Picture this: The sun has slowly melted away into the water at Palolem beach. I have been sitting here at a shack for the past 2 hours witnessing the sky as it turns from blue to orange to a Van Gogh painting with his visible brush strokes now dominating the twilight sky. And all of this reflecting in the waters of Palolem.. Bliss.. A small boat is parked nearby on the beach. The waves crash just near her bow, teasing her to get in the water and test her mettle. I think I heard her say,‘Not today’. Wait. What?!!. I heard the boat speak???. Finally all the alcohol for breakfast and lunch is showing its effect on me!. There is only one way to recover from this. Little more Alcohol. I order one more pint. and get back at starting inanimately at the horizon! This is more or less what Goa is about. And I Love every bit of it!
That same evening I had a discussion with my friends about what brings us here. Why do we get restless every couple of months if we don’t end up at Goan shores. Is it just the beaches, shacks and alcohol? Those cliched terms like Mountains calling, Beaches calling have been used way too often now to be used meaningfully . But with Goa that’s what actually happens. Theres is a definite summon. Its not that we don’t have beaches in Mumbai. A mere 20 km ride from my suburban home through roads studded with palm and coconut trees just like Goa takes me to some nice beaches. Now we have shacks here too. Its good. But its not Goa. Something was missing. So I decided to find out the reason even if it takes me a life time. Luckily enough the first article on Google search had all the answers that I wanted!
So this is what happened. In the 16th century Portugese came to Goan shores after they got a whiff of a Goan grand mothers fish curry! They were after the spices!. But the Portugese also brought with them something that I will be forever thankfull for. ‘Susegad’. (Sossegado) in Portugese. It means a calm and tranquil state of existence. A feeling of content. This explains everything. 400 years of Portugese rule and the Goan culture now breathes along this principle of state of life.This is my Soul state!! The laid back attitude that we all crave for in our hectic busy lives has been embraced by goans as a part of life! Can youy imagine if Mumbai were under Portugese rule fot that long! Things might have been different! Sadly The Portugese gave away Mumbai to the Brits way too soon!
In the Past seven years of my regular visits to Goa , I have seen a lot of things which havent changed and an equal number of things that have changed a lot!. I have my couple of favourite beaches and that’s where I end up always. The crowd obviously has increased exponentially. I am not complaining here. I am a part of that crowd. I wont be a hypocrite assuming why do all these people have to ruin it! Even though I would love for some beaches to stay hidden away from publics eye, It is as much as their beach as it is mine. Also no matter how much the crowd, goan beach has a place for everyone under the sun. Once you get in the water and move beyond the crashing waves till the surface is calm, the hundred people around wont matter much. I just love staring at the horizon from here. The hippis have moved on from sunbathing naked to wearing shorts atleast!( I assure you a girl in a bikini is always better than a naked girl at the beach!). From a few choices to stay to spolit for choices. As capitalism makes its way through tourism that “susegad” way of life might be changing. But I am hopefull that Goa will survive this. What hasn’t changed is the early morning stillness. Quietude. The fisherman busy with their boats trying to get the best catch for us!. Some foreigners doing Yoga. Some Foreigners meditating. Some Foreigners out for a run. Yes. Foreigners. Never an Indian!. As we move inland those charismatic old colourfully bright Portugese houses still steal your look. A ride on your scooter in a cold wintery morning or late at night through the hills along those small winding roads with mist hanging just above the surface is still very pleasant. The local bars still serve you authentic Goan cuisine. The North Indian chefs at the Shacks do make good food, But only the native Aunty incharge of the kitchen at a local bar knows the exact amount of raw mango to be added to get the exact tanginess in the fish curry!
Goa has a few other things to offer too. A 15 km trail along the railway tracks in the Mollem national park will take you to the mighty Dudhsagar(Ocean of Milk) water falls. It’s a sight to behold. If you are lucky enough you get to come back in a train standing on the engine! Beware of Leeches here. My addiction to chappals meant it was a good lunch for those leeches. There are some interesting temples and churches in Goa too . But once you are done with this, all you need is a beach at the end. Some fine single malt for the night, the sound of those waves crashing and David Gilmour on his guitar seeing to it that your day ends just perfect!
A couple of long weekends still to come before this year ends. Any guesses on where I will end up then?!! :D