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Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

Benaulim Beach Goa India April 2004

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

In March 2004 I was 25 years old. With not a care in the world, no particular place to be and zero commitments to speak of, I packed up a rucksack and headed off to India. The future lay sparkling and I thought it would last forever.

My travels around India had been highly eventful. I’d had miscellaneous objects shoved into my ears in Delhi, while in Agra I’d found broken glass in my bed! Most unpleasant of all had been an absurd amount of bad luck in the soulless claustrophobia of Jaipur. In contrast, I’d experienced the romance of the desert in Jaisalmer, comical James Bond nonsense in Udaipur and fine dining and cocktails in glitzy Mumbai. Not to mention The Bus Journey From Hell in between.

Therefore, it was perhaps understandable that by the time we rolled up in Goa, both Allan and I were ready for an extended spell of beach lazing. Luckily, we’d chosen just the place! Benaulim is a peaceful, rustic village located on Goa’s southern coastline. It consists of little more than a handful of family run guesthouses, a couple of restaurants, one bar/nightclub and mile upon mile of peaceful golden sands.

It was a world away from the hedonism of North Goa’s infamous party resorts. In fact, I knew we’d come to the right place the moment I stepped off the bus and felt the cool sea air on my face. ‘‘Finally!’’ breathed Allan, as a couple of seagulls flapped overhead.

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

Benaulim Beach Goa India

Benaulim Beach, Goa.

We stayed at a pretty little guesthouse called Rosario’s, located just a hundred meters from the beach. On arrival we were greeted by Mama Rosario herself, a plump, rosy-cheeked woman with a cheerful nature and a booming laugh. Speaking little English, Mama’s laugh served as her official language. ‘‘From?’’ ‘‘I’m from England and my friend’s from Scotland’’. ‘‘Ha ha ha!!!’’ ‘‘Today where?’’ “Um… we’re going to the beach again”. ‘‘Ha ha ha!!!’’

Rosario's Inn Benaulim Goa.

Rosario’s Inn, Benaulim, Goa.

Less amusing however was Mama’s trio of lanky, bone-idle sons. The youngest served as the house cook, a boy who one morning actually succeeded in burning a boiled egg! The second born meanwhile was supposed to be the cleaner. But all I ever saw him do was drag a filthy wet rag across the lobby once a day. Finally there was the eldest, the pick of the bunch you might say. He was in charge of the laundry. It took him twenty four hours to get my clothes back to me. When they arrived, I was speechless to receive a pile of shrunken t-shirts, a colour-bled sweater and several pairs of underwear that weren’t mine. 

‘Ha ha ha!!!’’ boomed Mama Rosario.

In any case we didn’t spend much time at the guesthouse. A typical day saw us enjoy a seaside breakfast, usually a plate of banana pancakes and a coconut smoothie. Fed and watered, we’d then grab some chairs under an umbrella close to the sea. Days were spent sleeping, swimming and sunbathing. Moreover, I put in many an hour working my way through Donna Tartt’s outstanding novel The Secret History. I also killed plenty of time with a cutting edge contraption known as the CD Walkman. Simple times. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

Once a day the various beach vendors did their rounds. But it was the height of the off season. Thus neither the sarong woman, the fruit man nor the henna girls could be bothered with much of a sales pitch. Our favourite visitor by far was a scrawny boy who passed by each late afternoon with an old leather sack. He was maybe ten or eleven years old, worryingly thin and so sunbaked that at times I could barely make out his eyes. 

But there was no missing his beaming smile, an exhibition of unspoiled pearly white teeth. ‘‘Hello sirs, beautiful day! You looking hungry, must wanting yummy cashew’’. Sitting cross-legged in front of us with dripping optimism, he opened his sack and threw out a number of small plastic bags. All of them bulging with fat, deep-brown cashew nuts. 

Sadly his visits always seemed to come an hour or so after we’d eaten. Hence we just didn’t feel like munching on cashews. ‘‘No hungry?’’ he’d say, not at all put off by our disinterest. ‘‘No problem! Buy now, eat later…. cashew last long time! Little nibble every day, bag last many week’’.

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

“Little nibble every day”.

Day after day we waved him away, his happy-go-lucky outlook never wavering. ‘‘But sir, cashew perfect for any time. Cashew breakfast… cashew lunch… maybe cashew snack after dinner! You can make a cashew party, share with your friends. Sexy girl love the cashew!!!’’ His performances became so amusing we finally caved in and bought a few packs, much to his visible delight.

We’d been in Benaulim for just over a week when I finished my book and began to feel restless. It was just another scorching day in paradise. I could see Allan taking a dip in the sea, while just across from us a middle-aged Spanish couple lay snoring under a polka dot umbrella. The Cashew Kid was sitting next to me listening to my Walkman, his head bobbing up and down. 

‘‘Sir, what is this music I hear?

Like nothing I know, amazing like aliens!’’

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

“Ha ha, it’s Radiohead’’ I laughed as Allan returned, refreshed from his exertions in the water. Bidding them both farewell, I decided to take a walk up the beach to see how far I could go. Along the way, I passed pockets of statuesque sunbathers. There were also a few run-down shops selling cold drinks and a collection of ramshackle huts where women hung laundry as their kids played around in the sand.

It had been over an hour by the time I reached a nameless guesthouse that looked like it had seen better days. Poking my head through the door of its adjacent restaurant, I discovered a surprisingly well-stocked bar with a dozen or so wooden tables and benches. Ordering a draft beer from the barman, (whom I had to wake up), I took a seat in front of a whirring fan with the belief that I was the establishment’s sole customer. But then, after just a few sips, I was startled to see a figure emerge from a shadowy table in the corner.

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

Short story Goa India

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid , a short story from India.

Tall and sinewy, a cowboy hat cocked over a mane of dirty long hair, he sauntered over with a mooching swagger. A whiskey and coke in one hand, a cigarette in the other. He fixed a steely gaze upon me, revealing a face disfigured with crisscrossing pockmarks. ‘‘Well howdy…’’ he said in a thick U.S. accent, an impressive pair of bags swelling beneath his eyes. ‘‘May I?’’ ‘‘Sure!’’ I answered, as he slowly lowered himself onto the bench opposite me, setting his glass down on the table. ‘‘Leighton’’ I said, offering a hand half the size of his.

“Butch’’ he answered with a firm grip, ‘‘Butch Cassidy’’

I smirked instinctively, ‘‘Where’s the Sundance Kid?’’, but immediately regretted it as he shot me an icy glare. ‘‘There must be a million Sundance Kids in this darn country’’ he drawled, taking a lengthy drag on his cigarette. ‘‘And not one of them a Robert Redford. No… this cat chooses to fly solo’’.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Paul Newman Robert Redford.

Butch Cassidy (right) and The Sundance Kid (left) – have never knowingly been to Goa.

With no idea how to respond, I just nodded as if I understood, feeling more than a tad awkward in the ensuing silence. I asked him how long he’d been in Goa, to which he answered ‘‘a long time’’. Apparently he’d been in India ‘‘even longer’’, though he clearly wasn’t into storytelling, so I didn’t push him on the details.

Butch Cassidy seemed to be a man of few words. So I did most of the talking, giving him the lowdown on my travels. Staring back at me ambivalently, I wasn’t sure if he was even listening. When I got onto the subject of Udaipur he suddenly piped up with an irritated shudder. ‘’James Bond!’’ he growled. ‘‘Imagine a place where THAT’S your claim to fame, James goddam Bond’’.

Butch Cassidy and The Cashew Kid, a short story from India.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

At a loss as to what to say, I sat back and allowed Butch Cassidy to rant. ‘‘You’re trapped in a dark alley. There’s no way out, the enemy is closing in. Who do you want covering your ass? Paul Newman? Or Roger fucking Moore? And don’t get me started on Pierce Brosnan”.

Butch was clearly in a foul mood now. So much so that he literally sat sneering into what remained of his drink, ‘‘Fucking Udaipur!’’ After a couple of painfully uncomfortable minutes I made my excuses with an unconvincing story about dinner plans with friends.

‘‘Sure thing’’ he mumbled, without even looking up. 

‘Don’t ever come back here’’.

Slipping out onto the beach, I retraced my route back to normality and an hour later I was sipping on a vanilla milkshake, relaying the story to an amused Allan. ‘‘Ah yes, Butch is crazy man’’ The Cashew Kid said with a knowing smile. ‘‘He stay in Goa too long. But for me it’s good because this cowboy LOVE the cashew!’’

Hauling himself up, The Cashew Kid dusted the sand off his legs and told us he’d see us tomorrow, same time same place. His sack swinging back and forth, he made a beeline for a group of distant sunbathers, whistling the tune to Paranoid Android as he went.

‘Butch Cassidy & The Cashew Kid’ is the tenth tale of my short story series Incidents In India.

Like this? Why not also check out my travel reports from across India.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • Mary Phillips

    Enjoyable reading, Leighton. The characters one meets while traveling!!!

    June 14, 2015 - 10:29 am Reply
  • Anonymous

    Lovely read. 🙂

    June 14, 2015 - 6:51 pm Reply
  • natty4t

    This was by far my favourite of the India stories. What an intriguing place! I could have continued reading for ages!

    June 14, 2015 - 8:23 pm Reply
  • Butch Cassidy & The Cashew Kid – a short story from India. | natty4t's Blog

    […] Butch Cassidy & The Cashew Kid – a short story from India.. […]

    June 14, 2015 - 8:21 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    Another compelling read Leighton, thanks for sharing. By the way, cashew nuts are my absolute favourite and I’ve munched my way through several packs over the last few weeks. Hope your weekend is going well. !

    January 23, 2022 - 10:35 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Marion, I’m a huge cashew nut fan too. I particularly like to use them in cooking when possible. Maybe crushed into a stir fry or a salad. Thanks for following this series and hope you’re staying warm on this chilly English Sunday. Ah, time to tend to the fire again…

      January 23, 2022 - 10:40 am Reply
  • kagould17

    Another great story. Everybody has their Schtick I guess. It never ceases to amaze me at the hope and determination of some folks. The Cashew Kid kept on coming back despite low sales. It would seem he was more of a people person. Butch, on the other hand may have been determined, but not so much of a people person. I have heard of Goa being an oasis of calm in a sea of insanity. Not a bad place to carry on the simple life. Stay well Leighton. Allan

    January 23, 2022 - 1:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hi Allan, fully concur on all points. The north of Goa is especially calm, well away from the party folk. Not sure how it all looks now, but I can only assume it’s been very hard times for the Goans these past few years. Stay warm!

      January 23, 2022 - 1:29 pm Reply
      • kagould17

        +7 C here yesterday and water running in the streets. Same today. Looks like the January thaw is continuing. ☀️😊

        January 23, 2022 - 2:03 pm
  • Marla

    Another motley crew of characters – great post! Side note- years ago I used to live near to an high end Indian restaurant. The first time I ordered the Goa chicken I was hooked. It was so damn spicy that it felt like it was melting my esophagus but the flavour! It’s been 20 years and the restaurant is long gone but I still think about it.

    January 23, 2022 - 4:15 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha motley crew is spot on. Indian food is my absolute favorite so I absolutely understand your love for the Goa Chicken. Hats off to you though, I could never deal with that level of spiciness.

      January 23, 2022 - 4:35 pm Reply
  • Marla

    I hope you’ve been filling up on Indian now that you’re back in England?

    January 23, 2022 - 4:40 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ohhhh yes! 😉

      January 23, 2022 - 5:24 pm Reply
  • salsaworldtraveler

    Another entertaining and fascinating read, Leighton. Your characters so interesting and real. Goa sounds like a place I’d like to visit.

    January 23, 2022 - 7:48 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Missed this comment in the mix John, apologies for the belated reply. Right now, on this gloomy February English evening, I’d happily be transported to Goa for a day or two. Really glad the characters came off.

      February 2, 2022 - 7:04 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    Ah, CD walkmans…I’m younger than you, but I also grew up using CD walkmans to listen to music (my favorites being U2 and Céline Dion). It’s incredible just how long they lasted before smartphones and streaming services (e.g. Spotify) became a huge thing. The Butch Cassidy man is truly a character, but honestly, I feel bad for him: it sounds like he’s the disillusioned expat who came to Goa and had too many bad experiences that left him jaded. To some extent, I can relate, although his cantankerous comments are a bit extreme…I hope he found happiness after some time, perhaps somewhere else!

    January 23, 2022 - 8:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Glad you also had the pleasure of life with the CD Walkman! Your empathy for Butch is quite touching. I would love to know where he ended up. Maybe he’s still in Goa! More than anything I hope The Cashew Kid hasn’t had it too rough, especially these last few years. Hope your 2022 is unfolding well Rebecca.

      January 23, 2022 - 8:09 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    How nice to see a different side of India. Butch Cassidy sounds like a real gem.

    January 23, 2022 - 9:15 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Somewhere in a far-flung corner of India there’s a grizzled old expat calling himself The Sundance Kid.

      January 23, 2022 - 9:29 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    There are many strange westerners who have been in India too long I think. This was a great story Leighton, I felt like I was right there in the uncomfortable conversation with Butch. Strange character indeed. Maggie

    January 23, 2022 - 9:51 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Maggie, how I wish I could’ve stolen a cheeky photo of him. But he never once took his eyes off me.

      January 23, 2022 - 9:56 pm Reply
      • Monkey's Tale

        That would have been hilarious!

        January 23, 2022 - 11:10 pm
  • Travels Through My Lens

    Your stories always leave me smiling. Thanks for sharing.

    January 24, 2022 - 1:03 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thank you for following this series! It’ll draw to a close this week and then onto the next set of travel reports.

      January 24, 2022 - 6:05 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    Ah, the people you meet Leighton! You can probably make up your own film with all the characters you’ve met on all of your adventures 😉. So, together with all the dogs and pens in my container, I would now also add bags of cashews! Great story, really enjoyed this one!

    January 24, 2022 - 6:55 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I’ll pass on your WordPress details…. I think The Cashew Kid does international deliveries now. Shall we put you down for 100 bags? 😉

      January 24, 2022 - 9:12 am Reply
      • wetanddustyroads

        Haha … or maybe not, I’m afraid The Cashew Kid will smuggle himself into the bags as well … 😁!

        January 24, 2022 - 9:20 am
      • Leighton

        Ha ha ha! You’d get more than you paid for.

        January 24, 2022 - 9:21 am
  • Lyssy In The City

    It’s amazing how many interesting people you meet on your trips! I love that your writing feels like we’re right there with you. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    January 24, 2022 - 2:19 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      You know, these days I always go back over recent threads and keep finding comments I’ve missed. Must be getting old already. Thanks for your kind words Lyssy. It’s really nice from time to time to take a break from travel reporting and be a little more creative in my writing. Thanks again!

      February 2, 2022 - 7:08 pm Reply
      • Lyssy In The City

        I think you could publish a short story compilation!!

        February 3, 2022 - 3:20 pm
      • Leighton

        Ha, maybe one day I might look into it. If I ever get on top of all these travel repeats I want to put out. I fear I’ll never truly catch up.

        February 3, 2022 - 3:24 pm
      • Lyssy In The City

        Maybe you can make a “Leighton’s Greatest Hits” series ha!

        February 3, 2022 - 3:29 pm
  • grandmisadventures

    Great read, Leighton! Probably my new favorite in your India stories. You would think though if he didn’t want to be referenced with the Sundance Kid that maybe he would go by something different than Butch Cassidy since you really can’t have one without the other. Although he does make a good point about who you’d want covering you in a dark alley- Paul Newman any day. And the cashew kid telling you that sexy girl like cashews- that is probably the best advertisement that those cashews ever had. 🙂

    January 24, 2022 - 7:41 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha brilliant Meg. I’m with you (and Butch) on Paul Newman. Just can’t take Roger Moore Bond (or any Bond I’ve seen thus far) seriously. The crazy guy had that right at least.

      January 24, 2022 - 7:49 pm Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    I love that you sharing this regarding BUTCH CASSIDY. That’s interesting. Cashew nuts are my favorite. We ate tons of those when we were in Jaipur.

    January 24, 2022 - 9:13 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Anita, glad you liked the story. Cashew nuts were always a favorite snack while traveling around India.

      January 24, 2022 - 11:20 pm Reply
  • Erin of the Hills

    I’m so glad to have found you through blogging, you’re an excellent writer! Thanks for the great read.

    January 26, 2022 - 1:59 am Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    Your character descriptions bring them to life! I much prefer the cashew kid to Butch. Always an interesting read.

    January 26, 2022 - 3:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Oh yeah, if I had to spend a month on a desert island I’d go fo Cashew every time. Thanks Ruth for reading and your thoughts on the series.

      February 2, 2022 - 7:18 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Everything sounded very relaxing until you got to Butch. Was he just sitting in the corner waiting for his next victim? I assume you never went back. The Cashew Kid sounded like a real budding entrepreneur. He probably owns an export business by now.

    January 31, 2022 - 4:35 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha I love the hopeful Cashew Kid prediction. No I didn’t go back to that bar. I have the feeling that, when not sleeping, Butch lived there.

      January 31, 2022 - 5:47 pm Reply

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