Supermoon! Part 2

The supermoon was due to arrive on the night of April 7, 2019.

Early that evening, Anya and I were sitting in plastic chairs with the astronomical binoculars between us, waiting for the moon to rise.

Above the hills on the distant horizon were clouds and I wondered how much we would see.

On the lawn in front of us was the dome tent we had erected a few days before. The idea was to practice setting it up so that when the lock down was over, we could travel to far deserts and camp out – and at nights, do a bit of stargazing. But once the tent was up, Anya had insisted on leaving it there to remind us of past adventures and the promise of future ones.

A symbol.

Then the supermoon appeared…….

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The Slum Girl

 

I was on my way back to my hotel, when she ran up behind me, yelling.

It was a high pitched sound, bird like.

Before I knew it, she was standing in front of me and pointing at my camera.

It was a young girl wrapped in a blanket and all too obviously from a poor, lower caste family. She was sleeping on the streets, along with so many others……..

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Blind Faith Part 1

 

Old Goa.

I went there on a day trip.

No big plans, just take it easy. Hang out as the tourist.

All I wanted to do was look at some old churches.

 After two torrid months of travelling around central India and seeing a lot of temples and mosques, I thought a few churches would be a welcome diversion.

There were three of them in Old Goa. They were old: 4 centuries.

Yep, an easy day for me. 

Leastways, that’s what I thought on the way out there…..

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Blind Faith Part 2

On returning to Panjim after my day trip to Old Goa, it seemed as if Saint Francis Xavier – the so-called Incorruptible Saint – was a universally loved figure amongst the Goan Christians.

Then one evening I met a couple who definitely did not revere him.

Perhaps better said, they met me.

 

I was staying at a small, family owned, hotel. There were 5 rooms. These were on the second story, at the top of a long creaking wooden staircase. The owners, a middle aged couple named Soares, lived on the ground floor. In the backyard was an open, thatch roofed shelter with tables and plastic chairs. Breakfast was served here and also evening meals (which had to be ordered in the morning). Near the shelter was an area of grass and against a high wall, a riot of ferns, creepers and palms. This was a fine place to stay, it was quiet and in a secluded back street.

One evening however, it was far from quiet. It was nearing Christmas and festivities were on the agenda. There was a family get together – or rather, an extended family get together – held in the back yard. Trestle tables were set up in the garden and food and drink made available to everyone. Most of the other western tourists staying at the hotel opted to go out for the night. There must have been around 20 people there, including some boisterous kids. Some of the older people I noticed spoke Portuguese. Most of the others, middle aged and younger, spoke Konkani, a language originating in Southern India. Most Goans were conversant with English although rarely fluent.

There were two people there that night who were certainly fluent in English. I had heard about Antonio and Isabella from the Soares. They were a family success story. And they, I subsequently found out, had heard about me because of the lively account I had related to the  Soares about my trip to Old Goa.  

 

Antonio and Isabella had left Goa in their late teens, gone to university in London; he had a PhD in biochemistry and she in sociology; later they moved to Portugal, where they were living at the outskirts of Lisbon. They were middle aged and dark skinned but with some obviously Portuguese features. Antonio was a bit overweight, wore gold rimmed glasses, was clean shaven and had a crop of thick curly hair. He wore neat slacks, an open necked blue shirt and an off white cotton coat; Isabelle, still beautiful despite her years, wore a long floral dress with long sleeves, earrings, and necklace; her long black hair was tied up in a bun. Their clothes were simple but were good quality; expensive and purchased in Portugal, not India.

On first appearances, ironically, Antonio and Isabella stood out because they were as well dressed as the pilgrims I had seen a few days before in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa……

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