Day 2 of the Goa trip began with me waking up predictably and annoyingly enough at 6 am – hungry. As all was quiet everywhere, I tried to dream about happy things. But that failed and I set about waking up the rest of the party. We all finally assembled in front of the car to head to the breakfast joint. As the boys had been to Kerim before, they knew what to expect.
Paav Bhaji. I have always disliked Paav Bhaji. It’s the concept and the hype that gets to me. What is the big deal about eating bread/bun with curry? And how is that some sort of special dish? But Goa Paav is special in that it is chewy and hard. You can quite successfully injure someone with it. But as that was the only thing on the menu, I dug in.
As our driver, Narayan, was rested and full of beans, he suggested we hit the town. Arambol has one long street that leads to the beach and is replete with colourful shops. Pink Floyd is a popular name for shops in Goa. I even saw it written on a car like the way we have “hai darshan” and “hai lakshmi” written on cars/autos in Karnataka.
Both Freety and I wanted to buy cheap shades and I wanted to buy gifts for my women lovers. And just when I was thinking of what shopping I’d do, my slipper snapped. I hate the look people give you when your slipper snaps. It’s full of pity and censure for being an idiot child with water on the brain not knowing what sort of footwear to buy. But gleefully I bought myself new sandals. I’d vowed not to spend any money on footwear for at least a year. Since then I’ve already bought three new pairs. Such is life.
Freety had told me that Goans are really sweet, they keep smiling. They do, but I didn’t like the way they always look like they want to see what they can get out of you. And it becomes very evident when you shop. Shopping in Goa needs superior bargaining skills. “How much will you give me?” in French, German, or whatever else accent they’ve learnt. Or, “tum batao, kitna doge?” I didn’t buy much. And I unwittingly stumbled on the best bargaining technique ever by showing them my wallet that had little money and making it seem like that was all I had. So technically it wasn’t just my asking price, it was the only price I could offer. And Freety went around telling the world – “She owes everyone in Arambol, Mapusa, Anjuna, why all of Goa, money.” The heediot boy!
We sat in one of the shacks at the Arambol beach. The beach here is full of those half-naked foreigners I was telling you about. Freety and I admired some really young, nubile girls with great bodies and a healthy tan as Cat went to get a closer look at the power kites on the beach. I felt like I was with the best looking men on the beach anyway so there were hardly any men to ogle at even in Goa.
As we sat and waited for the food to arrive (very decent chicken, okay prawn, yummy pancakes and omelettes) and drank Tiger beer (Goan local beer that is supposed to get you hic happy), we made plans for the rest of the day.
Cat says that Indians don’t understand planning. I guess most of us don’t. We are happy to take life as it comes. And instead of being annoyed by constant changes we are either indifferent or thrilled. But for the poor Ger man, it’s simply illogical. “How can you not have a plan?” For him, it comes from learning rules to even cross the street, as I tell him. Here in India, while I cross a street, I happily cross uncaring of anything and just pray to the several holy trinities that nothing untoward happens.
But I do need a plan – especially on a vacation. I like to know where to go, what to buy, what to wear. And Monty’s message was so timely. She asked me to head out to Anjuna and check out the night bazaar. So as Cat and Harsha (another paraglider) who’d come with us went back to Kerim to fly, Freety and I decided to tour the cities. Freety was high with the Kings beer but I was so cold sober that it had begun to annoy me.
At Mapusa, we bought cashews and kukums in the central market that is a cross between Bangalore’s City Market and Majestic. I deeply regret not buying kukum juice so if you are going, you must buy some. It’s a refreshing drink in summers. And of course, bendekai sambhar (okra curry) tastes so kickass when you add kukum to it. And Freety took us to a veg restaurant that really served some truly delicious onion dosa. So it’s wholly untrue that Goa is not a place for vegetarians.
Then we drove to Anjuna. I have promised myself that the next time I visit Goa that is where I am going to stay. It looks clean, pretty, and Portuguese – all the stuff that the RD promised me in that article long ago. Though I thought I was in what seemed the night bazaar, Monty disabused me of the notion later. It really was a good thing because despite my superior shopping technique, the Goans fleeced me. And I only realised after reaching Bangalore that Anjuna is the drug capital of Goa. Not that I wanted any, but this is the sort of knowledge one must have.
Day 2 was a totally happy day. Of course we got lost again on the way back to Kerim. And while I fretted that we missed the right road, Freety fell in love with the scenery. I almost killed him that evening. Mom treats Freety as my kid brother and really boys are such perfect asses! I’m so glad my parents decided not to bless me with siblings!
Day 2 was also the first time in my entire life where I went to the beach at 12 am and looked up at a zillion stars in the sky, while I heard the roar of the crashing waves. But I was more spooked than thrilled. Thank God for the boys, even Harsha, who turned out to be a sweetheart after all because he was probably the only one who said no when a no was required.
Day 2 was the day I came to my own. The process that had begun in Bangalore—about finding my pride and not letting someone take me for a ride, a dictum I’d ignored for a few months—was completed and reinforced when I got into a killer ice-cold fight with a small and terribly small-minded man – Cat’s paragliding trainer.
Some people like to needlessly insult others to feel good about themselves. Our man thinking he was the smartest, wittiest, and most fearless adventurer ever, tried to thrust his opinions on the rest of us. And while that was so not fine, we were still happy to live and let live till he tried to “help me” overcome my fear and revulsion of lizards. And that’s when the popular feeling changed to live and let die.
Suffice to say that I pasted him on the wall after a very hysterical scene where I scared Hemant’s cats, dogs, and other assorted company. And to be perfectly honest, I scared myself too.
But the best thing is the belief the other gliders have now that hopefully, he will become a better person (after what Narayan calls “my doze”). Cat and Harsha said I was wow, that he fears me now even as he understood how repulsive most people find him. And without being modest, I can admit that I still haven’t lost my touch of making people feel like they’ve crawled from some really dark place when I put my mind to it. I guess that’s my purpose in life – to wash the arrogance of a few people sent my way for just that reason. A cross I have to bear even on vacations.
Altercations are things I avoid, but when I feel strongly about something I see no reason to shy away from them. Freety, in his infinite wisdom told me that the world is fine the way it is, it is I who always has a problem with it. Most of my friends think that I should always leave things alone. I do when I can. But when it touches my life, I know I have the balls to stand up for things that matter even if that results in ugly scenes and broken relationships. Too many men these days are proving constantly that they have none. It’s really sad. Even knowing I was in the right and in spite of having the others support me; I was pissed with Freety and refused to see his face till I was calmer.
And I spent the night talking to Cat about life, India, Germany, friendship, and love. Because wouldn’t you know it? When you feel oh-so-good about yourself is also when you don’t understand why some people didn’t love you enough, or do the right thing when they said they would do nothing else.
And so Day 2 ended in a different bed with many more revelations about character, right and wrong, the nature of friends, the behaviours of countries, and a fear of the night sea.
End of Episode 3
(This is going to be serialized as it is terribly long and I need to articulate for myself what the hell this trip was all about and importantly how I feel about it even if it makes it very long.)
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