Travels with V
India: Mumbai & Goa
Spices and Yoga
Goa part three
But the beach life makes us restless and one day we hitch a ride to Tanshikar Spice Farm, an organic farm that primarily produces spices, but also welcomes visitors, offers rooms for rent and serves lunch.
The taxi takes us a couple of kilometers inland, west into the hills called West Ghat. It’s a journey through a quite different landscape, low bushy forests and step hillsides with jungle vegetation. We see a couple of monkeys and a mongoose that crosses the road just in front of the car.
At the farm we are welcomed and taken for a round trip by the owner Chinmay. He is a passionate and funny and educational man that knows everything about spices, their history and the process to produce them. And delivers it all with a glint in his eye. He’s a slender but very athletic man who easily climbs ten meters up a betel nut tree. And he’s an evangelist for organic farming.
One thing Chinmay says makes me stop in my steps. It was his grandfather who started the farm by planting coconut trees which was necessary to create the right conditions for spices. But the coconut trees had to grow for twenty years to be big enough to give shelter to the betel nut trees that act as hosts for spices. These betel nut trees need to grow for ten years to be big enough to do the job, and after that the spices could be planted. And after an additional couple of years be harvested.
So his granddad got nothing from the spicefarm, except hard work and debts. He did it so his grandchildren would benefit from his work. What an amazing perspective of the development of an enterprise! What a difference from our industrialized world of today and it’s craving for quick profits.
After the round trip we were treated with a delicious Goan lunch with dal, beans in curry, green bananas in curry, bread and rice and pickled vegetables, figs, tomatoes and other stuff. Heavenly!
In Goa as well as in many other places we have visited dogs are everywhere. In the heat of the day they sleep in any shadow they can find. On the beach, under boats, in the street under a tree. At night they roam the village fighting each other and looking for food. Most of them are probably homeless, and especially the female dogs seem to be sick. – All dogs here look sad, V says. And she’s right.
Another day we travel across the whole length of Goa up to Assagao, not far from the old hippie beach at Anjuna. Assagao is a green settlement on a mountainside, many houses are grand villas with parklike gardens.
V has an appointment here with K, a woman that once lived in our home town in Sweden. Now she’s in charge of Purple Valley Yoga Retreat where guests can stay and take Yoga classes, swim in the beautiful pool and eat gorgeous meals in the vegan restaurant.
K tells us a story about a miserable child’s life in a town where she’s a foreigner, fragile and hated. She has anorexia and as she grews older, a vicious drug addiction. But she survives somehow and finds work in the travel business. She comes to India and tries Yoga, which becomes her lifesaver. She’s now into Ashtanga Yoga which is extremely physically demanding, and this gives her the control tools she needs.
And now she’s here managing Goa’s oldest Yoga retreat, and Sweden is not her home country anymore. It’s India, or maybe England, where she studies and her boyfriend lives.
Going back to the south from Assagao we pass a couple of memorials, the hippie fleamarket at Anjuna and the lost city of Old Goa, where a wicked saint lies in a glass coffin. Next up!