Sun, sand and beaches have always been my go-to place for some perspective, breaking the daily monotony, and rediscovering self. My three days in Goa were a retreat from the routine.
An overnight drive from Pune, sleeping through the troughs and turns tracing the plains and Ghats alike, we embraced the palm trees and the sultry weather of Goa with Mapusa. Bargaining for an affordable ride, and a few hacks later, the three of us set off on the two bikes that we had hired.
Unfamiliar routes, untraced paths and unseen faces welcomed us to Goa with all its heart. As we drove through the lanes searching our way to Anjuna, following GPS and the road signs; white churches, dainty houses, antique shacks, and mysterious ways gave us company.
A few bends and turns later, we arrived at our destination – The Roadhouse Hostels, off Anjuna beach. The place was shrouded in a corner but nonetheless the vibes were vibrant. Grabbing a quick bite at the next door ‘Mango Shade’, we breaked-fast with avocado toast, eggs, bacon, cinnamon pancakes, and Turkish coffee. Satiated, we walked our way to the beach for the first look of the soothing waters. Anjuna being a rocky beach, the waves weren’t quite high but the unexplored shacks were our mindless recluse. With the calming sea in sight and a King’s beer in hand, we were sorted for the day. We sat by the shack called ‘Five’ and grabbed our first bite of chilly prawns as starter. Exploring the nooks and corners along the shore line, we enjoyed the first dip and the last bargain in the beachside shops. Just lazying around for hours assured cheap thrills.
A hearty lunch and a restful soul made way for the return to the hostel for a change. As we readied for the next adventure, we bumped into the main guy of the hostel, responsible for marketing. Holding true to his virtue, he recommended us places to go, offering us his ‘kind’ company at times, and a checklist for later (marketing guy, truly). Although we ignored several of his other advices, we were glad to have complied by with skipping Calangute and Baga beaches off our list, simply because we chose to discard ‘commercial’. We headed thereby to Chapora Fort and Vagator beach thereafter. A walk up the muddy hill, Chapora fort was nothing but a set of ruinous walls although with spectacular views. As the sun dipped, we clicked and basked in the glory of mesmerizing views below us. On our way back downhill, we dunked into ‘kachha aam’ and soothing cucumber before heading for the Vagator beach.
We rejoiced in the hearty waves of the Vagator Beach, laying our eyes on the beautiful sunset in the vast horizons. As the sun kissed the pristine waters, we dipped, dived, soaked and replenished our tainted souls - a beachy affair!
Next, we headed back to our hostel for yet another change. The lights were out, and the way back we traced the routes in dimless lights and fading street lights, a rarity in itself. Goa by the night was reclusive, a dimly lit spark of spooky and spunk – a heady concoction indeed. Donning in the spirit, we dashed for Thalassa on our bikes, like three fearless women raring to go on the empty streets of a town we had only started to get familiar with.
As the road curved, the empty street made way to the crowded junction; etched in bold white ‘Thalassa’. Walking upto the outdoor dining area with a mini Greek look charming the audience, my interest was piqued by the artists performing with laser beam lights, donning fancy glass costumes. A quick glance at the menu , we rejected the Greek cuisine and the place packed to full with a private party on. We chose Goan cuisine at the Om Rose Garden in Anjuna, much to our delight. A relaxed seating on cane chairs with the right drinks and food for company, the melodious numbers playing in the background, there was little else needed to make us happy. Our sober selves tucked into bed by 12 a.m. that night, breaking all Goan stereotypes.
Chatting up with our fourth roommate who was on a solo trip- an Assistant Director working on a web series, we finalized our agenda for day 2. Scooting our long drive way to the Morjim beach, we spent a good 6 hours on the beach, shack-ing and slaying it in the waters. The tan didn’t bother us and the waves didn’t deter us. Playing throwball in the waters, wave-riding, swimming in the sea – we did it all. When we returned to the sun beds in the shade, it was either for food or the drinks. Pomfret, fruit salad with ice-cream and a fresh lime soda were some of the other unconventional choices that came by in the trip.
Further drive to the Aarambol beach was thrilling again. We walked the entire stretch of the beach and further up, crossing all the stalls selling junk jewellery and clothes, passing by beachside shacks overlooking the blue waters. When we stopped at the much anticipated sweet water lake, we were more than a wee bit disappointed. All hullabaloo for a still water lake, which almost looked like a pond laced with green colored algae. Thankfully, this side of the beach was more peaceful and hence we basked in the sun beds and soaked in the waters, yet again.
Charting a total of 18 km back to the hostel from Aarambol, the drives had been long. A quick stop-over at the hostel, and we were ready for the next adventure. A chat up with the folks in the common area and we all decided to head forth together to the Saturday night flea market on our scooters. The market was an eclectic mix of colourful stalls and live music. Crowded as it were, it saw a diversity of sorts; a culmination of arts, flavours (although the food stalls weren’t all that great), sounds, and people. With no fixed plans for the night for later, we scouted the nooks and corners bargaining for trinkets and pieces of junk jewellery.
Little did we know then what the night had in store for us. A couple of our friends staying in Baga joined us at the market with a plan to go to Capetown in Baga. Just as we pulled our scooty in the corner, driving through the muddy parking, our bike skid. Being the pillion rider, not only did this come as a shock to me but I also ended up getting more hurt, luckily not as much. Our bruised and pained selves tuck-towed our way back to the hostel with friends to the rescue. We got first aid from our hostel, and later cleaned ourselves up. Thereafter we sat in the lobby with our fourth roommate for company and a British guy who was working for Ogilvy and also, incidentally, shooting an ad film in Goa. We chatted the night away and doused our collective agonies in sleep, looking forward to a fresh start the next day.