Posts Tagged ‘Goa’

Goa, drenched in the silver monsoon showers, is an enchantress bedecked in emerald, peridot and jade. She is all flash and dance even in the rains, for being unobtrusive has never been her style.

The wind is blowing hard. A constant hum fills the air. A stewardess, sturdily built with plaited hair coiled into a bun, receives us with a toothy smile. There is a stream of fast and garbled announcements, shaky clouds and then sunshine. My body is heaved up and then I can feel it sinking and the blue sky melts into a misty sea.

I arrive in Goa to a cloudburst. The airport is like a supermarket, a sharp contrast to the Bangalore Airport with its high ceiling and bright lights. Soon, I am on a bus to South Goa and to the hotel which is 16km away, past the rolling green grounds of BITS, which look like they will spill over the stone compounds given a chance. Sitting between drapes of green are flamboyantly painted houses in pinks and mauves and blues. And in between are old whitewashed churches and silt-stained wavy brick tiles perched like hats over non-descript walls. The air is heavily perfumed as the smell of the earth mingles with the sea scented air.

At the hotel, an infinity pool ends abruptly where the green fields begin – neat square patches outlined in brown. A peafowl’s cry punctuates the air. And if you are really quiet, you can hear the endless, restless roar of the sea from beyond the hedge of swaying palms.

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The Majorda beach is one of the closest beaches and a 20-minute walk from the hotel where I am staying. The narrow streets are quiet and riddled in puddles that are emptied by barreling tourist buses. The street is flanked by homes that are more green than concrete. The walls and compounds are blackened, fresh spurts of algae here and there. Papaya trees stand tall and slender like umbrellas and there are hibiscuses. Occasionally, men step out of nowhere to offer bikes for rent or ask me to come by and try Goan dishes at their restaurant. Folksy Goan music floats out of a home. I approach the Majorda Inn and take the left there and the sound of the sea beckons me on. And then there it is.

Today the sea is the color of larimar. It is vast, moody, cold and aloof, and caught in the rapture of a primordial moon dance as ancient as time. I feel right at home.

A stream (or is it storm water?) tightly squeezed between bushes and trees lurches into the sea almost tripping over itself with the fervor of someone late for a life changing appointment.

The beach is deserted except for clusters of men and a lifeguard setting up cautionary flags. Broken shells stud the sand and there are crows pattering about. There are no shacks now, only a red boat. An eagle circles low, buffeted by the wind, its wings scrunched and I can see its bronze feathers as it captures its dish du jour in its claws. With a few flaps and outstretched wings, it is up and away.

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The water is cool and then it is just me, the sky, sand and sea in silent communion. It speaks a language I know but cannot decipher as it is trapped under the clamor of the white-trimmed waves. Clouds approach swiftly and it rains hard and heavy. Some take shelter at the lifeguard station and others build a sandcastle that does not stand a chance as the rain pounds it and the waves whisk it away. The wind carries the rain further down the beach and the sun shines on.

Ravenous, I head back to the hotel but trade the hotel fare for Masala King Fish at Fish Ka as the much talked about Martin’s Corner is further away.

My trysts with Goa have always been fleeting; the last one was during the millennium when this was the party destination. I wandered the streets of Panjim and bought apricots and a peasant blouse, and rode a water scooter at Calangute, which was so crowded and noisy that the sound of the sea could not be heard over the din. I will take the sea any day.

The incessant rains take away all possibility of another beach visit and it is time to leave. Goa soars up as the plane takes off with a goodbye that is swift and sweet, and then she retreats to where she belongs. The shores zig zag, accentuated by white frothy waves, as if they were drawn by a feni-drunk hand.

Her shores are a slurred song. I leave her dancing.

Then there are only shadows of the clouds staining the sea’s face, tiny ships, an island, fluffy clouds and monstrous clouds that look like icebergs sailing through the sky.

Also @ http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/larimarblues/ 

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Yep, travel companions can make or break a trip. As a child, all I remember is being bundled into a matador or something by family and heading off to places with no names. Not having been kept in the loop about these travel plans, they always seemed so spontaneous. Of these trips, I can recollect fragments like mango orchards at some relative’s place,  a visit to a cousin’s village where they bred silkworms – a sluggish lot and its village pond by the jungle where we splashed around.

Otherwise most trips were to temples and more temples. And we didn’t go there to admire the aesthetics, culture or history…needless to say they were excruciatingly boring. Jostling crowds, craning our necks for a quick glance at an idol that was submerged in jewellery, silks and garlands and a snappy priest urging us to keep moving…

Nisargadhama – the origin of River Cauvery

Then there were the school trips which were far and in between. Nisargadhama en route to Coorg – big rabbits, monks running on the swinging bamboo bridge, bamboos, tree houses and the rock strewn water ringed with low hanging tree branches – River Cauvery’s quiet origin.

The samadhi at the Aurobindo Ashram is adorned with flowers and incense sticks offered by Aurobindo and Mother’s disciples

The other was the Chennai-Mahabs-Pondi route in the middle of a cyclone. Water clogged Chennai streets, the rough sea fed by torrential downpour. We tried to make the most of the beach before taking shelter in a gazebo where we could feed coins into a machine which gave us astrological predictions.

Mahabs with its lovely ruins and a clean stretch of beach was finished within the blink of an eye. Pondi was lovely – the simple yet tasty fare of dal and rice at the Aurobindo Ashram, placing my forehead on the cool marble of the samadhi of Mother and Aurobindo, the promenade at midnight, the sea crashing against the boulders and the spray of water from the inky blackness…

It was back to trips with the family that finally turned me off travel. There was the time in Karwar when a bunch of drunk men chased us and all of us women ended up in a room fearing the worst. The time our guide to Goa insisted that we eat only in Kamat restaurant and not try out the shacks because people who went to such places were not the right kind. The visit to Gokarana where we had to go only to the temple because Om Beach was a nudist beach (years later we found that it was not!!). Needless to say it killed the spirit of travel.

Golden Temple, Bylaguppe – the largest Tibetan settlement in India

Something has to be said about sterile trips with NRIs in air-conditioned cars to resorts – it was a grave injustice to Coorg. But stepping into the Tibetan Monastery in Byleguppe and there in the presence of the giant golden Buddha,  all complaints and fears were silenced.

Surprisingly one of the best trips was the spontaneous one to Gokarna with a brat who despite her admirable determination could not score any chillums in the three days that we were there and who tried to distract me in sneaky ways to make us miss the bus back home. I will save Gokarna for another day but it was that much more memorable owing to a certain Ms S and her pursuit for hippie-ness.