I’m really going to miss my first ‘Goan home’. A canopy of palms line the front porch, our sanctuary from the heat, with its cooling glassy tiled floor. Wrought iron and gold balustrades accessorize the yellow toned structural features of our villa. A short 50 metre stroll to the thriving main street which hugs the erratic coastline and we were in ‘the vibe’.
Unpredictably it was the brand new LG Direct Drive washing machine which seemed to outweigh having no connectivity in the first week of our stay, but by the second our patience was tested. We kept reminding ourselves how hard we’d worked in 101 days to get here…we needed to learn how to relax and more importantly we needed to understand the ‘rhythm’ of Goa. Being in the coastal town of Candolim with its expansive beaches and insistent night life travelling out of season meant less crowds and a real feeling of getting to know the locals, however, the down side was we couldn’t get past the vendors and the constant grueling requests to ‘look for free’. Roman Catholic reminders (and so Easter) in the form of small alters offered a welcome nostalgic reflection of home and eased us into the surrounding spiritual culture, warmth and generosity.
Beach shacks were now being meticulously dismantled and proved some entertainment, but a trip to the beach became a far less social family outing as we waved our devices for free Wi-Fi and got stuck in updates. Within one morning I’d witnessed the framework of a shack act like a jungle gym as the acrobatics and agility of the bar employees, who could have been family or unrelated, worked together to hack away the ropes that had so steadily held the wooden poles in place during a festering tourist season. Nowhere had shop owners expressed satisfaction as to the number of tourists visiting Goa this past season. I wondered wherever they were leaving to, to avoid the onslaught of the approaching Summer monsoons, would they have enough to get by until they repeated the fiasco of rebuilding what the rains had left, and would next season bring relief and more success.
The wind brought a dynamic into the fight for sound as we immersed ourselves, from the safety of our porch, in the hum of Indian and pop music every night. The honking of horns fought for our attention behind the rustling of palms and trees around us. The most distinctive of horns belonging to the bread and samosa man called out to us twice daily from the side street as he cycled past. Thrilling to know we were a part of his daily route it seemed his honking and the positioning of the sun was to become our clock as we settled in to a slower pace each day.
Goa’s ‘rhythm’ definitely needs more mention. More than anywhere I’ve ever been Goa hums differently and time seems endless here. Days become nights in a void of calm as the clock sets itself to the sun and the heat at midday calls for seclusion and rest, only to birth each evening after the sun sets. The hum resets its tune to the cool evening breeze calling you to wonder and venture.
The surrounding local homes form the last residential strip and boundary between the main road and the beach, only 200 metres away. An idyllic picture if you haven’t experienced Goa firsthand with its multitude of side streets and sandy paths to get you to the ocean. The sand is hellish hot underfoot so wearing closed shoes to protect foot soles is common and necessary.
One morning I decided to head to the beach before sunrise. As the sun rose from behind me the moon dangled like a pendulum over the sea. Tiny mounds were dotted around the shoreline and I remembered the dogs. I’d seen them in packs during my previous meanders and it was easy to consider their wild viciousness. In the early moonlit hours, like wolves who had claimed their part of the land, I was in their haunt and their howling was chilling. The beach stirred as they uncurled from their slumber and sprang into action heading in my direction, howling and barking rising in chorus from all directions. The dogs approached fast and my heart pounded at the thought of being mauled and left for dead. I didn’t have my wedding ring on, would they recognize my body if ‘they’ found me? I paused and tried to eliminate the smell of fear I’d heard could only lead to catastrophe. They fought and growled between themselves to elect who would get closest to me. I eventually settled precariously on my towel with 5 dogs guarding me, and then, it was just me and the moon.
You cannot define your existence within infinite space and time. We are like smoke wafting in the air, there one moment and gone the next. I’m in the dream and the dream has become a part of me. Our lives have escalated to such an unimaginable rapid rate that to accomplish anything we have to divide ourselves over and over leaving small inklings of who we are to enjoy what may be left. Our plate offers little truth and satisfaction by this stage, our reality so far removed from self. I’m very aware that to reset myself, my panicked thoughts related to work and home and habitual actions, will take a minimum of two months so that when I am ready to ask the universe for anything it will be an honest and unselfish request. Somewhere in India my guru awaits me, there I will find the wellspring my heart desires.
I am reminded of the heartfelt glimpses, the sorrowful and joyful mysteries my grandmother spoke of. She rests with me in Goa.
TRAVEL NOTES – GOA:
• Don’t expect to get what you see in a photo or travel brochure.
• Be flexible.
• View properties first hand and if possible only book for your day of arrival so that alternative arrangements can be made if you are unsatisfied.
• Sim cards for all Indian service providers are issued from private outlets.
• A copy of your passport, visa and a photograph are required.
• Airtel is recommended for coverage throughout India but if you are local or spending time in Goa there are several other options.
• A Tata Photon Max USB Wi-Fi data card is recommended for longer stays but can take up to a week to be activated.
• WI-FI is free and available at most restaurants and beach shacks.
• Transport options vary from a standard taxi, with or without aircon, to tuk-tuk’s, mini-mini buses and two wheelers.
• Scooters are more common and easy to maneuver if you’d prefer to rent from ₹250 per day.
• Get an international drivers license.
• Dollars are exchanged for rupees at the local money exchanges scattered everywhere
• Make sure to count your money and look out for old or worn torn notes which will not be accepted if reused.
• ATM’s are freely available.
5. Safety and Security:
• The feeling of community and social interaction with your neighbours is all around you. Be sensible and look after your belongings as you would anywhere.
• Buy local fresh produce and support the community markets and street vendors.
• Venture into local territory for meals and refreshments. The personal experience will reward you and your pocket.
• Keep a light scarf.
• Learn to, and enjoy, haggling.
• Use Tabard or any other mosquito repellent after dark and take precautions to close the necessary doors and windows to avoid a restless night.
• Beware of falling coconuts!
OUR READING LIST:
- Goa – Found and Imagined by a group of participants from the program Resources.10|Bio-topical:Goa.
- Radha Diary of a Woman’s Search by Swami Sivanand Radha
- Sinful Goa Paradise in Peril by Tony Martin
- Heartfelt Glimpses into my Rosary by Jean Lily Page – a limited and sold out edition