Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ahhhh Goa!!!

Last monsoon I had tried very hard, but things went wrong at every step and I had to cancel my plans. Since then, the images of a rain soaked Goa had haunted my mind. Exactly one year later, my hurriedly made plans just clicked and despite chaos at airports, delays, confusion, I was on my way to Goa for a tiny but a much needed break. From the time I finalized my plans, I prayed almost everyday that the rains didn’t stop (yes…very selfish since most of Gujrat and Maharashtra were mostly flooded!)

So, when rain lashed the plane window as it finally stopped in front of the small empty Dabolim Airport, I was thrilled! My friend K & husband S drove me to their home some 40 mins away…through long winding empty wet roads lined with swaying palm trees. All one could see was the colour green…..this is what I had come for….to drown myself in this rain soaked beauty.

Goa is a place which is best explored slowly…in a month or so. But since I sadly had only 3 and ½ days, I tried my best to see Goa my way.

· Fontainhas with its cobbled alleyways and brightly coloured houses with white bordered windows was like a snapshot of a Mediterranean town…more beautiful than I had expected it to be.

· The long driveway leading to Goa’s main centre Miramar was lined with freshly washed trees and old Portuguese style houses tucked far away from the main road in shadowy avenues.

· In Calangute and Baga, I couldn’t resist being touristy and ended up shopping good but dank smelling clothes at discounted price. The beach was crowded for the monsoon season. We went and sat at one of the 2 shacks that were open, sipping cold port wine and watching the clouds roll in from the sea. When the other shack started playing a Punjabi number and a sardar along with his Indian-style swimsuit clad wife started to dance…we moved off. What can be worse than listening to Punjabi numbers in the beaches of Goa!

· At Vagator, the sea was fuming and dashed hard against the rocks; the air was thick with moisture….and the palm trees swayed madly with the wind. We sat and ate prawn and kingfish masala with gusto even as a line of crows watched us impatiently. A group of men from Karnataka came and sat in a similar fashion to the crows watching two white women frolicking in the beach. We stayed there and stared at them till the time they moved off and the women were left alone.

· Chapora fort of the Dil Chahta Hain fame was absolutely fantastic against the ever darkening sky. The dark stone of the fort had turned mossy and the grass was absolutely green underneath. The world up there was a perfect combination of green and black ….and one could only but naturally run down shouting with pure joy at the sight.

· The ruin of St Augustine’s Church in old Goa was mesmerizing. Apart from a group of nuns who sat laughing and talking in a far corner, the ruins were empty adding to the mystery. The rains had turned the stones black and mossy filled with centipedes. Water dripped down from the stones – the sound echoing in the silence. A still-standing section of a huge tower loomed against the grey sky. One could stand still there and hear the Spaniards / Portuguese (its never the Dutch or French!) riding their horses fast and shouting at the enemy….everything around them in ruins. Two old but perfectly maintained churches flanked the ruined church from both sides, adding a strain of melancholy to the whole surrounding.

· What I loved most was driving through the villages of Goa….the real side of Goa. Wet lanes, dark sky, green paddy fields everywhere with small hills in the background, palm trees everywhere and small white churches dotting the landscape…it was simply picture perfect.

· And I loved taking rides on the bike taxis…feeling the rush of fresh air against your skin, the endless empty roads and a mad rush to find shelter before one could get absolutely drenched in those 2 minutes of crazed rainfall. Then as suddenly all would get normal once again….to continue with the drive.

On the last day, when we were waiting for the train to arrive at the quaint station of Thivim, the clouds grew dark again and rain fell heavily as if putting up a final show for us. Sipping hot tea and eating vada pao while watching the outside world turn white, I realized that I had fallen madly in love with Goa. When the train pulled out of the station at 6 in the evening, I remained glued to the windows and soaked in all the view of the rain soaked world outside - before it became dark and I would wake up to a completely different world the next day.