Tuesday, October 21, 2014

[The Life of Shaun #501] On the move

It's been a whirlwind few weeks. I left my home of more than six years in London's East End for a stab at life in Kentish Town, in the bucolic North of London.  But that was not to come until after a stay in Poplar with Mary Keany, followed by my first big holiday of the year.

Through the whole kerfuffle that moving turned out to be, Marco and I were officially homeless for a month between old and new flats.  Jan took on Marco, and I fell under the care of Mary Keany, who also left Shadwell the same day to a bigger, newer flat.  She wined and dined me until she flew off in upper class to South Africa for work, and then I departed for India.

My third trip to the subcontinent was less about exploring and more about relaxing.  With work frenetic, the move, homelessness, I wanted one of those lie-on-the-beach-with-cocktails-and-massages kind of holidays.  I still had a night in my beloved Mumbai coming in and going out, but most of the week was spent in the tourist haven of Goa.

There was just one problem: Goa was closed.  I knew I was there off-season, but I expected that to mean that I had fewer choices, not next to none.  In Panaji, the state capital, everything was open, but all the glossy images you see of Goa are along the beaches North and South of the city.

One thing I've learned in my travels is you can't be married to your plans, and I took this to heart.  I spent one night in the lovely beachside hotel.  But, everything being a 45-minute taxi ride away, I cut it short and returned to the capital, where I could at least get massages and dinner, to finish out my stay.

It turned out to be a really enjoyable stay.  Panaji has a lot of character (outside its business core), is very manageable, has plenty of good restaurants and a top-rate massage parlour.  I ate well, relaxed, and learned the pleasant lesson that refexology massages two days in a row is suffient, I don't need the third.

Rested and restored, I had one more night in Mumbai, and then it was off to New York for Natasha's 40th birthday weekend.  She had, of course, a fabulous weekend planned: high-end seafood Friday, bohemian Brooklyn bar with beer cheese Saturday.  With those, and my standard Sunday lunch at Pongsri Thai on Sunday, I saw most of my New York friends on my breeze through town.  

But Monday morning it was time to come back to London, and to my new flat.  Marco kindly unpacked all the common property, and ensured that I had a made-up bed to come home to.  We're still settling in and figuring out the storage situation (the flat's about the same size as the last but, being a conversion, is very short on storage), but I am loving the area, and the commute's not too bad.

Next on the docket is my birthday extravaganza, my first trip to South America: São Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.  If I have to turn 25, I'm going to enjoy it!


Mumbai has a schnazzy new world-class airport.  It's somehow a little less exciting, after a long flight, stepping into an airport that could be in any Western capital.  You don't really feel like you're all that far from home.  I missed the chaos and shambles that first greeted me.

My view - for one day only.

Agreeable, and open-for-business, Panaji.

It was ass hot in Goa.  When, from the shaded terrace of my hotel, I saw Indians using umbrellas to block the sun, I knew it was bad.  I had no shame in mimicking them with portable shade.

Old Goa, the original colonial capital, is about fifteen minutes inland, and is peppered with hadsome piles.

I couldn't help but wonder: if they had spent the money on improving the locals' lives, rather than yet another grand cathedral, would the Portuguese have lasted a bit longer in India?

Goan wisdom.

At the mall in Panaji, the runner-up choice for my birthday plans.

While staying with Rachel in Hoboken, I visited my alma mater, Stevens Institute of Technology.  I don't think I've been there since I graduated.  I have to say, it's a really great little campus.  And the view across the way can't be beat.  It's so good, I saw it twice!

Rachel and I giving Todd the good lovin' in Brooklyn.

Shaun H. Coley ~ Kentish Town
 ~ Camden ~ London NW5 ~ UK ~ shaunism.blogspot.com

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