Watching the cows wandering through the morning market stealing veggies when they could was the best thing about Diu, a little Portugese-infused island off the coast of Jugurat.
I would sit with a middle-aged British man at a cramped sidewalk place smoking cigarettes and drinking sweet milky tea. We would linger for hours, telling each other stories of our lives that had meaning to each of us but not to each other.
He was returning to India after 25 years away. He wore round eyeglasses and looked a lot like John Lennon. He told me that he had owned a bicycle shop somewhere an hour and a half outside Manchester and had recently been divorced from his Japanese wife.
I was alone in India, with beggarly belongings and time galore. I told him that I was a former rodeo clown, searching for the world’s best all-bean burrito. I’d traded my cow for a handful of magic beans. It’s never too late to start believing in magic, I’d say.
On the weekend, I took the local bus to the coast and watched the men ride their motorcycles up and down the beach.
“Idiots”, I thought.
I watched the women go into the water dressed fully in their colourful saris.
“Weird”, I thought.
I stayed overnight at a hostel that used salt water in their bathrooms. Having a salt water shower is like eating curry for breakfast, is like wearing pyjamas all day out in public, is like making do with what you have and pretending its what you want.
Back in town, I hike up to the old fort and read the plaque about a short war in the 1970s with Portugal. India wanted the Goa group back, so with a clear show of force they took it one afternoon.
On the isle of Diu I would sit up on my second floor balcony and watch the commerce of the morning market. The cows would eat whatever they could get away with. The vegetable sellers would let them have a little and then shoo them away gently like they might a retarded child.
Never underestimate the satisfaction that can be found in watching lives being lived or in a well-made all-bean burrito.