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Jasmine Dispatch

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Cow-Hippie-Gypsy Market
May 24, 2000

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This was probably the most normal guy I met all day.
Caption
At the tip top of Goa, one of the most beautiful coastal states in India, you'll find a remote beach called Arunbol. In Arunbol you can relax in a straw hut on the beach, watching the tide of the great Arabian Sea flow in and out. You can frolic in the warm natural lake just on the other side of the mountain. Or you can hike up to the mineral mud and soak in a natural mud bath as monkeys stare down from the vines above. Why would anyone give up such peace and serenity? For the wildest, craziest freak show in India of course!

Fisherman, coming in from an early morning catch, make an extra buck by taking loads of tourists and merchants down to Anjuna for the Wednesday flea market. We hopped on for the hour-long boat ride and arrived to hear the trippy tunes of psychedelic-trance music blasting in the distance. This party won't be hard to find. Let's go!

Vocabulary

Uttered - spoken
Magnificent - impressive to the mind or spirit
Paraded - exhibit in a showy manner
Deafening - very loud

After hearing that Anjuna was all the rage I suspected that it wouldn't live up to its reputation. But it was all that I'd heard and more! The throbbing pump of the music was pulsing in my gut, and the heavy sweetness of incense was wonderful. I was beginning to get light on my toes and soon I was flying. I felt like the wind, breezing in and out of the stalls on a magic carpet ride. I slowed down only if something really caught my eye.

Moving slowly is the only way to truly absorb every sensation and detail in this crazy place. Otherwise you'll be lost in the children pulling at your sleeves, the shopkeepers pouncing on you if you seem remotely interested in their merchandise, and the gypsy women trying to paint henna designs on your hands.

I bypassed the madness and somehow found a way to observe the half-naked French couples walking around like they were on a nude beach in the South of Spain. Most of the people in the market were unable to stop staring. The bikini-clad couples, however, seemed not to notice, or not to mind. Then eventually everyone continued in their groove and all was well.

"Get into your groove thang and do what you do!" I shouted above the music to my friend Claire from England. "That's the key!"

"Groovy plan man..." I heard over my shoulder. "You got a perfect outlook on life. Stick with it and you won't go wrong."

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Groovy man, life is groovy
Caption
Stan and his buddy Star sat cross-legged behind me swaying to a relaxed rhythm, nodding to one another as if they'd just heard the most profound statement ever uttered. I smiled and landed on their blanket for a chat. They looked like an interesting pair.

Like all of the other hippies who had come to Goa in the 60's, these two had fallen in love with Indian culture (or this beach culture that lacks the harsh inland edge) and made this beach into a dream home. They spent their days on the beach and their nights on the beach. Star was a palm reader and Stan sold silver. When I left Star told me that there was a good bargain in my future. I hoped so, there was a really cute outfit I'd been eyeing near the front of the stalls. In search of food, Claire and I bid the two men farewell and off we drifted into the bliss. As we neared the center of the market the sweet scent of jasmine incense began to mix with the heavy smell of fish and curry, Indian spices, and sweet yogurt milk. Lunch!

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larger view
The Julia Child of the Anjuna Flea Market fed us the most delicious fruit salad!
Caption
Soon our tummies were full. For a whopping 30 rupees (about 75 cents) I had delicious fish curry over rice, with a spicy samosa (potato fried in a soft dough) and a sweet yogurt drink called a lassie. For desert a Gujarati gypsy hacked open a pineapple, a coconut, and some fresh mangoes with her machete and made us a fruit salad.

As we waited for her to prepare the magnificent dish, her daughters paraded the latest in gypsy fashion around for us. Jinglilng silver hair clips, anklets, and nose rings, beautifully hand-woven coin purses, and back pack sets were on sale for only 400 rupees each. A price more than double the price I'd been quoted on the beach just the day earlier, yet this was her special price. "Just for my sister!" she smiled, shaking her head from side to side the way Indians do.

Everyone had to try to make a buck, so I only smiled and walked away. I finished devouring my refreshing fruit salad in the peak of the sun's heat and sought out a shady place to chill out and people-watch for a bit. There was the ultimate mix of sights, sounds, and smells, and plenty of treats to taste. People were from all over. There were hippies selling tie-dye sarongs, sheets, towels and clothes. The Gujarati gypsies were selling beautiful handicrafts, jewelry, and fruit. The Tibetans were selling Asian-featured stone statues, wood carvings, and silver. There were Indian merchants selling embroidered saris, silk pants, pillow covers, art, incense, and oils, which were all laid out in the sand. We walked around enjoying the scent of incense and ocean breezes, and the deafening beat of techno that pumped from invisible speakers. They had it all, and we saw it for ourselves!

Now it's time to dust off the sand and tuck our bikinis in underneath our saris! Back to the real India, see you there!

Jasmine

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...jasminehamlett@bigfoot.com
 

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