Wednesday, February 25
I’m back from Goa, having seen the funky carnival and gorgeous dolphins and lovely beaches. Traveled through hell on Friday and Monday, and spent two lazy days in the every-holidaying state. (Posted my blogs in advance so you dears won’t miss me! See, I care!!)
To give you a peek into our itinerary – there were 7 of us crammed into a 5-seater Innova (and the driver of course, a lanky, passive fellow with menacing and thunderous ringtones on his cell-phone). So, you can imagine how it was to journey through roughly 1300 kms of W-shaped ghats and highways for 4 days.
Going to Goa by car is permanently struck off from my list of must-do-agains, and I firmly recommend that one travel by flight or train and hire a local vehicle for sight-seeing and transport. Shuts out all your body pains and logistics-related worries.
The Friday of the 20th seems to have been a wicked day (though the one before that was Friday the 13th) as we encountered quite a few troubles. First, we left late, thanks to my Abba who reached from outstation the same morning, and yet went shopping and chore-hopping. As we’d planned to have lunch on some highway dhaba, we were all famished and the car chose exactly this time to declare a puncture.There were no good restaurants around, so we cooled our heels in a nearby shack.
Hardly had we sat in the repaired vehicle and gone a few miles than Udayan Raje’s clan decided to announce a Rasta Roko campaign as their leader’s rally had been lathi-charged by policemen. What the #^%$*&#^%... Harassing innocent, unaware citizens seems to be the way democracy functions in our country, but I’d better not say anymore coz the government has now imposed restrictions on blogging and decided to regulate the venting of opinions on the internet. Guess this concept of selective democracy gives all freedoms to the lawbreakers and attempts to rein the helpless civilians.
So, there we were, stuck coz some illiterate and loutish villagers threw boulders on the highway and refused to let vehicles pass. When finally two policemen arrived on motorbike, the folks fled like goats in front of a lion. 20 minutes gone waste. When we finally moved on, we found no mood or place to halt for a meal, hence, went on our way. Snacks finally happened at Karad at 6 in the evening, and then dinner at 10 at Sawantwadi. On reaching the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) guest house in Vasco close to 1 am, we were ready to collapse into bed as if there was no tomorrow.
The suite was beautiful – it had one huge hall and a pleasant bedroom, both with balconies and all required fittings. We found the presence of two pots in the same bathroom as weird - one western, the other Indian-style, but we realized it was for those who found one particular style difficult to use. Obviously, that didn’t stop us from hypothesizing about how this idea could save time (as 3 could use it simultaneously), space (to handle recession concerns) and promote family bonding (as the family can not just eat, even shit together)!
Enough about travel and lodging, here’s the lowdown on the Goan festivities. The Carnival happens every year as a major tourist attraction in Goa at different locations (Panjim, Mapusa, Vasco, Margao this year). A culture started by the Portuguese, the celebration has the legendary King Momo coming out on the streets to flag off 4 days of merry-making and masti. This takes the form of a parade with several colorful floats and dances, where enthusiastic Goans don masks and make-up to entice and entertain their global guests.
IMHO, the carnival isn’t phenomenal; it’s just a different kinda experience, worth watching once in a lifetime. The energy of the participants has you clapping in joy and the preparations are extraordinary with varied themes and messages right from terrorism to food, animal kingdom to daily life and occupations. It gets monotonous and tiring after a while, especially coz there is nowhere to sit and few refreshments at hand. You can get decent pictures if you’re perched atop a tree or building (most people were) and you can easily make out how much Indians love foreigners by the way the procession bows to involve and include the non-Indian folks.
The next day had us going on a government security launch to tour the devious-now-and-welcoming-then waters and view dancing dolphins. We saw quite a few, so elegant and cute. Unfortunately, you can either take snaps or watch them awestruck; doing both together only serves to mess up your activity. Anyhow, you can freeze memories on the camera, not capture the experience in emotion and richness what your eyes see.
Thereafter, a drive to the beach through the lanes and coconut groves showed us the real Goa, even as we said hello and hugged the waves at the exquisite Colva seashore. The pretty white sand and blue water reminded us of Maldives and I did what I’d never done before – paragliding! Wheeee... Flying in the sky with a motorboat tugging you over the sea, hanging from a parachute... Multiply your biggest joy by 1000, and that’s how you feel...
If you’ve seen Goa once, you won’t enjoy touring it again. The churches and temples can get dull and avoidable. All you feel like doing is lounging around on the beach, drinking whatever it is that you drink (chilled beer or coffee, mocktails or cocktails) and just gazing out at the never-ending, mischievous waves.
Prawns, fish, chicken and eggs – I ate everything in Goa, and enjoyed it. My biggest “Aaha” moment came when my bro dutifully and lovingly removed the scales and bones from the Bangda fish for me to eat. (I’m terrible with bones – be them in fish or chicken; now you know why I always order boneless!) I watched fascinated and vowed to put this in my blog – how two truculent siblings were reunited over the Bangda...
On the way back, we stopped at my uncle’s in Kolhapur for our Mahashivratri faraal. Goddess Mahalakshmi (remember the Kiranotsav story?) chose to grace us with her easy and delightful darshana, that many were left yearning for due to long queues. Besides, we were in luck, coz this day is the only one in the year when the upper Shiv temple is also unlocked for devotees. Venkatash Balaji Prabhu Govindaaa... Thanks, Lord! (For two more top-secret reasons.)
Looks like I’ve recounted everything in a fast forward way. Shall upload the photographs soon so that you can actually see what I’m talking about.