It’s Christmas Eve and I’m on a beach in India. I sort of expect a little homesickness or loneliness to sneak through this time of year.

But I sit here, eating a breakfast of fruit and yogurt muesli and listening to the surf crash into the golden sand, and I feel fine. I miss you, no doubt, and wish you could be here with me, but other than that I don’t really feel the need to come home. I have to give a good chunk of credit to the weather, which is so perfect here it’s embarrassing. I’m fully aware of the atmospheric happenings back home in Toronto and I have absolutely no desire to switch this for that.

Here my most stressful moments involve dodging cow shit on the beach. Yes, even on the beach there are cows everywhere. They plod slowly through the sand browsing for carelessly unguarded morsels. I watched one devour the thorny leaves lopped from the top of a pineapple. A grumpy bull with imposing horns ate a plastic juggling ball that some hippies had left lying about. He chewed on it for about five minutes but eventually got it down. Much consternation amongst the hippies.

Other than cow watching, there isn’t much for us to do here. Maybe I’ll play cricket with some domestic tourists and English backpackers (I’m a terrible bowler, but am making improvements in my batting). Perhaps lie on my back in the Arabian Sea and watch the sea eagles wheel above the palm fringed jungle that lines the beach. Their wings are two shades of chocolate, their heads and chests the colour of fresh cream. They soar effortlessly in the coastal breezes and thermal updrafts, making a mockery of even our best attempts to be free.

‘Us’ is a motley crew of internationals, ever evolving as some split off and others are assimilated. The family, as we call it, has its roots in Varanasi, where 11 people from 10 countries played soccer in the sand on the banks of the holy Ganges. Across the river from us smoke rose from a dozen funeral pyres, the families watching quietly as their loved ones returned to the goddess of the river. Since then the core of the group moved to Arambol beach in Goa, where more members were initiated with a game of soccer near the waves. This ended in disaster, naturally, as Andy from London broke his toe trying to separate a Russian tourist from the ball. Indeed Russian and European holidaymakers (two-weekers, or T-dubs, as we call them) have taken over Goa, it seems, so we’ve moved south to quieter beaches in the next state Karnataka.

Which is where I currently find myself. On the only-in-India named Om Beach, near the holy town of Gokarna, where beards and dreadlocks are ubiquitous. The family now consists of Andy, Andrew from Melbourne, Grace from Wellington (NZ), and the upcoming arrivals of Nils from Sweden and his Israeli friend Martin. We’ve also met a pair of Argentinians and a trio from South England (the cricketers) who were interested in our plans for Christmas Dinner and Secret Santa. This last idea should be especially hilarious, as there is no shopping on this beach (a world away from Goa) other than the occasional jewelry or fresh fruit vendor who stalks the sand harassing sunbathers. I get the impression everyone is going to be getting a bracelet and a half dozen bananas this year. Maybe a papaya.

I’m considering bottling some sea water. Swimming at night here is a trip in and of itself, regardless of what you’ve been rolling in your cigarettes. It’s hard to describe phosphorescence to someone who’s never seen it, but imagine millions of neon green fireflies in the water who only light up when you agitate them. The white foam that trails behind your hands and feet as you swim turns to bright green, and the ocean lights up around you in a thousand tiny flashes. It’s a scene, man.

So Merry Christmas. Don’t let the weather (or the man) get you down.