Well… I would have to say that the Chai Shop is usually the first stop for most of the regulars arriving back for another winter season….Ashant Fondekar, runs the shop with his brother, Prashant and father, Anandu. Always friendly, he usually greets us by name and a “welcome back”….They work hard feeding the tourists and locals…6am – 8pm daily…and earlier during monsoon season when the locals stop by before heading out to fish. Fresh chai tea, fried egg on a bun, banana bread, baji, a lentil type soup, samosas, cookies…all available for under 50 rupees (less than a dollar)….no wonder its packed every morning. My little Israeli neighbour likes the egg on a bun. The school kids wait for their bus just outside, buying snacks before it comes.
Next store is a busy little grocery shop run by their cousin, Kisan Fondekar. Another very popular spot in the mornings for fresh milk, yogart…etc. Its amazing what he stocks in that store. If you need something, just ask…and most often he has it. You never know what you’ll see parked outside the shop. If you dont drive a scooter to get around, you usually call a rickshaw or tuk tuk. (same thing). Some of us have our favourite drivers whowe call regularly…here is Shirish, popular with many. His wife runs a laundry …sometimes peoples knickers are found drying on top of one of his tuk tuks…..
Many people stay in beach huts; however, I preferred to rent somewhere with cooking facilities so the last couple years have been staying in Ismaels house; a spacious flat with high ceilings, just a two minute bike ride to the beach.
What do we do here all day long ……lots of lying around in the heat of the day….as well as many other things….
Yoga… high up with the coconut trees….
and playing Backgammon almost daily…here’s my friend wishing he’d never taught me the game after beating him two days in a row….
We also attend Art Openings, listen to alot of live music, watch the latest Oscar nominated movies (pirated) and meet with friends for drinks, chats or saying goodbye to someone who’s vacation has ended.
This year I became involved in some very active fundraising efforts for the families of more than 31 migrant workers who lost their lives in a very tragic building collapse in nearby Chaudi. The expat community rallied in a wonderful way to raise very urgently needed funds for these people; to send to the widows as well as provide funds for medical care, food, transportation, etc for the surviving workers left stranded by their employer. It vividly brought to light the plight of migrant workers world-wide; who are usually the last to receive any help, if anything at all.
Slowly Patnem is becoming like a second home for me….
NEXT…the surrounding beaches…