Monday, 9 September 2013

Get set go.....aaaah!

I am, like any other true blue-blooded Bengali, blessed with all their divine qualities: perpetual acidity, unmatched sarcasm, bolster-lovingness, believer of “eating fish = breathing” and “Sourav Ganguly =/> all-Hindu-deities-taken-together”, an overdose of narcissism and the everlusting wander-lust. Yes, “lust” is the keyword here. We don’t just love to travel. For us, travelling is a way of life, just like food, clothes, oxygen and orgasm. For any normal Bengali, 40% of his savings is reserved for travelling. If you check the names of tourists detained in Kashmir, or those alienated from the rest of the world by devastating landslides in Darjeeling or the sweeping cyclones in coastal Orissa, you will find 90.8% of them are Bengalis.

For me, travelling is a bundle of happy feelings….the thrill of drinking the favourite brand of Vodka raw (Dev-D style) and singing “Intehaan ho gayi intezaar ki” loud, the delight of watching “Sholay” and muttering the dialogues even before the actors could deliver them, the excitement of discovering a white creamy moustache after a glassful of lassi and an orange tongue after gobbling an orange-flavoured popsicle, the fun in ringing your neighbour’s doorbell and running away…..the solace of a detangled ear plug.

From blood pumping trekking on the mountains to the soul-soothing succor of the seas, from the magnificence of mighty monuments to the crowd and chaos of the cities, from the dancing dunes of the deserts to the flora and fauna of the forests…..travelling allures me endlessly. And some day, I would love to travel the length and breadth of my country…..a country that orchestrates its bewildering diversities and creates a soulful symphony of sights and sounds, smells and savours.  

They say, all good things come in small packages. No, I am neither talking about my height nor my bank balance here. I am talking about Goa. I read somewhere that Goa stands for three things: it’s green, it’s glistening and it’s gorgeous. For me, Goa also stands for the sun, sand, sea and sossegado (meaning laid-backness).

Before I visited Goa, I had certain preconceived notions.
1.      Goa stands for “dope, drink and die.”
2.      Goa is very expensive and it can carve a hole in your pocket.
3.      Goa is for the young.
4.      Goa is unsafe.

A single visit had put all my ideas in a washing machine on a high speed mode and washed them clean. Goa is for ALL….irrespective of age, diverse tastes, culinary preferences and sizes of their money belts (Yes, Goa pleases all pockets with its accommodations ranging from a humble backpacker’s lodging to extravagant star-rated hotels). It is equally enchanting for the adventurous and the lazy, for lovers of colonial architecture and for lovers of pomp and parties. The feel of wet sand tickling your feet, the overwhelming smell of spiced teas and Feni, the marvel of century-old cathedrals, the serenity of the rivers and the turbulence of waterfalls, the array of vertebrates from the bounty of Arabian Sea adorning on your platter, the mouth-flooding spicy Pork Vindaloo, the quaint desolate beaches and the bustling flea-market will enthrall you alike. 




From childhood to this present day, whenever I lay my eyes or nose on something beautiful, I am reminded of Ma. "I wish I could show her what lies ahead". Goa was no exception. And, I had decided that if I ever plan a vacation for my family, it has to be Goa. Yes, they will freak out for the same four reasons given above, but I will convince them. I got married when I was in college. When I started working, I was already much-married. Planning a vacation for my family never happened as such, because for me, it was never about sponsoring one for them. I wanted to be a part of it, holding their hands, showing them around, telling them stories about each destination, suggesting to them the local cuisine and clicking several photographs. And with Goa, I not only want to weave for them a boulevard of beautiful dreams, but would also fulfill my long-cherished desire of planning a holiday for my parents.       

The journey to and from Goa can easily be done by air. However, if I have to plan, I would squeeze in atleast one train journey (Mandovi Express) in the itinerary because (i) the landscape of the Bombay-to-Goa stretch is punctuated with shades of green, the Western Ghats and waterfalls and is breathtaking, (ii) Baba loves train journeys, (iii) Ma loves train-food, (iv) I love sleeping in bunk beds.

Once we reach there, I would prefer South Goa for their lodging. South Goa is tranquil and peaceful and ideal for a couple on the wrong side of fifties. Of all the beaches in South Goa, I loved Colva the best. It is a perfect blend of serenity and exhilaration. I would choose the same resort where we had put up. The room had a glass wall facing the sea (not sea facing balconies and windows, but an entire wall!) Baba can laze on the bed, drown in a book while the sea can play its music in the background. The Man, Ma, bhai and I are the enthusiastic kind. We can go for long walks bare-feet on the sea-kissed sand, collect sea shells, bask in the hue of the setting sun, sip Feni cocktails and sing our favourite songs.




Colva has a wide assortment of eateries ranging from beach shacks to bistros. Sea Pearl-Sea Food Specialty Restaurant, Tate’s, Mickey’s, Silver Sands, Dominique’s Beach Shacks, Lucky Star-Goan Specialty Restaurant (all in Colva) and Pedro’s Bar & Restaurant (on Benaulim Beach) are some of the options. While the rest of the world may eat to live, Bengalis live to eat. My family is no exception. We plan meals the first thing in the morning (and eat before we pray). We go to bed with the anticipation of what to eat on the next day. So my research has to be precise and accurate when it comes to the eating joints.

And, Goa is a foodie’s paradise which boasts of succulent prawns and fiery-red fish curries, sea food delicacies, mouth-watering confectioneries and cheap Tax-immune alcohol. What amazed me was not only the taste of Goan food but also their names. Here are some:

Soups: Sopa Grossa, Bolinas Queijo, Canja de Galinha, Caldo Verde, Sopa de Cebola and  Sopa de Ervilhas are the most popular.


Fish Curries: Sorak, Amottik Fish Curry, Oyster Pie, Prawn Temperado, Fish Recheiado, Langouste Balchao, Portuguese Sardines, Fofos de Peixe, Baked Caranguejos (Crabs) and Caldeirada are some of the many.


Meat: Sorpotel, Cabidela, Pork Balchao, Pork Baffado, Pork Vindaloo and pickled Pork are dishes one must have before they die. (As I write this part of the post, I may die of short circuit if the charging wire reacts to my overflowing saliva).


Sweets: Coconut macaroons, Dodol and Neurios are Goan delicacies where coconut is the main ingredient with generous helpings of cashews, jaggery, cardamom powder, vanilla essence and almonds.






Cars are easily available on rent. Since all the three men can drive, we can get an entire car to ourselves. The South Goa itinerary would include beaches of Loutolim, varca, Cavelossim, Mobor, Betul, Agonda and Palolem. The texture of the sand, the colour of the sea varies from beach to beach and I am sure that would be a goosbump-evoking experience for Ma who is a Geography teacher. I can just contemplate the glitter in her eyes and the eagerness of a 10 year old in her heart. Of all the beaches, I mentioned Palolem is the prettiest…(so pretty that you would plan in advance: “When I die, please please God, see to it that I die here”). I plan to take my family for a boat ride to the Butterfly beach, Green islands and Patnem-Colomb beach from Palolem.


The North Goa trip will be planned with a day’s gap in between keeping in view their age and health. The main attractions in North Goa are Fort Aguada on the Sinquerim beach (we will click our own ‘Dil chahta hein’ family pictures there), Candolim beach, Calangute beach, Baga beach (where we can eat like gluttons at Brittos and I can arrange foot massages for the their weary feet), Anjuna Beach (strategically plan the day on a Wednesday so that we get a glimpse of the flea market and shop to our hearts’ content), Chapora Fort on Vagator and Dona Paula on the way back at the time of sunset.   


On another day, we can visit the old churches, stroll in the streets of Panaji, take a river cruise on Mandovi, have a hearty meal and come back. I will not plan a hectic tour. In between busy travelling-days, they can gulp the freshness of the sea breeze, savour the essence of the Portuguese culture, watch the sea for hours or just do nothing.  



  

Other than the stunning destination that Goa is, another reason for choosing Goa is to gift my parents an exquisite beach-holiday. My father is a Government servant and my mother is a school teacher. If you pose them with a question like “What is your idea of a perfect beach-holiday?”, their inevitable reply would be “a long weekend in Puri”. They have visited Puri atleast 40 times, if not more…yet, their relentless subjugation to the charm of the coastal town is unparallel. And lodging in Puri would be “Puri Hotel”. A sea-facing room would earn a 3-star status from them, a set of clean towels and a clean bathroom with a tiny red Lifebuoy soap or a tiny green Medimix soap would elevate the hotel to a 4-star level and if by any chance, the hotel has a swimming pool, my parents would be convinced that the place is 7-starred.


It’s time their ideas change. It’s time ideas change their lives.  


Goa, see you soon…

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This post is written for the "Creating Happy Travellers!" contest hosted by IndiBlogger and Yatra

 

20 comments:

  1. Picturesque writing, as usual, but I really cannot agree (we rarely disagree) to making them change this particular idea.

    Some people remain happy with the small things of life. I don't think there is anything wrong with that.

    Just my two paise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dont want to stop them from being happy with small things of life. It is their intrinsic character (which I have inherited too from them). I just meant to introduce to them a world which is different from what they are used to...a change basically.

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  2. Beautiful. While I am not really a sea/beach person, I do have some fond memories of Goa. It was nice revisiting them.

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    1. Thank you Diptee. I love Goa though I am a complete mountain-person.

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  3. I would rather sit in a bathtub in my own home that go to goa.
    Now I am thinking if I am abnormal for this lack of desire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are abnormal for this lack of desire.

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    2. I have to get all the details of everything you wrote here. Dying to visit Goa NOW. Loved the post.

      but a stay at puri hotel at puri is not bad either. Why would you want them to change?

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    3. Thanks. Will mail you every detail I have. I have naughty things to do in Goa list as well which I did not share here ;)
      PPS: I don't want them to change. NEVER ever. I just said that I want them to try something new as well.

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  4. Well,kerala is the place to be.With so much greenery especially in the silent valley.Goa is nothing before kerala that is so peaceful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your suggestion. I will visit Kerala when I grow older...for the greenery and silence. At my age, it is but natural that I would love Goa.

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  5. ask your friend ovishake to approve my comments. he ignores my good morning wishes everyr day

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My friend Diptee told me that Enid Blyton had said never to take an Anonymous too seriously. I think Abhishek too shares the view.

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  6. So glad I stumbled on this post Parama. Your style is lovely and some of the bits are downright hilarious- truly enjoyed reading then! Quite identify with those traits of Bengalis, being one myself :) Not to mention the detailed planning and tips you have described- this will sure prove useful whenever I plan a Goa holiday.

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    Replies
    1. Oh thanks a lot. A help unsolicited: If you ever plan a trip to Goa, do send me your e-mail ID to me.I shall mail you a detailed itinerary. I give it to everyone and it's a huge hit!! This is just 1/7th of the entire list :D
      PS: Hope to see you more often here. Welcome to my blog!

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  7. Hii Parama,
    We went to Goa last December for our honeymoon. Reading this post made me revisit the place. Those lush green beaches, those vast stretches of blue grey sea. And the sun, the baked sand! Palolem, Baga, Calingute, feni, Mackerel, prawns, vindaloo, resonate so much. since it was a laid back holiday we didn't go sightseeing much, but we did bask in the Christmas ambience. We want to visit again, this time to explore the place more. Thanks for taking me through the entire experience again. :)

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    Replies
    1. Goa IS heaven, I agree. Wanted to buy a house there. :D

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    2. oh! se toh ami maa k shob jaigay giyei eki kotha boli, shimla giye bari kenar ichheta probol hoyechilo :P

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    3. haha. Amio same Shantiniketan, Manali (amader honeymoon destination), goa, mandarmoni, pondicherry, sri lanka shob jaygay bari chai

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  8. Nice post :) Puri's top attraction is the highly revered Jagannath Temple, famed for its Chariot Festival. Click here to know about hotels in Puri offering comfortable services to travellers and pilgrims visiting here.

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