Coming to Goa for 'None of the Things Lonely Planet Can Offer Me'

by Robert Hirschfield Oct 22, 2009
Robert Hirschfield digs through the layers at Baga, Goa.

Biting into my Mediterranean sandwich at Baba Au Rum (feta cheese, black olives, sun dried tomatoes spilling from the sides of French bread), I think of the party I went to last night at one of the Yoga centers around Baga.

A dressed-in-white party. No exceptions. Everywhere I looked, bleached figures were floating across the grounds like sleep walkers. It is easy to be cynical about Westerners in Goa.

I joke to Aimee Ginsburg, a Westerner from Israel: “A lot of people looking for the perfect spiritual beach.”

She is not amused. She has reason not to be. Israeli Goans, relative newcomers, are lassoed inside lazy clichés: burnt out cases, exiles from an endless war.

Baga’s winter guests, often heavyset blokes from the UK, here for the warm sun and drinks at the beach shacks, or maybe even visits with the healer Patrick at Nani and Rani’s, sail innocently beneath my radar. What is transitory, like this author eating his Mediterranean sandwich among Baga’s old-timers, does not demand to be taken seriously.

I am happy, momentarily, to be part of the legendary weave of Westerners in India’s smallest state, only recently pried loose from Portugal. (Indian Goans are said to see us more as a fungus than a weave.)

I see myself as exempt from the normal clichés that swirl around the spirit junkies and beach slaves. I have come to Goa for none of the things Lonely Planet can offer me. I admit I say this smugly.

The woman who lives two houses down from me is the reason I am here. Outside her house is her blue motor scooter with its head tilted, as if trying to make up its mind about something.

Community Connection

Please submit notes from the road to david [at]

For another interesting perspective on travelers in India, check out this piece at BNT by Rolf Potts.

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