The El Dorado and Rome of the East, Goa was the portal of golden dreams where, Lisbon floated Azure aspirations harbouring adventurous vessels that anchored in the Arabian Sea. The Portuguese have left their flavour in the Konkan coast since the 16th century. Portuguese cuisine, music, seafaring tendencies, a camaraderie of the Mediterranean and a distinct mélange of the ethnic blood with that of the Portuguese saunter around the North and South of Goa. Panjim unfolds like a fairy tale book splashing the antique interspersed with brand store boutiques, couples walking hand in hand holding a promise of “happily ever after”. If you think all travelogues have to be enchanting prose pieces, you are wrong. Here’s Geethanjali’s experience of Goa, rendered lyrically, quite differently, like a prose-poem, in the regular column, exclusively for Different Truths.
They sat them down upon the yellow sand,
Between the sun and moon upon the shore;
And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland,
Of child, and wife, and slave; but evermore
Most weary seem’d the sea, weary the oar,
Weary the wandering fields of barren foam.
Then someone said, “We will return no more”;
And all at once they sang, “Our island home
Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam.”
~Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lotus Eaters
A longing for the Azure triggered off as a thought that had to manifest sooner than soon! It meandered its way downstream rushing through verdant forests of the Western Ghats. Pristine undulations like new hope in search of a lotus land bobbed in my head as the car and my man serenaded the highway! A long drive of 18 hours with a night’s break at Davangere onward to the erstwhile Union Territory of Goa, where two rivers mingle to reflect waters of two distinct cultures, Portuguese and Indian.
The terrain transformed from the plains leaving trails of Karnataka to Konkan virgin forests, the home ground to wildlife and exotic flora and fauna. Exhilarated hearts and souls parcours their desire to reach a destination where holidaying is a way of life.
The El Dorado and Rome of the East, Goa was the portal of golden dreams where Lisbon floated Azure aspirations harbouring adventurous vessels that anchored in the Arabian Sea. The Portuguese have left their flavour in the Konkan coast since the 16th century. Portuguese cuisine, music, seafaring tendencies, camaraderie of the Mediterranean and a distinct mélange of the ethnic blood with that of the Portuguese saunter around the North and South of Goa.
Panjim unfolds like a fairy tale book splashing the antique interspersed with brand store boutiques, couples walking hand in hand holding a promise of “happily ever after” leave smiles on my face for I’m still honeymooning!
A free and easy atmosphere that canopies the beaches, where carnivals of endless holidaying leaves a tourist mesmerised, coming back for more, year after year, forms the beat of Goan beaches.
Bizarre, trendy beachwear almost a spiritual sporting of the mind’s meditative pursuits, become the garb for many a foreigner, who lounges in the western coastal maritime landmass of this lotus island called Goa.
A detox of both body and soul exfoliates aspiring tourists who drench themselves in free-flowing liquor only to be cleansed by miraculous sunrises and sunsets that trigger the wondrous in our minds when we wake up to sail boats, speed boats and paragliders who ballet in this water rink of the Arabian Sea.
The locals carry on with their life with composure and panache as if holidaying is their birthright, but not without responsibility. This is the magic of Goa. Clean and tidy boulevards open up vistas that have preserved Portuguese architecture so as to make one feel that “well, is this part of India?”
Panjim, the capital city, floats cruises where tourists have made up their minds to celebrate themselves. Bollywood music triggers off the wild side in tourists from neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, as they dance on the liners decked with artificial lighting. New Year celebrations still festoon the twilight sands of these beaches, as if it refuses to give up the celebration.
Scooterists scamper in absolute abandon as they beach hop to several of the beaches, including Baga, Candolim, Calangute, Sinquerim, Vagator. Anjana, Arambol, Morjim, Colts, Miramar, Dona Paula, which are just a few of the thirty five odd beaches that flank Goa to its North and South.
Techno music that pumps the adrenaline, sea food that leaves the appetite insatiable and the tides that rumble with the human spirit play in frenzied eyes as laser lights flicker on the ink blue waters of the Arabian Sea. The moon watches all of this with mirth and glee where it casts shadows of dancing silhouettes.
Land of spice, Fenni, cashew sweet delights, coconut palms, wines, beer, and fisherman folklore marinate themselves in a concoction of spellbinding intoxication where the modern day tourist seeks the saudade of ancient Portuguese mariners. A quest of almost unrequited love that sings its heart through pining tourists who look for some solace.
A perfect blend of a Hindu-Christian- Muslim brotherhood echoes in the lilting melodies of local music and memories of an almost Utopian community sticks to you like sea sand grains as you walk out of the beaches.
Mandovi and Zuari rivers still stream a conduit of cross cultures that makes Goa a lotus island beckoning travellers from all over the world, where they could find themselves cradled by a spiritual high leaving them at large to a wake of mystical adventures and Odysseys.
The charmed sunset linger’d low adown
In the red West: thro’ mountain clefts the dale
Was seen far inland, and the yellow down
Border’d with palm, and many a winding vale
And meadow, set with slender galingale;
A land where all things always seem’d the same!
And round about the keel with faces pale,
Dark faces pale against that rosy flame,
The mild-eyed melancholy Lotus-eaters came.
~Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lotus Eaters
The balmy air leaves a halo of both excitement and fulfilment around my hair, that breathes the winds of nostalgia, which I know will gravitate my temptations back onto the same highway from Salem to Konkan! And I shall say, “Goa here I come!”
Photos by the author.