I perched myself on a rock at one of the Goa beaches, looking at the Sun going down the sea. A couple passed me, walking hand in hand into a beach shack. A woman sat flopped in the sand with a dog by her side. A couple of kids sped by on bikes, yelling in glee. Bob Marley’s ‘Don’t worry, be happy…’ started streaming from one of the beach cafes as the Sun dipped.
A typical Goa evening; you can keep strolling around Goa beaches late after the Sun sets, with the only worry of bumping into a cow in the dark (I bumped, literally).
Goa felt like any other beach destination till the evening I skipped sitting on the rocks and jumped into the sea. Not even an average swimmer, I fell for the lure of this cove-like spot at Agonda. With almost no giant waves coming in, this place became a lure, a muse and my love. So yeah, I spent hours dating the ocean in Goa—an achievement for someone who quit swimming classes more than a decade back. Other than those evenings, Goa beaches made me return to swimming and there is no going back now; even though city pools are nothing like my cove at Agonda.
Another, and perhaps, the most charming part of Goa was the people I met. Other than the very lovely folks including my hotel staff, locals who were too happy to show me directions, and cab drivers, I met some wonderful souls in Miriam and Nathalie, an Austrian and a Parisienne, more of world souls though. Afternoons were spent in eating (a lot) and exchanging music, whims and radical ideas with them. Those somewhat hot afternoons till we could see the Sun coming down and dashed for the cove.
Driving Riding scooters and cruise bikes is another highlight of Goa. Roads lined with coconut trees and suddenly-appearing beaches make it a bikers’ love. Add more to the delight, for I can proclaim that biking, in Goa, has no hints of sexism like a lot of places around the world. So, you have women riding 240 kg beast-like bikes with such suavity that they also drive home the point that no bike differentiates between the gender riding it.
Goa is no place for cars, train your back muscles a bit, grab a bike, roam around this charming land in the right way and you will stay a bike person for ever. No wonder Goa hosts the Ridermania event every year.
Party and alcohol? None for me, as I did not go to any club or party place in Goa. My parties happened right by the sea, for I would sit late into the night by the waves—stargazing—good music and moon-lit nights for company.
As for alcohol, tax-free at that, it has got Goa a nasty reputation of India’s go-to place for loud, ruckus-like parties. But yes, you can stay away. In my nine days there, I gulped nothing more than a few glasses of wine (yes, I always make an exception for wine). So yes, Goa is way more and bigger than parties and cheap alcohol. It’s a state of mind as I said in my Instagram post, a state that will have you fall in love with nobody in particular.
Next on my Goa experiences list is the architecture here. Latin quarters, cobbled pathways, landscaped gardens, tiny chapels, elaborate churches (oh yes, the Church of St Cajestan might just have been one of those rare few replicas that turn out to be better than the original, St Peter’s Basilica in Rome!)—an expert architect told me so. A lot of design ideas await you in Goa, learn.
Ask me the best thing about Goa and I would say, “Susegad”. A Portuguese word, Susegad seems to have been married to Goa from eternity. Referring to a calm, slow, relaxed and joyful way of living, this word is synonymous with Goa. While no place is all rosy (my driver had quite a few complaints with the fact that most of the not-so-rich Goanese people are either drivers or waiters), Goa still defines the word well.
Here, you have tiny restaurants and shacks that stay decked up in white, fairy lights, colourful canopy roofs, crackling bonfires and charming staff that knows a Chardonnay (no over-oaked ones here) from a Perignon and is happy to get you refills. Once in, slow, acoustic music would sweep over you, coupled with great food, disarming smiles and some Italian (try the Bom Bom restaurant in Agonda village if you are into Italian food; thanks Nathalie for finding this one).
My side of Goa will always stay Susegad, never a party place.
More notes from Goa beaches and hillocks coming soon, keep in touch.