India is a place of fantasy, fairy tales, contrasts and truth. It will always give you exactly what you need, even if that’s not what you want! It’s my third time here, but the first time that I’ve stayed in one place and worked on location.
My time here in almost over; I have 6 days left and it will have been a total of two and a half months, that I have been living in Anjuna, Goa; India, with my blossoming coaching business in tow. By request, I’ve put together a guide for fellow gypsetters like you, who would love to spend some time in India and work location independently.
I came to India because this place was calling; and I chose Goa, because I believe it to have the best internet connection in India, which is obviously indispensable when you have an online business. I have to say, however, that despite drastic improvements over the past years, the connectivity left much to be desired for. I was often forced to reschedule Skype calls because the Internet simply wasn’t powerful enough to hold decent conversations.
Aside from a few technical issues, India is all that you could possibly fantasize. A truly magnificent place that will show you parts of yourself and the world that you never dreamt to imagine. It’s mystical, magical and enchanting in a myriad of ways, whilst also being dirty, confronting and frustrating from time to time.
India is the place I go to recharge. Here is where I feel the most healthy, free, fulfilled and happy no matter what else is going on I my life.
So, let’s begin:
The Gypset Guide To Working From India
The town of Anjuna became a simple solution, because I discovered upon arrival that I already had quite a few friends in this area. Anjuna is famous for being the original Goa hippie party town, and it seems not much has changed. The older generation of original 60’s and 70’s hippies still come year after year, and now their children, who are all around my age continue the trend. During the ‘season’ which runs from January through to early April, there are electronic trance parties on every single night. If that’s your calling!
Upon arrival I stayed in a modest, simple but very clean and lovely guesthouse called Cortinos Nest on Anjuna Beach Rd, while I scoured for long-term accommodation.
Finding a place is easier than you would think. In developing countries like India, you do things old school: you actually talk to people and ask them! So I told everyone I spoke to that I was looking for a house for two months: the omelette stand in the side of the road, the owners of my guest house, my friends and their landlords. After about a week, I was given a choice: a beautiful old Portuguese-style house that was slightly haunted; or a brand new apartment in a secured apartment block, both in the centre of town.
I was most enamored by the Portuguese house but was gently led in the direction of making more practical choice by my dear friend who was coming to join me a few weeks later. Break-ins and theft are apparently quite common, and the old-style houses aren’t very secure. The apartment block however has very diligent 24hr security, and became something that I was extremely grateful for.
We ended up taking the two bedroom, two bathroom tiled, cool and clean apartment for two months at ₹20,000, which at time of writing is $333 USD. We also have a cleaner, the lovely Kunda, who has been cleaning for a friends mother for 20 years, who comes and cleans once or twice a week for ₹200 per clean, which is roughly $3.60.
There is another way of finding long-term accommodation in Goa however, through a Facebook page (I’m not sure I’m allowed to share this!) called Goa House Rent, where you can ask to join and the organiser will add you if he feels fit. I did check out the ads on here for houses, but ended up finding one faster and cheaper, simply through asking around.
GETTING THERE + AWAY
Obviously it depends where you’re coming from. This time I flew directly from London to Goa’s International Airport, commonly known as Dabolim Airport. The previous time had a connecting flight from Delhi, and then took the train back up on my way out. This time I’m flying up to Mumbai and then onwards from there.
Check out Indian Rail which is subsidized and managed by the Indian government, and works exceptionally well. Some of my favourite life memories are on those trains: surrounded by curious locals, drinking proffered chai at 4am, looking out the window watching the tropical greens swoosh past the open carriage doors and windows.
If you’re planning on living here, which I assume you are, if you’re thinking of working from here, you need to get either a scooter or motorbike. It’s the standard mode of transport here and you’ll need it to get around. You don’t need a license for either, nor a helmet, unless you decide to drive on the highways.
How do we find such vehicle, I hear you ask?
The same way as you find a house: ask around and then barter hard! I ended up getting a scooter for ₹150 per day which is $2.50. Petrol is cheap at ₹100 for two Litres. A full tank of four Litres lasts me at least two weeks depending in how much driving I’m doing.
If you’re concerned about health and safety, India is not the place for you. There are no silly measures taken for such concerns, it is expected that you take full responsibility for your actions, and I personally, like it like this. I think our western society has cotton-wool’ed ourselves far more than necessary.
Accidents happen when we are out of alignment and are a good lesson in being present and aware. Everything in life is a teacher, and avoiding these lessons means your avoiding a valuable part of life. I know. I lost an entire toe-nail in a bike accident on this trip. And I’m grateful for it. It reminded me to remain within my energy-centre and to pay attention to what I’m feeling. It’s how Spirit communicates with me.
Let’s get this clear: this wifi in India is never going to be powerful enough for any serious online work. Emails and basic research are perfectly fine but anything more than that can be challenging. I launched my Gypset Guide to Releasing Rituals program here, after doing the recording at an amazing recording studio in Assagao, and it literally took hours to upload and make it available to sell!
Apart from that, wifi is available to connect to most houses and apartments and many restaurants and cafes.
Vodaphone 3G is also quite good as a reliable internet hub which you can use from your phone and connect your other devices to. To get a 3G sim, just got to your local Post Office or Vodaphone dealer. For ₹800 (around $6) you get a sim with more than enough data to last you a month or two. I use this 3G service as my backup for coaching calls in case the wifi fails or there is a power outage, which are common in this country.
Food is amazing and plentiful in all of India and these are the ones I recommend here in my local area of north Goa:
Sita’s Pure Veg Restaurant is the best, most reliable and cheapest Indian (apart from the street stalls) that you can find. It’s next to the petrol pump on the way out of Anjuna towards Chapora. Ask, and you shall find! The food is always clean and delicious; my favourites being the Veg Thali and the Keralan special Dosa Masala.
Joe Bananas is also amazing Indian food and famous amongst the old hippie set. It’s the perfect place to go for some people watching and a good Bhaji or Dhal. It’s the only place that still serves the amazing, local Goan brown rice which is a speciality around these parts. The strawberry juice here is a staple, as is the fruit salad with curd and a great choice for Fish or Veg Thali. You can find Joe Bananas near Curlies on the beach.
Tintin In Tibet is misleading, confusing and directly opposite our apartment block. It serves Indian, Thai, Japanese, Tibetan, Mexican as well as Israeli fare, all of it standard good. They also happen to be super sweet and deliver directly to our door on nights when we don’t want to face the world! The standout dishes are definitely the Tibetan Momos, the Japanese Stirfry (with or without tuna) and the lovely service.
The German Bakery has been my savior! The best wifi in Goa, this is where I’ve ended up spending much of my working time, especially my Skype calls with clients. They also have delicious health drinks, reliable food and great service. This place is well-known so anyone will be able to direct you.
Artjuna has a lot going on: a busy yoga schedule, a cafe, a library of books to exchange with and an amazing shop; this is the perfect place to while away the hours. The coffee is good and strong, the wifi slow but manageable and the seats and scenery beautiful. I would recommend to eat elsewhere but everything else is worth hanging around for.
Villa Blanche is my favourite ‘special’ place. It’s a 15 min drive out of Anjuna in Assagao and is run by a multi-lingual German woman who serves amazing western style organic fare. On Sundays there is a breakfast buffet from 10am to 3pm which is absolutely amazing, and for ₹700 (about $12) you can sit in the beautifully designed, serene blue-and-white ambience of this European influenced restaurant and while the hours away. I found that these Sunday breakfasts with my girls were very conducive for in-depth sex talk; leaving the ears and cheeks of eavesdroppers red and burning with our un-censored conversations!
Sakana Japanese is the perfect antidote for Japanese cravings. The food is outstandingly good, and really good value for money. It’s located along the strip of restaurants in Chapora and I would recommend the Tuna Teriyaki and the Salmon Avocado rolls every. single. time. Though don’t get both, those servings are truly huge.
Laughing Buddha in Arambol is perfect if you’re up for a road-trip. Arambol is a bustling tourist centre about an hour north in Gos, and the perfect place to head for live gigs. I went to a fantastic Gypsy Jazz gig by The Turbans where I danced my little feet off, as well as a really fun music charity event with too many different acts to count. We stayed a few nights in the beach huts at Laughing Buddha who also happen to serve fantastic Indian fare. Try the Tandoori Chicken, it’s oh-so-good, my mouth waters at the thought! And the Butter Paneer is also delicious.
Double Dutch is the place to go while you’re in Arambol, for their mind-blowing, real, Dutch Apple Pie with Ice Cream. I don’t feel like I need to say more. Just go and get some! And perhaps bring some back for me if you can.
Fusion is on Vagator Beach back towards Anjuna again, alongside several their fancy-type restaurants. They have good steak, simple and comforting pasta, and my personal favourite: their Chocolate Soufflé is to live for!
Anjuna Beach is nothing to write home about; when I go swimming locally, I go to Little Vagator Beach, and sunbathe on the free sun lounges in front of Shiva Place. Shiva is a really sweet man from Manali who always makes sure you’ve got a lemon soda at hand to keep hydrated. He also serves really good wood fired pizza if you happen to feel that way inclined.
Ashwem Beach is much nicer and cleaner, and it’s Sunday tradition to drive up there and spend the day together and watch the stunning sunsets.
Palolim Beach in the far south and Paradise Beach in the far north of Goa are both exceptionally lovely and where I would recommend going for a proper beach day.
DAILY BUDGET, COSTS + MONEY
How much you spend obviously varies on your tastes. Also, remember that Goa is the most expensive state in India, so this is not an average for the country. Where you eat varies the cost greatly, but to average it out this is how my expenses have been looking:
Meals range from ₹100 to ₹300 on average; + 400 to ₹1,000 for fancy places.
Accommodation ranges from ₹400 to ₹1,000 per night for guest houses.
Long-term rent as mentioned above is ₹335 per night.
Scooter hire plus petrol probably works out at ₹175 per day.
I would say that I spend about ₹1,000 per day which is just under $20, including general life extras, except for gifts and special expenditures.
AAAAAND SOME BONUSES!!:
Ramakrishna Incense in Mapusa is a must do! Ramakrishna makes his very own, very special brand of incense; it’s the most amazing stuff you will ever try to buy. As they say, once you try this stuff, you’ll be hooked for life. I always buy mountains of it, and seem to give it away faster than Ramakrishna can make it. You’ll find him in the Mapusa market square, just ask around!
Do the Dentist: India is the perfect opportunity to get dental work done. It’s cheap, efficient and very, very good. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been to the dentist since 2009; the last time I was in India, because, quite frankly, I refuse to go anywhere else! The dentists here are mostly trained overseas, by good-quality institutions and come back to India to practice. Not only that, they are also very complimentary and make me feel like I have the most amazing teeth in the universe. I had a general check-up, clean and polish at St Anthony’s Hospital near Anjuna Petrol Pump, for ₹600; just under $11.
Get Pierced: Also in Mapusa, you can go to any jeweler you like the look of, and get your body pierced for ₹50 ($1) per hole, anywhere on your body. I’ve been wanting to put a few more holes in my ears, and very happily found some really cute studs. Very practical Indian style, once I had picked out the studs that I wanted, my lovely jeweler sharpened the ends of them, and simply pushed them through my ears where I wanted them, directly. That’s without sanitizing and disinfecting them. Ha! I have a great trust in my body, so it’s not something that bothers me, but some of you might want to be more careful. He then cut the ends so that they’re not poking into me, and a few weeks later they look beautiful and have healed perfectly. I went swimming in the ocean with the new piercings every day without problems, and remembered to twist them and clean them with disinfectant and coconut oil on a daily basis.
Markets: I am slightly obsessed with markets and definitely recommend the Mapusa Market which is on every day, but especially on Fridays when everyone comes to town to sell their wares. Second to that the Anjuna Flea Market which is on every Wednesday from 9am to 6pm is fantastic though quite touristic. I always find amazing treasures here. Then there’s the famous Night Market near Anjuna on Saturday nights, but I really hate it. Too busy, too many bright lights, really expensive and full of idiots. Oops sorry! Did I just say that? I meant innocent, naive bus-loads of tourists from Russia and England. Not my scene at all.
This trip to Goa has been beautiful, interesting, different, and exactly what I needed. It’s changed a lot, as everything in life does; the Russians have overtaken the Israeli demographic and it’s sad to say that there’s plenty of racism and no one seems to appreciate this change in travelers with many Indians and annual visitors complaining about their rudeness. That’s just the way of life, as trends change and different people are attracted to different places for different reasons.
I was actually thinking about the deeper reasoning of this the other day. India seems to attract people that need healing: first, it was the Israelis who have just come out of their 3 year stint in the armed forces, full of aggression and anger, and seeking freedom and reconnection with their emotions. Now it’s the Russians who also have just been set in free in terms of their political and financial situation and have a very aggressive and strong cultural background that is seeking to be balanced out. There is certainly something about India, that draws this energy to itself, and is perhaps necessary to balance out what this country represents. Nature is always seeking balance and will attract and reject whatever is necessary to instill harmony.
Acceptance of what is, is a beautiful lesson to learn, and the name of the game here in India!
I look forward to the next time India calls my name, hopefully with much more traveling around and exploring new places involved.