Capturing Elusive Indian Silence

It has been noted by many that it’s hard for me to just be still. Even my version of “still” requires a degree of moving, nodding, or shuffling. My good friend Holly and I have had an ongoing bet for at least 5 years where I am going to show her that I can just do nothing for an extended period of time. Luckily, the stakes aren’t high, because I have yet to prove it’s true! I have adjusted my life in many ways to adapt and keep moving. I avoid going to movies that are over two hours long. I selected a career in which it is work-appropriate to be animated all the time. I surround myself with people who are entertaining, like to be entertained, and who appreciate a bit of active enthusiasm. So…what exactly would I need to keep me quiet and still for two whole days…it’s simple…Monsoon season!

I left New Delhi with dreams of a few days exploring the beaches of Goa. Being a bit beyond the age of typical backpackers in Goa, I was excited to see that my hotel in Darjeeling had a remote location in Goa. The pictures looked amazing, so I booked it – without really checking the map of Goa or knowing much about the layout of town.

I arrived at the airport, found a taxi, and told the driver to take me to the Mayfair Hotel. After a one hour drive north, in the pouring rain, he pulled up in the center of a tiny town- in front of a hotel that would be lucky to be awarded a 1/2 star designation. Now I am not fussy when it comes to accommodations… although it would be hard to tell from this trip, but I have a few hotel guidelines including no visible bugs and a bathroom of my own. This hotel would not pass that test. When I pulled up to this Mayfair Hotel, my heart sank a bit because I remembered the glorious webpage photos and knew we had driven to the wrong place. There were no beach chairs at this location…heck, they didn’t even have Internet service behind the front desk.

I showed them my reservation and we discovered that I was staying at the Mayfair RESORT…an hour south of the airport I just left. The driver seemed a bit discombobulated and had me talk to his manager on the phone. Yes…I would triple the originally quoted fare because we were driving for three hours instead of one. Yes…I would have paid anything to find my slice of heaven and respite called the Mayfair Resort. We drove for those two hours in monsoon style rains that dripped water into the car. A remote resort is nice…unless you are looking for it at 10:00 pm in the pouring rain with a tired taxi driver. But, he used what I have learned to be Indian GPS…just stop along the way and ask random drivers where to go next.

Maybe the cheap and beautiful room should have been a clue that people don’t visit here during monsoon season. After two days, I have encountered one other pair of guests. At every turn, I have groups of men getting my tea, asking if I need anything, or just aiming to do something to help. I went by the pool and sat near a covered table and relaxed on the canopied bed. A massage broke up the day and when it came time for dinner, I tried something that I never do… ordered room service. My meal was huge and less than $10. I woke up this morning and got dressed to head into town. That is, until I opened my curtain and the view from my window stopped me in my restless tracks. I thought of all the blustery Chicago days where I would kill for palm trees and decided to put my swimsuit back on. Day two of silence and I am counting the moments to my arrival in Calcutta. I have reorganized my suitcase…twice, am reading from two books, and am writing this unnecessarily long blog post. Yes…I cannot do nothing for very long! But, I am thankful for the monsoon season that gave me a few days of rest.

I leave for Calcutta in 18 hours (who’s counting) and will arrive tomorrow evening where I’ll be picked up at the airport and driven to my next destination – a homestay for five days with an Indian family. I am hoping to return the favor for some of the kindness I have been shown in India by volunteering to teach children living in slums or on the streets through an organization named Smile NGO. Praying that I can make some impact in a short time and anxious to use up some of this bottled Goa energy.

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