The end of a Goan love affair

After almost two years, this week’s newsletter is my farewell missive, so I suppose I should go out in coruscating style.

It has been an extraordinary time living in Goa, a place I first visited more than 25 years ago, a fact that I tried to deny for all the time I lived there. Of course, things had changed, but so had I; there was no point in looking back.

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Serial-killer Charles Sobhraj loses final appeal

The Nepalese Supreme Court has finally upheld the murder verdict on Charles Sobhraj, the Asian serial-killer known as The Serpent, for the murder of a young woman he committed in 1975.

It was a surprise decision because the case seems to rest on blurred photocopies and books and films, neither of which are permissible as evidence, but it looks like the conclusion of a 35-year case and a story that is more extraordinary than any movie.

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Monty’s Indian Outlook – Issue 78

Later this morning I will be strangled by a Hindi gangster called Mr Biscuit and thrown onto a steel conveyor-belt and into an incinerator.

As might be surmised from the paragraph above my role as a Russian drug dealer in the movie Dum Maro Dum is coming to an end and unlike James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever I don’t get saved by the CIA; I am burnt to a crisp.

And believe me, those stories of actors doing their own stunts, in Bollywood, it is not a choice. Last night after 14 hours of learning lines of Russian dialogue, acting and a long day, the Action Director taught me how to fall and those bootmarks on my neck were real.

What makes things a little trickier is that my assassin is Aditya Pancholi, Bollywood’s leading villain, a role he is rumoured to replicate in real life and a man who doesn’t pull his punches. But it’s my first death scene and I’m going to scream the house down.

The slight downside is that my dancing scenes in the forest rave are to be expunged because the scenes have been rearranged, so the Indian public will be spared my shapes, but you can’t have it all. That’s not all. Some little fuckwit has also nicked my mobile phone from the set.

So, after being in two Bollywood films this brings to a temporary end my acting camera unless I get serious and engage an agent, but perhaps it might be time to get out while I’m still ahead. Already I have enough material to fill two books.

But my demise awaits and Aditya Pancholi has just knocked on the door of my trailer and somewhat threateningly asked me if I’m ready to meet my maker. See you in paradise.

Monty’s Indian Outlook – Issue 77

It was when I saw my sugar cane juice man closing down his stall I knew that the monsoon would to be early and India’s economic growth this year would be extraordinary.

The monsoon in India is the juice that gives the country its vitamins and the early arrival this year makes up for 2009 that saw many parts of India suffer drought because the monsoon effectively failed in those areas.

Not that the world knew much about it. As is usual, it is urban India that obsesses the rest of the world, not the plight of parched people on its peripheries.

The word monsoon was coined by the occupying British in the 1800s and comes from the Arabic word mawsim that means ‘season’. It lasts from any time in June to September and, no, it doesn’t rain the whole time.

First, there are pre-monsoon showers and a few days later the real thing hits. It’s amazing when it hits, the full force of Mother Nature and, yes, some of us do dance naked in the rain.

After that, all is intermittent. Sometimes it pelts down for three days, other times it stops for a week and at others it falls in the morning and is clear in the afternoon.

Living here in Goa the awful pre-monsoon heat and humidity drives the last tourist out of town and means the sea is too dangerous to swim in, but it is a great time to be here. Time to reflect, create and wonder.

Such thoughts are from the minds of agrarian Indians who produce the bread-basket of India and a realistic prospect of an excellent monsoon this year means much lower food prices and a boon to India’s GDP.

So watch the Indian stock market soar this mawsim and the country delight in its drenching. As it’s my birthday today and the monsoon arrives tomorrow, me and the Arabian Sea are going to say goodbye… until the summer returns.

Monty’s Indian Outlook – Issue 76

Football is a game that divides and obsesses, but Dharamsala’s Sharsaman bar for the midnight kick-off of the Champions’ League Final last week was a mighty fine place to be.

Thanks to some terrific marketing by the bar that had advertised the game between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich as starting at 10.30pm the place was packed out with as motley a crew as possible.

Firstly there was the dashing matinee idol (me), the self-titled Captain Crip, a paralysed man in the most wheelchair-unfriendly town in the world, several plastered Tibetan monks, a cheeky chappy from London who supported Chelsea and a veritable smattering of Italians and Germans supporting their respective clubs.

I started talking to Captain Crip about how he lost the use of his legs (bike accident in Oregon) and said to him it at least his old chappaquiddick was still working.

Ah, apparently he’d lost the use of that as well so I quickly started talking about why Inter’s captain Zanetti hadn’t been picked for the Argentinian World Cup squad… promising to punch myself in the face later for being such an idiot.

Strangely enough all the Tibetans wanted Bayern to win and by the time we were finally on our way the atmosphere was raucous, polarised and good-natured, but I have a strange foible when it comes to a particular German player and it nearly led to trouble.

For some strange reason every time Bastian Schweinsteiger touches the ball in any match I always scream out ‘SCHWEINSTEIGER! at the top of my voice. I don’t know why, perhaps I have SCHWEINSTEIGER’S syndrome, but I was getting a lot of dirty looks until I explained my condition and all calmed down.

I’d like to report that the whole bar shouted out ‘SCHWEINSTEIGER’ every time he got the ball but Inter marked him out of the game and there was enough mayhem going on for the incident to be forgotten.

By the time Inter had lifted the trophy after a very one-sided victory it was nearly 3am by the time I had said my goodbyes and clambered home using my crap Nokia as a torch.

On the way I averted three quite mental dogs, nearly fell to my death twice until I fell into our 150 rupee-per-night room greatly annoying my wife and son by snoring for the rest of the night (sorry, family).

But I’m going to have to watch my mouth. When England play their second World Cup group match next month I am likely to be the only whitey watching the game in an Addis Adaba bar when I’m in Ethiopia. But more of that later, as I’m sure you can imagine.