Friday, February 27, 2009


When you go to India you have to forget everything you know about your culture and just let go and enjoy the maddness that is India!

The train to Jaipur was 'estimated' to be 22 hours long but thats in Indian time!It actually took about 38 hours but it was a lot of fun.

Party beside the toilet...

Young boy totally engrossed in Diego's guitar playing

The train stopped for ages in the middle of nowhere the rumour was that the train in front had come off the tracks and a few hours after we had got moving again we passed a train that was on its side and bent in half so it wasnt a rumour! We got to Jaipur pretty late at night so we didnt get a chance to check out the city, we had a quick few hours sleep then up for our first day on the movie!

The hotel

The film was being shot in Jaipur's Amber fort a huge old fort on top of a mountain. We left before sunrise so i could just about make out people moving about in the dark on the way. Wow Jaipur did not look like it was in 2009! It looked more like in the medieval times it was very strange! People washing themselves on the street, no motorised vehicles, no coats or jackets just groups of people with blankets over their head keep warm....

mornin going to work

The locals hanging around the fort hoping to catch a glimpse of the big star, men and women always seperate.

We got to the fort and had a nice breakfast of orange sweet stuff, fried chapatti's and curry type stuff and of course super sweet chai. The film is something about the indians and the english back in the 20's the guys were dressed in English army suits and the girls as English ladies however they didnt have enough costumes to go around the girls so half of the girls including me were put into sari's! At first i thought it was so cool to get to dress in a sari but the indian mens reaction to the western girl in a fancy sari was unbelieveable. They couldnt handle it one bit. They turned into animals.

It started when the costume guy was fixing a tear in the sari he reached up the dress and grabbed my ass cheek! I wasnt expecting that at all so i just burst out laughing and asked could he do that please without touching my ass. But everywhere the sari dressed girls went we got groped, grabbed, fondled, pinched, pushed against the walls it was not good. The problem was that in this fort to get to and from where the filming was, there was only one long, dark very narrow staircase which was the perfect place for the frustrated indian men to get some woman.

A few of the girls punched guys in the face after getting their ass grabbed i had a sharp hair pin which i jabbed into the arm or leg as soon as i saw it coming my way! And they had absolutely no security worth talking about so there were hundreds if not thousands of indian boys running after us all the time! Funny now...well more of a learning experience but at the time i was getting very very sick of Indian men and unfortunately i felt a bit disheartened about Indian people for a while after.

Laughing about the silly indian men....and clearly as pale as the day i left ireland!

he's so cute... i want one...

We were positioned on a stage where the king and queen sit and it overlooked a square. It was a Gladiator-type film where the main star came in on his horse to battle this other guy. The indian men went wild for the main guy - Salman Kan. And i mean wild! Screaming like i screamed at a Boyzone concert back in the day! After someone rode about on the horse and practiced the scene 20 times the main guy, after being helped up on the horse by 2 men, would come bounding out on the horse in his gay petticoat and his long hair flowing. He looks a bit like a short Sylvester Stallone i think

Ok it wasnt the hardest job we've ever done..

Every morning was a 5.30 am start...completely worth it to see the sunrise from the fort

Daytime from the fort

The crowds there were crazy. At the end of every day filming the crowds burst onto the set to run after the main actors car, luckily we were up on the balcony so it felt safe and just so surreal to see this going on. The police would chase the guys with big bamboo sticks and the young men would run, trip and climb over each other to get away, but it seemed more like fun to them than anything malicious as soon as the police raised the stick they ran and never fought back. I think it was just the sheer number of people that was the problem.

This picture (below) was taken just two minutes before the wall on the right beside the police ladies fell down on top of a mother and her 3 or 4 kids. It was when the main star came onto the set the indians were going mental to see him and the wall just couldn't support the people. After the wall fell TOTAL CHAOS. Hundreds of people trying to run away from it, more running towards it to see what happened, i saw a young girl being carried out with a badly injured, bloody and battered face and a young boy who had been pulled out but not too badly injured, praying, bawling crying and looking up to the sky. People ran all over the balcony part where previously we'd just looked down on the madness from. We moved to a quieter spot but couldn't help being surrounded by young Indian men talking pictures, wanting to chat or just generally staring. I suppose its a bit like being a celebrity......the filming started about 15 minutes after the injured people had been taken from where the wall fell down.

Due to this accident we had 2 free days off. They had to find a new place to shoot as the fort was a protected archeological site and breaking the wall was not good! It was good to get a break from the constant Indian men all around!

Wow i loved Jaipur. It it mostly painted a peach or 'pink city' as its called. It was the same chaos as had been in Chennai my 1st stop in India however now i loved it and felt very comfortable with it, and i wondered how i was ever scared of this when i arrived first. Well its probably because not one thing here is the same as at home, walking down the street is an obsticle course of traffic, people, little shops, cows and on the main streets the pollution is heavy in your lungs and the noise from car horns is deafening but its all good! One guy here from London said wait until i get home the quiet and calmness is bigger culture shock than being in India! The first day off we spent walking about, doing a bit of shopping, just generally chilling out after a hard few late nights and days of 5am starts.

same as at home.....

As the Indians were always taking pictures of us i found it funny talking pics of just normal unsuspecting Indians, the odd few who wouldn't approach you for money or the like...this chappy was probably just heading home from work

One of the gates into the old city

the main roundabout

Painting of Shiva
Public phone i think!
The pot shop

We had this crazy room service guy in this hotel we were being put up in during the filming. It started one of our first nights I was just relaxing in the room with Lydie the girl i was sharing with when there was a knock on the door. The guy said 'you want towel'? 'paper toilet'? we said no thanks, then he walked into the room and closed the door behind him and stood there with his hands together like praying and kept saying 'Namaste'...the indian for 'i salute you'. He said he spoke english, hindi and french so i asked him how do you say thanks in Hindi he just smiled and bowed and said yes thank you! It was a bit awkward to be honest! Him standing there saying Namaste and the two of us sitting on the bed wondering mmmm what does he want! Eventually Lydie opened the door and he shook my hand ferociously as he left! I actually had to pull my hand very hard to get it out of his!

This turned into a daily occurance. He would sit on the steps and everytime he saw us he's run up to the room wondering if we wanted towel or paper toilet then he would come into the room, close the door and stand there saying namaste, not to forget the crazy handshake! Everyone was getting similiar visits we started just opening the door a little so he couldnt come into the room.

It was getting a bit much but very very funny. One night we made phone calls to people who had gone to sleep, through the phones in the room, this was about 3am, and imitating Namaste guys voice we asked ..'you want towel?' .Most people we like 'man its 3am no i don't need a towel!!!' One girl was like 'no i don't need a towel but could i have a chai?' How room service would ring you up at that hour just to check if you need anything....although 'im sure if this guy had access to a phone....

Namaste want towel? paper toilet?? He had a soft spot for Friend!!!!!!!! ...Gerry on the left!

Our 2nd day off we decided to bring a few guitars, chess, poi etc and chill out at the park. It was a little hard to chill out as all the people in the park came to look at the bunch of westeners! They formed a circle around us, ordered their popcorn and just stared!

wow we are so interesting!

totally surrounding us!

just chillin out smoking a cigarette while standing right beside me staring at us

then the women came to sweep the leaves that were beside us!!!

Then it was time to leave the park! I had been pretty sick with my stomach the last 4 or 5 days and i was just starting to feel better and have an appetite so i decided to go to Mcdonalds....yes i know why oh why!! Anyway it was comforting to my sick stomach to eat good ole western food however instead of a Bigmac (as they dont eat beef) they have the Chicken Maharasha Mac....which didn't do it for me one bit! Anyway that's my annual trip to Mcdonalds over and here is Julien, one of the guys from Goa working on the movie, taking the cycle rickshaw driver for a spin!

julien on the bike...funny funny!

Back to the shoot new location!

Courtney buying fruit....sometimes the attention we get is a bit uncalled for!

So part 2 of the shoot was in the middle of nowhere beside a lake. Its just as well my stomach was better as the toilet facilities were not amazing!

yup that's the better of the toilets!
(see below!) Before this we had to go in the surrounding area which is just fields and as there are loads of young Indian men around who followed you everywhere there was no choice than to have an audience when you went. Once i had a guy doing star jumps right in front of me as i was going to the toilet, another guy taking picture on his phone...not my classiest moment and not the easiest either in the big dress from the 1920's!

However the place was unspoilt and it felt great to have so much space compared to the fort or even Jaipur city in general where it was always crowded. It was a bit chilly in the mornings and i found that quite nice.

going to the set in the morning

After breakfast, the usual orange sweet stuff, fried chapatti and curry...which we all wouldnt have minded a change from, we had the heavy makeup slapped on, the hair done and the costumes. By now all the girls were in English lady dresses i was sure as this was in the middle of nowhere there wouldn't be the same crowds as the fort but no.....

they found us!

Everyday there was twice the amount of young Indian men to the last, on the 3rd day even a few vendors had set up stalls! They don't miss a thing!

lunch break

camel from the set

I got talking to a guy who works in bollywood and his job is just to search for locations for movies! He travels the world doing this...nice job!

Corey, the guy who organsied us to come work on the shoot dressed up on the last day, it was his really suited him!

We finished it off with a night out for Coreys birthday.

Despite the fascination with us westeners all the time i really loved Jaipur the city has a lot of character. I'm getting used to being stared at all the time but i think it was being a female, westerner in a skimpy sari that tipped the boat over! I feel well able to handle any male Indian man situation after this few days.

When i was walking through a market after filming i saw these young Indian boys coming and i could tell the wandering hand was coming too so the best tactic is to look them in the eye then stare at the offending hand thats coming towards you and once they know you know what they're going to do they pull back! With the young boys at the market when i stared at their hands they burst out laughing that they'd been caught and ran on and i laughed too. so like everything in India you have to see the light-hearted side of things and when you do you wont want to leave!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Wow such a lovely chilled out place its like you are not in india at but you clearly still are! It seems to be a half way stop off point where people travelling north to south or as i was doing south to north, stop for a few days/weeks and so the plan in Goa for most there is to relax, eat well get some yoga in during the day and plenty of music, dancing etc on the beach at night, take scooters and explore the coast and bump into the random people you met the night before! And with this mentality it makes the place very hard to leave!

Anjuna Beach
This place was described by the guide book as the happening place. There was a huge market there on wednesdays, many lovely places to eat and do nothing and the beach was not bad but you couldnt sit there without being plauged by the women wailing 'come look my shhhhoooopppppp' or 'llloooookkkkiiing, lllooooookkkiiing' It was like they all had the same freaky london accent. Come look my shop became a phrase i was really beginning to dislike. Little girls would come sit next to you and would not leave until you promised you'd come look their shop later. It was not my cup of tea.

Dogs chillin out....they usually pick the most inconvenient spot!

This sign is posted about the restaurants....makes for nice reading before your meal..

Paradise or wha? By now banana and coconut trees are the norm....jealous mmm?

The 'come look my shop' shop! It was never open and we used to plague the people asking us to come look their shop, that we wanted to look at come look my shop, shop and this caused great confusion and fun.

See? She's shouting Come look my sshhhooooopppppp....llloooooooking, lllooooooooking....

The nightlife was mostly the same few bars that played the same thing everynight and by about midnight the sea came right up to where the bars began so there is nowhere to go on the beach after the bars closed. I did however find myself a really cheap simple room beside the sea, it had just really basic cold water, electricty (sometimes), the roof was just propped ontop of the walls so there was a big gap you could hear everything in the next room and outside as load as if it was just beside me, the mattress was hard and a little bit ant infested, and the room as painted bright blue. I just loved it!

Resident crazy men

Anjuna had a resident crazy man as i found out later Arambol did also. Anjunas crazy man is called Baba which is a polite name for a holy man. This guy you see during the day with really sporty sunglasses on sitting chatting to the cows and by night he is crazy dancing in one of his favourite bars. The first time i saw him he was dancing with a dog! The story is that he came from the mountains and....well not much else is known and he never failed in his nightly performances! He dances like crazy all night, he fills the bars with energy and for sure everyone is up either dancing with him or taking photos of him within minutes. Unfortunately my camera started breaking at this stage but a friend has excellent footage of him and his crazy dancing ill try and put a youtube like sometime in the future....manana...manana!

Arambol also had a crazy guy, when we first arrived we were sitting on the beach and this noise started up behind me like a chainsaw, i turned around to see what the noise was and there was a guy with his pants down by his ankles, a skirt on and a cowboy hat holding a radio that was making the noise and he says to me 'its energy' then he shuffled about over to a girl sitting on her own in her bikini, shoving the radio in her face and i could see her bursting out laughing! I met him later and he told me he was from Cuba and his wife and kids had left him i couldnt tell whether he was joking or not.
Later during our time in Arambol there was an open mike session where anyone could get up and play an instrument or sing. Anyway there was himself 'energy man' tuning his guitar, i though wow i bet he's crazy but an amazing musician but unfortunately it wasnt such a surprise, he was totally off his head, snapping the strings, mumbling like someone just woken from a deep sleep, sniffing, gurgling and shoating, and just belting the guitar like someone taking out their anger after a bad break-up. In the end after he'd broken all the strings he just got up and hobbled away clearly upset at his performance.

Learning the scooter!

It was a bit of an effort to pull yourself away from the beach but well worth it. I decided to give riding a scooter a go and have a little adventure! The others headed on while i had a strong coffee with a friend, Tulip to get myself ready for the challenge! I have never driven anything motorised so i was hoping it would be pretty similiar to riding a bike! Well the guy asked had a ridden one before i just said shakilyand unconvincingly ' i have but i cant remember can you show me?' But he didnt really care, so off i went down the road with Tulip on the back, swerving all over the place, nipping the mirrors on parked bikes and finally ending up in a ditch, stuck under the bike laughing our heads off!
I found a field and practiced here for an hour or two falling off quite a bit, the major problems i had was with you cant just put your foot down like a bike, and have to move the whole bike with you. Anyway after that practice we headed off to meet the others. Wow indian driving is crazy and its even more crazy the first time you're driving too! Cows chillin on the street, people driving on any ole side of the road, absolutely no patience and horns on full blast! I was gripping the handles of the bike so ridgidly on this first time i road the bike that my arms ached the next day like i had been working out!

I took the bike many times after that each time becoming more and more confident, even getting so good as using my indicator lights, the indians wondering why the hell waste battery power on that! I began to understand that you beep at everyone in your path to let them know something is coming, its kind of a communication between vehicles not a form of aggression and it makes sence. When there was someone walking ahead of me i just do a little beep, they move in without looking and no worries! I did rent one bike however that the horn kept jamming and i would be going through little villages with this horn roaring nothing i could do! I also drove past an elephant one day...i like that!

Juice bar
In a little village with not much else to offer and i cant remember the name of it, there is a really cool juice bar. By day its pretty chilled out with people from all over the place enjoying freshly squeezed tropical fruits and smoothies, parked scooters from the hippies that come here line the small streets the whole way up the town. We made this place a vital stop whenever we took the scooter for the day. At night the place was FULL of hippies and bikers, russians and the rest of us oh and cows of course. And nothing here but a juice music...and even another juice bar beside it but no this is the place!
It was the first time i'd ridden the scooter at night coming here and i realised the lights only work when you rev the engine so if you're going down a hill and want some light you have to rev the engine and hold the brakes...i think its really not seen as necessary having lights at night! There were also a few 'night owl' cows just chillin on the streets at 3 am!

The little village home of the juice bar

Juice bar at night


Panjim is the capital of Goa and was soooo so amazing i couldnt imagine just spedning all my time on the beach and never have seen this! It had been colonised by the Portugese so the city was really portugese looking, it did remind me of walking through an old part of spain. It seemed so calm and together, unlike other indian cities, it obviously had a lot more money than other parts of india also.

The main cathedral is painted 'toothpaste' white and you can see it clearly from the old part. The guys who had been sailing for months would arrive in Panjim, and make the climb from the port to the church to give thanks that they made it alive before heading on to the older part of Goa.
This church was STUNNING

Does this look like india to you?

Slightly scary statue of Holy mary on the outside of the church

Little girls who wanted a pic despite their frowns!

Yeah....i needed those instructions!

Indian Spelling
I dont know if i mentioned this already but the indians spelling for anything from road signs to menus is HILARIOUS! No effort whatsoever is made to spell a word correctly and sometimes menus can be a really entertaining half hour read, or kind of like some word game where you have to guess what it is! This is an example of one slightly mis-spelt word on a menu any ideas what this is??!

Also available here is:
Conflute and milk (cornflakes)
Mashrooms, hush potatoes, maxican food, conflex (cornflakes spelt wrong later in the menu!) brown saus, horney, porridadge etc etc this menu was damn funny! This is just something thats all over india and i love it! The bottle of water im drinking right now has printed on it best before 6 manths.

The cows

Arambol Beach
After about 2 weeks in Anjuna beach i headed to another beach about 25k north called Arambol and it was the be the best choice! By now i was travelling with 6 other couchsurfers so everyday was jam packed with breakfasts that lasted 3 hours, go exploring for a bit then another 3 hour lunch, maybe a swim then 3 hours for dinner and finally there was always some kind of jamming session on the beach late at night. I totally fell in love with the place.

There were some extremly talented people that flocked to the jamming sessions everynight. Unlike Anjuna the sea didnt come in very far at night so there was plenty of beach and sand to flake out on until the early hours. Some nights i will never forget, once i was lying on the sand looking at the clear sky full of stars while two guys were playing guitar, one singing, a girl jamming on the flute and some guys playing bongos, all of a sudden this guy popped his head beside one of the guys playing the guitar and started rapping all about Arambol beach, everyone was just totally sucked into the circle of music, it was quite trippy and captivating and because it was just jamming and not a particular song it kept changing, by the end everyone was singing along this new song. I loved that we were such a tiny group of people all alone on the empty beach, i only knew the people i was with, but by the end of the night i felt really connected to everyone, and this was generally the story of each night at arambol which for me was the absolute perfect ending to my time in Goa.

Very randomly one day we met a guy who asked us if we wanted to go to Jaipur and be extras in a bollywood movie, the deal seemed good, we got good pay, free transport, food and accomodation and ohmygod the push we all needed to leave Goa! We had just the night to decide and one by one all of us decided ok why not! It was a great time spent in Goa and i sure could have spent longer there but 30 young wans all coming from Goa could only mean a lot more fun! Bollywood here we come!
PS it is quite a long journey see map!2000 miles or there abouts. The next morning we were up at 6am to catch the estimated 22 hour train...i couldnt wait for the fun and the chance to get some sleep in on the train!