Monsoon trip to Goa - Part 2

Panjim is a great place to spend time irrespective of how you like to do it. There is enough for everyone there - shopping avenues for the spendaholics, cheap booze for the bachanalians, beautiful buildings, structures and streets for the walk-n-admiraholics. It was raining heavily when we touched down at Panaji aboard a ferry, across mighty river Mandovi. Heavy rains soon gave way to a mild a drizzle and we set out exploring the streets of Panjim.

Rain is a little dampening initially, but once you give it some time, walk with it and let it pour down all over you with such grace, you suddenly realize how relaxing an experience it is. Rain is much like a beautiful woman.. comes and thrills you when you least expect. It is easy to pass a judgment on her sitting under the comfort of a roof but difficult to rate her once you get to know her from closer quarters.

We drove towards Calangute from Panjim and decided to take a little detour to Aguada fort. The winding road towards the lighthouse was looking exceptionally beautiful in the company of rain and lush greenery. We spent about an hour around the lighthouse and finally decided to touch base when hunger slowly started killing the excitement. We stopped by one of the dozens of Goan makeshift restaurants for some rice and prawn Zacuti. Though the prices were cheap, so was the quality of the food. But quality doesn't always matter when you are almost blind with hunger. (Guess the restaurant guy also realized the same!!) Without wasting more time we started searching for a place to stay and found 'Villae Theresa', a decent place close to the beach where double bedrooms were available for Rs. 500 a night. With all our baggage safely locked inside, it was time to hit the beach and fortunately the rains stayed away for the rest of the evening.

As we strolled along the white sands from Calangute to Baga, came a guy from a nearby shack, inviting us for dinner. Meet Sandy, who later introduced us to some fabulous Goan cuisine. He works for a beach side restaurant called 'Goan Waves' where 'Yang' the Great Dane also lives. Yang is a two year old black canine who loves to laze around the tables, nuzzling against the legs of the diners in return for generous tips of chicken, fish and French fries. The best decision we took during the whole trip was to trust Sandy and dine at the 'Goan Waves'. As we eased down onto the cane chairs facing the sea, Sandy started explaining the possibilities in front of us for dinner - Crabs, Prawns, fish, chicken, beef, Vindaloos, Xacutis.. blah blah. We decided on some crabs and some fish and some prawns and some beef and some chicken and some liquor..!!!

As the coconut Feni started to ease the tension out, I started noticing the people around us - of all makes and types. There was this young lady sitting all alone in a corner with a bottle of white wine and a radio. Sandy later told us that she is from France and is on her vacation here. There was this lovely couple on a couch beside us who were evidently spending a lovely and romantic evening. They were holding each other affectionately, occasionally planting a kiss on each others' face and sipping alcohol from the same glass. There was another couple towards the far end of the shack but the story was little different there. The guy was already drunk and the lady was trying to control him from shouting and dancing around (Did I say this was an Indian couple?). Yang seemed to develop some pity on the guy and was hanging around his table for most of the evening.. or was it the chicken pieces that were falling down from his unsteady hands? Before I could develop theories on Yang's behavior and the motive behind it, Sandy announced the starters.

There were three crabs on the table, nicely garnished with some salad and French fries. From the size and color they looked like members of the same family, but from three generations - son, pop and the grandpa perhaps..!! I stopped sneaking into the parallel universes around me and latched on to one of the crabbies. My universe was made up of just one thing for the next 15 - 20 minutes - cracking shells and juicy crab meat. The feni had started working inside and I slowly got enlightened on the reasons behind the goan way of living... what else will you do than singing and dancing when you have feni in one hand and tasty sea food in the other? The more the merrier..!! I thought of sharing my discoveries and newfound knowledge with peole around me, but Sandy came to their rescue.. this time with a BIG fried Red Snapper. Sandy seemed to have this special gift of timing.. he knew when to break conversations with crabs and prawns and when to force-divert your attention from the cute cuddling couple with a refill..!! I will have to tell this to him next time I visit Goan Waves.

It was midnight and the shacks were closing down. Sandy offered us chairs and we sat there close to the waves playing antakshari for an hour or so. Alcohol can at times make great singers out of fools like me. It was time to take another stroll and we soon joined a crowd around a huge fire. The sea was roaring, the skies were clear, the fire was warm and we were in full mood to enjoy. Soon we started burying each other in the sand.. just the heads sticking out of the sand, much like an over sized crab peeping out of its burrow. Finally in the early hours of the next day we decided to retire to the comfort of Villae Theresa.

The morning saw us sitting in front of Sandy's shack, waiting for the ham and Bacon Sandy had promised the night before. Sandy was nowhere to be seen an for few minutes we thought the previous night's hungama was just a dream..!! Soon Sandy emerged and our wait was over. We had bacon, beans and Ham for breakfast and washed it down with some beer. The combination worked well even early in the morning with the sea adding its own magic to the moments. Then as usual it was time to say goodbye to Goa and return to Bangalore.. we had a long road ahead of us. We bid adieu to Goa by afternoon... the rains were back in town by then flooding the streets of Panaji and almost blocking our way. I think the rains and Goa enjoyed our company... we did their for sure..!!!

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