetarian thing. What are you going to wear, have you packed…Have you bought any nicey clothes???, but Thom, Goa is literally a holiday!!! Your going to have sauch a great time and soooooooooooo much fun……Oh and the tuna Thom, we are all putting on sooooooooooo much weight as the suppers here are huge and only five pounds for the biggest tuna. Oh no, you cant get your legs out in Kerala, its backward, but bra’s and knickers are fine here , pause, yaaahhhhhhhhh.
Pull the silliest face you can for me Thom, oh please, pretty please….it would give me soooo much fun. Go on, go on. Oh hahahahahahahaahhaahahhaahahahaha you are serch a comic Thom, so comic. Classic”.
Weeks in Delhi looking at Art and dead previous prime ministers blood stained clothes. Camel trekking in the desert and several twenty hour train journeys in an almost freezing north India. Roof top restaurants and falling out of rickshaws whilst under the influence of cheep dark rum, taking hundreds of photographs along the way. Back to Delhi to Agra to Jaipur, all first class, with a rose. Ancient forts and palaces, time with the greatest of friends. Shivaratri in Pushkar followed by a McDonald’s in the desert. A reunion with Lala and his brother cousin and little children painted blue, whizzing past with the soundtrack of brass. Marry-golds flying through the air from all directions. Creepy piggies, crashing cars, fake beards, gin and tonics and private drinks receptions with servants, help in pink cardigans flat chested.
Goats in jumpers, tens of grooms adorned on horse-back, February being an auspicious month to wed. Taj Mahal snowstorms, Mumtaz and chicken..pick pick pock pock. Falling waiters, open sewers dancing ladies elephants yea. Men with the longest taches in India, beauty pageants and home-made beggar survival packs, including one cigarette and a box of matches.
A flight via The Gujarat and a massive mercury rise to swaying palms, warm seas and golden beaches. Space. A sweet destination comparable by some to Allo Allo. Chilli jam, spiky fishes teeth and a ray-ban gringo explosion. Late night confessions, cucumbers and the first baked potato in six months, all wrapped around the most glorious reunion. Salads, internet spats, the remembrance of a friend lost and the sea times; aquanastics not being the same without a missing tiny pair of hands, yet replaced with laughter – ” Hi, were aquanasts, could you help us?” Still all through yellow.
A month of contrasts, highs and lows but amazing. Change inevitably comes. Elation and dread in the same week, as the clock ticks forward towards the return…………