It’s hard to think that the same monsoon that’s wreaking havoc in the North East of India has been an essential source, of solace in the west and down south, and closer home, complete and utter joy. If it isn’t already abundantly clear, I’m revelling in the monsoon this year. More than usual. It’s been one of the nicest I have experienced in all my years here. — perpetually damp laundry notwithstanding.
When I began cycling this year, I thought I’d hit upon this absolutely magical thing because it somehow altered the very way in which I experienced my surroundings, my neighbourhood, the streets I’ve been driving around for only the last 6.5 years, and my immediate surroundings in general. Being out in the open like that, using your own physical effort to push yourself forward up climbs, down slopes, speeding down straights, feeling the wind, the sun, the heat, the rain on your body, taking in the smells, observing the sights closer to the ground — millipedes calmly meandering on, dead frogs, just-finished bottled of alcohol from a late-night road-side drinking binge — mountains of trash in the vicinity that you somehow never noticed before, the quirks of lazy passersby, all of this really changes how you take in what you see and feel around you, how you engage with it, and what it comes to mean to you.
When I began cycling this year, I knew it was easily one of the best things I have done in a while, but I had no idea what was to come. Cycling is all well and awesome, but cycling in the Goan monsoon, now that is really something worth writing home about. It’s taken me father and deeper into parts of Goa I haven’t experiences up close. And it’s rekindled a deep my love for Goa that has been somewhat going through a flux the past 8-10 months now.
We cycled to the jetty at Ribandar and took the boat to visit two islands close to Panjim this past weekend, Diwar on Saturday and Chorao yesterday. I’ve been to these islands many, many times before. And yet doing it on a bike, going far, going beyond and being exposed in a way that only a bike can, really made it feel like a unique, first time experience.
There’s something immensely simple and beautiful about how life just doesn’t stop in Goa, no matter how heavy the rain is. Dogs take the ferry up and down, people get their rain pants on, get on their scooters, take the ferry and get to work on time, going about their routines like oh, it’s just some rain, nbd, as the feathery drizzle turns to a storm that lashes down on us all in no time at all.
We’re closing in on 7 years in Goa, and with every ride I realise just how much is still left to see and experience. It’s the kind of unbridled beauty that leaves you not wanting to take any pictures because you would just do no justice.
American Beauty moments abound, echoing the emotion laden in every word of that monologue at the end of the movie where Kevin Spacey is lying in a pool of his own blood, thinking, “…it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”
Except, I’m not dying. And it’s me, I take a lot of pictures at all time. And I did this past weekend too. Not too many, but just enough, before it all got too overwhelmingly beautiful and I couldn’t do it anymore. So this picture-heavy post borrows heavily from VC and R.
The average weekend ride lasts about 4 hours. There is always a breakfast stop, sometimes a second chai stop, and lots of halts to stop and take the sights in. But, I swear, the happiness from every ride lasts far longer. It remains for days, long after we’ve returned, washed the gunk off our bikes and settled into a lazy weekend mode, and even slipped back into a regular work week.
There is chit-chat and conversations. VC always gets his ass taken for being the studious, serious cyclist that he is, with pressing, pertinent advice for us. But there is also peace and quiet. And once the giggles and banter dies down, we just sit in silence, until someone suggests that it’s time to head back.
As I mull over the restlessness about what I’m doing and where my life is headed, thoughts of what-next and where-to-from-here gnaw at me from time to time. And let’s be honest, sometimes the answers and options that look exciting do point outside of Goa. I nurse these thoughts from time to time. And then I go cycling, sometimes it is on a rainy as hell Sunday morning, and I find my heart quietly brimming with an overwhelming joy that makes me believe I’m crazy to think I ever want to leave.