I was a lost young man when I found this city. It wasn’t much of a city really. More of a town. The streets were cleaner and the cops smiled at you and you could smoke anywhere you wanted. It even had a river. And a ferry boat across it. Casinos on the water. Hookers on the street. Bars everywhere you look. Bars next to schools. Bars next to petrol pumps. Welcome to Panjim, sponsored by Kingfisher. I had to catch a ferry everyday to go to the other side of town. Everyday I would pile into the blue rusty monster, like a little kid getting on a boat for the first time, amongst fifty odd people, bikes, scooters and the occasional car. Tired, sweaty and wet at the same time, inching closer towards the exit as the shore came in sights like a tired old army bound to attack a beach. Thick horizontal rain would then pour down, soaking your underwear, rocking the boat. I would pass my time imagining an accident. The monstrous boat suddenly would seem tiny. How windy must it be for a boat full of fifty people to upturn? I would look around me and wonder if the others were thinking the same things. People, clutching everything they could reach, turning their heads against the rain, holding out communal umbrellas, waiting for the little blue boat to stop moving. Waiting waiting waiting. Checks to clear, weddings to attend, offices to reach, memos to read, cigarettes to smoke, prices to haggle, bosses to kill, waiting. All that while periodically sneaking a look at that wet ass in the taut white skirt in the corner. Thank God for that ass. The incoming shore would vanish in a spray of mist and rain. And someone deep inside the heart of the suffering boat would calmly light up a joint.
I was staying out of a small apartment which belonged to the artist I was working under. A Three rooms and a terrace with an open kitchen. Sparse old furniture. A drawer which looked like a chocolate bar. I felt lonely at night. I had some whiskey Krithika had left me, but I didn’t feel like drinking. My only friend here was an eighteen year old Nepalese kid called Vinod. He had never seen Nepal though. And yet he still had the accent. I found that funny. He worked at the coffee shop next to my place and taught me pool after dinner every night. The first night after we were done and I was picking up my jacket, a step out of the door, he said, “Goodnight, Boss.” And he said that to me every night since then. I would come back home and smoke a lot of cigarettes, try to play the guitar, try to write. I couldn’t. In the end I would just stay up smoking in the dark, looking at the godforsaken furniture around me till I was so tired that I slept.