Rising to the sunrays of Goa was exciting. Reclining in the Volvo and watching the splendor of Goa brought back memories of Kerala. As I stepped down at Panjim to take a non-stop Mazda to Vasco Da Gama, the aroma of fish and spice lent made me feel nostalgic. Dropping anchor at my friends home was prime now, and maybe I missed out a little of the beauty in thought. The route to Vasco was a treat, and the road lining the backwaters was like the bordered sketch with a pencil. As it neared the quietness of that little hamlet, I forgot the shrilled cacophony of Mumbai, a deep breath, disguising itself as the sigh of relief thanks to zero urban populace, yet lively in makeup; that was Goa in my platter.
Plans on ‘where and when to go’ began, and I decided to ‘enjoy every moment in Goa in the Goan way.’ After a cool shower, we embarked on our tour mission titled -GOA. The first beach that I visited was Miramar, sensuous, warm and curvy like the woman who was skimpily clad for the sunbath, virgin like the village belle, but not amongst the notorious nude beaches that once existed as a black mark on the forehead of Goa. We, in swimsuits enjoyed the dusky evening amidst the waves, diving for a catch practice. After twilight found it laced with music and dance, the night started showing up its dark tentacles in the hazy sky and we decided to leave for the special Goan dinner. The special preparation of fish deep-fried in Rava touched my palate; indeed a novel way to let the spices remain indolent in the fish itself.
The Goan delicacies in chicken rechãdo and xãcuti took away any other lingering tastes from my taste buds. Then someone came up with the idea of local brews- cashew and coconut “feni,” strongly aromatic, but as overheard, not for a silly tummy like mine. A gulp of tender coco and a glass of sweet-salty lemon juice satiated my desires to the fullest. Return to the 2 bedroom house with more friends awaiting our arrival, half of the night ignored my tardiness with gossip.
As Saturday drew in for a fun-fuelled start, we decided to go on a drive and be efficient. Clato was waiting in his white Hyundai. To introduce Clato, our new driver, but by the end of the day was promoted as my guide. Imam was another guide, my official helper and watch keeper, and alongside were my friends Ashok and Sujith. The engine puffed off by 9 am, driving the misty road, swathed on sides in green-blanketed shrubs. The scent of air engaged me in contemplation, and to a daydream that slipped me to a catnap.
The brakes woke my eyes to the colorful line of boats at Dona Paula, the place which set the tale of a heartbreaking love story, a small paradise gifted with the expensive yet adventurous ride of the fastest scooter boat available. Thirty minutes of our stay at this piece of heaven whispered to my heart to view more of the stupendous present than being nostalgic about the past. The shops, lined in the rainbow hues hooked me to get a souvenir hat for my yet to be found girlfriend. And the drive proceeded to the Aguada fortress; where the memory of Dil Chahta Hai movie and being compared to Saif for the character was all revived!! The walk around was a prose in non-abstract. There came a luscious lady in black trousers and white tee’s and I had to hold on to my poise. A sigh is all what remained in me & we were destined only to drive, next to fuel my stomach. The ‘Ghar Ka Khana’ term by Clato was true to the core in essence. The red hot KINGFISHER painted home offered us the simplest and perfect Goan lunch of fish curry-rice pepped with the rava pomfret fry.
My palette didn’t finish, as I had lots more to color at the series of beaches at Calangute, Vagator, Baga and Anjuna. At Candolim-sinquirim was an experience of a lifetime with the dolphins and my paragliding journey, but on the horizon laid Sinquirim’s sorrow ‘M.V River Princess’, the ship stranded in the sand for the past 6 years unable to budge, eating away the coastal line. But carefree were the honeymoon couples romancing the first few sweet days of marriage. Never to forget the young girl rushing towards the waves in embrace and get drenched. As she stood in a silhouette, dripping water on sand, lending their soul a charm and for me an enigmatic fascination. The sprouting of a burning desire for tourists, while locals gawk at the sunbathers. As memoirs remain etched, I reached droopy eyed after a siesta to Baga and Anjuna, where the red cliffs embraced the white sand. Secluded in the white sands are the recliners under the inviting umbrella, but I had to leave for a little shopping; an embellished blue scarf was the find of the day. And how would it look on my Cinderella!!! I pondered. Driving back was sad because I knew it’s again a haunting memory for me. Still, my weary eyes reached the ambience of ANANDASHRAM, a brilliantly lit inn. Started with a chicken manchow soup and chicken pakoda starter, then mackerel fry and prawns filled my table and with it squid masala filled my stomach. Next was the turn of Tissreo and Xinnanneo to appease my appetite. Topping the whole menu was my favorite butterscotch scoop and after that, I slept as if I hadn’t for a year.
As another day raised its hood in the calendar, I had an idea of visiting the nearby Sawanthwadi, a two hour drive from vasco. We regrouped at my friend’s house for the best vegetarian lunch in a long time. Right from sweets to chapatti, plantain dish with coconut grating, salad, Biriyani laced with lots of cashews and raisins, plain rice and buttermilk and a very special dish known locally as Puran poli and kheer. Thanks to Ashish’s mom,“WOW” is all what I could say. Returning late night to the hub of activities wasn’t warranted. A friend and I decided to bike a small stretch for dinner. By the side of the ocean, the only light being the whitish foam beating the shore playfully, tables were set, and food served. More than the taste of the food, the mood served purpose. A romantic nostalgia swathed my senses and flavoured the time in entirety. Thanks for all the decisions and the engrossing talk at the beach, am tempted to go every evening and have dinner near the beach.
The last day opened its tender eyes in my itinerary- A short drive to the church of St Xaviers, St Catherine and St Assisi. Extremely soothing to the eyes with its beautiful tiled roof, the chapel of St Xaviers is embellished with a peculiar style of architecture, and where the mortal remains of the 450 year old St Xavier lies in a beautiful casket, and St Catherine caresses a tower on either side of the edifice not to forget the St Assisi with murals portraying the life of St Francis of Assisi and golden floral designs inspiring awe. Then nearby is the grand galleria-the museum housing an eclectic collection of 60 portraits of the Portuguese viceroys and governors of Goa. By late evening, the trip wound to the cruise liner, embellished and all set to sway to the gyrating tunes and the rustic melodies. Traditional dance performances added an inexplicable charm to the whole episode. Men and women with a bottle of beer and in the bursting mood to enjoy tapped the floor to fire.
As time slipped in my ‘Titan’, it was time for the return Volvo to Mumbai; nonstop, if not for dinner at a place where it was literal looting in the name of food.
Mumbai dawned and I knew that four days had slipped from my calendar, faster than the waves that played hide and seek, and I merged with the local crowd, reinvented, revived and recharged.