The strip light was about three inches from my eyeball. The mosquitoes were biting the soles of my feet – the bastards. The metal ropes holding the bunk were rusting. An elderly Indian gentlemen was dying of emphesema in the bed below. And I was sharing that 12 inch wide, grimy bunk with a small child. For twelve hours.
Luckily Alula slept for ten of them. If I had been by myself I would have taken three dozen valium washed down with a litre of vodka and prepared myself thataway for unconsciousness. As it was I spent the night lying on one side spooning Lula and trying not to roll eight feet to the dirt encrusted floor below whilst simultaneously trying to stop the itch that had set the sole of my foot alight and to keep an eye out for cockroaches crawling over us. I didn’t sleep much.
John slept like a baby.
The next morning we arrived back in Notting Hill by sea, otherwise known as Patnem, Goa. I was greeted with huge enthusiasm by the dvd seller Suresh and by the guy who makes the cakes – both pleased that their income was set to receive a boost for the month of March by about 1000%.
The beach is awash with small children with names like Cosmo and Zahara and Alula (I mean seriously?) We never felt at home in Notting Hill which is why John and I have rented a place in the heart of the village – yeah, it’s like Hackney by sea where we are. We have principles and an image to upkeep after all. And that image is not ever going to involve a fur gillet, deck shoes or lunch at Bluebird.
I am terrified though that despite our new postcode someone will think I am from Notting Hill and am not sure how to combat that in a place where it’s too hot to wear skinny jeans and converse. I don’t have big sunglasses (they got eaten by the sea) and I don’t wear kaftans or oversized floppy hats. I do sound posh though. And our child is called Alula. I am not sure that I am differentiating myself enough. The only solution is to take John with me wherever I go. Does the trick.
But anyway onto our house…2 bedrooms, a living room, a veranda, a kitchen and living room. And a fridge. Did I mention the fridge? For the first time in weeks I have a home and a fridge which I have already stocked with cold kingfishers and wine. Yes wine. All for the bargain price of 600rps a night (that’s the house, though the alcohol did cost the same again). That’s about £8.50. Think about it, that means you could pay rent of about £250 a month to live a minute from the beach and the chai shop (that sells samosas for 4p). Can’t do that in Notting Hill.
Also the nursery is two minutes walk away and the tuk tuk stand about ten paces to the left so it sort of feels like having my own chauffeur service.
I am not leaving here.
And that’s nothing to do with not wanting to get back on a train again.