At 7am, the time of my arrival by night train from Cochin to Goa’s Margao station, one of several stations in this sprawled out city, the yellow ‘Froggie’ bin was a wake up call after barely a few hours’ sleep. And not one dustbin on the train that I could see! Just vendors selling peanuts in paper cones, snacks, safety pins, curiously, and magazines, but nothing as simple as a dustbin. My co-travellers threw their meal boxes out of the window, and encouraged me to do the same, as I looked on, shocked, and put all my rubbish into a plastic bag to take away with me. My prim naivety was out of place.
Many of the bins in Asia were in the shape of animals: it must be thought that making bins playful could serve the cause of cleanliness and public health. There were messages on the walls of the station, on recycling and biodegradable rubbish in English, but I doubted that they’d be understood by the sleeping families beneath them, waiting for their early train, having slept the night there. There were few litter bins in the parts of India I visited, few public toilets, and a many open gutters: quite a hazard when cycling at night as I discovered, not to mention the errant cows and goats, still allowed to roam in many cities and towns on account of their being considered sacred.
Goa was the last stop on my trip. Two days here, enough time to sit on a beach for a while and reflect on my 40-odd weeks’ travel, explore Goa’s old town while trying to escape persistent djembé drum vendors (how did they know I’d had some lessons during my trip?) and eat my last thali, a tray covered with southern Indian specialities, tapas-style. Then it would be time to get ready for the return to Paris after my travels, the long Goa-Doha-Paris flight, and springtime back in France.