On a lazy afternoon, over a cup of coffee I was flipping through the pages of an old travelogue. The soothing picture of a golden beach lined with palm trees caught my eyes! A sea-holic as ever, I started reading the article minutely. After re-reading it, I googled ‘Goa’ on the net and started to study more on it. The more educated I was becoming, the more did I yearn to buy myself a trip there.
A few weeks later my mother told me about my cousin’s trip to Bombay and Goa. How jealous I was! But without wasting a moment, I rang her up to inquire details about the places she’d been to. After an hour full of gossips and awing, I was determined to finalize my trip. That night I couldn’t go to sleep with so many things going on my mind. But when I did, I had this dream, which turned a new leaf in my life… I was lying on a deserted beach with a small shack nearby. A mild Portuguese music could be heard afar and I could see a group of hippies dancing to the rhythm cheerfully. Life couldn’t be more beautiful or more peaceful with the sun set and crying of the sea gulls at the backdrop. The waves hit the rocks and sprayed the water on the cooling sand. There I was, amid heaven, a sudden calm possessed me, made me realize, who I was…
My 19th birthday was on the way, and I had made up my mind to convince my parents to leave me for a trip (which I was availing, to complete my assignment on Travel and Tourism, was to be said) as a birthday gift. After a lot of convincing and nagging, requesting and more nagging, explaining and even more nagging, I finally managed to get their consent! No time was spared and there I was, preparing myself for this huge treat. My father helped me with the flight ticket and hotel room bookings. A lot of time was spent on studying about the place, it’s history, cuisine, people, culture, language and of course, the popular places.
There was a chill, marrying the excitement in the air, for, the journey was yet to begin the next day. I was done packing a backpack and other luggage. With a relief I finally zipped the bag and exclaimed, “Goa, here I come!”
My morning flight landed at the Dabolim Airport and I smelled fresh air, that very air I was craving for, back in my hometown. A billboard flashed brightly, ‘WELCOME TO GOA’. I could feel goosebumps on my skin due to excitement but I had to control. I calmed myself and decided to first look for a conveyance that would head me to Calangute, ‘the queen of beaches!’. While searching, I met a group of tourists from Iraq, who were going to stay at a hotel in Calangute as well. One of those friendly Iranians proposed to share their blue caravan with them and I agreed! Little did I expect to make friends so quickly, but more than anything I was happy! A little girl named Ara started singing gleefully and very soon everybody chorused in. I was giggling all the way because of Sam’s hilarious jokes. With the little time that was left, I glanced outside the window to see small woods at both the sides and a few mines around. We reached after two long hours’ journey and I checked into my room. When I found the plush room with a warm welcoming bed, stuffed with royal pillows , I gave in. I woke up after sometime and decided to gear up, starting with my balcony first. The porch overlooked the magnificent evening beach with all the water-sports and fun-filled activities going on. Dressed up in my comfortable cotton jumpsuit, I grabbed my handy-cam and started my long awaited expedition. The lobby at the hotel was decorated with lovely lavenders and wild flowers in orange, hanging from the ceiling . I parked myself at the wooden lounge, with the view of the golden sand and the sun-kissed sea. Soft breeze tingled my hair and I made myself cozy on a couch at a corner. Famished as I was, I ordered for a club sandwich, cranberry shake and the famous ‘Babinka’ which was one of Goanese specialties.
And while I sat there, sorting my trip into many halves, my eyes caught a sight of a man sitting a few tables away from me. Dressed in a white shirt and the usual blue denims, the robust physique was highly complimented! Beneath the tinted glasses I could feel his gaze following me. I quickly looked away and decided not to think much about it. Post my heavy supper, I hopped onto the beach. It was completed with shacks and stalls shadowed by tall palm trees, selling everything from fried prawns and beer to seasoned scallops and martini shots. I walked for quite sometime and finally found a shack playing some Old Bob Marley tracks, so I occupied one of their bamboo chairs to enjoy the cheer with a pint of ‘Voodoo’. While returning to my hotel, after an hour, I stumbled into the guy-in-a-white-shirt. He had by then removed his glasses to reveal a pair of hazel brown eyes. He smiled at me and apologized (I gave a sheepishly awestruck beam from ear to ear in return) and walked away. I could smell his Hugo Boss that lingered for a while. With a sigh I gathered myself and went to my room to call it a night.
The next day I had to wake up early for I was supposed to take a trip to North Goa with the Iranian friends I had made. We set off in our rusted blue caravan towards the capital, Panaji. We visited the Corjeum Fort, Arvalam waterfall and then took a steamboat to the Coco Island to catch a glimpse of the vivacious dolphins. Ara wouldn’t let my hands go off hers as she became very fond of me. The two of us along with the rest of her family took lovely snapshots and I got busy filming the vitals. The hectic day came to an end. I had found my favorite place at the shack down the beach where I had sheltered the other day, only to see a man showing a few tricks with fire and bottles. The little boy at the shack introduced himself as Asif and noted my order and then I had a little chat about him and his whereabouts. I was enjoying my drink when the guy-in-a-white-shirt came up to me and started talking. We introduced ourselves. His name was Vedant. In an hours’ time we started enjoying each others’ company. He offered me a walk down the beach and I agreed. After a few hours we both decided to get back to our hotels and I promised to meet him the next evening, at the shack! I was too tired to be excited that night and dozed off to sleep. My third day was Scheduled for sight-seeing at south Goa. I joined my Iranian mates at the old blue caravan. We had so much fun while visiting St. Francis Xavier’s Church, St. Cathedral Church, Kapileshwari temple and Dona Paula. Finally they stopped the caravan at Vagator beach where we took a nice supper. I, Ara, Sam and Farooq went berserk seeing so many ‘Fanush’ dotting the dusky sky. We sat on the beach and enjoyed the splendid view for a while. I couldn’t wait to go back to Calangute for I was dying to meet Vedant, who by then, had become a huge crush of mine! As soon as I reached hotel, I freshened up and selected a lovely summer dress that would compliment my lightly tanned skin. In sometime, I was down at the shack to see him dressed in an orange shirt. Was he actually radiating heat and aura or was I loosing my mind? I was completely dazzled and by his expressions, so was he, seeing me! I was overwhelmed when he offered me to go to a cruise with him at 8 o’clock. We reached the dock on time to board our cruise, ‘Santa Monica’. The hosts had arranged a wonderful performance followed by a dance. Vedant asked me for dance and so there we were, hand in hand, eyes in eyes, moving to the soft instrumental music at the background. We didn’t realize how time flew for it all seemed like a fairy-tale. After the dance followed by a grand dinner, the cruise came to an end at 10pm. Vedant dropped me at my hotel in a dreamy state, as I was bedazzled by the night’s affairs. I woke up with a start the next morning, thinking about last night. I checked my phone to see a text from Vedant, asking me to join him for a sun bath at the beach. I called up Ara’s mum to ask them to leave for their sight-seeing without me that day. With super speed I got ready in my black bikini (which I was really excited to wear for the first time!), wrapped a stole around and literally ran to the beach with my Louis Vuitton shades on. I found him lying on the sun-bed wearing his wayfarers, reading a magazine. I was agape. His oomph factor killed me. He called me beside him and told me how beautiful I was looking. We agreed to take a dive into the sea and enjoy the water sports out there. First came para-gliding! I was thrilled at the same time anxious. We belted ourselves and took all the necessary precautions. I felt our parachute rising eventually and shortly we were higher and higher. I dared not to look below! Vedant was screaming his lungs out and laughing. He persuaded me to look down. With ample courage I peeped below and Woah! What a sight it was! The huge sea below, wrapped in green trees and golden sands dotted with anything and everything. My lungs filled with fresh air and eyes started watering.. i started screaming with ecstasy . It was simply out of the world. We got down and instantly we both started laughing, we laughed like never before, we laughed like children until we got tired. And then after a bit of water-biking we came back on the sands. Vedant wasn’t done yet. He told me how he always wanted to try scuba-diving but as we both were amateurs, we needed assistance. We enrolled ourselves to take a dive into the vast green ocean and explore the underwater beauty. All the measures were taken, we were provided costumes and oxygen pipes were attached to the suits. As we ventured into the depths, my heart started beating louder than the drums. I clutched Vedant’s hands tightly, scared of drowning. They gave us professional advises and instructions which we followed and midway I could see a wonderland. I was in doubt if all this is true or merely some dream. There were weeds around with brilliant plants, mosses on the wet rocks, and blimey! the small fishes in orange, blue, silver, golden and unknown water animals were moving about, some hiding behind the plants. I could not believe my eyes. Life felt beautiful and serene for the first time. When we surfaced, and were on our way back, we didn’t speak a word. I just hugged him tight and cried. silence prevailed until it was interrupted by the buzzing from the beach. We laid ourselves on the shore and played with the waves that broke on our shoulders, enjoying a drink. We spent hours like that talking about this and that. He proposed to hire a scooty and go to the rest of the beaches nearby. I went to my room, freshened up after a short snooze and was out in the evening, waiting for Vedant at the lounge. We biked down to Anjuna beach, took photos and made a move to Arambol beach. When we reached the place, we witnessed the sun set behind the cliffs, cherished the moments with some chicken vindaloo (goanese food) and breezer. Our final destination for the day was Baga beach and I had plans to do some street shopping. Baga was really crowded with street vendors and hawkers and tourists. We met Asif, who invited us to a barbecue party at his friend’s shack. After spending an hour there, we moved out into the streets. I was busy eyeing every stall that were stacked with beautiful curiosities and trinkets made of sea shells being sold by the locals, handmade feather hats, lovely Goanese dresses, Tee shirts advertising Goa tourism, beaded necklaces and other accessories, sling bags made of jute, and the list was endless! Opposite those stalls were some tattoo parlors. I was done loading four bags with anything and everything I found with a touch of the place. As I was leaving the next morning for Palolem, Vedant decided to hang out at a local pub with me. We took a beer and danced to the beat of Samba, old rock and roll and what not! I was glad to make such a great friend like Vedant. He told me that he will go to Mumbai the next day. I was saddened by the thought of never meeting again, but we promised to e-mail each other very frequently. We ended the night on a bitter-sweet note, I hugged and bade him goodbye and he planted a kiss on my cheek. I returned to my hotel and laid flat on the bed. After finishing packing my backpack for the departure, I called Ara’s mum and told her that I’d be going to Palolem early morning and that I’d be back after a day.
The next morning I woke up early, and set off in my rented scooty for Palolem, located at the Southern most tip of Goa, a crescent shaped island of pure beauty. After a long and tedious journey of almost two hours, I reached the place, so often mistook as paradise. From my earlier research, I had decided to put up at a cheap hotel for a night in Palolem. When I entered the beach, I found a few shacks where I parked my scooty and asked the locals if they can help me go to the small island at a distance. As per their guidance, I hired a small wooden boat. I wasn’t too sure about the stability of the boat, plus they didn’t have life-jackets but i was left with no other options. So I crossing my fingers I consoled myself that it was a calm sea with a small distance to cover, and moreover I have faced the horrors of para-gliding and scuba-diving. What could be worse? My fate smiled at me, maybe. For that was one hell of a journey I can never forget! As we were moving into the sea, away from the shores, the calm started to disappear, being replaced by a typical movement of the waves. There were three other foreign tourists with me in the boat so I avoided panicking. But there was a weird sense of excitement within I was unaware of. As if I could smell some adventure! As our little wooden boat oared through the sea, towards the cliffs, the waves became stronger and very soon I realized that none of us were safe out there. The boat was moving furiously as if it’s going to be crushed into bits. The mid-aged man behind me started to shout at the boater. Everyone was hysterical but somehow I was enjoying the peril out there. Water sprayed and splashed on us and I could feel the boat moving up and down continuously. Glancing sideways I could not believe my eyes. A group of penguins were plunging into the water and playing merrily. What a sight it was! The boater told me that it was a very rare sight, even for them. After a while we could see the island closely and holy Christ! It was Heaven! There were hardly any people out there for it was a deserted island with bounties of nature, love and beauty. A deep emotion stirred me. I got off the boat and sauntered into the placid place. There was one little round counter-type shack made of hays and bamboo and I found similar looking small huts surrounding the cliff. For the first few minutes I just kept breathing and staring into the space. After sometime I gathered myself and arranged one of those huts for my stay. The walk down the beach was enthralling as there were hundred thousands of tiny orange-grey crabs moving about in groups. The silver sand touched my feet and when I stepped into the crystal clear water, there was a strong urge to swim. Without wasting a moment I changed into my swimsuit and swam for hours at a stretch. I floated on the water to see the vast blue sky with a few sea gulls and the territory of the island being bound by tall palm trees. After a while I tied a hammock round two trees in the shade, treated myself with tuna salad and coconut drink from the shack and just kept watching. Two of my companions at the boat were happily kayaking and a few were swimming, taking pictures. I took my camera and clicked away pictures of every possible thing my eyes couldn’t skip.
“…….Life couldn’t be more beautiful or more peaceful with the sun set and crying of the sea gulls at the backdrop. The waves hit the rocks and sprayed the water on the cooling sand. There I was, amid heaven, a sudden calm possessed me, made me realize, who I was……..”
It was getting dark as the sun was setting, so I decided to go back to my hut. The hut was roughly floored with a small bathroom and two windows beside a couch-bed. It was small and cozy. The local people helped me with a room heater and there I was comfortably settled in the couch with a book. Later that night I had dinner with the locals. One of them named Ravi, helped me to find woods for the bonfire and treated me like a guest. I felt warm and love midst that lonely island, so far away from my hometown. The next morning I woke up at 5am to see the sunrise. A sunrise at the sea was something I always wanted to experience. Thanks to this trip, I witnessed all possible heavenly scenes one could see in a life. At the age of nineteen, I felt complete. After a heavy breakfast I climbed the cliffs and explored into the mysterious corners of the island. It definitely reminded me of Famous Five, on their expedition to Kirrin Island! I took a small stone and etched my name on a huge rock beside my hut. In the afternoon I had to leave for Calangute. With high hopes of returning here after few years, I left the serene paradise. On my way back I took a shorter way and reached early. I wondered if Vedant was still there but alas! I came to know that he had left long back. I invited my Iranian friends to dinner at the shack and we spent the night playing twenty questions. It was my last night in Goa, I was supposed to leave the next evening after a trip to the spice garden. I was lost in my pensive mood with the splashes of the waves behind. Thankfully Ara kept the ambiance cheerful with her nonstop babbling. At night, I ordered for some food and drink and plopped into my regular corner couch at the hotel’s lounge. I thought to myself about returning to the same old monotonous life with all the mundane activities and it saddened me further.
As soon as I woke up the next morning, I left for the spice garden with my Iranian friends in the rusty blue caravan. The spice garden was canopied by soothening green hue with different kinds of trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers and the incense sticks produced a beautiful aroma around the place. We were welcomed with a garland of flowers and an exotic cinnamon drink. Our guide Anita took us round the place and introduced all the plants, gave us a few to taste. I bought some tins of aloe vera paste and vanilla branches for mum. And as we walked further, we clinched to take a bath from the Elephant. Changing into bathsuits we climbed the back of the huge friendly elephant, who carried gallons of water in it’s trunk and splashed it behind on us. How fun it was! I didn’t want it to end at all, but everything was timed so we had to leave. We went to a nearby restaurant at the beach and enjoyed some delicious sea food. I ordered some poached prawns, seasoned scallops, baked fish with garlic sauce and Martini with pomegranate. Once we reached Calangute, I asked them to meet me in the evening before I head for the airport. After all the packing I was ready to leave. For one last time I took a nice look at my room and the balcony, heaved a sigh and closed the door behind. At the lobby I found Ara, Sam, Farooq and the rest of them waiting for me. Previously I had bought gifts for each of them as a token of thanks for everything they had done for me throughout the trip. I presented them the gifts, hugged each of them and bade our final goodbyes, promising to write to each other. I took a cab and left for the airport with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes…
Driving my way back home from office I was stuck in traffic. I had to go home and pack for the trip the next day. With new projects and meetings, I could hardly get time to rejoice about our trip to Goa. I remember, the last time I went there things were so different. So many things have changed between these thirteen years! Now, I’m a thirty-two years old editor at a daily newspaper, married to Satyajit Chatterjee, a businessman. We have a blooming daughter of six years, and we affectionately call her Aankhi. The biggest change of all being my Age.
When I reached home, I found that Aankhi had got the whole house on top of her head being unable to hold all her excitement. Her grandparents were busy pampering her with new dresses and toys, as if she was going away forever! After freshening up, I started packing and sometime later, Satya (Satyajit) joined me for the packing. Together, we completed the task in three long hours filled with arguments and comments. Satya wanted to go to this trip with me since a long time from when he had heard about my last trip’s experience. He thought I’m like those hep hippies who love to travel along with adventure. Due to the pressure of work and other commitments we couldn’t make it happen earlier. But finally we made it this year, after Aankhi’s exams got over.
The following morning, as soon as I woke up, my marathon started, with all the preparations for leaving. Thanks to my mother-in-law, who gave me a hand in the chores, for which I was successful in getting the other two (Satya and Aankhi) inside the car on time. Finally! It was actually happening. I was really going to Goa, again, after so many years. There was a feeling of skepticism within, whether things had changed from then, if yes, then how much? Will this trip be as good as my last one, or will I be disappointed? Will I miss my long lost Iranian friends, a holiday romance, and the other people I had met, or will these memories be buried by the present one? However, I was absolutely thrilled to visit a place so close to my heart with my family. When we reached the airport, Aankhi was celebrating and I could see a spark in her eyes. The same spark that I had found in my eyes, before starting that trip, being unaware of the future experiences, beginning a journey unknown. This time, Satya had done a homework on the schedules of our trip, so I was much relaxed. I needed this break from work for a long time! We reached Dabolim airport in the afternoon and were waiting for our reserved car. A Mercedes C 200 in red stopped in front of us. Satya, along with the chauffeur started loading the rear of the car with our luggage. I was excited to know that these hot wheels were going to be our companion for the rest of the trip! While going to our hotel through the same old roads I felt a sudden pang of nostalgia. This place hadn’t changed a bit. Only that this time the old blue rusty caravan was replaced by a red hot Mercedes Benz, the nineteen years old impish girl replaced by a thirty-two years old working mum, accompanied by a husband and a daughter, instead of a group of Iranian tourists.
We reached The Leela resort at Mobor beach shortly. Satya had booked a lagoon suite for us. We walked into our suite and both my and Aankhi’s expressions were the same: astonished! I never knew my husband had such luxurious plans for this trip. First the merc, and now this suite. I guess he was trying to make up for cancelling so many of our trips before. While we were making ourselves comfortable in our bedroom, Aankhi came running and pulled us to the open terrace which overlooked the lagoon. Once she was done exclaiming about it, she rushed to the living space to show us the grand setting and the large television screen. I smiled and exchanged looks with Satya. Our daughter was highly impressed by her daddy cool! Later that evening we went down to the riverside restaurant and had a grand meal of mashed potato, grilled chicken with barbecue sauce, baked fish with white sauce and prawn pasta. Being so full, we decided to stay at the hotel and maybe take a round of everything available.
Quite surprisingly the late risers were the ones to wake me up first, the next morning. The father and his daughter pulled me out of the bed at seven in the morning so that we can start the journey early. We decided to go for the sight-seeings on the first two days, so that we can laze around the rest of our trip. Hence, we started with North Goa. We visited the towns of Panaji and Mapusa. And as soon as I got a chance, I burnt huge holes in Satya’s pockets by shopping from Mapusa market. Later, we went to the caves and waterfalls of Arvalem, followed by a visit to Anjuna beach that dug a deeper hole into the pockets and loaded heavier bags in the car. One by one we went to the Arambol, Vagator, Dona Paula and Miramar beaches and I felt a pining for those younger days. Lastly, when we reached Calangute, I had mixed emotions of nostalgia and excitement. I took them to the hotel where I had stayed. The lobby and the corridors remained the same or maybe more modified over the years but the sitting arrangement at the lounge was totally different. My favorite corner was now occupied by a plasma TV, and the furniture had a more newfangled look. I told them how I used to sit there with a book and a drink and later hop down to the once-upon-a-time-little-shack which was now a popular food joint. Suddenly I remembered about that guy I had befriended from the shack. With some effort I recalled his name. Asif it was! We went to the shack for a light supper and I asked the waiter if he knows Asif. After some twenty minutes, a grown up tall boy with sharp features came to our table with a curious look. I became jumpy and asked him if he remembers me. After an awkward pause, he just smiled and waved a friendly hello but from his looks it was evident that I was long forgotten. Not that I’d expected him to remember, but the thought that I’ve left everything behind, saddened me. Satya and Aankhi cheered me up and we headed for our resort. After a short rest, I and Satya decided to go for a spa. Aankhi was busy watching cartoon so we went to the spa and salon to avail our complimentary ‘Ayurvedic’ spa. It was so soothing after the hectic day. I felt a lot more fresh and happy. Later that night, we had a nice dinner at our suite itself, ordering all the favorite dishes of our dear little princess.
The following morning we set off for studying all the churches, buildings and Portuguese architecture and finally returned, after Aankhi was satisfied seeing the dolphins at the coco island. The three of us got a kick out of the loud music in the car and sang tunelessly all the way until we were out of energy. We were just in time to catch the famous sunset at Mobor-Cavelossim beach. It was a treat to the eyes. We sat on the soft sands, stretched our legs and eased off with a drink. Our little Aankhi got busy playing with a few French kids beside. And again, I felt the same old completeness. But this time, it was different altogether. At night, when Aankhi fell asleep Satya and I slipped down to the pool bar to grab drinks. We chattered for quite a while with pints of champagne followed by bloody mary and scotch. The night just passed away like that. Snuggling in each other’s arms, we went back to the suite to call it a night.
The day next, none of us except Aankhi had the energy to wake up early. So with a lot of lag, we ate our breakfast and went to the beach, dressed up in our swimsuits. The Mobor beach was simply a haven for adventure lovers for it was famous for all the adventure sports. Satya was an expert in surfing, so he took a wind-surfer and sailed off like a hero. I was playing with Aankhi at the beach and I was amused by my little girl, seeing how wonderfully she has learnt to enjoy herself on her first trip ever! When Satya returned, I was dying to try out the ‘banana bumpy ride’ that I had missed the last time. I found out that you’re given life jackets and in the midway you will be thrown off the thin small boat and you will have to struggle back to the boat and this will continue throughout the ride. It sounded like some real adventure, being thrown off the boat into the Arabian sea. But it wasn’t possible for us because Aankhi was with us and she was too young to try such things. So we had to skip that idea. But together, we decided to try the speed-boat rides which were fine for children. Gladly Aankhi darling enjoyed a lot, and had showed a lot more courage than expected. Seeing people on parachutes, this six year old kid wanted to try that, Unbelievable, isn’t she?!
Satya had never been to an ocean-cruise before so I had bought ourselves a grand cruise that night. The theme for the cruise was ‘Pirates Aboard’ and hilariously, we had to dress up like pirates! It sounded like some fun. Satya already had a white baggy shirt with a deep slit near the chest which gave an almost-pirate look, and I made Aankhi dress into khakhee shorts and a black top which looked perfect! Now the real problem was with me. I had NO dress that could make me look like a pirate. But finally, I went with denim shorts, torn at the edges giving it a rough look, and a white old tee. I tied a knot above my tummy, revealing ample skin of my stomach. To add more to it, I wore my pair of brown boots. Now I was okay. So, after a fashion-emergency, we three were finally ready. The cruise crew provided us with those one-eyed black masks and we took some funny pictures with funny poses. The ship was given a wooden grandeur, and there was a handsome lad, dressed up like Johnny Depp, executing the whole program. We all danced to the the cheerful rhythm of Goanese music, circling around the hall. Moreover it was quite different from my last cruise, but honestly, much more fun!
The next day, I woke up really early and walked into the terrace. It was a pure bliss! The green lagoon and it’s tranquil milieu was a joy to watch. Quietly I woke Satya up and we had our morning tea there at the terrace. Later, we arranged for a bubble bath at the palatial tub and nested into it for hours at a stretch. After the relaxing bath, I woke Aankhi up to get ready for the day. I took out the floral printed clothes for the three of us that I had bought from Anjuna beach the other day and left for the beach safari. We stopped over at all the beaches nearby, Betul and Cavelossim to enjoy their allurements. Furthermore, we couched at Varca beach for our late-lunch. A group of youngsters were playing beach ball, and Aankhi joined them uninvited. And then they asked us to join as well. Without further ado we agreed and started enjoying the fun! Satya loved those young people and arranged for a small dinner party at Mobor’s shack and invited them.
We talked to the staffs at the shack and they helped us arranging a dinner party for twenty at one corner of the beach. Lighting a bonfire at the center, they played some Bob Dylan and Eric Claptons, followed by crazy numbers of the year. It was fun interacting with these young people who had come for a trip together from Bangalore. They reminded me of my younger days… We danced and partied hard. It was our last night at Mobor. We returned to our suite, dog tired and exhausted. I pulled the two out of their laze and forced them to help me with the packing.
The next day we left for Palolem (as planned by me) after a pool bath and heavy breakfast. Before leaving, Ankhi was really upset. But we managed to excite her about the forthcoming tour. I took a nice look in and around our beautiful suite one last time. On our way, we stopped at a restro to collect food and resumed the journey. Satya had never been to this particular beach before, so I had to bring him here! I wanted them to experience the same stupefaction like I did. So there we were, on ‘Mission Palolem’. We wanted to cut down our expenses a bit, so we chose to stay at the Papillion huts. Once we reached, I heaved a sigh! Here I was, back, as promised. I kept my word. With a sudden enthusiasm, I grabbed Aankhi’s hands, and we ran towards the beach. We barely touched the waters of the sea, when a wave hit us playfully. Aankhi giggled and Satya came rushing to capture that moment in our digital camera. We went to the Papillions’ and the friendly owner Heaven gave us a deluxe room at a cheap rate. It was a decent looking wooden hut with a cushy bed. I found it small and cute, just perfect for us! The staffs were extremely helpful and friendly so we settled really fast. Without further delay, we went to the beach, to go to my dream island, I used to sing about always. I found out that now they have steamboats available for the safety of tourists and moreover we had Aankhi with us, so couldn’t risk by taking small boats. This time we sailed through the sea with speed and the breeze blew hard against us. My sight traveled as far as it could towards the horizon. I hugged my baby girl and just stared into the space, laughing to myself about my last experience. By the sudden exclamation of Satya I looked, and found the coast near us. Aankhi screamed in ecstasy. Once we voyaged to the coast, I ran down the boat, to absolute nothingness. It was still that beautiful, completely unscathed. The golden sands skirted the blue-green Arabian sea. The round little shack was there as it was. My husband and my daughter were stupefied and awestruck! Their reactions were exactly how I had expected, in fact even more. Satya came to me and hugged me tight. I couldn’t be happier than this. I took them to the hut where I had stayed. Sadly, nobody took much care of it and it was nearly in ruins. All of a sudden my eyes caught a rock nearby. It had my name written in bold letters! I jumped up in surprise and remembered how I myself had etched that very name, some thirteen goddamn years back. With an emotional joy I felt those carved letters etched on the rough surface. It was an inexplicable feeling altogether. I had goosebumps on my skin. Satya brought me a pint of vodka on rocks, which I enjoyed while dipping my feet on the sea, sitting at the edge of a boulder. The waves touched my feet gently and again washed away. Aankhi was busy building a sand-castle happily. After taking series of images, Satya rested beside me. I felt his strong arms around me, and suddenly he bent over, and kissed me. I blushed like I was nineteen again! It was getting late, so we had to get back to the main island. Aankhi begged to stay there. I felt for this girl’s yearning as I could relate. But finally ‘daddy cool’ was successful in taking his princess back to the Papillions’, promising to come back the next day. We returned shortly and had a platter of sea food. Later that night we played UNO and Aankhi cheered for us.
The final day of our trip had arrived. I woke up early and finished some major parts of packing. After freshening up, I nested at the balcony to watch the locals working at the beach, some tourists enjoying their morning walk and the staffs opening the shacks. The only thing that didn’t rest was the constant sound of the water hitting the shores. From my past experience I could tell that this particular sound would follow me for the next few days even back in Calcutta ,while I’ll lie on my sofa with a book, at night. After breakfast, we three musketeers repeated the last day’s routine. We sailed back to our favorite little spot once again! I prepared a hammock for us at a shade under the palm trees and went looking for the locals. I asked them about Ravi, who along with his family had helped me so much back then. I returned to my hammock and sunk in the sun rays. It was splendid! Satya became the photographer, and I was his model. Shortly, we got bored and thought of taking a bath in the clear blue water. After a while, an old man with grey hair came beaming at us. I was overwhelmed when he introduced himself as Ravi and told that he had remembered me. We had lunch with his family and Ravi’s wife gave Aankhi a little handmade trinket as a token of love. The time was ticking by, we laid back on the sand for a while.
“…….Life couldn’t be more beautiful or more peaceful with the sun set and crying of the sea gulls at the backdrop. The waves hit the rocks and sprayed the water on the cooling sand. There I was, amid heaven, a sudden calm possessed me, made me realize, who I was……..”
As it was getting darker, we decided to move on. Another promise was made, to return, sooner this time. Just when we were about to leave, Satya went back, took a stone and etched his and Aankhi’s name on the same rock, below my name, dating it 2014. With a heavy heart, we reached Papillions’ huts. In a short time, we were ready to leave for the airport. Heaven and his boys bade us goodbyes. I never liked this part of the journey. I hated departure and goodbyes. But then, the joy of returning doubles up, for this very goodbye. One last glimpse of the beach, and we took off for Dabolim airport. Aankhi fell asleep on the way. Satya played John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ while we drove, away from Goa, Mesmerizing Goa.
Both my journeys cannot be compared, for each of them holds a significance in my life. My transition from a carefree teenager, to a responsible wife, and mother was more realized when I drove back the memory lane. Sometimes revisiting old places can help one to realize how life has changed, always for the greater good. Till date, I have traveled around many places within the country and abroad, fell in love with countless places. But even today, Goa is the secret little weakness in my heart. I am sure, the next time or the times after, I visit this place, it will create newer memories, special and breathtaking just like the previous ones.