March 23, 2007


On a Friday night I met up with a group of 13 Europeans. The approximate breakdown was 6 Dutch, 1 German, 1 Italian, 2 English, 1 Belgian, 1 French, and 1 Hungarian. Together we departed for north Goa on a two story bus, where the top deck consisted of mattresses and the bottom one of reclining seats. Always a gentleman, I took one of the less comfortable seats with my head grazing the bottom of the bunk positioned above me. 14 hours later we arrived in Panjim, Goa. From there the group split into two, with some settling down in Calangute and some in Vagator, but then meeting later on for joint escapades. The first of these locations, Calangute, offers a long stretch of sandy beach with overpriced activities on offer such as parasailing and jet skiing, while the other, Vagator, is known more for parties but has a rockier beach.

The first day was spent learning how to ride a motorized bike. The Europeans looked down at me as I can only drive an automatic vehicle and have no experience with gears. I rented a scooter, a Honda Activa, and after a few practice rounds and one close encounter with physical disfigurement, was soon off and running. At high speeds (30kph) I was comfortable, but I was very bad at maintaining balance and maneuvering through high traffic areas. Due to my minimal velocity and lack of driving skills, at one point I was leading a caravan of around 70 cars, trucks, bullock carts, etc down the main street linking the two beach destinations. I pulled over and went inside a street side restaurant. After watching India’s cricket team play miserably against Bangladesh for one hour, I noticed that the traffic had subsided and thus continued on my journey. At night we proceeded to Club Cabana, where the young, rich, and beautiful gathered for a night of fun and frolic. The theme was “Model’s Night”. I spotted two scantily dressed ones (or was it 4?). Apparently India’s most legendary superstar Amitabh Bachchan was present for all of 35 seconds at this fancy establishment, situated on a hilltop overlooking the Goan countryside.

Day 2 was a continuation of the first night’s party. Thoroughly inebriated and unable to drive my scooter back to my hotel, I shared a cab back to my place with the French lady and a middle aged couple who were still young at heart. Around noon, I awoke, had lunch, and picked up my scooter, before heading off for the beach. A hearty game of beach soccer was played and I put on a dazzling display of my defensive skills, stripping the opposition of the ball and blocking shots with equal vigor. While the others were sunbathing, I proceeded to climb up a nearby hill. The ruins of a fort and a magnificent view awaited me. Apparently this was also the location of a famous scene from the Hindi movie Dil Chahta Hai. A 65 year old Bob Marley fan offered me a strawberry, clasped my hand and pounded it against his chest, and advised me to “Live free”. The second night ended with a trek down the hillside to the beach, only to discover that it was almost entirely gone due to the high tide. We retreated and after considerable effort and teamwork, created a beachside bonfire. Soon everyone fell quiet and underneath the starry sky contemplated their place in the annals of history. Meals consisted of hearty amounts of seafood and liquid intake was primarily alcoholic. Before heading back to Bangalore, I sampled the Goan poison known as feni in two distinct flavors – coconut and cashew, with coconut winning the taste sweepstakes. All in all, a most wondrous experience!