Leaving Ahemabad I could not help but notice, for the first time, street tension and violence showing its ugly face.
Initially it was the police being heavy handed the previous night with tuk tuk drivers who then fled really quickly. Police had started hitting their vehicules with the long thick sticks they have here. Similar things seem to be happening again this morning, but also they focused on the beggars, like Guliani did in NY.
Sadly Guratj is an area known for violence and riots. But more disheartening was the news coming from Mangalore, a growing city in the South. Local women had been attacked in Mangalore by a right wing extremist group in the name of "tradition". Their crime was to be in a pub. Intolerance is a stain that seems to be spreading fast in this country. There seems to be a rise in religious bigotry, in the extreme intolerance of the fringe of society in India. Thankfuly, the public outcry has led to the arrest of almost 20 people including the head of the group.
India has a long tradition for tolerance, for the integration of its people and their religions. With sporadic episodes of hatred across the different groups, the last 60 years have not delivered the balkanization forseen but Churchill or Kipling. As the country celebrated its 60th Republic Day and remembered the struggle for Independence and its heroes, most of its people see themselves as Indians, and are proud of it.
I have just woken up on the train. I actually managed to sleep really well, and no sign of Delhi Belly.
Yesterday I binged on lots of Indian food from the people walking up and down the train selling. But this time I had the help from our new mother hen. The couple that were travelling with us ensured that the fruit we bought was ripe, that I got the right amount of rice cakes and curry and that we were not paying too much. She was such a lovely lady, though constantly belched away.
We have now reached tropical India. As the sun cut through the morning mist I enjoyed the view over the beaufiful mangrove, the light reflecting on the marshes, and the smell of the tropics.
After 21 hours on a train we have eventually reached the main station in Goa.
I dont know why, but until I started planning this trip I thought Goa was an island. A former Portuguese colony till the 70's, the State is a lot more laidback that most of India. Lower duties mean that alcohol is a lot cheaper and since the late 60's people have been coming here to party and chill.
It seems that there are lots of hippies.