Monday, 20 February 2012

Breakfast at the Happy Banana Cafe or Madame Bizarro meets Space Baba

one of the many walls covered with flyers
How to describe Arambol.
To start: Arambol sits at the northern tip of Goa's beaches.  Part Russian beach playground--many menus, flyers and signs In English and Russian; part hippy haven. Flyers for every kind of yoga--hatha, kundalini, himalayan, vipassana, acro-yoga and tantric; meditation sessions; tribal belly dance; fire stick twirling lessons; reiki workshops; ayervedic massage and medicine; tibetan massage and re-birthing are taped, tacked and stuck on walls all over town.   And every evening at sunset hundreds of people gather at Magic Park in front of the Full Moon Cafe where drums are beaten, flutes are fluted, trumpets tooted, jews harps twanged and it's easy to believe you're in a  "Be-In" scene from a film about the 1960s taking place in the Haight-Ashbury.

Morning I shuffle along the main street as Indians set out their clothes, bangles, carved Ganeshes, drums, wooden flutes and other goods.  My destination: the Happy Banana Cafe.

The tiny shack is stuffed with hippies; old and neo.  I order my fresh pineapple juice and fruit salad, muesli, curd, honey and squeeze onto the bench next to a middle-aged, totally alternative woman.  Her orange-hennaed hair is pulled back from her face in a pony-tail of skimpy dread locks.

"Yeah," she says in a loud New York accent to the guy sitting across from her," My dreads are just breaking off from the radiation.  I've been living seven years in Japan now. I think it's time to move."

"Wow," says the guy. "Me too. See how short these dreads in the front of my head are?" He flips his front dreads up from where they hang across his forehead.  "Not like these." He grabs a handful of the massive dreads dangling down his naked back.

He is a skinny bare-chested man in floppy black knee-length shorts, dark sunglasses and mangy beard and mustache.

"Yeah, you know you pick up the DNA from the molecules of the air where you are," the man continues.  His voice is loud, his long skinny arms gesticulate.  "I've lived in India one year.  Just think how much Indian DNA is in me now," he says.

"I've lived in Japan for seven years now, so I've really picked up too much Japanese DNA.  But really in India, you think you're tan, but really you're just covered in dust.  And it creeps into your pores and you absorb the dust of India and it transforms you."

"Yeah. Yeah," the guy agrees with enthusiasm. He bends his skinny body over his crossed legs and leans towards her.  "You know every seven years our body's molecules completely change."

"Yes, it's true," she agrees loudly trying to make herself heard over the din of voices in the tiny shack. "Every seven years all of our molecules become a whole new set of molecules.  And if yo're like me living in India, Japan, Guatemala--you take all these different molecules in and become something else completely."

"Hey, yeah, that's so true," the guy says straightening up and tossing some stray dreads over his shoulder.  "Say, what's your name, mate?"

"I'm Madame Bizarro," she says.  "And you?"

"Hey man, I'm Space Baba."

"So, pleased to meet you," Madame Bizarro says to Space Baba.  "Are ya stayin' here in Arambol long?"

"Well, I"m waitin' for this girl.  I kinda have this girlfriend.  She's gone for a few weeks but she's comin' back next week.  So I gotta see what happens when she gets back.  But she's so sweet, I don't know what to do."

"Whaddya mean," asks Madame Bizarro.  "What's there to do?  Do you like her?"  Suddenly she seems like a character out of a Woody Allen film in some Woody Allenesque relationship dialogue only instead of taking place in a hip New York cafe, this conversation has moved to Arambol.

The sweet Eveline, a Swedish woman I had met the night before, enters, orders and sits.  I join her and after breakfast we make our way to the sea.

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