Breathe in and breathe out. It is the most natural process for humans. At times, though, it seems heavier a task than lifting grocery bags. Such was my condition soon after I graduated.
A tradition called forth a vacation to somewhere so we could relax our minds and have it sink in the feeling of the end of an era.
The obvious destination: Goa. Cheap food, cheaper alcohol and the beach; what more could one ask for?
For me, however, more than celebrating the end and letting it all sink in, I needed to breathe. Breathe in Goa, I wondered. At this time of summer, it would be mauled with people from everywhere noisily sunbathing on the beach. The clubs would be crowded and loud, and tranquillity would seem miles away from the coast.
Keeping in mind the pennies that we have for a budget and the urgency for a getaway, it is the most plausible option.
A suggestion by an elder cousin, we decide to explore Palolem, far away from the otherwise known Goa. An almost two-hour journey from Margaon, Palolem secludes itself from the rest.
When we arrive at Palolem, we walk towards our rooms not far away from the shore. As I stand on the porch of the restaurant, the waves break at a distance from me. The water is a crystal blue and the sand lit golden with the sun shining above it. Palolem welcomes us warmly.
The beach is a stretch from end to end. With few residents and fewer visitors, the silence is peaceful. The restaurants and guestrooms are run by the village locals, most of them family businesses. Palolem attracts more foreign tourists than national and has its peak season from November to March.
After settling the luggage in the room and changing into something more comfortable, we head out for lunch. The beach shacks at Palolem have an assorted menu, quite like their expected guests. Lasagnes, kinds of pasta, sushi, Thai and Portuguese cuisines further tingle our taste buds.
Towards the evening, we dip into the water. The waves are strong and almost wash us ashore. Kayakers and surfboarders have a pleasant weather for activity. At sundown, the beach embraces a warm pink hue.
Dinner at Palolem is quite incomplete without some dance. Some shacks play the new chartbusters while a few keep it tuned to the 90’s. It’s a song and dance affair until the food is served.
A few tables are set out on the beach. With your feet in the soft sand and the table lit with candles, dinner is served hot and fresh from the tandoori skewers that are barbequed not far from sight. Calamari, crabs, and chicken served with Indian bread well buttered on all sides.
We go back to the room after the filling meal. Our room opens to the view of the beach. The deck hosts high from the ground. We put up resting chairs outside and look up at the star-filled night sky as we sip on wine and listen to Clapton. Tomorrow we will head out to explore the islands.
The mornings at Palolem begin with the sounds of waves breaking the silence of dawn. The island is a 20-minute boat ride from the beach. As we each choose a vantage point on the boat, we keep an eye out for lucky dolphins. There are several islands we pass before we halt at one.
The island is empty. The boat is anchored and we hop off to explore the stranded shore like Crusoe. The sea is as far as the eye can see. The blue waters spread around us, engulfing us in it.
Although the island is small, the seclusion of it from everything gives it a meditative feeling. The waves wash ashore and gently touch our feet as we sit and gasp at the brilliance of the blue waters ahead of us.
On our way back, we see Palolem from the waters. The stretch of its shore and the crown of coconut trees it wears on its head.
For lunch this afternoon, we explore the local Goan cuisine. Curries in coconut base served with rice and meat.
As evening comes, the beach again dressed in an auburn drape. We gasp at the vastness. Tomorrow, we will be leaving Palolem.
On our last night, we are visited by the stars again. We try to find constellations; the moon is out of sight. As Palolem sleeps cradled in the lullaby of the waves, we sip our last glass of wine with the stars and the sea.
We travel back from Palolem to Panjim, to catch the bus back home. It has been a pleasant trip. The calmness of the sea and the tranquility in the air has been relaxing.
Breathing in and breathing out.