Sunday 23 December 2007

Christmas in Goa

Today, I saw Santa, on the back of a truck. And standing behind him was a woman in full hijab. Christmas is a little different in Goa than back at home.

For starters, its far to hot to be wearing a big red costume and a false beard - it was around 32 degrees today. Secondly, my Christmas celebrations look like they'll involve dinner on a deserted beach a little further south from Palolem, where I am now. It's be surprisingly good arriving here after a frantic wedding in Pune, with the pace of things much slower, even more than the last time I was here after Gilly & Debbie's wedding in 2005.

I'm told that the number of visitors is down, apart from today when the day trippers arrived from out of state. This may be because the police have clamped down on the all night parties and loud music has to stop at 10pm. Tomorrow night - Christmas Eve - is one day when parties until the early hours are allowed. The other is 31st December (obviously) but it seems likely that these will be nothing like the big raves of the past, with thousands of people in attendance. But despite the restrictions, party organisers will always find a way around them. I met a guy today who has 200 headphones in customs in Bombay, and once they arrive, the plan is to arrange a 'silent party', with the music sent wirelessly to each participant. Imagine a party where everyone dances in apparent silence to their own groove. It should be quite a night.

Sadly, there have been other changes. The island at the far right of Palolem beach has been bought, so I'm told, by the Russian mafia, who plan to build a luxury property on it. They also have bought the whole of Colom village, which has been effectively squatted for four generations, so the villagers worried about their future. All this information in 24 hours. If I was here for longer, I think I'd be as expert in the gossip as some of the regulars I've met today.

I'm back before New Year and I'm told that it's chilly in London, but that there's little prospect of snow for Christmas Day. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some certainties like a lack of snow and crap TV. But not this year for me. It's a quarter to midnight and I'm still baking...

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