“I want nothing….” The second most common phrase you’ll hear in Goa and in any other touristy area of India really. The reason for this, of course, is the most common phrase, “Hello my friend, you buy __________.”
Whether you’re lounging on the beach, sitting in a restaurant, browsing shops or basically doing anything other than sitting in the dark in your room, hawkers in Goa will want to sell you something you neither want nor need. And often something you can’t even really identify or make sense of.
I’m the kind of person who actually goes in the water when at a beach (one of the very few, I learned during my time in Goa) and I don’t enjoy lying around in the hot sun at all. During my month and a half in Goa, I spent about an hour total lying in the sun. If I had said yes to all the offers I received during that hour, I would have spent more money than I’ve made in my life.
Some of the offers are acceptable and even desirable, like the women who walk around carrying baskets of fresh fruit on their heads and the ones who……ok, just the fruit. The rest of the offers range from the useless to the ridiculous to the annoying.
Some are apparently just ridiculous to me, like the guys selling plastic looking junk food they call chips. Apparently they taste good judging by the number of people I saw stuffing their faces, but, while I have no problem eating insects in China or a live octopus in Korea, there was no way I was putting anything so overly processed in my mouth.
Then there are the hilarious offers, like the guys who come up from behind and touch your ear, then show you a giant ball of earwax impaled on a large needle. “Look how disgusting and filthy you are my good friend—you simply must give me enough money to buy a new car so that I can poke around in your ear with this giant needle. And yes, that is whiskey you smell on my breath, thanks for noticing. Now turn your head….” I never once saw anyone agree to this, but they keep offering so someone must be risking their eardrums.
Another ridiculous offer are the beach front massages. For some reason only the filthiest and creepiest of Goan men feel qualified to offer massages on the beach. And shockingly, they seem to offer their services only to young, attractive, non-Indian women. Even more shockingly, they don’t do much business. In fact, the only women I saw getting groped massaged by these guys were the Russian prostitutes who these days seemingly outnumber even the cows on the beaches of Goa. I guess they’re used to creepy men touching them and perhaps they were curious to see what it’s like to pay, rather than be paid, for the privilege.
Finally, the absolutely most annoying people in Goa: the drum sellers. What they do is morally and ethically so objectionable that they simply must be drowned, hacked to pieces and fed to the holy cows. First of all, they annoy by being numerous—one of them will pass by every two minutes. Second, they never go anywhere without beating on their drum and much worse, rubbing the top to produce an indescribably annoying sound, in a completely misguided attempt to try and entice customers.
But worst of all, these attempts are not nearly as misguided as I would like. Most people hate them and ignore them, but India is a favorite destination of the most annoying backpackers of all—the newly dread-locked pseudo hippies whose only goal in life is to start a drum circle on a beach. Luckily, this never actually seems to happen in Goa for some reason, but that doesn’t stop them from buying a drum and beating around on it like some mentally challenged tone-deaf ape. This is why the drum vendors need to be dumped into a shark infested part of the ocean—their biggest crime is not their attempts at making a sale (still a big one though) but the fact that they are occasionally successful.
Don’t let any of this discourage you from visiting. Yes, there are a lot (A LOT) of annoying hawkers in Goa, but once you leave the most popular beaches (which you should do immediately, as the most popular are nowhere near the nicest anyway) their numbers pale in comparison to other touristy areas of India. Goa was far and away my favorite part of India and I spent a month and a half of my three months in the country on various Goan beaches.