Every road has a song. I have always reminisced about road trips by the songs attached to them. An artist or a song is played in loop; either in my head or on my earphones. A little hummmm hummm....all along the way.
Wish I was here - Cat Power and Coldplay
The journey from Veraval to Diu on a GSRTC bus after some train hopping was a welcome affair. The sunset, the wind on my face, the dust in my hair and the tea at different stops. I remember, vividly, the change, from wide open fields to the palm trees, from the chaos to the clam, from bright lights to tiny dots. Welcome to Ilha de Calma. The lighthouse, the churches, the ships at the sea; all gleam through the night.
Dotted with overwhelming number of people, I definitely had made a mistake, I thought to myself. The thirsty had come to the well and by the looks of it, the dry state had too much of thirst to quench. I got talking to the shopkeeper who said that I had come at a wrong time and all the tourists would leave early in the morning. I smiled and we stared at each other; I, happy about the fact that Diu would be crowd free; the shopkeeper, puzzled at my happiness.
One very important reason to travel, for me, is to understand what people think of the endless things around us. So many people, so many perspectives. I don't have an obsession for the fair-skinned. I meet people and that's it. I don't segregate them into classes, colour, country, race or religion. So lately I have tried to choose places where I can find history of people of that region and get closer to the place in question. In my quest to find ancientness, I got myself a room for INR 300/day atop Diu museum (Hotel Sao Tome Retiro). It is actually an old church (St. Thomas Church) which has been converted into a museum and other rooms were made into a hotel. The rooms at the rooftop were built during the present time while the rooms below are a part of the church. The sunrise from the rooftop is one of the best you'll ever see.
I rented a scooter for two days and a bicycle for one day. Once you have seen the whole of Diu and you know your spots, it makes sense to enjoy the serene calm on a bicycle.
The most popular tourist destinations are always first on my list. So that I can cross them off as quickly as possible and take my time to explore around and feel the land. Nagoa (pronounced nagwa) is the most popular beach of Diu. It is close to the airport and is home to a few resorts. Water-sports were aplenty. I got to try a few for free owing to some crazy circumstances. Further down the road is the Vanakbara beach and Gomtimata Beach. A long and lonely beach with the fish market and the docking site nearby. Ice blocks were being cut and placed on to the boats as I circled around the docking site. A happy lot they were; didn't mind the sun, didn't mind my camera and didn't mind my questions. Spent the day with them talking, strolling and drinking half a dozen tea cups. As they set sail, I waved goodbye and set off on my scooter.
Portuguese food is on the decline in Diu as there are very few of them from the older times. O' Coqueiro is the only place which boasts of serving Portuguese food. The food was tasty but I am no judge of authentic Portuguese food as I had never had it before. So if you have ever tasted Portuguese food then do go ahead and try it and let me know if they truly serve authentic or atleast Portuguesy Portuguese food.
Diu does have the calm it is known for. Through almost deserted streets, I walked down from my hotel to the bandar chowk, passing the famous churches along the way; St Paul Church and the Church of St Francis of Assisi. Only the flutter of the leaves and the ancientness resided.
Next day started with Ghogla Beach; a Nagoa in the making with lesser crowd and no concrete. The Diu Fort's timings were a mess. It opens after the sunrise and closes before sunset. One doesn't get to view either from the fort. The Naida Caves are man-made and hence it takes out the charm. The Jallandhar and Chakratirth beach lie on the way to INS Khukri Memorial. These beaches are small, clean and deserted though they lie by the side of the road. Take a dip to relax and no one will bother you for hours. The cliff running outward of INS Khukri memorial has the best sunset view. For 3 days straight, I would park my bike/bicycle and make my way to the cliff to view the setting sun. I sat there in the afterglow with the moist breeze that gathers strength as the sun sets and brings the chill. At this you realise the true meaning of Ilha de Calma; the Isle of Calm.
DP Bar is among the oldest bars in Diu. Divided in booths, it is frequented by the frequents. Time stops here while the oldies reminisce over whisky. I met many interesting people here, one of whom even made the effort to come down to the train station to give me a packet of sweets and packed lunch. The next time I visit Gujarat, I am to stay at his village and visit Gir.
Read books, strolled at in the streets of Diu alongside churches and old villas, enjoyed the sunrises and the sunsets, with the chilly breeze in my soul. No plans and no worries in the Isle of Calm.
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
* Renting a scooter is pretty easy. The bike-rental agents have put up their phone numbers at the main market of Diu. The average rental is for INR 350/day. You can rent a bicycle too.
*Rent a bicycle once you have seen the island and know your spots.
*There are many budget hotels. You don't necessarily have to book one in advance and you can find good rates. Try and stay around the Diu Museum area. It's calmer and more Diu like.