Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blue Corner in Goa...

Under the advice of my knowledgeable friend Lena, the five of us have been staying at the Blue Corner, a Hawaiian style guest house right on the beach of Benaulim, in South Goa. We sleep in "Coco Huts", as they describe them: rooms with bathrooms with walls made of woven palm leaves. It is quite beautiful. Here are some pictures of the beach and of Blue Corner:

(The empty beach...we are also here just as the season is ending.)

(Blue Corner's restaurant...great spot for breakfast and drinks in the evening.)

(The courtyard. Raj, the young owner of Blue Corner, has a total of 10 huts arranged around a rectangular space of sand, where he has started to grow some palms. Blue Corner has only been around for 3 years.)

(Inside our hut in the afternoon light.)

Our days have finally slowed down after the initial sightseeing, and it has taken a full day to get used to actually relaxing on the beach. It is not hard doing, as you might imagine. Apart from the beauty of the beach and the Arabian Sea, both of which extend endlessly in front of the Blue Corner, there are a definitely a few problematic things. Firstly, the 30 or so "beach girls" from Karnataka who come spend 8 months in Goa (away from their home villages) in order to make some money by selling sarongs, cheap jewelry, and other nick-nacks to tourists like ourselves. Most of these girls have heart wrenching stories that they readily share in order to get you to buy something. It's hard to negotiate one's buying... I have felt very bad for refusing to buy from a girl named Anita, who is the only source of income for the family of 3 younger brothers and two parents (according to Anita as well as some of the other girls- who are all from the same village- there is no work in their village in Karnataka.) At the same time, I can't help but wonder about their stories and not imagine that they have carefully tailored their saleswoman personas according to what they have learnt to work with the Western tourist.

David and I have discussed the question of somehow "giving back" to India after our trip, and it seems like the most practical way of doing so is to do a little research and find a good organization that works on a local level for change. We are particularly interested in anything that deals with women, children, and education - whether it's regarding health, economics, the arts, or anything else. If you have any suggestions, we look forward to your thoughts.

Another, smaller, issue here in Benaulim is the food, which has proven pretty heavy (LOTS of coconut milk) and not so easily digestable. David and I have already caught ourselves longing for's too early in the trip to do so!

Although I am enjoying the relaxed pace of staying by the beach, as well as the clean ocean air (what a relief after the incredibly polluted Mumbai!) I am already looking forward to our next travels. We are planning to move up to Northern Goa in the next couple of days, where we should find a younger crowd of tourists, as well as raves, chill out music, and general partying... we'll see how that goes! After that, we will be moving to the region of Karnataka.

A presto,


  1. sounds so lovely and restful though food is a bummer. try to buy your own salads and soak them in treated water. I am surprised the restaurants arn't catering to tourists like yyourselves push them a little!
    on the women on the beach, why don't you try to connect with the local school and see if you can't help a child or promise to send supplies etc. we have always found giving to something is better than just putting in the hands of those who beg. perhaps buying groceries for Anita might help you find out if her needs are real.
    love all the pictures and i am still very envious the snow is deep and very, very cold here. Jaki and rinchen send their love to you both.

  2. I hope you two are having fun! My girlfriend Alison is Goan, though she's only been there once, and we hope to go sometime. Bravo for taking the time to try to figure out the complicated issue of helping people, and thanks for blogging.

  3. my husband i and i stayed at the blue corner 2 years ago: we then went to karnataka and saw the home villages of the beach girls: they do indeed live on the edge of disaster. try asking the girls what they would do to earn money and how much they would earn - it's the rice fields or the beach....they earn less than 70 rupees per day in the paddis and if they are ill (or anyone else in their family) then disaster strikes. they have no money to pay for drugs and no money coming in to buy food. many of these girls are in forced marriages and support lazy husbands and their in-laws. many of the mothers-in-law beat the girls, so they are glad to escape and live at the beach. we made friend with several of the girls, heard their stories and looked after their heavy bundles in our hut at nights - this saved them carrying them down the beach to the village where they all lived. it also meant that they didn't hassle us to buy things during the day - they regarded us as friends. we learned an awful lot about normal life in rural india and surely this is the point of travelling? (as is getting used to different diets - NOT persuading places to cater for tourists....) :-)