Thursday, May 31, 2007

Goa - Day 2 - The two beaches

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The last thing I recall about the first day is that Nilesh and Harshal were watching football... Od too was watching that I think... Things are fuzzy. I was tired, remember?

Anyway, the first thing I saw on Sunday was Nilesh! Dammit! This guy is an insomniac. He had got up earlier because of (surprise surprise) my alarm. Started getting ready and proceeded to wake all of us. Man, was he determined to do a "yatra" of all the beaches. After a prolonged "getting ready" session (I fell asleep in the bathroom... thank god there wasn't a bathtub, otherwise I would have drowned!), we headed out. Anjuna and Vagator is what had been decided the day before. We decided to follow that general direction. Which to be done first would be decided later.

On the way, Od continued with his "on the fly" photography. It was only when we reached a fork - the left road leading to Anjuna and the right to Vagator - that we were faced with making a crucial decision. I passed the buck to Od, sitting behind me, who promptly decided to let Nilesh make the call. Nilesh and Harshal, on the other bike, turned right. And we had no choice but to follow them. Another 4 Km ahead and we reached a little incline. The road leads to the sunset, if you arrive in the evening. We arrived in the morning, 7 AM to be more specific. But the view was amazing. Just imagine a beautiful picturesque beach, the blue sea blending in perfectly with the clear blue sky, with the horizon barely decipherably due to the almost same hues of the water and the sky, stretching across, in front of you, who's now finally managed to shake off that drowsiness off your eyes. Feels like Heaven, feels like God!


We climbed down.. and walked to the far end. Od was sleepy. Who won't after barely 3 hours of sleep. But we others were determined to have fun. The three of us proceeded for a swim. ( A swim is actually a misnomer. All of us were apprehensive of actually swimming in the sea. So we just stayed around in waist to shoulder deep water and let the waves pound us sore.) Nilesh decided to scout the area before swimming. He wanted to check out the area beyond the mountains. Harshal and I wanted to enjoy the waters. Vagator has the most amazing unpopulated, clean beach with great waves and strong undercurrents that you can hope for. The waves generally rise above your head. And if the wave is just forming when this happens, you are lucky. You just get carried up, and are thrown to the shore. But if the wave just breaks a few feet before it reaches you, you are a goner. The water throws you towards the shore. But in doing so, it delivers an amazing knockout punch you wished you never should have experienced. And then, the water receeds. It pulls at your feet. Since you are heavy (unlike me), it is content with pulling the sand under your feet. Enough to make you lose your footing.

"Apne pair ke neeche se jameen hil jati hai!"

We just couldn't resist cracking this one and chuckling over it time and again in Goa. Nilesh came after some time and told us that Od was gonna take a nap. Also, the patch beyond the mountain was amazingly choppy, rocky et al. We swam for some more time and then went to look at the place Nilesh had described. Its amazing how a few rocks here and there just change the nature of the sea. Clearly that area was not safe for a swim. But some people were hanging around there. Some firangs. (:D) and a few others interested in the flora clinging on to the rocks. All we were concerned was that no crab bites us when we step on the rocks. We came back... only to see Od gone... with all our stuff lying out there unattended.

Od's version of things: I woke up. Actually couldn't sleep at all. Harshal, Nilesh and Mandar must be having a good time. Those *IY&*%^&$%^#$#&^%*%. Wait for me you buggers! But then when I walk a bit, I can't see any of them. They were'nt so confident of swimming... what the??? Nah. Must be somewhere here. So I went around a bit. I started climbing that hill out there. Seemed that there was a fort up there. And a nice trail led to it. I think the fort was called Chapora or something. As I went up, clicking photos (take that Mandar, I'm gonna fill this memory stick with photos about nothing) I saw those three coming back fro the right. Oh yea. Seems that Nilesh took them to where he had gone half an hour earlier. Chalo. Time to go. Let's join them in the sea.

We swam a bit and then saw Od come down. He too joined in. Four of us taking on the waves. A little distraction and water promptly enters your nostrils, and is out through your mouth. Disgusting! But great fun. We just didn't feel like coming out. Finally at about 10.00 or so we were out. After all that exhausting fun, we're out of water to drink! We went back up to where our bikes were. Me dizzy out of thirst. ( How the hell do those guys in the deserts survive???) Coconut water/juice and a bottle or two of water. Whew! Relief. We sit around for some time. Hunger sets in. We loitered around for some time. And the plan for the rest of the day was etched out. Go to Panaji, have lunch/brunch. Take a nap. And go to Fort Aguada and the beach nearby.


We left Vagator. The ride back was pretty uneventful. All we knew was that there was a Kamat restaurant near our room and we should head there. But man! Finding it was a pain. Especially with all the one-ways, the Sunday street markets and police stopping us every other minute to check our licenses. We spotted a "Bombay Shivsagar" and entered it. Od, Nilesh & Harshal ordered Punjabi. Me South Indian. What great service! The "restaurant" is actually nothing more than a glorified eatery. It is housed in this small space in which generally shops are. But these guys had managed to keep it clean, cook great food and also respond to your orders in a minute. Wow! We left, with a generous tip and headed back to the room. A shower, and time for a nap. harshal and Nilesh switch on the TV for their football and takeshi's castle.

But before we actually fall asleep the plan changes again. Fort Aguada is scheduled for tomorrow. We decided to go to Miramar Beach, Dona Paula etc in Panaji itself. We doze off and wake up in the evening. Around 5.00 pm. We left the room, fresh and with a nice bedsheet to lie down on at the beach and clothes, in case we entered the water. But before Miramar, we went to book our tickets back home. We didn't want to travel by the Maharashtra ST buses. Leg room is too less. We looked up the Goa ST (Kadamba Buses or something) and Karnataka ST Buses. Either full, or only last seats available. A private transport bus agent catches hold of us. He told us that he could get better seats. For around 400 bucks. We followed him, a little vary. He offered us well.. the second last seats! We obviously weren't impressed. Od and I decided to check out if others had any better seats to offer. We found one guy who gave us better ones. And finalised the deal. Since Harshal and Nilesh had the money, we called them to the place where we were waiting. The agent followed them. And then, starting arguing that since we had "finalized" the booking in his bus, we couldn't book anywhere else. Ridiculous. Since we had not told him anything, but to wait. Drama ensued and finally we got the tickets we wanted. And then we headed to Miramar.

Miramir, situated in Panaji, is one helluva crowded place. Atleast, on Sundays it is. And we felt more so, since Vagator, Baga and Calangute were relatively empty. Anyway, with the setting sun in front, and nothing to be done urgently, we just sat. And chatted. And watched the crowd play, build sandcastles, throw frisbees, jump, swim, run, walk past giving us and our camera - tripod stand a stare; watched the ships come back, the ferries go out with the festivities for the Sunday crowd as the night set in; and just watched the sun set behind the Aguada Fort & the lighthouse as the moon too moved past the zenith and headed into the west.


We sat there for a long time. Took some fundoo snaps. Finally stomachs started rumbling. We walked out of the beach, looking for a restaurant close by. Dona Paula was being slowly relegated to the "not- seen" list. Foodland has got itself the best location. You walk out of the beach. And the closest thing to you is -- Foodland! A nice plump DJ plays some music from his laptop there. And occasionally sings if the song is his type or if he has the lyrics. Nice place. But service is bad. Felt more so after the Shivsagar experience. Food took a long time. And we were too bored to pursue any activity. After all, we were on a holiday.

We returned to the beach. Sat down and wasted time again. Over-enthu Nilesh and Hashal went for a walk along the beach again.

Finally at about 11 ish or so we decided to call it a day. Conserve energy for tomorrow. Those bike rides are tiring and since we go on the same road everyday, it kinda gets monotonous. We went back to the room. Finalised on Fort Aguada and Sinquerim beach for the next morning. As with other days, and other times where I started dozing off, the TV was on. Set on some sports channel, showing some Barca match. There was Snatch going on some movie channel. But the start had been missed, and it might have been difficult for the others to catch on to the plot. So, channel changed.. to Asterix - Mission Cleopatra. I dozed off as Obelix tried to hide the broken tip of the Sphinx's nose....

Friday, May 25, 2007

photos

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writing takes time... especially when i have to a project report to do..

photos also have to compiled... i cant just upload all 500 of them can I?.... Will post when the I'm done with selecting the best ones to upload. The details of the next 2 days of goa trip will trickle in slowly.. I think I'll change the writing style for that to the normal one - use past tense.

thanks for visiting :D

mandar

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Goa - Settling in....Day 1

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And so, I reach the bus stand at 8, thanks to a lift by my cousin. Od, Nilesh and Harshal have already reached and are waiting for me so that they can have a pseudo dinner or something. I learn that my flip-flops had almost got the entire plan cancelled and it was only on Od's and Nilesh's insistence (and threats) that Harshal had agreed to go. Seems everyone let out a collective breath of relief when I was cleared for holiday!

Word of caution when taking an Asiad bus to Goa: Read up on the concept of patience. This is what I realise when I look at my watch. Its 9.00 pm and the bus is just about to leave Pune station.... and head to Swargate! We reach Swargate after some agonising 15 minutes to the small congested streets of Pune only to wait for another 15 minutes. More passengers file. The bus is full. Thank God! There is a little confusion and chaos since our seats aren't together. I booked my ticket late, remember? We get some seats exchanged.. though we still aren't exactly in the best possible places, we decide to rest with what we have.

After the intial banter, the situation is like this:
Me:


Od:


Nilesh and Harshal:


Hehe.... Now let me describe the general ritual followed by bus drivers:
To sum up for the time lost waiting at the bus stands, all bus drivers pray and invoke the spirit of Aryton Senna or Michael Schumacher (if thats possible) or both. They then switch off the bus lights so no passenger can see what the heck is happening and start feeling drowsy (the passengers, not the driver). If at all you wake up at night, while the bus is at its full speed, you will stop being an atheist. Hell, you'll even not want to remain agnostic! You'll just want GOD to exist... and that too in the same bus as yours so that you may be saved.

Sleeping fitfully in the bus is an example of an oxymoron... We wake up in the morning thoroughly satisfied with the validity of the above statement. It seems the bus has stopped and the driver has gone out. Probably to the loo... And so we try to doze back to sleep. Ahem, thats not allowed I think. You are not allowed to doze back, is what some people who have to reach places at exact 8.30 in the morning believe. Turns out that the driver has gone out to get some alcohol (to take home, not however, to drink) from somewhere it is cheaply available. (That means, we have entered the state of Goa.. yahooo) And two people are unhappy. And they believe that the best way to display their unhappiness is by continuously repeating : "kaay phaltugiri ahey. hyala kaay artha ahey ka?" in a weird accent which only makes you laugh. Then put in some other sentences like : "konich kahi bolat kasa nahi. kaay phaltugiri ahey! driver cha number lihun gheto ani takrar nondavto" (the man believes in talking in chaste marathi)

Fortunately, driver returns, things cool down, bus starts, Mr Senna's ghost reappears and we all doze back. 8.25 am and I'm woken up to the beautiful city of Panaji. What amazing roads! What amazing planning! It gives you the feel of being in an European town. wow! Outta the bus and looking for a taxi. With "TOURIST" written al over us, we just have to figure out which cab/rickshaw is gonna fleece us the least. We settle on a taxi who's gonna charge 60 bucks to take us to an area called Altinho. Is it good, I hear you ask. It is not, is my reply. Altinho is barely 4 kilometres from the bus stand.... That is all I will say. After the initial requisite confusion in finding the correct place, we land at the BSNL office, near the microwave tower. And we are shown into the Inspection Quarters.

Let me describe you the quarters: These are where generally BSNL employees stay when on tours. The rooms are air-conditioned, fully furnished with a cupboard, 2 side-tables, a cozy double bed, attached bathroom (which is quite big) and a flatscreen TV with cable - ie over 50 channels to watch. The employees can let their immdiate relatives stay in these quarters if booked sufficiently in advance. Nilesh's father had done so.
The rent is Rs. 50 per day.


If you want to read that again, allow me to repeat: The rent is Rs. 50 per day.

:D

What more can four 21 year olds, intent on making an economy, fun-filled trip to Goa, ask for? (The answer is cheap food and firang crowds, if you are curious).

We unpack bags, freshen up. The watchman tells us that we can get bikes for about Rs 250 per day. (Bike = Splendor.. not Pulsor or enfield etc :-( ) We tell him to get the bikes... and start watching TV, trying to decide what to do that day.

Thankfully, the plan is decided by the time the bikes arrive. We decide to go to Ponda (pronounced Fonda for some funny reason unknown to us) where Od's grandmother stays. Spend the afternoon there and then head to the beaches. We have decided to go to Baga and Calangute beaches that day.

The road to Ponda (Fonda?) is awesome. The road just does not have potholes. Its heaven. Its also windy, and Nilesh loses his cap a couple of frustating times. Since its just 11.30 am when we leave, most of the restaurants aren't open. Nobody eats so early is their philosophy. Clearly, the haven't met us. One lucky (unlucky?) restuarant, situated by the Mandovi River, offering a scenic view, gets chosen at random and we enter it. The chef, manager etc are all surprised. (I think that they rushed in to brush their teeth, freshen up etc etc when they saw us.) Only chicken chilly milly (or something like that.. its tasty though) and fried rice are available. We take it. And gobble it up. Its lipsmackingly delicious! Chicken! mmmmmmmmmm...

We reach Ponda. Get lost a couple of times while trying to reaching the house, conveniently misdirected by different people. Finally, sanity and honesty prevails. And we reach the house. We just relax. Eat mangoes (what a day, first great chicken and then alphonsoes!). Harshal decides to confuse Od by controlling the TV with his cell phone. Od and Nilesh think that the TV remote is faulty.... and give up watching. hehe.. time for a nap.

We wake at around 4. After a light snack, we're off to Baga beach. Od realises that we're gonna miss watching sunset at the beach. So he continues his "on-the-fly photography". He is good at it, you know. The roads and road signs in Goa are the best thing for any outsider. Finding Baga beach is a piece of cake, though we realise its there only when we reach the end :P. And a great shocl awaits us! There is no good crowd!!!! Its mostly kids, uncles, auntys and some tapori crowd! Naheeeeeeeee!

Od, Nilesh and Harshal go in to the water for a swim. I start taking photos. Its low light conditions, and I have a tripod to help me take awesome photos. Tada! (thanks nitant) . After some time... I exchange places with Nilesh. I go into the water and he "guards" our stuff. Finally we call it quits. Its too dark now. Od, inspired by F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and thousands of other funny serials, decides to bury himself in sand.... Harshal too starts doing the same. Photography ensues.
About 63 odd people pass by, and each one makes it a point to give us a stare. We don't take any of them. :P

Hunger has set in. And we've heard lots about the saturday night market. We start hunting for it. Its not open today, is what we hear from 2-3 guys. Turns out that this off- peak season. No foreigners in droves. So no market. Damn! So head to Calangute Beach. Its anyways on the way back. There is party type thingy organised by the Goa tourism board there. Free entry. We promptly enter. Od tries his hand at some stupid game. Its designed to make you lose. And Od loses! We start hunting for food. Chicken lollipop and Biryani! Its not as great as morning, but its good. Plus, there is live music and lotsa ppl dancing. Fun!

Post dinner we head to the beach. Its 10 pm types. And the shacks and shanties on the beach are getting filled up. The most amazing thing here is that these people set tables and sofas facing the sea. So you can sit in peace, watch the waves, sip you favourite bevarage (to the shanty owner's frustration, it is Sprite and Mirinda in our case. None of us wants to drink alcohol!) and chat. We do all that. Then decide to go somewhere else. But a look at the watch tells us its past midnight. And our room is in Panaji, 20 Km away. We stroll out slowly. It takes 20 minutes to reach the bikes.

Damn. First day over. The ride back home is serene. No traffic on already awesome roads going through amazing locales. We get stopped once by the police. Routine checking. Back at the room at about 1.30 am. After some TV (Takeshi's castle!! and football), we argue on the beach to visit the next day. Anjuna and Vagator beach is decided. An alarm for 5.00 am is set. Its 2.30 am now. Wonder how we'll get up tomo... or rather.. today. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

GOA!!!!

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Splash!!!!! Just back from a trip to Goa... and whoa! .. was it fun {grinning smiley}...

just for kicks: my orkut name is now "Back from Goa".. and orkut greets me as "welcome, back from Goa"... hehe.. has a nice ring to it :D


Hmmmm, and on Nilesh's insistence.. and my own wish to keep writing, here's an account of the trip.. will do it in 3 different posts .. i hope..

Lets go somewhere.... How about Goa?
.. comes nilesh's call... Me immediately happy, I think: Nothing wrong with the idea. Exam starts late, on 31st; I have a holiday of about a week before every paper (very unfortunate, but good since it might get me to goa) And, the chance of me getting to go to Goa with friends is almost nil after the exams. Especially, since after exams I will be busy with trips to the doc, the visa office and what not to get me prepared for going to the USA (wink). Hmm, lets throw this idea on mom and dad and see their reaction.

Mom and dad share a look (I think), they know that I WANT to go. And I guess that they know that this could be last chance in a loooooong time before i get such an awesome holiday. But work must be done, passport work and loan application for my MS is pending and unless that is done I shouldn't even think of going anywhere, is what my mom says. I think, that's cool. Passport once submitted won't come in about 10 days, loan application should be done in a jiffy. So, I come out happy and tell Nilesh and Od that you could almost count me in, but I'll let you know soon.

Soon... hehe... nice word. That's what i said 2 days earlier. But SBI wants EVERY bloody damn paper related to the house to process the house. The passport application also looks as if its gonna give problems. Things look bleak. I call and tell Nilesh that I cant come. I go to bed. The next day we start looking for the papers, and we bloody cant find them! It seems those papers will take about a week to be processed and so, SBI gives an alternative... a third part guarantor: my mom can be one, and suddenly things fall into place. I submit all the remaining papers and the loan thingy moves ahead.

But its thursday, and Nilesh, Od and Harshal are leaving on friday night.... so I possibly can't do anything. I meet Nilesh and Priyank over dinner/supper and tell Nilesh that things have fallen in place and now I have to wait for all those materials to get processed. Nilesh tells me I can still come, I just have to go early in the morining and hope to get the tickets for the same bus. I get permission from parents to attempt this, and I end that Thursday with a satisfied mind.

Friday morning, I wake up early (a rare occurence, I can assure you) and rush to the Bus Stand, minus the morning bath, to get the tickets. I think the body odour helped get me the tickets faster than usual. :D Kidding
Tada!.. tickets done, bags packed and I'm ready to go....

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Hmm.. I guess, the trip part should come in separately... so, I'll write that in a separate post. :D