Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Off the Island

After spending the whole day on two buses and a train, we've arrived in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's capitol. We've got a cheap but adequately neat room at Hotel Gulmarg (where apparently call-girls are available). We just had a lovely meal at The Green House, a garden terrace restaurant. Everything seemed to have at least a little mint, coconut or coriander in it. We finished things off with fresh hand-churned ice cream. Yumm.


When we first arrived in Diu, something very strange seemed to be going on. We walked down the main drag ... in silence. All the shops were closed; the place was deserted. Diu used to be occupied by the Portugese, and although they aren't around anymore, the Indians adopted their habit of taking an afternoon siesta. So from 1 - 4 everyday everyone goes home for lunch and a nap.

Something else you should know about Diu is that it is the only place in the province where drinking (alcohol) is legal. This means that many Gujarati tourists come to enjoy the beaches and get drunk. We encountered many men with poor English, insistent on getting a photo of us. Although this is not unique to Diu, something about our bright white flesh glimmering in the Arabian Sea caused them to sit on the shore, watch and wait for us for great lengths of time. Speaking of glimmering in the sea, the sea food in Diu was super fresh and delicious. Tuna, shark fish, pomfret, prawns, king fish, calamari ... scrumptious. (We hear that a lot of Europe's seafood is imported from Veraval, a fishing town a couple hours from Diu.)

In contrast to the men of Diu, which are enough to give my dad the creeps, the women of Diu were some of the most wonderful yet. (I have had such amazing experiences with Indian women. Quite often they just involve a smile.) In Diu I feel I made friends with two women. One was this lady who sold fruit in the market. There was something special about her; she had a kind smile that knew everything and saw the humour in life. I speak no Gujarati, and the only English words she knows are "thank youuuuu", but we were always happy to see each other and somehow we managed to do business together. She always slipped something extra in my bag. My other friend worked at a restaurant called La Dolce Vita that Pete and I liked to eat at. She and her husband had a little white puppy called Jacky that loved to play. The woman was slim, young and pretty, and had little English, but her warmth and giggles told me that she liked me. On our last day in Diu, the day I finally got a sari, we went to dine there and to say goodbye. The young woman was very pleased to see me in traditional dress and she thoroughly fixed up my amateur attempt at the complicated folds and tucks that make a sari beautiful.

Pete dubbed Diu "a quirky paradise". I think that fits perfectly.


Steph-Joy said...

oh lovely! This post really made me feel nice inside.

Mike said...

good tale. it seems your journey will leave more than just this blog behind to commemorate it!

donna said...

What colour is your sari? Send photo please.

Steph said...

Excellent and thanks, guys. The sari is light greeny/turquoise colour.