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TRAVEL

 
Go Goa!! 

Nobody thought we would, but boy! Did we pull it off! Ms. N. Gandhi on her trip to one of the best vacation spots in India

BY MS. N. GANDHI

There is something in the air in Goa that speaks of holidays...of relaxation and of letting down your hair. The golden beaches and white sands, the shacks at the beaches, the colourful sun umbrellas, the white bodies that lie seeking to tan themselves under the Indian sun, the gallons of beer that are consumed daily. 

I think the trip to Goa must be our most epic journey especially since we planned on one day and two days later we were in Golden Goa!! We 
travelled by the Konkan Kanya Express Railway to Goa. The journey on the Konkan Railway (KR) confirmed my earlier belief that KR as a Railway is more beautiful to look at from outside the train than from inside. It is said that this train runs along India’s latest and most expensive section of track with over 80 kilometres of tunnels. Passing through each tunnel meant the children in the carriage making silly noises.... quite fun really. As most part of our journey was by night, in the morning we were greeted by lush green paddy fields...a welcome change. It was also fun to be able to sit with the feet hanging out the door and watching the Konkan region pass by. 

We arrived at the Madgaon Station in Goa at noon, after having spent 12 hours in the train [that was late by 2 hours]. This station is nothing more than a corrugated iron roofed building and a smallish platform. We met up with the Hotel Pick-up person and boarded the transfer bus. The bus ride to our Hotel was pleasant and scenic. The bus followed a narrow, climbing and twisting road and at the most inopportune moment, decided to pass another bus. The whole manoeuvre took a dangerously long time and I didn't want to even think about any potential oncoming truck or rickshaw! When travelling around, you get a feeling that Goa certainly has had tourists here for too long. We had our first indications of what a tourist Mecca this area is as even the local buses had backpackers.

We stayed at the Majorda Beach Resorts [South Goa] with a private beach that is claimed to be beautiful, and almost deserted white sand beach. The beach is, in short, idyllic. A vast beach (about 2kms wide), an average of ten tourists on the beach. Not having seen any others, I can't compare this beach with the others, but it is a beautiful crescent of sand. 

After settling into our rooms, we headed for the beach where a perfectly clean ‘four of us’ were transformed into sand covered ragamuffins. We later swam in the pool playing Marco-Polo and clicking pictures. That night our room acted as all of the following – pictionary, fight arena, gossip area…

The following morning was spent in the pool and at the beach (again). 
In the afternoon, we got off our lazy backsides and got to see a little 
of the State. First, we went to see the Mangueshi Temple. We had a 
thorough and well-read guide with us who gave us a brief history of the place prior to the visit. In the courtyard there was a seven-storey 'Deepmal', a tower for oil lamps. The citizens and tourists too offer devout worship to Lord Shiva here. A bit of History was in store for us when we visited the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus Church - the most famous building of Old Goa which contains the tomb and mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. A quick visit to Panjim town and then a fantastic cruise [more comments from the rest!] aboard the Royal Cruise around Mandovi River followed. The long day concluded with dinner back at Majorda. Later, that night was spent playing Taboo and a bit of ‘bonding’ session. 

The next day we relaxed at the hotel playing different sports including squash and ‘rounders’ at table tennis. Our mornings had to include a dip in the pool and this day wasn’t any different. The evening went debating whether to go to Calangute, eventually shopping had to be the sought after option and we visited Calangute market famous for its hippies, artists, mild crazies and shopping items such as jholas, sarongs, t-shirts et al. 

The fourth day [and the day we were to leave], we decided to go to Colva Beach to shop a bit more in case we may have missed out on the 
various options available. Bargaining is the word to use here as each and every shop quoted obnoxious rates that eventually came down to a more acceptable one. 

Our return train was late by an hour and that only meant more time with each other. The journey back was followed where the mindless idle chatter continued long into the night until our fellow passengers got tired of us and insisted we sleep and let them sleep! Sampling train soup and bread-butter (that was applied using ice-cream sticks), upset stomachs (!) and some headaches later we finally arrived at Dadar Station to be welcomed by rains and bade tearful (!) good-byes [even though we would see each other in two days' time!!] 

Goa has the unique distinction of being able to be enjoyed, no matter who you are or where you are [though it matters who you are ‘with’]. 
There is about Goa a feeling of freedom...the freedom to rediscover the 
lost you in the timelessness of watching the beach; there is the freedom of walking bare feet on the sands, of wearing shorts for dinner, of leaving the world and its cares behind. Being a well-established backpacker destination, there was no shortage of food, Internet cafe and people dressed strangely. We did try to dress conservatively, still, it was  nice to be able to wear shorts, without feeling you might be leched at any moment [although we did get leched at].

Goa has a sense of history and antiquity in the old churches and forts 
and the delightful Portuguese architecture. Finally, it is a flood of 
memories and of images. The whisper of the wind, waves that lather as they collapse at your feet, nights under the stars. Seashells that carry the sound of the ocean...the warmth of waters that envelop you...horizons that stretch forever. It had indeed been a memorable trip. Hats off to Nehaben and Viralbhai for bearing (and surviving) an enthu and crazy lot such as us and letting us have the time of our lives! Thanks! GO 
GOA!!

BY MS. N. GANDHI

God save the Malayalee

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