Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ga..ga..over Goa

When Venu proposed this idea of ‘unwinding’ I didn’t know that it would goad me into a Goa-bound train just 45 minutes later. That’s exactly what happened. After a quick last minute read I filed the interview copy, lied to my marketing colleagues with whom I were supposed to go for a Sunday outing and hurriedly backpacked.

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The people along the Western cost, be it Keralites, Mangaloreans, Goans or Konkanees should thank Western Ghat and Arabean Sea. The sea sends water vapour winds which are stopped by the mountain, leading to an abundant splash all over the region. Thus we have rain-fed richly green mountains with dark deep forests, midlands with bountiful farm fields and awesome beaches. The midlands of Goa and Kerala are identical. The type of vegetation, laterite stones, tiled roofs and of course crosses remind one of Kerala. It was a breather for somebody who was missing it for many a month.

In all fairness, Goa’s greenery is richer and it maintained many of its traditional tiled roof buildings. In an ugly display of opulence, monstrous concrete houses stacked with petro dollars displaced most of the simple houses along the waysides of Kerala. Goa outrivals Kerala in density of Churches as well, which forced priests posted there to complain Portuguese King “Our bell and their bell. Our choir and their choir. There is cacophony here”.

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When in Goa be Goans. When a small bottle of Carlsburg ejected that rough edged calcium stone from my bladder last year mom told me “that’s fine, but don’t make it a habit”. But, it might be the fear of its recurring tendency and beer’s digestive property that made me an occasional beer drinker. One bottle of KF is a given. About fenny, it is after all a country liquor brewed from the juice of cashew apple. You know, I am all for local inventions and organic products. But the danger was I had three unmixed fenny shots (the last one was an accident, I mistook fenny for water). It’s only then I realised how much I love my brother, how well I can engage my father in a conversation and how funny the chat with mom can be.

I talked about house construction and finance with brother, then discussed stories and career with father and chatted about all that happened in the day with mom (including the virtues of fenny). Anyway, mom didn’t call me the next day. May be she didn’t want to hear my fenny-inspired ‘gunavathikaaram’ (blah-blah) for the second day. All said, I still consider myself a teetotaller, just like fish-eating Bongs consider themselves vegetarians.

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A little intoxication can sometimes bring out your hidden faculties. Venu found it hard to open the door and applied further pressure. The key broke into two pieces. The rest was a drama. ‘Hurt’ by a bizarre incident, an enraged tourist – that is me - rushes to the reception and complains about the ‘subquality’ key. Only later that everyone realised we tried entering the wrong room! But by the time we successfully put the blame on the management who procured fragile keys for the hotel doors. But in the absence of a spare key, I had to climb over the balcony and do a spiderman to unbolt the backdoor.

The next morning when we checked out, wisdom dawned on the hotel people. They demanded penalty for breaking their key by trying it on the wrong door. We stuck on the ‘subquality’ argument. Now we had additional points; the security of the hotel. Someone could easily sneak in through the backdoor. What if a thief adopts the same way, just as the tourist with the misplaced key did the previous day? No fines, nothing, only thank you!

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Each time I enjoy the soft and not-so-soft beatings of sea waves, which come one after the other, I remember one of my earlier visits to seashore. That was when I was in seventh, I guess. Just before V.P.Singh’s rally, we – father and me - along with the fellow party workers from our hilly village had a sea bath. When he took me to the shores father reminded me of those popular lyrics: kadalile olavum karalile mohavum adangukillomane adangukilla…(the waves in the sea and desires in the heart will never stop).

And that day I saw how drunk and crazy he can be which made me threaten a sudden return. This time in Goa, I was perhaps five times less drunk and crazy. But I was at least slightly drunk and slightly crazy. I think once in a while it is good to have a sea bath and to be a little crazy. Preferably, at Kolva beach.

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Having left Goa, one thing I miss the most is fish curry rice. The Goan fish fry with coarse rice flour will make you all the more joyous. We had a repeat of the same for the second day lunch. From an unimpressive wayside eating place in Old Goa, each of us had two bowls of rice and half a dozen fish pieces, along with other side dishes. All for 80 bucks! Oh forgot to add, the boy took two clicks of us enjoying lunch. By the time I returned, the stomach has become a small aquarium.

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The third and last day was not meant to be fully fun. We were in the village town Koodal where Maharashtra politician and onetime chief minister Narayan Rane is contesting elections from. Two and a half hours away from the Goan town of Mapusa, this Konkan village town has narrow roads, old buildings and Malvadi-speaking unambitious farmers. If he gets elected yet again, Rane should ensure one thing that many more banks will open their ATMs there. It was scary to walk pennyless for about one k.m. only to find the omni-present SBI ATM is shut. The 12th person we asked did help; there was an Indian Bank ATM on the other part of the town. Thank God.

Talking about money, I don’t know how we can plan out an austere trip. Perhaps, a totally unplanned one would be better. The three-day Goa trip cost each of us in the region of Rs 2500!

8 comments:

drifter said...

It was a wonderful read Manu! Thanks for posting it...and I have stolen one line from the blog for my Facebook status...u should take it as a compliment :) Keep writing!

Firos said...

Excellent piece of writing...Enjoyed every bit of it....

"the last one was an accident, I mistook fenny for water..."

This sentence reminded me of a Kochi boozing party where Mr Pukha hoodwinked you by pouring an extra peg :-)

Adith said...

Well written piece...bring back my own memories of Goa!!!

shafeeq sm said...

it was a nice read manu.Unplanned travel always has such a thrilling unexpectancy

reporter'sdiary said...

Thank you divya, firos,adith and shafeeq...u all made me so happy...

stephen said...

Hai Manu I went through the piece u have written in the blog. good and nice language. the flow of writing is good but I feel that u sketch the hidden feelings on the surface of language. keep it up

Jayan said...

Manu, I really enjoyed your posting. You have told the Goa story in a very interesting style.

I feel like getting into a Konkan train without a reserved seat to enjoy the beauty of 'rural Kerala', in Goa.

All the best!

Beastmaster said...

Manu... ur markting friend whom who lied.
Ok. I can understand that the trip was good. Cool.
HEy..but how did you climb the balcony of your hotel when you were drunk??? Too risky man.
And..lets do plan something for Goa next time