Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Goa - Settling in....Day 1

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:


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.


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

1 comment:

  1. hey,u havent mantioned abt the nilesh's girl on the beach- the "BLONDE" one....