When asked "What is dharma",
one Zen master responded:
"I eat when I'm hungry,
 sleep when I am sleepy"


All within just the last few days, I received the following comments.

Bernard reacts:
"and you may find yourself in another part of the world
and I may find myself in this beautiful house with this beautiful wife
and you may ask yoursdelf 'Well how did I get here?'
and you may ask yourself 'Where does that highway go to?'
and you may ask yourself 'Am I right or am I wrong?'
and you may say to yourself 'My God what have I done'
Letting the days go by...
A friend writes:
"What am I doing here in this beautiful house, with this beautiful wife? Same as it ever was."
Another friend writes:
"I hope you are doing fine there
 on that beautiful beach, 
 with that beautiful sun"                                     

* * *

Well, I have time for reflecting and reading - often one leads to the other. I finished 'Dharma Bums' the first week here. A pageturner for me and very fitting material for a man in my position.

From it I quote: '...and suddenly I realized I was truly alone and had nothing to do but feed myself and rest and amuse myself, and nobody could criticize. The little flowers grow everywhere around the rocks and no one had asked them to grow, or me to grow."

Just the other day, on North Cliff , on THE STRIP - I call it that way, for it reminds me of Vegas, with its half a mile or so of restaurants ( shacks really ) piled one next to the other with some hotels and guest houses thrown in too - sitting in my bamboo chair on the terrace of Kerala Coffee House,waiting for my lunch - first thing you must learn is that you always have to wait - I was reflecting on the meaning of that very insight of Ray Smith - alter ego of Jack Kerouac. I am living it today.
I was making this entry in my journal and had to think seriously and count back  in my mind to figure the day's date, and the day itself for that matter. A fellow dharma bum I met in Goa, Dorothee had recommended 'On the road' to me. So I went through the local second hand bookstores and right here on the strip, came up with 'Dharma Bums' instead. You can't always get what you want etc.
For lunch I had housemade 'tagliarini al olio e aglio'.
On the way back to my room - my place is on the other end of the beach, away from the strip - I picked up Paulo Coelho's '11 minutes' and bought a couple of young kids a bottle of Fanta Orange ( this little girl had me figured, seeing that I was in great spirits, asked if I would buy her a drink; could I refuse?).
Further up the road I noticed a sign advertising 'Ice Cream'...treated myself to a Chocolate Sundae, the kind we used to get as a kid, that come on a stick. Delicious!

Finishing off with Hakuin:
     Taking as thought the thought of no-thought,
     singing and dancing, eating and loafing, all is the voice of truth.
     This very place the Lotus Paradise,
     this very body, the Buddha.

Pieter baba.

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      eyes that are the window
      eyes that are the view
                       steve winwood

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There are no truths outside the gates of eden.

Upon returning from breakfast this morning, the stone cutter has started on a project. Yesterday, a truck dumped a load of rocks at the hotel. Today he starts shaping them into blocks for Safdi, the owner, to build a wall around the perimeter. Simple as that.

They have already started on a gate, partially finished. When the truck driver came through he knocked down one side of the gate.  "What to do?" says Safdi.  

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varkala volcanic cliff
eagle and osprey  
sandcrabs tickling my feet

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fruit salad, palms, crows, arabian sea
splashing dolphins

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it's perfection and grace
it's the smile on my face
tonight when i chase the dragon
the water may turn to cherry wine
and the silver sky turn to gold 

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a home away from home
and I'm living in between
Goa to Varkala.
Monday 8PM: leave Benaulim beach.
Tuesday 8PM: arrive Kollam, Kerala
Wednesady morning hire a rickshaw
for the lazy man's 50 minute scenic drive
to Varkala beach.

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the members of my traveling chautauqua,
without whom this blog would not be half the fun.
there's Neil, his back is allright, thanks;
Bob is just having another cup of coffee
for the road;
John, well we can only Imagine
what he's up to right now
A few members of the band could not be there for the group photo; the other Bob, still running against the wind, has his deadlines and commitments; Lenny is back on Boogie street and Van has gone down to Geneva, still searching for that philospher stone.
Elvis has simply left the building 'Ma janchu' style.

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FOOD SECTION: livin'on the edge

Could we ever feel much finer?

Coming in from Los Angeles,

sipping on a cup of milk tea...




High noon. 30 plus degrees. Friendly Indian folk music in the background. The windowless dining room of Sagar Kinara, this typical Southern style restaurant 500 yards from the beach, allows for a welcome cool sea breeze. Think of it as one big balcony. The palm trees that surround keep us in the shade. Overhead ceiling fans stir the air. No need for modern airco here: your original eco friendly building.

From my first floor table I look out onto a lively main street. More restaurants ( I see a “Dial a Meal US PIZZA” sign across the street ), one flower shop cum phone/travel agency/money changer, Goodman Pub and Pool Hall and too many souvenir stalls.

The bus tout yells “Marga, Marga, Marga!”. Sounding the airhorn long and loud the Margao Express shuttle bus announces its departure.

More and more, each time I adjust to my new surroundings, I try out new foods. Sagar Kinara Family Restaurant offers North and South Indian menu. We have tried many of the veg curries and Tandoori specialties up North, in Delhi and Rajasthan. Today is the time for trying out the Southern specialties.

They bring out a stainless cup of water – and it’s safe to drink the filtered water here for a welcome change.

On the menu: Idli, Dawa, Uttapa and Dosa and a few more. I am clueless. Asking the waiters for menu descriptions is not the norm here. I go for the Masala Dosa, an item recommended to me by the owner of Yatri’s Guest House, back in Delhi. Out comes a foot long, loosely rolled crisp pancake ( all you surfers out there, think tube ) stuffed with an Indian version of home fries – potatoes sautéed with onions and mild spices. An impressive presentation with a great taste. The dosa is served with two dips, one a spicy kind of tomato soup, the other hummus like. Though on the greasy side, the lunch is a success. It fills me up and reluctantly I skip the triple sundae that I had anticipated. I finish with a cup of milk tea. There is my 30 roepie lunch.

I like this place. On consecutive daily visits I try the rest of the menu. Neither the Idli      ( crustless bread 'pillows' ) nor the Dawa ( an Indian savoury doughnut ) make the cut. I like the Uttapa better: a pancake similar to the Dosa, but thicker and thus less crispy. All items are served with the same two dips.

On my final visit I go all out and order the Deluxe Indian Thali (45 roepies). A Thali is a stainless plate, the size of a serving tray, including rice, roti and papad – Indian flatbreads – and a number of soups and dips, this time the hummus is absent. There is green and red dahl - lentil soup – chick pea soup, tomato soup and mixed bean and veg soup as well as Okra, which I skip. I savour my favourite item, yoghurt, flanked by a bowl of milk whey and finish with a sweet dish of yellow semolina with raisins and cashews, cloves and a vaguely familiar but as of yet unrecognised herb. The semolina is my dessert, although the locals tend to eat the sweet stuff first. I finish lunch with a cup of black tea, milk on the side, that is actually more brown reddish and somewhat murky but very tasty. One of the best teas I have had in Asia so far. 

Could we ever feel much finer?


Post card from the edge: on one afternoon I return for a snack. I order a pineapple lassi –  yoghurt blended with fresh pineapple. The waiter returns after a moment, pointing to the ceiling, saying there is ‘no light’ and would I like a sweet or salted lassi instead? Puzzled I opt for a sweet lassi. It’s 3pm and I don’t see a need for light to blend the pineapple and yoghurt. Then I notice the overhead fans are dead as well…Ding Dong…the power is out  - common occurrence – and they can’t blend the lassi. I get up and rush after the waiter to tell him I will wait for the power to return – power failures last usually no longer than 10 minutes after all. Or not. Today is not my lucky day: after 15 minutes, still waiting, I opt for a bowl of plain yoghurt. Mmmm! Maybe I am lucky after all: this yoghurt is delicious! It is not just yoghurt, it is crème fraiche!

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"Hello, friend, wanna buy some fruit? Just look OK".
It's Fatima; she is the one on the right carrying the basket, on top of the green Lark Creek Inn  baseball cap. Fatima is one of many women plying the beaches selling fruit to tourists. She goes to market at 5am in Margao - 30 minutes from here by bus. All day she walks the beach in 30plus temperature, offering bananas, papayas, pineapples and watermelons. She will even cut them up for you.
It can get a bit bothersome to be accosted by vendors all the time, hawking fruit, sarongs, jewels and what not. Fatima got lucky and found in me a willing customer - I love those pineapples. So in the last two weeks we became friends - been eating my daily pineapple or papaya. 
The other day, checking out my shades she hinted that she could use some shades or a hat for sun protection...so this morning I presented her my green Lark Creek Inn hat. From now on Fatima will proudly wear her cap on the beach of Colva and Benaulim.

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Dining on the beach, under a full moon. Red snapper or pomfret tandoori. A glass of local portwine.We've got everything you need, satisfaction guaranteed.

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The Bullet, legendary Royal Enfield 350 Drool, drool..
Bob Seger and his band were here

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'What we have here, is a failure to communicate'
This blog is dedicated to my friend Luke, back in California. Luke, whenever you get the urge to fly the coop, know that there is a place out here on the beach in Colva, waiting for you and it has your name written all over it, literally.

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Baskin and Robbins...
the kind of ice cream that sooothes the soul
reminiscent of the days in Goa
a scoop of old time Rocky Road

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After New Year the the holiday crowd goes home.  I find me another hotel, Camilson Beach Resort. A lovely cocospalm garden is all that comes between me and the beach. This is a great place to hang out for a while.

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I was chopping down a palmtree
when Neil Young dropped by and asked
if it would make me feel less lonely
if he helped me swing the axe
I said "no,
it's not a case of being lonely we have here
I've been working on this palmtree
for fortysomething years"
he said "go get lost"
and walked towards his Cadillac
[ buried in the sand ]
when I chopped down the palmtree
it landed on his back
                                          Based on Neil's 'Very' Last Trip to Tulsa

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I sit down for breakfast at TEMBO, my favorite beach shack, when this bull walks on to the beach. Same one I saw yesterday, going the other way, when I did not have my camera. I mumbled something about a missed opportunity...he must have heard me.
Goa was a Portuguese colony for so long, it is easy to forget that I am in India - the look of the churches, the taste of their portwine.
Moments like these are here to remind me: "How likely am I to meet a Holy cow on the beach anywhere but India?" 

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me and my minolta
always in the same mood
i am mostly flesh and blood
he is mostly
never does grow impatient
with the changes that i know
if he can't go to heaven
baby i don't wanna go

Behind me the sun is rising over the palm trees, throwing just a splash of light on the beach before me, when these women walk into the picture. Sometimes you have to leave your room to catch the moment.


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I went out walking

I don't do that much talking

these days

                              Tom Rush

I went out walking early this morning, about 7. Got some Tai Chi time in before it got too hot. Some fishermen here still set out at night in their outrigger canoes - sometimes I hear their shouts in the dark of night as they leave or return. They put their boats up on the beach for the day.

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