For most of the crowd, Goa is small tourist place/honeymoon destination, somewhere near Maharashtra, with beautiful beaches and resorts, plenty of skimpily-clad foreigners, fantastic seafood and booze flowing like water. For the most part, this description is pretty much sufficient. You can tick mark Goa out of your “100 places to visit before you die” if you’ve done all that, but believe me, just once is not enough. And I feel so sorry for those who feel that visiting Goa once or twice is enough to last for a lifetime. They really don’t know what they’re missing.
Believe it or not, the first time I ever walked, took my first baby steps on two legs, was on a beach at Goa. My parents were just lounging around when I suddenly stood up, and they went berserk. There’s a photo to prove that. After that, I stayed in numerous places and never really got a chance to visit Goa again, until 10 years back, my father was posted there. I didn’t exactly stay there, because I was in college in Delhi, but going to Goa every winter vacations, when it was the best weather in Goa, was just such an elating sensation. Imagine, everyone leaving the hostel for their holidays to go to Mathura, Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Sonipat, Patna and a bevy of other places. And me?
Excerpts from an actual conversation:-
Girl: Where are you going for vacations?
Girl: Wooah! For how many days?
Me: Umm..my parents live there.
Girl: Live? As in LIVE LIVE?
Girl: People LIVE there also???
I cannot explain my reaction to that. I wanted to laugh at her stupidity, cry at her ignorance. It was at those times I realized I live in an extremely cool place. Every semester end, I used to smugly smile at my good fortune of having to visit Goa. But what gave me that warm gooey feeling in my heart was that I was not going there like it was some special holiday destination, but just as my home.
But my actual love affair with this place began when a school friend of mine and me began making frequent trips once we started earning. Now it was her father who was posted there, and we did not miss any opportunity to visit them. Her mother found out fantastic places to eat, one of them being Baba Au Rhum. It’s a quaint little, nondescript place to eat French/Greek cuisine, and boy oh boy. You will not find anything of THAT quality and taste, at those competitive pricing, anywhere. We found some excellent night clubs, beach shacks, karaoke beach shacks, beaches, food places and to top it all, there was always cheap booze around.
This time, we had the longest holiday I have had in Goa, minus family. It was a 6-day, true-blue Goan holiday. We rented bikes and scooters, lived in a beach house, tanned ourselves on the beach so much that my mother would not recognize me when I came home, ate like starved lions, danced like no one’s watching, ignored the sun altogether, ignored our depleting monetary resources and forgot we had to snap back to reality.
After every trip when it’s time to leave, I want to extend the trip, I want to come back. Come back with the enthusiasm of any other person visiting Goa the first time. Every time, you will find a new road, a new beach, an ignored shack, a missed lane, a shocking transformation, and sometimes, you will also find Chunky Pandey.
Don’t visit Goa for what it is supposed to be. Visit it for what it canbe for you.