You know you are just a step short of turning irreversibly Goan when you get that annual itch to re-embrace the joys of living in a place the whole world comes to holiday in. When you spend the whole season avoiding the hardcore tourist-y areas because you can’t stand the onslaught of outsiders. And then just when it is all about to close, you feel that unbearable urge to have a little taste of what you now consider your own. So you brave the heat, the humidity, the possibility of getting a sunstroke, and make that annual before-the-season-ends trip to the beach.
When you live in Goa, things like the beach, cheap booze, nightclubs and parties, sunbeds and massages become passe. Normal life takes over, and you forget that all these holiday pleasures exist just a stone’s throw from anywhere you might be in Goa. And like everyone else here, we mostly take these luxuries for granted. People think living in Goa means that we exist in a permanent bubble of inebriation and when the weekend rolls along, we obviously find ourselves collapsed in a drunken stupor, on some beach or the other.
The truth however, is far from it. When you live in Goa, holidaying by the beach takes effort. It takes planning, it takes scouting out untouched beaches, it takes hoping and praying that the secluded spot you once discovered still remains beyond the ever-increasing reach of the growing multitudes of tourists. And most often, it takes a whole lot of motivation to break out of normal life and get going.
But invariably, trips like that end up like no other. Despite the best efforts to plan bring people together, pick a place and head out at a mutually agreeable time, we found ourselves heading out over an hour later than we had planned, short of one man in the army, with no destination in mind.
All we knew is that we wanted to get away for a day and a night, relax by the sea and have a good time. There is usually no better time to do this than in the wonderful twilight zone between the thick of season and the start of the torrential rains. It is in that in limbo zone that there is a lull in the air, the shacks are half torn apart, the beaches desolate and you cannot ignore the mild ache in your heart when you realise that its that time of year again, when Goa says goodbye to a blistering summer, and begins to prepare to get totally washed out by the monsoon.
We were lucky to find a rather empty spot of beach on Arambol, with just enough beach-hut-acco options, a couple of decent looking restaurants and a roaring sea, within a hundred meters of where we finally decided to stay. Right on the beach.
Plans work best when there are no plans, I think. And a weekend of meandering relaxation was just what all of us needed. The highlights of which were:
– A chatty shack-owner who was excited that he had some, as he described us “dhang ke log“, to keep him company after a long hiatus of boring tourists. He was a tad too chatty for our liking, but we couldn’t complain though because he shared his Goan goodies with us and kept the beer flowing.
– Being the only people in the shack that night and getting a free reign with the music. In went out ipods and out came a never-ending loop of our kind of music. And that is the biggest boon one can ask for on a beach in Goa. To spend the entire time without suffering through copious amounts of Akon, Pitbull, Rihanna and the like.
– Having a random private scene in a shack that is otherwise open to public. A few other regulars showed up, and it turned into one big gathering of people sharing the music, conversation and laughter. In the amber glow that dotted the shack I realised, this almost never happens to us in our daily lives. Back home in Panjim, we step back into the routine, get on track with life. But it is on a beach in Goa where the shack owner who wants to retire at the age of 35, an Iranian didgeridoo player who has lived in India for nine years, and us non-Goans feeling as Goan as ever, can actually bond and be one.
– Getting unabashedly overwhelmed by life lessons on how to make the most of a cheaper living expenses in Goa for some, realising that I must crack on with my “plans” quickly, lest they remain just that — plans, and some of us were given pearls of wisdom at the hands of a foreigner meting out simple truths quite unthinkingly.
– Laughing uncontrollably at one of us hallucinating poles holding a thatched roof where there wasn’t one, one of us confessing to being Deepika Padukone’s hang-out-buddy in his dreams, one of us having an epiphany and realising all he really wants to do is “be a hippe, man” and one of us choosing to suddenly start listening to David Guetta, in private. Yeah, it was that kind of night.
– Realising that Fellini’s was shut, and landing up in 21 Coconuts Inn (yes, you can laugh. we did too.), spotting things like peppAr chicken and hOmOs and pita bread on the menu. Way too much giggling, dubious videos filming, over-enthusiastic dog feeding, and more giggling followed by chilling on deck chairs even though all of us really just wanted to crash. Its quite a trip to be on a deathly quiet beach, with no light in sight for miles ahead, and just the sound of the waves crashing on. It lulled me to sleep and I yanked myself away before the whole night passed by, with me on a deck chair, in the open.
– Breakfast with chatty shack owner and random profusely drunk Frenchman who gave us all fist bumps, made himself at home at our table and told us his life story in a very vehement and bordering-on-violent manner. He then went across the whole shack, making himself at home at every occupied table. In Arambol, it works, apparently.
– A long and lazy morning that featured some swimming, some serious sun soaking, more beer downing, some idiotic dancing, some more film-making and finally when the hunger pangs struck, we packed up and left. Making our way back home, and grabbing lunch en route.
It was a short, but extremely relaxing and fun-filled getaway. I know I speak for the husband too, when I say this. As usual it reminded us how we ought to take advantage of the beach in our vicinity more often. As usual we pledged to do it again. At least once a month. And as usual, we came away rather full of beans, happiness and some of us, wisdom too.
As usual I realised that there is really no better way to rejuvenate myself than having the damp sea-air in my face, the wind in my hair and the atmosphere pregnant with a languid relaxed vibe to drench myself in. Its funny how this fact escapes me every now and then, until I go back to the sea, and it hits me like an epiphany all over again.
It seems some people travel the world to find it and fill themselves with life again. Thankfully, for some of us, its just a matter of wandering into our backyards, before we find peace again.
Post title inspired by my very own Bhaisaab, without whose enthu, the weekend away might not have ever happened.