My friend Indira was shopping at Sarojini Nagar in Delhi when I smsed her ‘Indi, how about going to Goa for a holiday?’ She replied back, ‘Yesss.. why not? Right now I am shopping- will get back to you later.’ She was on a holiday to India for the first time after she shifted to Australia following her marriage to Laurie. My friendship with Indira goes back to the mid 1990s when metro was no where in the horizon in the capital city of Delhi. And Louis Vutton and Tag Heur were not that popular by their mere names.
Later that night, both of us worked on the logistics and as Laurie and Indira were coming to Ahmedabad for a short visit, we decided to fly together to Goa. It couldn’t have been more perfect. On a mild Tuesday morning in March, three of us armed with our sunglasses got into the taxi and headed towards Ahmedabad airport. As we all had bought (I did not buy one, I was gifted one by Indira) our sunglasses just the day before, we decided to flaunt it even at 6.30 in the morning.
The flight to Mumbai was short. And the only dampner was the schezwan potatao sandwitch we ordered at Mumbai airport. It was tasteless and can give some competition to one of those rubber chappals available at roadside carts. When we boarded the flight to Goa, the enthusiasm was palpable inside the aircraft. Men in their mid 30s and 40s with their punches were behaving as if they were let loose after spending long years in a prison. They seemed to be restless and they all looked as if they were all waiting to taste that forbidden fruit in Goa, the land of sea, feni, and lots more ‘hot’ things like the hot prawn vindaloo. They clearly weaved a thousand images in their mind so far as the attractive lady cabin crew were concerned and repeated requests to not use their mobile phones fell on deaf ears. They went on clicking pictures without having a care in the world. And just before the flight took off, they kept on wishing ‘happy journey’ to each other. Even though it was a very short flight but it seemed they had decided to use the flight loo one after another. Almost in a rhythm.
And even before the plane could come to a halt, they all switched on their mobiles and started talking as if President Obama was desperate to talk to them about a secret mission. That was not enough, they started pulling out their cabin-luggage like maniacs. We just couldn’t believe that our eyes were witness to a great Indian soap opera.
We later on got into our resort cab and even though it was a long drive, the scenery was beautiful and Indira in her charismatic style posed many questions to the cab driver. He answered all of them in a lucid manner. The resort was situated on the Calengute beach and from the resort restaurant one could see the vast expanse of the Arbian sea. We started our tryst with Goa by ordering three kingfisher beer in a nearby shack. And as the sun got a mild make-over, we started walking to the Bagga beach. The road through the shops selling beach-wear(s), flip-flops and the omnipresent Tibetian jewellery and artifacts seemed never-ending. Before I thought my end was nearing, three of us got into a maruti van turned cab and we reached Bagga beach in minutes.
Last Monsoon, I was at the Bagga beach where the red flags marked danger points and there was no sign of hungry tourists flocking in every direction. Under falling raindrops, Bagga beach then looked like a demure bride from East India — too shy to lift her veil. But on a March evening, Bagga beach looked like a Punjabi truck-driver ready to hit the highway. ‘Water sport’ was the only word we could hear in the midst of cacophony. Among many phobias of mine (starting from facing a caterpillar to heights), one can safely include water. Right from my childhood, I have had great fascination for the ever-chanting Bay of Bengal but my over-protective mother never allowed me to get into the water in a gay abandon way. Under her hawk eyes, I could only get a knee-length feel of the salty water (much like a sober not too revealing knee-length denim skirt. But the power of two friends on a holiday can be quite overpowering. So, Indira and I decided to try the water-scooter. Even as I was putting on the life-jacket, I was imagining myself getting a sea-burial (well, this image occurred to me before the United States did this honours to Osama Bin Laden). I sat in the middle clinging to the guy who was navigating it and Indira was holding me. As the scooter went on a dancing ride in the Arabian Sea, I put my lungs power to full use. But the thrill of water splashing on my face at a high speed definitely gave me a high. And I was happy to discover that I can handle water with my lungs power in tact. After this high octane drive, the speed boat ride which we had taken earlier looked like a boring marriage. Both of us were so high on the ride that the next day we decided to again try the water-scooter. Before letting us go, the guy told me, “His name is Rick, you just hold him tight.” Like a dutiful soldier, I held Rick so tightly that in the middle of the ocean, he told me “Mujhe saans lene do (allow me to breathe).” And there I was not being able to control my laughter after listening to his potent dialogue. But I did loosen my grip. Both Indi and me thought of going for a parachute ride also but somehow we could n’t muster enough courage to do it.
Goa is a strange place much abused by different people in different times of the year. If only breast-obsessed Indian men can control their urge to ogle at each and every woman, then it would be a better place. How can men be so brazen and shameless about their lust? And of course our ability to litter is absolutely amazing. We are too professional in throwing trash on the beach.
The highlight of our visit was on the musical night at our resort. Even though Indira and me practiced singing a song (In the morning, by the sea) for the better part of the day (Laurie has to get an International award in patience and tolerance for being the listener), we did not get a chance to showcase our vocal talent. But after few glasses of beer and wine in quick succession, both of us were in a mood to dance. So, as the lead singer started singing, ‘knock… knock.. knocking on heaven’s door’, we were also getting into a lighter mood. And the moment he started singing old Boney M numbers, we were dancing like crazy. The Indians in the restaurant (luckily few) were giving us dirty looks as if we were untouchables. But the foreigners thought it was perfect to dance and enjoy an evening. . And then we were joined by couple of them and one attractive woman did her pole dance bit too. Even though I had requested the band to play ‘I just died in your arms tonight’ they didn’t have the lyrics and couldn’t fulfill my request. As the wild woman within us took over, the lead singer asked from the dais, “Gals, what are you doing tonight? Pat came our reply, “We are sleeping.” My feet were aching that night but my head was feeling a lot lighter. For a change, the world seemed a better place to live after dancing to Bryan Adams, ‘Summer of 69.’
The next day morning, the hangover continued for the Indian guests at the breakfast table as the dirty looks had got a shade deeper. But then who cares when you are in Goa? I was there with Indi and Laurie on a holiday because I wanted to breathe (very much like Rick though in a much different way).