*post title taken from the book Chasing The Monsoon by Alexander Frater. It's a somewhat dry read (heh), but if you perservere, you should be able to get quite a lot of information from this travellogue.
Goa in off season time is a weird anamoly. It's a ghost town, closed for siesta pretty permanently. The cigarettes are stale, the locals lecherous, the shacks only distant memories. And yet, there are people, serious travellers or just Indians who avoid/can't afford this beach town at any other time of the year who descend during the monsoon. Men in short Speedos surrounded by posses rolling about in the shallows of the waves like beached whales, families with small children, ordering veg chow mein and watching fondly over their kids as they build sandcastles with cigarette butts embedded in them. And Bombay expats, any excuse to flee the city when the last months of the monsoon grow dreary and the smell of mould makes you sneeze all morning and houses are never as fresh as they were and everywhere, the all prevading monsoon aroma--three day old monsoon aroma at that--dead fish and sewage and too many people's wet socks.
Plus, I had been ill with a regular old cough and cold which turned into the chills and sweating and ominous mumbles of swine flu and I had been on a course of antibiotics which are not fun at any time, so moping around in my track pants and t-shirt I felt grubby and full of fluids (TMI ALERT: Also, the red flag decided to wave at precisely that moment. Trust my ovaries to choose a vulnerable spot), much like the city. Small is visiting and randomly, I mentioned how I wanted to go to Goa some time this month and she said, "Well, how about next weekend?" and through fever bright eyes I gazed at her, struck by that idea. We got JC on board fairly quickly, and I mentioned it to my other friends, out of whom Bulbul decided to do the last minute Goa thing as well.
Besides booking the train at the very last minute (and for this, kudos, as always to Ira's travel agent, who we have relied on before. This man always comes through, even when you think there is no hope, always comes through and gets the job done. I heart you, Mr Travel Agent Man!) we had done nothing else. The only thing I had managed to retain was that Baga was mostly fun off season and through a veil of drunken memory I also recalled that the resort we stayed at last time--Cavala--was quite pretty and if we had managed to live last year down (God, the smell of tequila is still eeeeeeeeeeevil) it might be a good place to stay at. We did get the taxi driver to show us some other spots first (because no one listens to me) but when we got to Cavala, my travel companions were just like, "THIS is the PLACE." And I was all like, "I told you so." (People really should listen to me.)
Cavala has the nicest pool, which was closed for renovation last time we were there and JC, Small and I hit that as soon as we showered and ate. That was pretty much our next three days. It was Bulbul's first time in Goa (plus she flew in and joined us a little later) so she did the sightseeing stuff, but in the mornings, our eyes signalled one thing to each other. Where shall we go? To the pool. We made it down to breakfast, bikinis/swim trunks on under our clothes, there was no question. Pool potatoes were born.
The sun was still sharp so by Day 2 we had all sorts of crisping. JC turned a vivid colour--one remniscent of some of my favourite clothes--and Small and I found our noses burnt and the areas under our bikinis as pale as if we had painted something on. I still have semi-white breasts. Sexy, right?
As for himself and herself, I'm glad to say they took to each other quite like siblings. They're kinda similar--JC and Small--so when it wasn't annoying for me to watch them squabble and then agree on something I never would've, it was most amusing. Bulbul and I spent much of the trip eye rolling at each other over the other two.
We did wander around Baga at night to see if anything else was "happening" but it turned out nothing was. One evening at a very dead Kamaki, which is usually hot and happening in December and half an hour spent at Mambo's and we decided there was no place like home. Or, in other words, resort, sweet resort.
I met some friends on Saturday night, an old, old friend who I haven't seen in ages, who along with her English (hey, there's an epidemic!) husband has moved to Goa (hello, and it was lovely to see you two!). Their life sounds so lovely and inspiring, I also want to move to Goa and live by the beach and write to the sounds of the waves. Sigh. I really should, no?
We went onwards and upwards to the same shack we visited last time--St Anthony's--and did the same thing; sing bad karaoke. JC and I did some terrible Kamikaze shots that nearly made us gag, and the bar ran out of Red Bull. Awesomeness.
The nice thing about going to Goa as often as I have been--twice a year now for close to three years--is that it's taking on a sort of familiarity for me. I know things, places are familiar. Routes are familiar, the air feels like you're back in a much loved spot. Plus this time, for the first time in years, I was with someone in Goa, which is possibly one of my most favourite places in the world. Most favourite place plus most favourite person? It was brilliant. We actually did get very cheesy and walk hand in hand on the beach and snuggled in the pool (there wasn't anyone else there, so no one to gross out) and it was Paradise.
We carried some of our lovin' back to Bombay too, and so we're still being sappy, although, I suspect Mr Love Of My Life is also over the moon to return to his laptop and internet connection and Star Trek stream. Sigh. (In his defence though, since I too am Geek Number One, I did a happy dance for my internet connection too. I did go to a cyber cafe in Goa which had three very pretty kitties wailing for their afternoon fish being cooked right there, and though I went to write my column, I got my Facebook and Twitter stuff done too.) (TC was being looked after by the most gracious and wonderous BB and looks quite well and even slightly put out at our return and not having the house to himself).