Friday, August 21, 2009

Viva La Goa (Means some exotic thing in some exotic language)

PS 1: If you're here looking for useful information, like places to stay or stuff to do in Goa, now's as good a time as any to turn back. There are any number of smart useful websites for that as a cursory google will tell you.
Why would a bunch of sensible (presumably ie, take it as true for want of evidence to the contrary) levelheaded 28 yr olds go on a beach holiday when there's news of torrential rainfall and the coast itself is washed out. Why would they not do the prudent thing of hitting the hills perhaps or wherever else is the right place to go in Monsoon (Kerala tourisms monsoon ads notwithstanding.). Bcoz they were drunk thats y. There's no other logical explanation to how we ended up booking ourselves - 12 of us - on a trip to Goa in what is apparently the 'peak of offseason' on a hazy sunday morning a few months back.
Once we decided to go, we were all very organized about it, thanks to the entrepreneur in our midst. Committees were promptly formed, food&wine, watersports, travel, shopping, beachilpaatumpaadinakkal etc etc..there were about as many committees as there were of us. Several parallel mail chains were triggered, and gmail storage limits were, for the first time in recorded history: exceeded. Ofcourse not that a lot of good came out of all the planning, save for keeping the Scroogej entertained through many lonely days at work..when he would otherwise have wallowed deeper into self pity on account of hitting Goa with 5 couples and a fellow stag.
And thus the day dawned(as is said in narratives..), and armed with enough booze within (thanks to strategically located standing bars close to the station) and without (in sprite bottles..yawn ..what an old collegeboy trick that is..) we boarded the train. After giving some elementary gyan on the functioning of Indian rail to the newbie in our midst (no, they dont distribute blankets in sleeper class, and no trains dont run on coal thats only in the movies, and the water for the loo? ofcourse they recycle..) and irritating the hell out of the poor old lady who happened to be stuck in our compartment we went to sleep. Woke up to the cheerful news of a railway bridge having been washed off and how our train would go only till Hubli. At this point, most of us resigned ourself to 3 yucky wet days of being cooped up drunk in hotel rooms playing cards and pictionary. And the rest set about bargaining with taxi drivers and setting them upon each other to vie for the noble task of taking us across to Goa.
However the cynics - self included - were in for a pleasant surprise. The weather was just short of awesome with showers only in the evening. Most of the time it was that perfect cool climate perfect for biking. Ofcourse the sea was rather rough and those among us that had hoped to come back with parasailing pics and banana boat tales were sorely disappointed. That would have to be another trip. That apart though we rarely ever missed the crowd, and definitely not when we got nice offseason discounts on everything from hotel rooms to trinkets at the flea market. Its the kind of place that grows on you, is Goa. Nice little package, and something in it for everyone. I got off the train and went yawn this is soo like Kerala, but revised that opinion rather quickly. Well, there are parts of Kerala to substitute for almost very part of Goa, but all of it packed together in a few couple of square KMs, now that is something. And ofcourse thanks to the Portuguese stopping by a couple of centuries back their architecture and food and everything has a nice firang touch. Oh and the food, by my own estimate I consumed a whole poultry farm worth of eggs for breakfast over those 4 days..
The first night we hit the Casino. Spend the night alternately gambling (to me as also for most of us this amounted to deciding where on the roulette table to keep those chips to maximize gain, but the more serious among us tried to apply what they had learned in the blackjack books ..hangover style..) and making up for the 1500 INR cover charge in the form of as many cocktails as can be downed in the course of a night. The place was rather crowded actually, I hate to think what it must be like in season. Self was designated driver (yet again, so will skip the rant).
Most of the remaining days were spent checking out one beach after the other -Baga, Arambol, Anjuna etc. The ride to Arambol is what I loved most in the whole trip. We had bikes and had a ride that took us through verdant paddy fields, hills, the sea, and riversides all in some 50 kms. There was a spot of beach football, thus arranged only so that the footballer could entertain himself at the expense of the rest of us running after him and the ball. Oh, and we did go to the titos and mambos of the world. In fact the best food in Goa was had at Titos, and at 8.4k for 12 people (with wine) it was surely a steal (anything looks like a steal, compared to bleddy blore prizes.) We stayed well off the touristy circtuit though and gave a miss to the Dona Paulas and the Cathedrals. DH & I even missed the Fort Agoda coz we got there just about closing time, and I sulked for the rest of the evening about it..Oh well, we have enough reason to go back..