May 1, 2013

Trip to Goa - II

Read Part-I first. Not that it would make any difference, but still.

You know this guy called Murphy? He loves me. I open the newspaper on the flight, only to see a headline: "Drinking banned on Goa beaches"! One of my fondest memories of Goa is sitting on the beach with friends, with a bottle of port wine and plastic cups, sipping the sickly-sweet liquid, observing the sun slowly turn from a bright yellow ball to a soft orange one as the waves lapped at our feet. Now, it will remain just that. A fond memory. The stated reason is to ensure safety of women and to avoid littering on the beaches. A typical government 'solution' to a problem. It looks good on paper, makes it seem as if the government is trying to address the issue, makes all the boring people happy and puts the blame on something harmless. A person who is prone to molesting women can do it when he is sober. And one who respects women wouldn't do it even when he is drunk. Try explaining that to the government though. Anyways, the fun part is that you can get drunk in the shacks on the beach (and then go around molesting women, if that's what you were planning to), but you cannot carry your own bottles and drink on the beach. Sounds suspiciously like some serious lobbying was done by the shack owners to me.

Such depressing news aside, we had a fairly uneventful flight and landed in the land of sun, sand and super cheap alcohol. The first of those was brought home to us immediately as soon as we stepped out of the flight. It was hot. Unbearably, irritatingly, mind-numbingly hot! If-someone-had-thrown-an-egg-at-my-nearly-bald-head-I-would-have-returned-them-an-omelette hot! An air-conditioned prepaid cab was found, and the hotel was reached post an hour long drive. We had booked ourselves into this place called Lemon Tree (on Candolim beach, nice place!) which had a swimming pool with a bar. And water with ass-jet in the loo! All my needs were met, and I mentally thanked my friends. Because you don't say thanks to friends. A fact that Salman Khan made clear more than 2 decades back!

There are 2 things that happen to me on a vacation. I get perennially hungry and once I have had my fill, I feel perennially sleepy. So, we walked into this place called Fisherman's Cove, and I had the first of many brilliant lunches. Rice with fish curry and prawn curry, and a nice dessert to top it off. Food was a highlight of the trip, considering we did nothing else on the trip.

Ok, we actually set out to do nothing on the trip, so one could say we did everything we wanted to (this is a line borrowed from this guy and I never get tired of using it). There are two kinds of people in this world. The first are people who do things on a vacation. They visit places, they shop, they party, they sing karaoke (badly!), they drive around, they take snaps on their fancy cameras and they put it up on every social media imaginable to let the world know that they are having a good time. The second kind are the people who just be. We laze around doing nothing, sitting for endless hours quietly, with a book in one hand and a beer in another, occasionally raising our head to admire the view of the sea. We also do stuff sometimes, like a dip in the pool, but that's just us taking a break from taking a break. Now, I am not saying that this way is better than that or anything of that sort. Some people get excited ticking off a check list. To each his own.

But we also succumb to the temptation of doing stuff. And so, post lunch, we walked to the beach and had a beer or two (at a shack, since taking your own bottles was 'banned'). The combination of great food, chilled beer and bright sun always make me drowsy, and so we returned to the air-conditioned comfort of our rooms for a nap.

Dinner was another memorable affair, at a place called Club Jazz or something. Food wasn't all that great, except for the prawn balchao that I ordered. The server warned me that it might have a strong smell, since it has dried prawns and vinegar. I decided to risk it and was glad that I did. Went well with the whisky too. Simply brilliant!

Since we had already done our quota of sleep, and 2 of the guys in the group were keen followers of European club football, we did some walking around and found a sports bar (J29, it was called) where they were showing the Real Madrid-Dortmund match. Now, I don't know much about club football, but it was a nice fast paced match with the Germans running circles around the Spanish. 2 more beers and I was in this perfect 'happy' zone, with a slight buzz in my head but not too drunk to have a throbbing headache the next day. The trip had got off to a perfect start and I was looking forward to 3 1/2 more days of fun.

The next day, we woke up late (at least by my standards, although my friend insisted that waking up at 9.00 am is really early by Goan standards). Lemon tree has this nice breakfast buffet which comes as part of the room package. Now, I make fun of most traits of my countrymen, especially the way they behave on a vacation. But I am guilty of one of those crimes myself - whenever I see a buffet, I stuff myself silly, eating way more than I possibly can digest. Somehow the concept of unlimited food triggers some switch in my brain which then goes batshit crazy. So, I sampled almost everything they had laid out, then found out that one could order eggs separately, so ordered an omelette, then a french toast, and then sampled some of the pancakes (with generous topping of maple syrup) ordered by friends. All my fitness karma, from 2 half marathons this year, was wiped out in that one meal.

After such a meal, there is only one thing a person can do. And that is to go back to sleep. Which is what my friends did. For a brief time, I was infected by the Indianis touristyitis and I decided that I hadn't come all the way to Goa to sleep in a room. So, I gathered my Kindle and found a hammock by the pool and lay down there. And rose from there half an hour later, with a pain in my neck from trying to maintain the reading angle on the hammock.

After some time in the pool, we went off for another lunch of rice and fish curry, followed by another long walk on the beach, and went back to sleep. We also hired a car to ferry us around for the next 2 days, but were handicapped in the sense that only 2 out of 5 knew how to drive (I don't. Must learn soon!) and one of those two wanted to drink a lot more than would be safe. And so, one guy ended up driving all through. Thanks man, JB.

We read somewhere on the net that there was a party at Curlie's and decided to go for it. We ended up driving to the wrong end of Anjuna beach, and then decided that we were too lazy to go back and find out the correct way. And so we ended up having dinner at Souza Lobo (Calangute).

Now, I have very fond memories of Souza Lobo from my last 2 trips to Goa. Their prawn cocktail was to die for. But somehow the magic seems to have waned. Either that, or it is the 'familiarity breeds contempt' concept as one of my friends (and fellow Souza Lobo fan) put it. But my dinner there was uneventful, with nothing memorable. Hope the next time I go to Goa, it'll be different.

Another trip to the J29 sports bar, this time to watch Chelsea-FC Basel. I found the match boring and hence decided to give up at half-time and go back to bed.

"2 1/2 more glorious days lie ahead," I told myself as I drifted off to sleep.

(looks like I'll have to do a third installment. Considering that people come back with 300+ snaps of their vacation, and every picture is worth a thousand words, I guess I can keep writing...) 


  1. Anonymous6:26 AM

    Are you a hill person or a beach person?
    Also,since i'm planning a trip to goa,is lemon tree a good place to put up? I mean cheap but in an expensive way.

  2. Anonymous6:47 AM

    Save money and travel the world.Many cuisines to taste,many places to see.
    I suppose this was your first time in goa?

  3. of my memories of Goa trip is realizing on the way back that I had made 4 days there without drinking a single drop of water!

  4. Anonymous11:38 PM

    In dec,Goa kills you by being overcrowded.
    I like ooty better.

  5. @ Anon 1:
    I'm a "I'll go anywhere" person.

    And Lemon tree is not cheap... you can check out the tariffs on their website... but I liked the place!

    @ Anon 2:
    "Save money and travel the world"? Yeah, while I am at it, shall I also bring about world peace?

    Easy to say, not to do. There are other commitments which require money, you know!

    @ PD:
    Yeah, what's the point of drinking water there!
    But I did. To get over the hangover.

    @ Anon 3:
    This was not in December. It was in April. Empty beaches.

    And I've been to Ooty enough times. If anything, Ooty is more crowded in summer than Goa.

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