Took a last minute decision to go to Goa for the New Year's Eve. Got to have great fun, to say the least.
Day 1 - Dec 31
Reached Vasco at around 10, got dropped at the Naval base where I was to stay. Quick bath, breakfast, then went to the sailing club, where I had a great 2 hours sailing what they call an Enterprise boat. To glide across the water, with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, water splashing all over the boat, soaking you to the bone... AMAZING! The New Year party after seemed an anti-climax after that.
Day 2 - Jan 1
Started off at 11 by local bus towards Old Goa to see the church of St. Francis Xavier, where the centuries old saint's body is on display to the public. And boy, it was the longest queue I've ever seen, stretching to almost 2 kilometres or so. Waited for over an hour to get in, and got to spend exactly a minute inside! The surprise package, however, was a beautiful church right next door, St. Cajetan's. Built in Corinthian style with massive pillars, and filled with beautiful paintings depicting the life of St. Cajetan, the place was simply breathtaking, and very peaceful.
3 p.m. - reached Miramar beach, 5 km off Panjim, only to pick up the next bus to Calangute - travellers would do well to skip Miramar. Calangute was better, a huge beach, good waves, lovely shacks that served a mix of Goan, Chinese and Continental cuisine. More than made up for the crowd on the beach. Stuffed my face with Goan fish curry and rice, sat and watched the waves and decided to head back. Window shopping at the handicraft stalls outside the beach was an interesting experience, with hawkers selling everything from Kashmiri carpets to Tibetan caps. Got a henna tattoo from a pair of women sitting by the road, who had to keep shooing away the unwanted male population that kept stopping by to watch. Said one of the women, " When a furrner is getting a tattoo done, its even worse. These Indian men are so bad. Only 50 out every 100 Indian males are good", and after a moment of thought added, "Nah, only 10 of every 100 are good. Even the older ones are lecherous these days". Ahem.
Got back to Vasco at 8 p.m., and started back to Calangute for dinner along with my cousin and another officer from the base. Gave the extra spicy Vindaloo a miss, and settled for King fish sautéed with butter and flavoured with garlic. Sat there enjoying the breeze and the sound of the waves. Calangute sans the tourist crowd is much more pleasant.
At midnight, we hit Ingo's Saturday night market, a really wild flea market where you can find a mix of Indian and foreign shopkeepers selling exotically carved chillums, hookahs, handicrafts, clothes, tattoos, photos of gods and goddesses, and everything else under the sun. The officer who took us there told us about an old white man who reads palms in a dark little tent, but we couldn't find him that night. At the centre of the market, a DJ played thumping music, while a live band broke in from time to time. And the crowd has to be seen to be believed. The spirit of Goa is right there.
Day 3 - Jan 3
Last day in Goa. Left early to hit the beach at Bogmallo, a 30-minute ride on a bus from Vasco. Heard some lovely Konkani music on the buses at Goa. Sadly, the shacks on the beaches only play the usual junk. Reached Bogmallo to be surprised by a small but beautiful beach, with almost no people around. Splashed about in the water, soaked up the sun on the clean sand, found my moment of peace. Made about a hundred resolutions for the New Year :). And when it was time to leave, I simply didn't want to. But all good things must come to an end, so went back and took the train back to Mumbai from Margao.
A trip to remember.