The President of India is head of the executive branch, under Articles 52 and 53, with the duty of preserving, protecting and defending the constitution and the law under Article
Arrival Gokarna is a village growing awkwardly and uncomfortably into a town. It is in this sense an adolescent, unsure of itself in the modern world, but in every other sense Gokarna is old, with a history that stretches into the remotest parts of human memory.
For most of this time, it has been a village of fishermen and farmers with a single distinction: But India has entered a period of rapid change, and Gokarna is being pulled along with it.
Christianity found its first Indian converts here in 52 CE.
Jews fleeing the destruction of Jerusalem arrived in 70 CE. Islamic merchants brought news of their prophet in the seventh century, and Portugal established its trading posts at points along the Malabar Coast after Europeans first rounded the Cape.
In the late seventeenth century, when British interests in the subcontinent were still confined to a handful of malarial outposts, the Englishman John Fryer travelled south from Goa to Gokarna.
Farmers from neighbouring villages, Bangalore fatcats and sadhus with bloodshot, drugged-up eyes make their way through its temples to the beach, which they return from dripping wet after a ritual dip. The hippies started travelling to India in the Indian life insurance advertisements need to sixties.
They made their way overland from Istanbul, passed through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan along a well-established routeand after crossing the Indian border, branched north towards Kathmandu, or south, to the beaches of Goa.
Although the road to the village was still a dirt track, a few made it further down the Malabar Coast to Gokarna.
Gokarna had no electricity and no guesthouses. The early arrivals slept on the beach. They picked bananas, bought rice from local farmers and collected drinking water from the spring at the Rama temple.
It was exactly the sort of place they were looking for — close to nature, with locals who observed far-out customs and treated them well — and when they returned to San Francisco or London or Berlin, to share stories and swap advice, these hippy vagabonds became the pioneers of budget travelfollowed by successive generations of dope heads, dropouts, spiritual seekers, guidebook writers, students and — eventually — Claire and I, happy that we could connect to the internet, eat well and choose between places to stay.
The Gokarna we arrived in was the seasonal home of itinerant hairdressers, masseuses, yoga teachers and musicians, who advertised their services by pasting notices on restaurant walls. Sound massage, reiki, yoga classes and Thai massage competed for attention beside every table.
There were couples over forty — eating awkwardly with limp right hands — accompanied by drivers and occasionally a guide, as well as unwashed British youngsters on a gap year and small families on a cheap beach holiday.
The women wore rough cotton, cheap bangles and bells around their ankles. The men were more diverse. Sitting in a Gokarna restaurant with their children, eating a fruit salad, they looked like Hebrew or German or English speaking primitives, recently emerged from the bush.
Claire and I had come to Gokarna to work. Claire was under pressure to finish the first draft of a book about contemporary Chinese art, begun eighteen months ago in Shanghai. I was working on a project for an ophthalmology clinic, helping to sell laser eye surgery in China to the West.
We rented a cottage on a hill just above the village, with two desks and a kitchen, which allowed us to boil drinking water and make tea. The compound contained a shop at the entrance that sold fabric along with pots, pans and other household goods.
The Shastri family home, with a few rooms at one side for guests, was between the shop and the clinic. Its front door was left open day and night. Peering in, past a veranda, it looked like a temple, with a shrine on the far wall, surrounded by bare lightbulbs.
Deeper into the compound, at the base of a hill, was a charmless multi-story guesthouse. A white man with a thick Indian accent kept his Tata jeep outside it.
He had dreadlocks down to his hips: Up a steep rise, through a well-watered coconut plantation, were four cottages and another guesthouse. The area on the hilltop was called the Shastri Resort.
It had two ponds inhabited by croaking frogs, an abandoned lookout tower with a deck, which we climbed to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea, and, near its centre, a fountain with a statue of Shiva on its top that glowed blue at night.But from all other Indian advertisements, the one that takes the cake home is the ad that clearly tells you that no matter how career-oriented as a married woman you are, the ONLY way to win your frustrated husband’s mood & approval is by getting home fast & cooking a sumptuous & elaborate dinner for him.
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