March 05, 2008

The Other Face of Goa

When Mom and Dad or friends used to speak about Goa, it’d always be about the sun kissed beaches. The similarities would then end and each set of people would focus on what they liked on the beaches. For example when Mom would speak about the sunsets, friends would speak about the sets of sun-tanned beach revellers. Dad would talk about the fish curry and look at me pitifully and friends would speak about Fenny. So in a nut shell, Goa to me was exotic. Goa was also the place where I have cancelled my visits twice; once with Auro and Jopy and the other time with Kushal and Amit.

So I landed up in Goa one fine day expecting to touch down on the beach at the side of the airport. And first thing I realize there’s no beach in the vicinity. Worry not, I tell myself, the guest house would be like Amitabh Bachhan’s house in Anand. Unfortunately, the driver takes me up some hills and we go round and round the mountain spines. Hills!!! In Goa????? Did they have anything on Goa in ICSE Geography? Did any Hindi movie show anything apart from the beaches of Goa? Was I in Goa?

Anyway, on the way I made a stop at the BITS Pilani, Goa campus. So two out of three existing BITS campuses have now been visited. The ones left are Dubai and Hyderabad when it comes up. This is something that the travel freak in me had planned out even while I was in Pilani. But that’s another story. So I fill my lungs with the air outside the BITS Goa campus and wander outside its gates, much to the suspicion of the security guards. I guess only my car and an uniformed driver made them stop short of asking questions.

So touching a landmark, I move on, leaving myself to the hands of fate and my driver. But slowly things began to look up. I finally got to hear once again the cuckoo frantically calling its mate. Spring was in the air. A season I had forgotten existed. The air was refreshingly fresh after living in Mumbai for some time, and to top that, there was not the smell of fish, (tantalizing or irritating, depending on which side of the palate divide you are)

The winding road up the mountain slope was no different from the others I have seen across India. Ugly structures poking their head up in defiance around pristine natural settings, construction going on in full swing to aid ‘development’ and houses almost bending over the road through his trucks and cars are passing in high speed. But what obviously was missing was the proliferation of shops for the tourist offering chips and biscuits. That was pretty obvious since this was never the Goa a tourist would visit.

The Guest House I am staying at is far from the maddening crowd but also home to a very caretaking caretaker who will not let me venture out without a car between 7:00 pm in the night to 7:00 am. So in the late evenings, often I can have the luxury to just sit and hear the insects singing their chorus in our backyard after I hear the stories of all the places he has worked in. Long walks on the roads that forever go on and on. It was a nice feeling; to be out of a city that is always hurrying.

To be very frank, I actually intend to travel out of Goa without visiting even one beach. And that I think is an exploration any traveller would like.

5 comments:

Surendra said...

Are you on a paid holiday?

BTW, We (yeah, I, Shailya, Ojas, Mak, Aashutosh) had visited Goa campus when it was being built. Now the first batch is passing out this year.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

Holiday????/ Nah not yet :P But BITS Goa looks great

Addy said...

Ah Goa! There has always so much more to it than beaches and churches. I am glad you found it.

Cashewnuts?

Neelam Prabhu Gaonker said...

m so glad u cud see the other side of goa....im seriously fed up of people thinkin that goa is full of beachwear clad people drinking feni all day....
was myself thinkin of writin a post on this.....maybe smtime soon...

lindray said...

so where did you stay? sounds unlike anything I`ve seen.