Mark is a foreigner.
Mark is a puzzled foreigner – he is in India for the first time.
Mark has lot of questions.
We are in Calangute beach in Goa and Mark asks, “Why is this beach THE BEACH and not the other beach?” The ‘other’ beach is Uttorda beach in South Goa where we are put up for the past 5 days. The ‘other’ beach is quiet, long and clean.
We had given him a glowing heads up on Calangute beach but when he arrives there, he sees an extremely overcrowded and unclean beach. He’s perplexed, hence the question.
“Good question” I reply and search for a credible answer. I tell him, “You can do many water sports here and also go shopping”
“Can’t they make these setups there?”
I don’t have an answer for that.
Mark has been traveling the country for about 10 days and has already visited places like Agra and Varanasi. In Delhi railway station, he had stealthily taken a photo of a sari-wearing elderly woman inadvertently exposing most of her stomach while she slept on a bench. He had shown us the picture and asked “Why do Indians say sari is the most modest and decent dress on the planet?” Then, first time to an Indian beach, he had asked, “Why do Indian women get into water in full dress? Why can’t they wear bikini?” For that an Indian girl had replied, “We don’t have bikini body”.
As we stand gazing at the hysterical crowd in Calangute beach, I know Mark is still expecting an answer from me for his ‘The Beach’ question. But I still don’t have an answer.
“Wow”, Mark exclaims loudly. I turn to find out what has got him so excited all of a sudden. “Oh boy, there’s a cow on the beach!” A white cow is sniffing at a garbage bin.
From his reaction it’s obvious that he has never before seen a cow on a beach. He, being from Czech Republic, doesn’t get to see a cow on a beach – how sad!
He takes out his camera and gets busy photographing the cow. Cow on the beach! Click, click. Cow eating plastic on the beach! Click, click. Soon, the cow is joined by a bull with unusually large, sagging genitals – balls, of course. The playful bull tries to climb on the cow. Photography moment!
A crowd gathers behind Mark. It is a hilarious scene – an excited foreigner taking pictures of a cow on a beach and a crowd of amused Indians taking pictures of the foreigner taking pictures of the cow.
“What does he see in the cow to be so excited?” an Indian man asks his friend, genuinely bemused.
“Maybe it’s the balls” the other replies. Both cover their mouth and giggle.
I imagine the scene when Mark finally reaches home back in Prague:
He would run to his wife and say, “Darling, can you guess what I saw in India?”
Thoughtfully she would say, “Elephants?”
“Na” and he would shout, “A cow on a beach!”
They both would scream and hug each other.
“Really?” she would want to confirm.
“Yes, yes, let me show you the pics…”
In his jubilation, Mark forgets his question – why is this beach, THE BEACH? Or maybe he thinks he has already found the answer.