Sunday, March 11, 2007

Saltwater and a handful of Sand

Goa has always come to me in doses. Probably so, for there is so much to fathom. And this trip was indeed long due and well earned. There were several reasons for it. The major ones being, it coincided with Vivek and Kristi’s visit to India after four years and meeting Rogger before he leaves for Sri Lanka. I too have been stretching my neurons and tendons for quite a while. Also the place has been pulling me for a while now.

Maybe it provides a fascinating setting for my “The Beach” adventure, maybe it is the allure of white sands and hours of lazing in the sun, maybe it’s the whole idea of being in a place where you can be what YOU are! Or maybe it’s just an abrupt ricochet of memories of a past life.

Whatever might be the reason, Anjuna never seemed to be unhindered or unfamiliar to me, once we reached at the tiny sleepy village. With Kristi around, people thought us to be from some other land, and they were very helpful. I wonder what the response would had been, had they known that they were talking to two long-maned Bengali lads, one Goan and a pretty Estonian lady with a doe-eyed tot, Sarah, restless to the hilt, exchanging laps at will! However Oliver had gotten ourselves a good enough bungalow on rent from his god-mother, though I wondered later about the godly bill that evolved out of our stay.

Sleepy Anjuna and Flour Mills

The breakfasts, lunches and dinners that had to follow were only too cheap, too delicious, too spicy and served by an overtly prompt and helpful guy who was over-driven by the favourite local flavour – fenni. Hence sometimes we had a few meddles in getting the menu right. But such meddles only add to the fun and at every serving we turned ravenous, at the mere sight of food dished out at us - Sorpatel – heavily spiced gravy of minced pork had with local bread (pav), Kalamari Rice – tangy flavoured neatly cut local squid mixed with fried rice or just had with potato fries, fresh prawns curry, prawn noodles, beef toast, roast beef, scrambled eggs and bacon with bread and all these coupled with tea, coffee, or beer depending on time and mood. Later I really regretted to spend on a few jazzy bars, pseudo-hippie haunts and also a famous MNC food chain which almost cost us the rent for four bikes on hire for a day.

Unleashing man and machine

Talking about bikes, driving around in Goa is the greatest experience of freedom as long as you are lucky not to be hit by a fenni-frenzied local or a nitro-fueled expat on his Enfield. Yes the classic Indian road mustang – Enfield Bullet. No other place in India has so many of these native choppers wheezing past you with that masculine roar of the engine. There were all kinds of Enfield Bullets that I found in Anjuna – modified and coloured to various tastes. Psychedelic colours played on the massive tanks and solid well built bodies and the curved handles gleamed in the sun promising a great ride. I saw so many skinny chicks riding Bullets and they were so much in control of that monstrous engine chugging underneath those frail things. WHOA! It goes without saying that we too got ourselves a Bullet 500 and a Bajaj Avenger. Both Vivek and Kristi love the machine and Oliver found the Avenger comfortable to cruise on. Bikes truly enliven your flights of freedom whereas cars are only too comfortable for the beer-heavy bellies. Ample buses and rickshaws zip by and you can even hitch-hike a jolly ride to your way.

Exhilerator Vagator

Since a few years, I have been interestingly drawn towards the yogic way of life. Considering the picturesque setting, me and Oliver jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn and set foot towards the sea at Vagator on the first day. It was an ethereal experience. Facing the chill of the sea wind, staring at the waves, feeling the mildewed sand underneath and the various asanas provided me with the perfect harmonization of man and nature. Behind me was the Chapora fort, an open air romantic set to so many Bollywood flicks, and in front was the ageless vastness of the ocean. This was solitude. Reminded me of love. We took a walk down to the turn of the cove and felt the chilly water play with our feet. Little attention was paid to the film crew assembling at the far end of Vagator cove, by locals or by Oliver or by me - a yogic nomad, an urban hippie, call me whatever. As Yoga refreshed me in thought, the swim invigorated my limbs, and the sun greeted us in readiness for a great trip ahead.

Goa's very own Cafe Del Mar

One thing why I prefer shacks more than super malls is the snugness and the one-on-one bargains that they offer. Here you don’t walk into a gigantic structure made of titanium steel alloys with more glass, steel, lights, blitz and all chiseled into magnificent perfection. How I loved being away from all those! It was fun to look at the shocked faces of the shack owners when we started bargaining in Hindi and how well. In the shopping onslaught, we were able to get some very good bargains for all of us and especially for Kristi who would’ve had a ripped purse at the end of her shopping spree, if we weren’t around. Just imagine getting a tie-died spaghetti top for 50 Indian rupees over a quote of 500. I picked up a lot of spiritual and psytrance as well as some meditative music by Prem Joshua.

Soaking up the Sun and Psychedelia

When going beach hopping, we avoided the commercial and crowded ones and stuck to Anjuna and Vagator. The afternoon swim was at Vagator and the whole ambience around the semicircular silvery cove was reminiscent of ‘The Beach’ footage.

That night we biked our way to Paradiso Anjuna, with the almost full moon over our heads, we strode the stairway down to the beach along side the much hounded pub. The beauty of the night unleashed itself upon me. The tide was high and waves were crashing on to the gentle mounds of solitary rocks jutting out of the sand. The sea shimmered like thousand gems spread beneath the canopy of a big wide blue. I could hear the slow thud of spiritual trance playing at Paradiso, at the back and the moon playing the master of this cosmic symphony. It was the music of what silence played on me. You forget where you belong to and where you have to go, at such a state. Mind you – I hadn’t done any substances! Far at the corner of the hills behind me, I could see shimmers of brilliant tiny lights luminescent from the shacks. My heart skipped a beat and reminded me of love and only love. The Tooth Fairy wasn’t in sight anywhere around.

However next day, after the morning swim, we touched Ozrant. The whole world came to a halt, apart from Sarah – of course. Man what an amazingly undiscovered place. We had a sumptuous breakfast at Goa’s very own Café Del Mar at Ozrant. The whole place spoke of palms, thatched huts, cosy places at every shade, psychedelic chairs and the awe-inspiring work of nature sprawled below. We knew at once that this is what we had come looking for. Later the trip to Baga was sunny and it was crowded with sun-hungry Caucasians, though the beach was a huge stretch of clean white sand. Candolim was exciting with an abandoned ship and a swim in the huge waves under the hull. The waves here were playful with strong under-currents. Sarah amused herself with her father and Oliver, while Kristi just would not leave the water saying “I can stay here all day!”

Crowded Shore, Barren Ship

One amusing thing about Candolim was that everyone around me was over-weight pensioners from Europe and the US, which made me feel a bit jittery because it reminded us of the time to come. “I will die young,” I said, “you’ll see, I’ll die young!” Little Sarah smiled at that. Nevertheless, the waves were beautiful and the sun was golden.

Subliminal Flows

The sunset at Ozrant, was as dramatic as one of my earlier posts “Lucid Hedonism”.

It re-established my belief of astral travel. The sights, the sounds and the feels were subliminal to my neurons. I could really feel the repairs taking place in my long-stressed brains gradually. The sea here was suddenly deep and calm waves washing at the aureate shores. A few shacks were lined way into the palms and they served ales and food to tattoos and tie-die mushroom merchandise. The shack we chose was the one playing some locally brewed psychedelic trance. The sun was on its way to kiss the sea, so Kristi, Oliver and me tried to get some good shots out of it with some beers. Children and grown ups alike, skittered around the beach carefree as they had made it their second home. A grown up version of Sarah played around in the sand with her brother while their folks swayed to the rhythm of the spiritual music. I had a few friendly exchanges with the shack owner a long-haired tattooed and pierced Nepalese who was also the one responsible for belting out the music.

A very – allow me to use this subjective term – ‘cute’ family passed us by. They were as cute as Vivek’s family. The man was tall and lean; he had weather-beaten skin with black dreadlocks stacked above and one gleeful tot running around his towering stature. He waved at what seemed to be a local fisherwoman and bowed courteously to her and had a brief bonhomie. This Rastafarian gentleman was hand-in-hand with his fair lady who in turned smiled at the little cherub-like baby in her arms. This joyful mob walked their way across us into the sunset, which had already matured into vibrant intermingling hues. Ozrant will stay with me forever. After all it was my abstract Lucid Hedonism, realized.

Disturbances in the great Slumber

That night back in our bungalow, I slept on the terrace. I swept glances with the sky through luscious palms, gazing at the stellar diamonds shining their light on me. The moon shone in glory, as I passed from one transient stage to another. I never realized the spur of the hour when I finally transcended from my reverie to neverland. The night was pleasant and I dreamt. The Tooth Fairy appeared besides me and took me in her astral embrace. It washed away all my sands of trouble and induced nectar like intoxication into the sweet-smelling springtime night. Everything was if in pristine paradise, but there was a strong pain in my heart, of some unknown sadness, still the moments were golden. Her large curious eyes looked at me with the most tender reverberation, that would melt the most inert of all hearts. And together we took off and flew to galaxies nested with civilizations who had never heard of eternal pain or longing. My heart drowned in perpetual bliss. Early morning the first rays of the sunrise, the chirping of birds and Oliver’s sun-toasted face woke me up! The Tooth Fairy was gone. It’s a pity Tooth Fairies do not last till the day. Waking up I couldn't feel anything, but the urge to recollect the real moments from the unreal...It was bittersweet.

Walking the Green Mile Home

Meeting Rogger was fun, he was in is elements and his chirpy best. My shooting him constantly made him feel like the ‘Star of Goa’ as his conscious self proclaimed. He showed us many interesting things like how to get the car to blink without touching it! It took me an emotional moment to realize that Vivek, Kristi and Rogger, would go off their ways soon, and the next point of such an assemblage would be of questionable certainty. Watching Kristi give a bucket bath to Sarah or Disney Chick as I lovingly call her is such a spectacle.With chants of “üks..kaks..kolm…suketu!” or one..two..three…dive!, the emphatic Sarah who just crossed the 10 month mark, would dive into her bucket and look around at all of us with an Archimedean expression of accomplishment. Will see her grown up next time. Hope Rogger grows up too, or maybe not, because he is best at what he is now…like Goa forever!





All fools, me cool!...
no the coolest, yes!

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