Freestyle, waves… and a kiss?
It wasn’t until I was bobbing about in the surf at Goa’s popular Calungute beach that I realised I was the only woman in the water. I was obviously creating a stir because I was suddenly surrounded by youths.
Okaaaay. Antennae up, activate and arm oneself with attitude. Naturally, I am well aware of India’s ugly underbelly of assaults on women, but I sensed these young men were more curious at seeing a western woman in the water past the breakers, than actually plotting an attack. At any rate, having always been more at home in the water than on land, and registering their awkwardness, I figured it wouldn’t take much for me to drown one of them. Yes, harsh, I know, but when about eight of them are forming a semi-circle around you and clearly discussing you, your mind drifts to solutions for all sorts of scenarios.
Predictably, their interaction began with warnings of how dangerous it was to be in the water. Queue Wendy to show off and treat them to a few strokes of freestyle, followed by a dash of butterfly, my master stroke. This caused great guffaws and shouts of appreciation, and okay, maybe I was showing off… just a little bit.
It didn’t take long for one cheeky sod, wearing a natty bandana, to show off himself and ask where I was from.
Be polite, but don’t engage has always been my strategy, and when I replied Australia, there was huge excitement and chattering, with Mr Bandana proceeding to name every Australian cricketer he could, the names tripping off his tongue like the alphabet. Ricky Ponting was clearly a favourite because he was mentioned several times.
Encouraged by my laughter, and obviously thinking my mirth showed great potential, Mr Bandana took his bravado to one more level and asked for “just one foreign kiss please” and pointed to his cheek.
I nearly choked on the salt water, not because of his audacity, but because he wanted a kiss from the overweight nanna in the bathing suit! I mean, what are the odds? Clearly, his exposure to Baywatch had been limited, he had no clue there were plenty more better fish in the sea than me!
Naturally, I said no .. and when he persisted I put my stern mother voice on and repeated NO! But hang on, I thought, I can give him something even better and it wasn’t long before my opportunity came.
I caught a wave.
And I’m pleased to say the old girl still has it. I caught that baby right into shore, leaving a ripple of amazement in my wake. I stood up to frenzied cheers and clapping.
“Take that Ponting,” I muttered. “It took an Aussie sheila to prove there’s more to Australian sport than hitting a little white ball with a bat!”
Now I was elevated to hero status, and although they still floated around me like a swarm of jellyfish, they kept their distance, encouraging me to “do it again, jump that wave” and of course, the show off in me obliged.
Later, when dressed, I went down to the water’s edge to take some snaps. Mr Bandana rushed out to greet me with the enthusiasm of the keenest cricket fan. He asked me to take his photo.
And he couldn’t help himself. He asked again for “just one foreign kiss please”.
The question is … did I give it?