In hindsight, particularly when I narrate it to people who want to know how I liked Goa considering it was my first time, it seems like I was influenced by everything slum just like most of the world is and went to find my own experience in a million.
And that is so wholly untrue for so many reasons.
I did not know what to expect from a trip to a gawd-knows-where-place where I knew I’d be the only girl amid a group of adventurers. All I knew was that I had to get out of Bangalore and all the confusion in my head even if it meant visiting a gawd-knows-where-place in Goa on what was decidedly an adventure trip in the middle of an Indian summer; getting a gawd-awful tan; tarnishing my reputation by going with Cat (one of my favourite men) and Freety (my little baibee). But people who know know, and those that don’t, well, since when did they matter?
But what was alarming was that I was constantly mispronouncing the names of the places. Freety told me it’s like French. You drop most of the letters. But to me Mapusa sounds like a character from The Lion King, a movie I finally watched about two Sundays back. And what’s wrong with saying Mapusa? But no, it’s a quasi-monosyllabic sound if you were to hear the natives saying it, “Ma’sa” with a hint of a voiceless plosive. (Pastry Shenoy still laughs at the way I spoke of not visiting Calangute which is one of the few Goan places that is spoken nearly as it is written.) And it wasn’t the least like French because, hello, have I not read some 35 years ago, the article in Readers’ Digest about Goa with a Portuguese Accent? And besides, French is one language to which I react straight from the gut. That’s the reason I forbid the boys from ever speaking it. I always just want to kiss the mouth that speaks French. Oui, I do. And pronouncing Goan names felt no way close to that passionate.
Driving to Goa from Bangalore, we seemed to have gotten lost ever since we began. The truth is that it’s a terribly long drive as anyone would tell you. I was sent off on the trip with horror stories about long drives on the highway and blessings & good wishes in equal parts by well-meaning friends and family. But such things don’t daunt a brave, desperate-for-a-break girl like me. So set off we did.
And what is the matter with the highway you might as well ask – repairs every four yards, jams at ungodly hours! I mean, seriously, do they think it’s the Old Madras - Whitefield Road to have jams at 3 am in the morning? We stopped for tea and pee by a roadside dhaba. And that is when I first missed being with a girl. And really, mock it however much you will, I do understand now why women visit loos in twos. (And no, I’m not trying to rhyme here.) It’s just not the same even if the men in your life behave like sweethearts escorting you to a safe bush/loo and hovering/waiting patiently outside.
There’s a million dollar industry waiting to start here and I’m giving away the idea for free because I don’t want to work on this. We really must have hygienic and clean loos on highways. Kerala is the best ever that way. No matter how humble the hotel, it always boasts of a really clean loo. I hope it’s the same even now. It’s been a long while since I went to Kerala.
And so after bitter tea and raunchy Kannada songs, like foolish souls we were certain that we’d be in Goa in less than two hours. It was around 2 am in the morning then. I slept and when I finally woke, it was morning, I was hungry, and all I could see was trees trees and more trees, and hear the noise of cicadas which scared Freety or so he said. And looking at the boards in some small town I deduced that we were still in Karnataka. (I wish you could hear the way Cat pronounces this with his German accent).
And so we drove on trying to find the way to Destination K. And deduced that we really had lost our way. But everyone told us that we were on our way to Panjim (pronounced Panji) and so Goa. And no one knew where the hell Destination K was. I don’t blame them. I didn’t find it on Y! Maps, or even Google for that matter. And there was next to nothing about this place on any of the search sites.
Lost or not, the drive is one of the most scenic ones ever, particularly if you were to drive through Karwar (another must-see place on the agenda). We passed through hints of peeping blue-grey sea amidst green fields and rolling hills to reach South Goa.
Goan cities, as we drove by, looked charming. They probably are. But I cannot vouch for that. Our destination was K – Querim or Keriim or Kerim (pronounced Keri) a tiny village on the Goa-Maharashtra border. The closest small town is Arambol that’s filled with firangs in minimal clothing and awesome tans. It’s really unfair that fair skins take to the sun so well. I’m still refusing to show my mug to people who matter!
Hungry but full of enthusiasm, we reached Destination K.
End of Episode 1
(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.)