Six months of isolation, stagnation and indignation was enough to persuade a seeker – me — to visit a new place and gratify my “wanderlust”. Initially, just like most of you, I was way too dubious about planning a trip to another state amid this contagious virus. However, with a lot of research, I decided my next destination, Goa, to discover unknown places, faces. I, also, thanked my stars because, by the time I booked my tickets, the government of Goa had opened the state borders and gave a nod to tourists to visit the state without COVID negative report.
Day 1 (Watching the sunset at Curlies Beach Shack, Anjuna Beach, almost after a year was priceless)
My sole purpose of “Day 1” was to watch the sunset. So, I decided to stay at a place which was very close to the beach. I opted for Anjuna, as I was familiar with the roads and was also advised by some of my friends in terms of safety measures amid coronavirus-induced-lockdown. I stayed at Yuppie Hippie Female Hostel, which is located very close to the Curlies beach shack. I resided in a dormitory. However, all the 4 beds were mine, as I was the only “woman”, rather “crazy woman” who planned the most unprecedented holiday amid a pandemic! Nonetheless, the caretaker over there was very friendly and made me feel very safe.
Day 2 (Breakfast at Rice Mill, Scooter rides near Morjim, Vagator beach)
I am sure that my readers have come across this staple statement that “September is not really a cool season to visit Goa”. Also, in the middle of a crazy deadly virus, no one dares to plan an unforeseeable visit. My next plan was to make a plan. Damn! For a minute, cluelessness whacked me and I asked myself – “Now that I am here, how do I plan to spend the rest of my days?” Camus’s concept of “absurdity” hit me hard. I’d like to quote some of the lines from the book which were very relevant to the situation.
“There are absurd marriages, challenges, rancors, silences, wars and even peace treaties.” I think this was an absurd challenge for me, a challenge to plan how I’d like to spend my upcoming days in this beautiful, yet unknown state. With all of my intelligence and quest to see the unknown, I decided to visit various places.
My first place to have a good meal was Rice Mill, very close to Morjim beach. Rice Mills is considered one of the best places for Jazz lovers in Goa. However, unfortunately, the music part was shut and was only open for drinks and food. I had the best-scrambled eggs here, which was served with Poi, Goan bread. I spent my next 2 hours here reading Camus and then went for a beautiful drive with my guide named “Pitu”. (All the people in my journey hold a lot of significance as they guided me home and made sure I was safe in Goa, therefore, I’d like to mention them all).
Coming back to the end of Day 2, I wandered mostly near Morjim, Vagator beach. I spent my evening at a very beautiful, lively Café named – Artjuna Garden Café, Anjuna, where I had Watermelon Feta Salad and Pineapple Juice. While returning to my hostel, I lost my way and was helped by a very sweet man named Sweden. Roads in Goa are mostly safe. However, sometimes, you might come across deserted streets with no electricity…The only sound that can be heard is of a cocoon. Dinner or I should rather say drinks? I sipped my last drink of the day next to the gigantic sea, in Curlies, and danced like no one’s watching. “Sorry, Sweden, were you the guy who dropped me home?” J
Day 3 (Driving down to Arambol beach)
I began my third day at Artjuna Café, where I usually spent my evenings, as I really liked the food they served. Today was another absurd challenge for me. Pitu, my pilot, suddenly cancelled plans and told me to find a new pilot. In Goa, the pilot, is the person who you hire to ride scooter or car. Finding a pilot was really challenging as most of the locals were reluctant to entertain a tourist from Delhi/Mumbai or any other metropolitan city, thanks to the virus. Finally, after a long struggle, I was acquainted with my new pilot named Anand.
Anand drove me to Arambol beach and the drive, which lasted for almost 40-50 minutes, was full of lush green trees and meadows, clear skies, and clumsy clouds. I saw my locals enjoying cycling on my way to Arambol beach. Again, I ended my day next to the Anjuna beach and was with my only friend, my purple hula hoop.
Day 4 (Breakfast at Curlies, beautiful bicycle ride to Baga)
This was my second last day in Goa. So, I had to plan some adventure. After consuming my first meal of the day at Curlies, I decided to go on a bicycle ride to discover the secrets of beautiful Goan roads. I returned to my hostel with a quest to find a bicycle for myself. And finally, with Avinash’s help, caretaker of the hostel, I was able to arrange a short bicycle for myself. Short because I am way too tiny for a big one! (5”2 maybe…)
Honestly, there’s nothing more liberating than wandering on unwanted roads while being lost, rather very lost. With the help of the locals, I managed 6-7 kilometre and beached Baga reach. This was my most liberating travel experience. The closer I was to the beach, I freer I felt. It was almost like I was constantly singing “It is a wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong in my head. The distance between Anjuna and Baga beach is approximately 6-7 km. Right before entering the beach, I witnessed ponds on both sides of the road, where locals were either found pondering or fishing. Discovering Baga holds special significance in my heart as I overcame my fears of being lost and drove my sweat out on my very rusty and gnarled bicycle.
Day 5 (A walk to remember, hot cutlets amid heavy downpour and the girl with a purple hoop, dancing skills)
Today was sadly my last day in Goa. I had no plans. But isn’t that a plan itself? Not to have a plan is indeed a plan! So, I quit the “bicycle riding idea” today and decided to be on my own and on my feet! Goa made me a morning person. All these days, I had a habit of waking up early and watching the sunrise. As today was my last day, I decided to go for a long walk and capture the beautiful, picturesque meadows in Goa. Again, I was pretty clueless about the directions and was just lurching around to find a good place to eat on a very rainy day.
Finally, after 2 hours of lurching, I found a stall, which was full of buns, and local Goan sweets. I was offered a bun and an egg cutlet by Aunty, who was the owner of the stall. And honestly, this was probably the best cutlet I have ever had. It is close to Angry Sardar Café in Anjuna and very accessible. After 5 hours of walking and drenching in the rain, I finally reached my hostel and penned down all my incidents/memories.
By the end of the day, I was ready to dance my ass off at Curlies as it was my last day. Initially, I was alone with my beers and my hula hoop. But as the night passed, I realized that the night was little unusual and never-ending. Yes, the party got extended and I made all the boys/men dance in the club, thanks to my dancing skills. The moment was priceless and an achievement, not because I was the only “crazy woman” dancing in the club, but because my moves made the people shake their legs. The moment indeed gave me a feeling of self-glorification. I, perhaps, lived the dream of becoming a dance instructor.
As a child, I was always afraid of the sea, especially in the dark. However, this darkness, (September 11), was my light. It became my light. I will never forget this darkness and the man in the shades of white, Faizan.
Pandemic did make us slow, but it also gave us enough time to discover ourselves in the most beautiful way.