eating sushi in india :: day 25 :: conversations with Goa's beach vendors

When I told people I was headed to Goa, they gave me one of two reactions - either a wrinkled nose, suggesting that it wasn’t a very adventurous choice or raised eyebrows, with the warning “It’s relentless the people trying to get you to buy something on the beach. Good luck.”

Today was my first full day here and I headed out for some beach time. (Look, it’s not everyday you can say, “Today I woke up and dipped my toe into the Arabian Sea for the first time in my life.” The beach was happening). And, as predicted, I was approached by at least a dozen different people (I lost count after awhile) trying to sell me all sorts of things - beads, scarves, coconuts, snacks, and towels. I made the rookie mistake of being polite to the first one - so much so that the resort staff had to come over and, presumably, tell her to fuck off. (I couldn’t understand what he was saying - I’m just guessing that was the gist of the conversation.)

After that first one, though, I got the hang of not looking up from my book, keeping my sunglasses on, and generally not engaging with them. However, some were persistent and it was really hard to keep a straight face and not giggle at the attempts to engage me in conversation. Here are some of the gems:

Most started out by noticing my stellar use of sunblock and hats:

“Hi, ma’am. How are you? Your first day here? Where are you from? UK? Russia? You’re very…very white.”

Some took a look at my bare, unpedicured feet and decided there was clearly a sales opportunity there:

“Hi, ma’am. Do you want a manicure? Pedicure? (I shook my head no.) No pedicure? You sure? How about. pedicure? I massage your feed and paint your toes a pretty color.” This particular woman repeated the offer not once, not twice, but THREE times, as if I’d been going through life not knowing what a pedicure was. To be fair, my feet are looking plain and maybe a bit rough, fine, but I didn’t think there were gruesome. I mean, they’re not so bad that my sisters would take one look at them, hand me $30 and politely tell me to just get a goddamn pedicure already.

The best sales pitch of the day, hands down, goes to the lady who tried to sell me on her threading services.

“Hi, ma’am. (Taking a look at my legs.) I do threading. Do you know threading? Hair doesn’t grow back for weeks. Very good. You need. She pointed to my legs. I didn’t look up. She kept going and tried to seal the deal by motioning to her chin, as if she was stroking a beard. I can thread here, too. Yes?

Shut the front door, I thought. Did she just call me out on having some chin ZINGERS? Great. Awesome.

You know what a ZINGER is. They are those random, wonky single hairs that pop up in unexpected places, like the shoulder or chin, or that one weird corkscrew curl in sea of otherwise normal eyebrow hairs.

And no matter what the person desperately wanted me to buy, the offer always ended the same way.

“Okay, ma’am. Later then. We talk later.”

I have a feeling they won’t be back, but if they return, I’ll be braiding the hair on my pasty white legs and stroking my beard when they see me.