The ABC of crazy, weird and outlandish!
Travel is all about people, places, purses and peonies (not exactly in that order) but yes for me a place is lifeless if the people are not lively, friendly or entertaining enough. People and places add flavor and vibrance to a travel narrative; they enliven the experience by taking it to cantankerous levels where moments, memories and photographs get rolled into one big crazy town story. One particular character that keeps cropping up is the ubiquitous peddler or the 'crazies' you meet whose shenanigans are hilarious and noteworthy; they always make for a great dinner table anecdote. In my travels I've come across a few gems who are probably still around selling their skills, wares, souls and what not. My favorite are listed below.
The quientessential massage guy
Pasha massage therapist / heavenly bodies expert from BagaBeach Goa
Yes, he's that guy stalking all the beaches with his constant refrain; 'Massage, massage, I give you good time.' Pasha is usually found luntering around Baga, Goa offering his massage services to young and old alike, to anyone for that matter. He carries this little black diary that's full of praises and feedback from satisfied customers. But nothing beats this line when he says 'I send you to heaven in fifty rupees and back." Yes, a trip to heaven and back all in fifty rupees! He's probably seventy now but I'm quite sure he's hale and alive and still combing the beaches in North Goa.
The charming shopkeeper
Javed Carpet Salesman/ Manfriday/ Timely escort
He's that guy who runs a souvenir or carpet store and is generally preying on nubile, vulnerable blonde tourists. Tanned and handsome Javed is always cheerful with a 1000 watt smile especially when he spots young blonde girls wandering around his Kashmiri souvenir shop. With his bronzed body and claims of 'doing' top Bollywood heroines Javed is the man to seek if you're dazed and lost in Goa. His tagline is better than Pashas I think, "I give you good time coz, I didn't born yesterday.' Also, if you are not interested in his souvenirs or carpets then there is always the rave party he can whisk you too on his deadly million CC Enfield Bullet.
The original peddler
Rani-travelling gypsy and peddler
She's the original peddler selling her wares in a huge sack and carrying it from one destination to another. You can't miss her from a mile since she's so shiny and glittery in her lomani costume and you'll definitely recognize her by her different colored slippers, one pink and the other yellow respectively. She beats other peddlers on the beach coz she's snarky, sharp and barks at you with a really cool Brit accent and orders you to stop doing whatever you're doing and yea listen up to her. She sometimes slips into an Aussie accent and claims to 'repair your broken heart.' Very multi-faceted indeed!
The Far out tout
Pappu Singh Jaisalmer
He'll promise you the best safari, the coolest hotel and the cheapest shop to buy souvenirs.
Pappu Singh Jaisalmer, yes that's his name; is a popular Camel safari tout in Rajasthan. He comes running to wherever you are, erupts from absolutely nowhere and promises the best bhang ever. His catch line is quite commendable.
'No toilet no shower just full blast power.' But I must admit Pappu did get us a really cool hotel in Jaisalmer which was inside the fort and overlooked the golden city.
The ubiquitous beach boy
Tulu- Bombay dude, wears black all the time, orange hair
His real name Feroze also referred to as 'Ferrous' by laid back Scottish travelers. Tulu promises many things; among them are full body pleasure massage, small but meaningful roles in c grade Bollywood film and best techno music from the Goa trance circuit. His line is quite clichéd "I give you whatever you want.' He doesn't care how old you are, what gender you belong to whether you're human or alien, beast or animal he'll just creep onto you and become this flesh eating bacteria you can't get rid off.
The jaded DJ
Barry One -51 year old DJ from U.K
He's that Disc Jockey who's always talking about the next party, generally carrying passes/tickets with him, guiding you on how to score the latest drugs and conjuring stories of the yore when everything was 'Beatles and wood stocky.' Barry is such a cool guy, infact he's so cool he always carries pictures of his recently purchased cottage in Anjuna beach that has pictures of his dining, living, bedroom and his very humongously huge bathrooms. He never ever forgets to mention that he has both 'Hot and Cold shower' in both his bathrooms. Wow! That is so damn kewl!
The crazy tourist
Carlie (Real name withheld) for obvious and logical reasons
Carlie is usually found in Nine Bar Vagator with six inch joints. She married a Burmese Refugee by promising him a New Zealand passport. She then ran off to South Goa and purchased a Saint Bernard and named her Bindiya after sizzling seventies styled Indian Vamp actress. Later we heard from a fairly reliable source that the Burmese refugee never got his visa and has hired goons to find Carlie after she vanished abruptly with Bindiya to the Himalayas.
Joe, Astral traveler from Orange, South Australia
He's that traveler who meditates anywhere and has a lean Yoga toned frame. Claims to have traveled in the astral universe and also caught his wife cheating on him. Also a Subway singer in Sydney's Central; brooding star and Kurt Cobain look alike. Claim to Fame; can sing continuously for seven hours. You can spot in any random bar in Palolem beach in South Goa.
Five Thousand, From LA, drummer of Alt rock band Ugly Kid Joe
And sometimes and those times can be few, you could actually bump into a random celebrity of the cool and crazy sorts.Yeah! It was so uber to meet Five Thousand a member from a famous grunge band. The Ugly Kid Joe members were so down to earth and chilled. l met him in Nilaya Goa, Has the maximum piercings have ever seen on anyone and his line: Call me Five! Then hands you a five.
Baz and Naz-( Short for Bart and Nazia) The travelers I met at Salvation Army
They were crazy couple you inevitably end up having some random adventure with.One night , Baz got into tiff with underworld, road side hashish dealer, then got involved in street fight, rescued his gal Naz from hooligans then clicked photos of super shocked bus passengers gaping at us, and then all of us went to Taj coffee house, where Baz narrated the episode to bewildered Air Slovenia crew and stewards. After which we retreated to the Pink palace dance bar where Naz was trifle irritated that dancer was flirting with Baz and Baz even offered his left cheek for a flirty slap. I was so pleased with all the free entertainment handed down on a platter.