Mamma Mia!

                                                                                                                           

Profound conversation with my baby –

Baby what do you want?

“Mmmaaa”

U want mumma’s lap?

(Shakes his head- )”mamma”

Yes?

(Makes a funny face wrinkling his nose)- “mammaaaaa”

No?

(Sticks his tongue out)-“mamma mamma”

Oh you want water?

(Goes in circles pointing to  random objects)- “ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma”

Arey kya chahiye bhai???

(Runs to the window and points to the sky)- “ma”

Phew!!!

Moral of the story– The word “Ma” encompasses in itself the whole universe!  Koi Shaq?? 😛

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommies   🙂 

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स्कूल की सैर

सुबह के ६ बजे हैं. मोबाइल फ़ोन पर अलार्म की ट्रिंग ट्रिंग  मुझे सपनों की दुनिया के बाहर लाती है. बिस्तर पर से उठकर खिड़की के परदे हटा कर मैं बाहर झांकती हूँ. दूर दूर तक सिर्फ  बहुमंज़िली इमारतों  से बना कंक्रीट का जंगल  दिखाई देता  हैं और नीचे हाईवे पर भागती  कारों के हॉर्न की कर्कश ध्वनि कानों के परदे चीरती है।  इस नीरस दृश्य को देख कर बचपन के दिन याद आ  जाते हैं जब हम सुबह सुबह स्कूल की सैर पर निकल जाते थे।  अब आप सोचेंगे कि भला कोई स्कूल की भी सैर करता है? लेकिन दोस्तों इसमें आश्चर्य की कोई बात  नहीं. असल में हमारे स्कूल का रास्ता किसी सैर से कम नहीं था जिसपर हमने कई यादगार कारनामे किये .

मेरा बचपन हिमालय की गोद में बसे अल्मोड़ा नाम के एक पर्वतीय शहर  में बीता। हमारा घर शहर सीमा से दूर ग्रामीण इलाके में आता  था . इस कारण  वहां ज़्यादा विकास नहीं हुआ था। शहर के कोलाहल से दूर चीड़  के जंगलों के बीच इक्के दुक्के मकान बने थे . दिन ढलने के बाद शायद ही कोई घर से  निकलता था क्यूंकि वो समय जंगली जानवरों, खास कर कुक्कुर बाघ,  की इवनिंग वॉक का होता था. अगर कभी बाजार से आते हुए पापा को देर हो जाती थी तो मेरी छोटी बहन रोने लगती थी की पापा को शेर खा जाएगा. ७ बजे  के बाद शहर में एक सन्नाटा सा छा  जाता था। कुछ सुनाई देता तो बस झिंगुरों की आवाज़..कभी  दूर एक सियार का चिल्लाना या फिर पेड़ों से टकराती हवा की आवाज़।

जहाँ रात  का आलम थोड़ा डरावना  था वहीँ सुबह एक ख़ुशी की किरण लेके आती थी।  दूर बर्फीले पहाड़ों के पीछे से सूर्य देवता दर्शन देते थे और सूरज की किरणें  पड़ते ही सोई हुई  कलियाँ अपनी पंखुड़ियाँ खोलके लहराने  लगती थी।  कानों में पहला स्वर खिड़की पे बैठी गौरैया का होता था . आज बहुत दुःख होता है की मोबाइल टॉवरों के कारण  इन प्यारी सी चिड़ियों की जनसंख्या बहुत  कम हो गयी है. शहरों में तो उस आवाज़ को सुनने  के लिए तरस ही जाते हैं।  खैर सुबह उठके इन सुन्दर नज़ारों का लुत्फ़ लेके हम स्कूल जाने की तयारी करते थे।  अक्सर बच्चे स्कूल न जाने के कई बहाने बनाते हैं लेकिन मैं और मेरी बहन हमेशा स्कूल जाने के लिए आतुर रहते   थे।  झटपट नाश्ता कर हम अपना बस्ता सँभालते और फिर स्कूल के लिए चल देते थे।  इस तरह शुरू  होती हमारी स्कूल की सैर.

हमारा स्कूल एक आर्मी स्कूल था और शहर के कैंटोनमेंट में स्थित  था. किसी और शहर के कैंटोनमेंट  की तरह अल्मोड़ा का कैंटोनमेंट भी मुख्य शहर से थोड़ा अलग और बाकी  जगहों के मुकाबले ज़्यादा सुन्दर और साफ़ सुथरा था. हम लोग घर से एक छोटी सी पगडण्डी पे चलते हुए स्कूल के लिए निकलते थे . रास्ते में एक दो और मित्र हमारे साथ मिल  जाते थे। हम बच्चों की टोली गप्पे मारते हुए आगे चलती थी।  कभी स्कूल के होमवर्क की चर्चा करते  तो कभी रात को देखे तहक़ीक़ात के एपिसोड की या फिर कभी आने वाली परीक्षा की ।   लेकिन एक मौसम जब  ये बातचीत कम और शैतानियाँ बढ़  जाती थी वो था बारिश का मौसम.

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बरसात के मौसम में स्कूल का रास्ता और भी सुन्दर हो जाता था. बारिश में धुलकर चीड़ और देवदार की पत्तियां और भी गहरी हरी हो जाती थी जैसे कोई नया पेंट किया हो. उनमें से छनकर आती पहाड़ की तेज़ धूप  आँखों को चौंधिया  देती थी.  उन्ही पेड़ों के नीचे अलग अलग रंगों के जंगली फूल उगा करते थे।  आज वही फूल जब मैं अपने शहरी मित्रों को नर्सरी से गमलों में लगा कर  खरीदते हुए देखती हूँ तो सोचती हूँ की मेरा बचपन कितना भाग्यशाली था. पेड़ों  की ही शाखों के बीच  मकड़ी के बुने जालों पर रात हुई बारिश  की बूंदें अटक जाती और उन  पर  जब सूरज चमकता था तो ऐसा लगता था कि जैसे  अगणित हीरे मोती हो. वास्तव में ये सुंदरता किसी ख़ज़ाने से कम नहीं थी.  अलग अलग रंगों के पक्षी , तितलियाँ और कीड़े मकौड़े भी इस सुंदरता में चार चाँद लगते थे ।  ऐसे ही  सड़क के किनारे उगते अलग अलग प्रकार के पौधे, झाड़, कुकुरमुत्ते हमें बहुत आकर्षित करते थे।  देखा जाये तो ये रास्ता किसी बोटैनिकल गार्डन से कम नहीं था. अक्सर हम लोगों में रेस होती थी कि ज़्यादा  जंगली फूल कौन  इकट्ठे करेगा.  हालाँकि अक्सर ऐसा करते  हुए हमारी जुराबों  में काँटे चिपक जाते थे और जिनको हटाने के चक्कर में जुराबें फट  भी जाती थी. तीन जोड़ी जुराब बर्बाद होने पर  मम्मी  की फटकार पड़ी  तो हमने  दूसरा उपाय सोचा ।अब   हम जुराब उतार कर फूल इकट्ठे करते थे। बाद में   हम वो फूल अपने पसंदीदा अध्यापकों देते थे और उनकी ख़ुशी देख कर लगता कि  कोई मेडल मिल गया।  बचपन में हम कितनी छोटी छोटी चीज़ों से खुश  हो जाते हैं। पगडण्डी जहाँ कैंटोनमेंट की रोड से मिलती थी वहां अक्सर आर्मी के सिपाही सुबह की दौड़ पे जाते हुए दिखते थे . जहाँ कभी कभी दूर से आर्मी के बैंड  की आवाज़ कानों में पड़ती थी वहीं कभी डोली दाना की पहाड़ी में शूटिंग प्रैक्टिस में गोलियों की आवाज़ गूंजती थी.  रस्ते में सर्किट हाउस भी पड़ता था जहाँ कभी कभी कुछ नेतागण  या अफसरों की गाड़ियों का आना जाना लगा रहता था . सर्किट हाउस के ठीक सामने एक लैटर बॉक्स था जिसमें मेरी दोस्त की छोटी बहन, जो बहुत चंचल थी,  रोज़ कभी पत्थर, कभी  केले के छिलके तो कभी और कोई कूड़ा करकट डाल देती थी। बेचारे पोस्ट मैन अंकल कितने परेशान  होंगे यह सोचकर उनपे बड़ी दया आती थी. चलते चलते  बातों बातों में   सामने हिमालय  की बर्फ से ढकी चोटियां दिखने लगती  थी.   इसी नैसर्गिक सौंदर्य का आनंद उठाते हुए हम स्कूल  पहुँचते थे।

स्कूल के प्रांगण में एक कैनोपी थी जिसमें बैठके हम शहर की ओर से आने वाले अपने अन्य मित्रों का   इंतेज़ार   करते थे।  कैनोपी  हमारा पसंदीदा क्रीडाक्षेत्र था।  कभी  हम उसके के खम्बों   को पकड़ कर कार्नर-कार्नर  खेल खेलते  तो कभी विष  अमृत ।   इसी दौरान असेंबली की घंटी  बजती और  हमारी सुबह की सैर  समाप्त  होती।  लाइन लगा  कर हम  सुबह की प्रार्थना  और राष्ट्र गान गाकर स्कूल के  नए  दिन का  आरम्भ करते । यह तो था एक आम दिन का विवरण लेकिन असली मज़ा उस दिन आता था जिस दिन झमा-झम बारिश होती थी.

पहाड़ की बारिश का एक अलग ही आनंद होता है. आमतौर पर  पहाड़ों में गंदगी कम ही  होती है इसलिए शहरों की तरह वहां कूड़ा करकट भी ज़्यादा इकठ्ठा नहीं होता. बचपन में अक्सर जब तेज़ बारिश होती थी तो लगता था शायद स्कूल में रेनी डे घोषित हो जाये लेकिन वह घोषणा सुनने के लिए भी  हम स्कूल जाते ज़रूर थे।  तेज़ बारिश के आगे हमारी छतरी किसी काम की नहीं होती थी . बस्ते और बस्ते में रखी किताबों को बचाने  का अकेला  तरीका  रेन कोट ही था लेकिन बेचारा रेनकोट हमारे जूतों की पानी से रक्षा नहीं कर पाता था।  पहाड़ी रस्ते में ऊपर से पानी झरने की तरह बहता  हुआ आता और  हम उसी झरने में से निकल कर स्कूल का रास्ता पार करते थे।  पानी इतने वेग से आता था की हमारे  जूतों में पूरा पानी घुस जाता. फच फच..  छप छप करते हुए हम स्कूल पहुँचते तो देखते की हमारा जैसा ही हाल बाकी  बच्चों का भी है. लेकिन शहर से आने वाले कई बच्चे कीचड का भी शिकार होते थे जिस कारण उनकी यूनिफार्म गन्दी हो जाती थी.

बारिश के दिन स्कूल असेंबली खुले प्रांगण की जगह बंद बरामदे में होती थी. प्रार्थना करके हम लोग अपनी अपनी कक्षाओं की तरफनिकलते . हर कक्षा के बाहर  छतरियों का तांता लगा होता. अंदर जाकर हम गीली जुराबों को अपने  डेस्क पर सूखने के लिए डाल देते. ऐसे में कई बार  कक्षा में बहुत बदबू भर जाती थी, और आमतौर पर असली अपराधी  होते लड़कों के जूते! बारिश के चलते कभी कभी  बिजली विभाग पावर कट कर देता तो कक्षाओं में  अँधेरा छा जाता . बस इसी के लिए हम साल भर बारिश का बेसब्री से इंतेज़ार  करते थे  क्योंकि जब क्लास में बैठ कर भी पढाई न करनी पड़े इससे ज़्यादा मज़ेदार बात क्या हो सकती है?  जैसे ही  क्लास में कोई टीचर आती हम उनसे बहाने बनाते की इतने अँधेरे में पढाई नहीं हो पाएगी.  ऐसे में हम अंताक्षरी खेलने की भी मांग करते . कुछ टीचर उन सभी मांगों को अनसुना करके पाठ पढाना शुरू कर देते  लेकिन कुछ टीचर ऐसे भी थे जो सब जानते हुए भी हमको उस एक दिन मस्ती करने देते. क्लास में अंताक्षरी खेलकर जो मज़ा आता वो किसी भी रेनी  डे की छुट्टी  से बेहतर था।  गाने गाते हुए अक्सर हम भूल जाते की हम स्कूल में बैठे हैं और इतने ज़ोर से गाते की किसी न किसी क्लास से कोई टीचर हमको डांटने आ जाता।  बस फिर क्या- अंताक्षरी बंद और हमारे मुँह भी. होठों पे ऊँगली रख कर हमको चुपचाप बैठने का निर्देश मिल जाता . बाहर बिजली  कड़कने और बादल के गरजने से क्लास की शान्ति फिर भंग हो जाती।   ऐसे मौसम में आम तौर पर  हमको जल्दी छुट्टी  मिल जाती।  एक बार ऐसे ही दिन हमको जल्दी छुट्टी मिल गयी लेकिन स्कूल से निकलते ही अचानक बहुत तेज़ बारिश शुरू हो गयी. हम लोग किसी तरह थोड़ा आगे बढे लेकिन सर्किट हाउस तक आते आते बारिश बेकाबू हो गयी. खुद को बचाने के लिए हमने सर्किट हाउस के बरामदे में शरण ली. लेकिन बारिश तिरछी पड़ने लगी और बरामदे  में भी पानी भर गया . सर्किट हाउस के चौकीदार को हम पर दया आई और उसने वहां के कमरे हम चार बच्चों के लिए खोल दिए। हमने बंदरों की तरह पूरे सर्किट हाउस में खूब धमाचौकड़ी मचाई।   हमको विश्वास नहीं हो रहा था की जिस कमरे में  राज्यपाल रह कर गए हम उसी  बेड  पर उछल रहे  थे . आज जब उस दिन के बारे में सोचती हूँ तो लगता है कि शायद यह खतरनाक साबित  हो सकता था . आज के ज़माने में ऐसे किसी आदमी पर विश्वास नहीं किया  जा सकता।

इसी तरह  के बहुत से चटपटे और रोमांचक कारनामे हमने  अपने स्कूल के उस रास्ते पर आते जाते किये. उस सैर का अलग ही आनंद  था !   सोचती हूँ कि अगली बार जब अल्मोड़ा जाऊं  तो  आप सबको भी साथ ले चलूँ। क़हिये चलेंगे क्या स्कूल की  सैर पर?

Twice round the sun…

As I  wonder what to write about, after winding up the Goa journey..the Realization Dawns! How can I not talk about this super duper exciting adventure of mine???

 

Yes ..Just completed the second lap round the sun…and guess wot’s the best thing about it??? That we were in it together…

This one is for you Mr. V! 

Happy 2nd Anniversary ! 

Here is celebrating two rocking years..all the sweet & sour moments.. all the masti… the fights…the songs..the chats! Every step I have taken on this journey is such a treasure … because you were in it by my side…

The journey has just started… May the lunacy never stop…

Aur apun ke filmy andaaz mein..ye gaana …just for you! ( FLASHBACK October 2008 – You played this song for me..as you welcomed me in your life!)

Goodbyes are not forever…

Day 4

No hurries..no worries..Aahhh..I love lazy mornings…. Outside, the clouds have finally paved way for our meeting with Mr. Sun. The sun is shining bright already..What a lovely morning it is!. We get up and sit in the balcony for some time…the view is lovely and so is the breeze blowing from the sea..

At a distance I can hear the sea roaring..the sound is getting louder! Oh wait..that’s my tummy… reminding me that it’s time for some pet-pooja

As we enjoy our leisurely breakfast, I see the swimming pool sparkling in the sunlight. I am totally tempted to swim as the pool is absolutely unoccupied. Mr. V is not too excited at the prospects as he still wants to go back to the bed and enjoy his slumber. Poor guy is dragged to the pool by yours truly! While I put my newly acquired swimming skills to practice, Mr. V, who is yet to acquire the skill..challenges me to a race..me swimming and he running in the pool.. The mermaid scores over the deprived earthling..yuhoooo! The next couple of hours are awesome. Chhapaak! Chhapaak! Chhapaak! (Google translation-SPLASH!)


Feeling fresh after our (MY ;-)) pool adventure we head back to our room and chalk out our plan for the day. Actually there is no plan! We decide to explore random nearby areas on a bike. Before we start on our today’s adventure, we pack up all our stuff.
However a great thing is that the hotel staff tells us that we can check out in the evening! (Ahh..the perks of off-season travel!)

 We hire a Bajaj Pulsar from the Colva beach market and head to the Benualim beach.…Yup..just the two of us this time… 🙂 

Our guide is our dear Mobile navigator which I am holding in my hand. Listening to the instructions, I keep guiding Mr. V.  I am really enjoying my “Back seat driving”. Passing through some lovely village lanes lined with Goan cottages, we finally reach our destination.
 
The beach is soooo much more beautiful than my expectations. The beauty of the golden sands of the beach against the backdrop of blue sky is beyond words. We see a few motor boats anchored at the beach. The whole scene looks like a painting!


At some distance we see a number of boats out in the sea, probably for fishing. We sit there watching the boats go up and down, riding the sea waves. Row, row, row your boat…



Without a doubt this is my favourite beach for the trip. Absolutely serene…no crowd…just the sea..and the sands..and the azure sky!

There are sea shells all around us…I collect a few..There  is a particularly interesting shell..its closed ..I hand it over to Mr. V, who slips it in his pocket. After a while he realizes that the shell is opening its mouth…The expression on Mr. V’s face is worth watching! (Shell-shocked- Literally! 😀 ) He takes the shell out of his pocket and throws it back in the sea… 😦

We  walk along the beach collecting a few more shells…I am loving the feel of sand on my feet..it is actually very therapeutic..so relaxing! I feel like just sitting there whole day, soaking in the sun, lounging the day off!This is nothing less than a paradise! As we lie down in the sand…I realize we are not the only ones enjoying the sun bath…We have got company! 🙂



I am starting to feel hungry now..we see a restaurant nearby..but Alas..it only has sea food.. 😦 Sigh ..Khana nahi to kya, photo hi sahi!

Off to our next target for the day, Majorda Beach, we pass through the Colva area, and spot a beautiful church called, Our Lady of Merces Church.I remember reading about this one during my research. It is a historical church renowned  for its annual religious event, Fama of Menino Jesuse (Child Jesus) which is being celebrated since the 17th century.

Our next destination, the long, white, palm-fringed Majorda beach, is again very very beautiful.  I wonder why the beaches of South Goa are not among the famous ones in Goa. They are way more scenic as compared to the ones in Northern part of the state! 


Sitting on the white sands of Majorda beach, we gorge on some Murukkus/chaklis that I picked up on our way back from Benualim. Yum Yum!

Very satisfied with the beach experience of the day, we now head towards the city area of Margao, famous both for its cultural heritage and for being the main center of commerce in Goa.

This is probably the most crowded area we have encountered during our entire trip. Zipping through the road, we spot another beautiful church around the Old market Square. This is the  Holy Spirit Church. It is a remarkable building with beautiful architecture. The interiors are also very impressive. 

Coming back from the church, we again hit the road,lined with many imposing bungalows on both sides. Every villa seems to have so much of history behind it, each one of them distinctive symbol of Goa’s colonial heritage.

We spend some time there just roaming around and exploring the area. It’s an awesome experience and I just feel like staying there forever. But ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END! Gradually it is starting to sink in that this holiday is now nearing an end.

Back in the hotel now, all check out formalities done, I go around the hotel campus for last time in true tragedy queen avatar. Mr. V tried to cheer the sulking me with a chocolate. As I dig my teeth into it to elevate my spirits, I see our driver friend Aman coming in. We had already tied up with him to drop us at the airport.

Sitting in the taxi, I now see Goa rushing away from me. I try to hold on to one last picture of the Goa greens in my mind…Sigh!

As we wait at the airport to board our flight, I close my eyes just trying to relive all my Goa memories once again. It has been a wonderful experience…And the best thing was that it was just not about beaches! It was soooo much more! The jungles and waterfalls, temples and churches, some lovely people! There is still so much to be done, so much to be explored…I already have my next set of wish-list for Goa ready!
The voice on public announcement  system  is asking all the passengers to Delhi to board the flight..With each step I take forward, Goa seems to drift away! It’s getting dark outside..lights of all colours are flashing around the runway… As the flight takes off, I see the lights fade away…

Goodbye Goa, thanks for the lovely memories … But this is not the end…in fact its just the starting of our love affair! As I read somewhere –
Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I’ll miss you
Until we meet again!

WE will be back!!! 🙂
THE BEGINNING!

Spice Route..

Day 3 (Cont’d)

Was IT a dream…??? I am pinching myself …but no! It was all real! Wow…I am still feeling euphoric from our jungle adventure! And the roar of the waterfall is still resonating in my ears!


Back in the taxi, we now realize how physically taxing the whole adventure was…and the worst victim is my poor back! But I really don’t care! In fact I would want to experience many more of such Back breaking experiences.. 😉

Our next destination is a Spice plantation, and since it will be almost an hour’s drive from here, both of us pull our seats back and lie down…Aaahh.. Thank God Thank Mr. V …that we hired an Innova 🙂

After this much needed and well deserved rest, we inch closer to the spice farms. The weather is awesome! Its drizzling…I pull down the car windows and let the rain drops fall on my face…Heaven!!

We are now standing in front of the Sahakari Spice Farm. The farms are located in Curti, Ponda,the “Temple Town of Goa”. As we enter the farm, we get a traditional welcome…aka tika, and Hawaii style flower garland. Sweet! 

A volunteer on the farm guides us to a sitting area and handed a bowl of cashewnuts along with lemon grass tea. 
I don’t realize how hungry we were till I see the empty bowl. As I am trying to polishing off the few remnants of the cashews, the volunteer comes back and tells us that we can join a group that is starting out with the guided tour of the farm.

They have a very scenic campus. It’s like a designer forest. Trees, ferns…I am loving the greens here!

 We cross a bridge on a small stream and join the group.  Our guide is another volunteer on the farm. I look around to see the fellow group members…people of all ages and sizes! The guide takes us deeper into the farm.
He stops by a plant and tells us its one of the most expensive spice. He asks us to take a guess…yours truly answers correctly – It’s a cardamom plant ..10 points..yuhoo..!  
Proceeding further we get to see turmeric, coffee, lemon grass, vanilla and many more plants whose names I don’t remember! 
Turmeric

Coffee
I am having fun getting to know about all these spices,and side by side building on my GK too.. Did you know that mace (javitri) and nutmeg (jaiphal) come from the same plant?? And that since Bay leaf (tej paat) is not readily available in south, they use the leaves of cinnamon (daalchini) plant as an alternative? And Also that Beetle nut (Supari) trees are actually so flexible that a farmer doesn’t need to get down to climb the other tree..he just bends it and jumps to the next tree… And that is the reason that these trees are planted so closely! Did someone say Tarzan..Oo-oo-ee-Eh-ooo-Eh-oooOooOooOooOoo.
Beetle Nut  trees…Hum saath saath hain
 Going further we see a distillery where they make fenny. Fenny is a very strong local brew(with a distinct pungent smell)…It is usually taken neat therefore its advisable to take small shots. God bless you, if you drink the whole bottle!!!

The guide also explained the entire process of formation of fenny. [If you want more details then go google it..no more space for madira on the blog of this teetotaler 😉 ]

Another spice that caught my attention was the mini avatar of the green chilli called Bird’s eye chilli..but don’t go by the size..one bite and boom…your mouth will experience something that’s nothing short of Hiroshima-Nagasaki! This little miss is super hottt!!!


We go around looking at many more plants, crossing some more little walkways
over a small stream running through the farm.
The best thing I like about the tour is that you get to know a lot of home remedies. There is this particular old man who seems to be extra curious about this Extra info…he is bombarding the guide, asking about the use of every spice, and how it can be used in different recipes..wow..seems like he is planning to launch his own Khana Khazana part 2! The expression on the face of guide is absolutely  priceless..as if saying that if this gentleman asks me one more recipe I will jump from this bridge!

Finally we reach the end of the tour.  Fatigue is now catching up…The guide tells us that they have a tradition of jumping into the stream after the tour. This can really relax the tensed muscle of back and neck…however during rains, and winters, when people can’t afford to do it, they just have a token ceremony. He calls one member from the group, and pours cold water from a matka down his neck …Ok..so that is the token ceremony…Well I would have preferred jumping into the steam…but anyway..i go ahead and get a shot…Aah…the water is icy cold…And u can literally feel a chill running down your spine!! But hey..it is indeed very relaxing! Mr. V’s turn next… Aaaaaaaaaah! 😀

Next we move to the dining area where we get a complimentary lunch…before starting with food…they offer small shots of fenny to everyone…Beep Beep…teetotaler alert!! The volunteer is telling me how my Goa trip can not be complete until I taste the fenny…but SORRY…This girl is extra stubborn…he gives up…lemon grass tea please!!!

There is buffet of organic food..very simple fare..there is a beverage called kokam curry..very similar to north indian kaanji..Me likes 🙂


As we finish our lunch, one volunteer hands us a small packet of various  spices grown on the farm as a souvenir…Me likes again! 🙂

Done with the spices, we now head to the Shantadurga Temple. I absolutely love the route to the temple. Very tranquil… very serene. The road runs down a hillside across dense forests… we can see palms lining the horizon…and paddy fields stretching across the landscape…Ye hariyali aur ye raasta! 🙂

We get down at the temple. There is small kund adjacent to the gate of the temple.

As we enter the premises, we see a group of old ladies sitting with their flower baskets. They are selling pooja thalis made of leaves. Funny thing is that they do all the marketing conversing in Konkani!  Nevertheless , the thalis are beautiful and we buy one. 

The temple is very different from the regular temples. It is a huge building…and there is remarkable influence of Islamic architecture, especially the main dome of the temple. But the bottomline is..its a magnificent temple!
  At the entrance of the temple, stands a lamp tower known as Deep-stambha
As we go inside, the entire set up gives me a feeling that I am standing in a Jain temple, with the Garbha-griha, a passage around it for pradakshina and even the hall for meditation! Although I am not too religious,  but just being there is making me feel very relaxed and so much at peace. After spending some time at the temple, we then head out to The Mangeshi Temple.

On our way to the temple we spot this board…

Yup…this is where out great Mangeshkar sisters originally belong to. Their father, Pt. Dinanath Mangeshkar was born in the hamlet of Mangeshi. The village is situated in the middle of lush green forests in the Priol -Ponda area.

Local women sit along the approach road to the temple selling  lovely little baskets with local flowers of various colours, and bel leaves (also called Bilva-patra).
The temple is an elegant structure made of marble, and similar to Shantadurga Temple, it also has a huge Deep-stambha at its entrance.. 
The temple has a beautiful interior, especially the statue of Lord Mangesh and some amazing chandeliers. The outer campus is also very impressive. 
We sit under the shadow of the Deep-stambha, soaking in the serenity and the spiritual energy of the place. As Master Shifu (Kung-fu Panda)would say…”Inner peace. Inner peace. Inner . . . In . . . In . . . Inner peace”. 🙂

Back from Sri Mangesh Devsthaan, we are now off to the Church of St. Francis Xavier which is located in Old Goa.

The building of the church, which is actually known as the Basilica of Bom Jesus, is very imposing. Also I notice that it is a World Heritage Monument.

As we enter the church we are asked to be very quiet as a wedding ceremony is in progress. So we decide to explore the rest of the church including the Remains of the saint, some memorabilia associated with him. Upstairs we also visit an art gallery, which has some beautiful paintings showing different stages of the saint’s life. There is also a photo exhibition going on in the gallery, depicting the history of the church. Quite an informative experience, must admit!

Back in the main part of the church,where the wedding is now over, we finally get to click some pics. 

Outside I see the  couple whose wedding we have just attended. The bride is looking ravishing in her beautiful bridal attire..Somewhere in my heart I have always wanted to dress up like that!So I can’t stop myself from clicking the happy couple, but from a distance..
Just across the road is the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. It is again a very impressive building, and we get to know that it also houses the Archaeological Museum. 
However by now, the entire day’s adventure has totally taken a toll on our strength to go further. We are dead tired..Badly need a dose of Cinkara..So we decide give the museum a miss, and head back to our hotel.

Phewwww..It has been a long long day…But what a day it has been! One of the best days in my life…there is a huge feeling of satisfaction.  We thank our driver, Aman for his contribution in making our trip such a huge success with his valuable inputs. He is very happy with the compliments. His parting gift to us..”Madam, wo dekho..ek aur church!” He has got a fair idea now about my obsession for clicking! So there I go..CLICK!

Ok..now we are back in the hotel…there is still some time to go for dinner. So we decide to take a short nap to give our feet some rest…Aaaah.nothing like a cozy bed after a hard day of work…
Jumping in.. Acchha to hum sote hain… 🙂


Escape To Paradise…

Day 3

Today is the BIG day…the day I had been waiting for even before embarking on this exciting journey! The raison d’être for our Goa trip!Yup..Today is the day we will get to see the Doodhsagar waterfall. There are other sights too that are lined up for the day but the waterfall trip rules the itinerary!

Both of us are geared up for the day’s adventure. As we quickly nibble on the delicious  idlis, we get a call from our friend, Aman..the Taxi guy..He is on time and waiting for us in the driveway….He greets us with a warm smile..I get a feeling that he is quite fond of us. The feeling is mutual! He is a sweet boy!

We head out of the hotel. The sky is partially cloudy…sun playing peek–a–boo with us. I am feeling a little sleepy..Cetrizine effect! I pop a few mints in my mouth…looking out of window..with full attention and camera ready in my hand.. We cross many small hamlets on our way, with beautiful cottages and lovely churches. 

We reach a bridge on a small local river. It’s a lovely view, and almost reminds of the Backwaters of Kerala, except for the fact that the water is all red!


Aman tells us that it’s because of the mining activity in the area. For the uninitiated, Goa is very rich in minerals, and actually forms the back bone of iron ore industry in India. Further down the road we meet a whole convoy of trucks moving out of the mining sites. 

We are now gradually entering the hilly terrain, though not very steep.

Lining the entire landscape are towering coconut trees. I wish that we could just stop by a tree and find a local person to pick a coconut for us, fresh from the tree. Lekin ye ho na saka… 😦

Finally we reach a point, where we see bikes of all types lined up along the wall. There is a small church around the corner.  . 

We are told that we have reached the pick up point for bike cabs..the idea is that you hire a bike taxi and ride pillion and reach the actual waterfall site in about 45 minutes. Although they have a dedicated jeep track but it closes down during the Monsoons and this is when bike cabs enjoy a complete monopoly in ferrying the tourists to the waterfalls.

One man comes towards us and talks to the driver in the local dialect. Aman tells us that 2 bikes are ready, and will cost us Rs. 350/- per head. The drivers look decent. They ask us if we are carrying a camera, and we reply in the affirmative. They tell us that we will have to deposit the camera with one of the drivers. I look at Mr. V with a little doubt in my eyes. He signals we have to trust them, after all they are going to be with us for the next 2-3 hours. I hand my camera to one of the drivers who puts it in a bag hanging from the bike handle.

As soon as we start, we realize that we are going to drive along the railway track as there is no other way. This is actually not a very comfortable thought…and I think of the plight of my back once this excursion is over. But then I try to throw out these thoughts of apprehension from my mind. I tell myself, this is the real adventure, don’t be a pessimist!

Rocking along the railway track, my driver tells me that this will be the best time to see the waterfall as it will have the maximum water for the season. This lifts my spirits up and I am back to my excited self. As we move further along the track, sound of an engine whistles through the wind. A goods train appears on the scene. We stop the bikes and stand back, waiting for the train to pass. As it gets lost in the woods, we resume our rocky ride on the stones of Konkan Railway. Few kilometers down the track, as my back gets a few jerks, I ask the driver if the entire stretch will continue like this!…He tells me an assuring tone not to worry as in another 5 minutes we  will be off the railway track..

We reach a point where we are asked to get down from the bikes and cross the track towards the jungle. The drivers take a longer loop to meet us. This is the gate of the Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park. 

 We resume our journey on the bikes. I ask my driver what all animals are present in the jungle and he gives me a long list …..I ask if we can find any wild animals while passing through jungle. To my great disappointment, he tells me that they rarely cross the path of Homo Sapiens, although they might be looking at us from their hidden locations…Suddenly my ears are buzzing with “I CAN SEE YOU!!!”. I look around if I can spot a leopard or a tiger but have to be content with two monkeys 😦

This track is definitely a great relief from the rocky ride along the railway track but still we keep going up and down the terrain…I almost feel like I am in some dirt biking race..We cross some small streams on our way..Its so exciting to feel the cold splashes of water on my feet.

We are now heading deeper in to the forest. My driver tells me that we have entered Karnataka now. I don’t know why, but a chill goes does my spine..is it because we are in Jungles of Karnataka and a certain Veerappan came to my mind (Aiyyyoo!)I am now a little nervous..I look at Mr. V. His bike is ahead of us, and he has been turning his neck back all the time, ensuring that I am fine and still following him. Must admit, he gives a solid competition to all the characters from K-Series…But I am not complaining! It is really reassuring…
 

We have now reached another stream. But it is not is like the other streams that we have  crossed till now..This one’s gonna be a toughy..We have to get down the bike and cross it on foot…balancing ourselves..careful not to slip on the slimy rocks!
 

I hold Mr. V’s hand on one side and one of the driver on the other, wading through the vigorous waters of the stream. The bikes would need to be dragged through the water..They follow us to the other side…We are ready to resume our journey…BUT NOT SO SOON!!!

I am back on the bike, happy with my feat. It’s not every day that you cross a stream like that…I turn to Mr. V looking for his smile of accomplishment too..But something is wrong. Why is he still standing??? He points at the bike and I get it…water in the silencer. Drivers ask us not to worry. It’s a minor problem. He kicks the bike..but nothing happens..After 10 minutes of kicking, and no result I start getting nervous again. What if we get stuck here in the middle of the jungle? There is no signal in the mobiles! Mr. V holds my hand and calms me down…I take a deep breath and tell myself…It’s going to be fine! Mr. V asks me to click some photographs.. to keep myself distracted… 😐
I click some photographs..The place is actually very beautiful! just out of picture postcards.. reminding me of the scenic tropical forests that I absolutely love on the Discovery channel..I imagine the photograph of the stream as my desktop background…


Few more clicks later, the nerves come back.. The bike still refuses to start..and guess what!…Icing on the cake is that it has started to rain!!! The drivers ultimately tilt the bike to 90 degrees and water splurges out of the silencer…After few more kicks the bike starts…Phew…I get my breath back.

Rest of the journey is smooth, and soon we reach a point that welcomes us to the the Doodhsagar waterfall. We alight from the bikes and walk down to a platform…We look up at a distance and there it is..The mighty Doodhsagar waterfall… It’s beautiful, it’s mind blowing..It is…I don’t have words…Speechless, I keep looking at this spectacular sight!

Zooming In

 But hey..surprise surprise..This is not the end..We have to go further…The drivers guide us through a flight of rocky stair heading down. We carefully walk down and reach another stream. This one is again a vigorous one. I ask if this water is from Doodhsaghar, but they tell me it’s not…We cross the gushing waters to reach the side of the stream. 

Yes.. We crossed that!!!

Crossing some huge rocks we reach an even mightier torrent. I am apprehensive how we will cross it as I can not gauge its depth. Abdullah tells me to be steady in my footing and not to land on the top of rocks as they are slimy and if I slip I may just get washed away…So much for comfort!

Yup..This one too!! Phew..


Veer tum badhe chalo..! And the veers finally manage to cross this super stream! Yuhooo! 
Going ahead, there are still a few more hurdles to be crossed..huge rocks this time..but it’s not too much of a challenge for this Almora girl! 🙂 


And then suddenly we see white water gushing in front of us..we are at the foot of the waterfall! I look up and..for a moment forget everything around me..totally spellbound by the beauty..the grandeur..the magnificence  of this spectacle of nature..Finally it registers..We have reached the Doodhsagar Waterfall..in its full glory thanks to the monsoons! It is such a mesmerizing image to behold.

We sit on the rocks, our feet immersed in waters..The roaring, thundering white water gushes by us..and we just keep looking at it in complete awe.. This is such a thrilling experience.. I actually get goosebumps on my hands!  Mr. V gives me a hats off..for including the waterfall in our itinerary! 🙂 Super excited.. we give each other a Hi5..yes we have done it! Now I can’t wait to tell my whole family and friends about it..


We hear  whistling of a train echoing through the jungles. In a moment a goods train passes through a bridge along the waterfall..Again a very exhilarating feeling..Next time we visit Goa, we will take a train to the waterfall!

  After spending some of the best moments of my life sitting on those rocks and taking in the breath-taking view of the waterfall, we now head back. Once again crossing all the streams..climbing up and down the rocks…Mr.V sees something sticking to his leg…Abdullah cries out “It’s a leech..!” Now listen to this..Instead of removing the leech at once, what does Mr.V do? He looks for his camera! By that time Abdullah removes it with a stick…as by the time he would have clicked the pic, the leech would have done a lot of damage!!! Huh..my brave hubby! 😐


We are back to the bikes now..Time to get a victory shot! Smile Please 🙂



Super happy, we are now on our way back..I see a small temple this time..Now why didn’t I notice it earlier..may be the nerves!!! Well..this is the temple of Doodhsagar Devta…Nice !



Rest of the journey is smooth..more because I am no longer feeling afraid..the jungle is no more scary! In fact, its looking lovelier..The huge trees..chirping of birds..sound of the breeze…I am already missing all of it! 



Finally we are back to the taxi. Aman asks us how our trip through the jungle was…I just have one word to describe it all..It was Total Paisa Vasool! 

Wow..My Goa trip is already a super duper hit..and come to think of it..we have just reached the Intermission..Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost! 🙂



Thoda sa badal, thoda sa paani…aur ek kahani!

Day 2

I am floating atop the sea waves going up and down along the crests and troughs. Lost in the magic of the sea, I look around but am blinded by a dazzling beam of light falling on my face.  Sun-rays filter through the curtains and wake me up. Aaaaaaaah! Good Morning Goa!
  🙂

 

Feeling fresh after a long night of the stress-free sleep, we move towards the eating area, Tentacao. It’s a tastefully done hut with a thatched roof and offers a lovely view of the pool side. 

 

After breakfast, we now have enough fuel to keep us going at least till the afternoon. Me and Mr.V now chalk out the plan of action for the day. We first inquire at the reception about bike taxis. He says he can arrange one for us and tells us the rates for the day. My prior research tells me that he has quoted an obnoxiously high rate. I get a brain wave. We decide to drop the hotel taxi and head out to the Colva market area,that we had visited last night, taking the beach route.


 The sea is looking beautiful in the morning and has a different colour at this time of the day. We walk along the beach which has now changed its shape. The sea has cut through the beach, making it impossible to wade through, we are forced to take a long detour to get across. We meet some tiny little friends on our way…running with lightening speed into small holes created in the sand.

As we walk along we also collect some sea shells. There is one particularly beautiful shell..I pick it up but something black is moving inside it.., Ouch! It’s alive! I put it back in water…
 We finally reach the market and spot a taxi stand. We talk to a guy standing there. We ask him if we can hire a bike to go to North Goa and Panaji. Although we can get a bike, but he suggests that we should rather go for a car as our programme sounds a little too ambitious! And it might rain too! Although I am hell bent on getting a bike, Mr. V sees reason…and agrees that we should hire the taxi as it might get difficult to drive and figuring out an unknown territory at the same time, specially when its raining! Reluctantly I give in. 
We hire an Innova. The driver looks like a decent friendly chap. His name is Aman. We share our day’s itinerary with him, and start the journey. As we head northwards, it starts getting dark, thanks to the clouds.  In no time, it starts raining heavily. The downpour brings an evil grin on Mr. V’s face…The naughty glint in his eyes seems to say…See, I told you! Oops!!! Ok. I concede defeat. It was a right decision to get the taxi. 😛
 
On our way we cross some fabulous Goan villas, numerous churches of all sizes and some beautiful local rivers like Zuari and Mandovi, looking resplendent in their full glory. It’s really an awesome drive.

As we cross the Mandovi, Aman points towards the various boats lined along the banks of the river. He tells us that the same boats go out in the evening for the river cruise. He advises us to get an advance booking so that we do not have to wait in long queues later on. His idea seems sensible, and we decide to get the tickets right away. He takes us to a shop from where we collect the tickets.
We plan to go to Anjuna beach first but there is some diversion as a tree has fallen on the road. So we change the route and head to the Baga beach, which is considered one the most happening beaches in Goa. It is still raining outside. V forces me to wear the raincoat lest I get my fever back! We walk towards the beach. The red sand here is very different from the golden sands of Colva Beach.

Even in the off-season, there is a pretty large crowd on the beach. Most of the crowd seems to comprise of   boys, probably students from some engineering or management colleges. They are having fun in the surf. I spot a few couples who choose to just walk along the beach holding hands. Some families also seem to be having a good time playing with the waves. Kids jumping on their father, mommy looking affectionately from a distance and taking care of all the chappals and bags..and whatever stuff they are carrying..!



We sit there for some time soaking in all the fun happening around us. The beach is lined with many food joints. We enter one seemingly popular joint, Britos. However going through the menu, I find loads of our sea-friends, but nothing vegetarian! So we decide to move back to the taxi. Calangute beach is next on the agenda. This one is another happening beach of Goa. As we inch towards Calangute, I can see an entire row of shops selling beautiful beach wear in bright colours, lining both sides of the roads. 

We reach a a chowk like area, and it is Calangute. In the middle of the chowk is a statue of Dr. Jack Sequiera, founder president of the United Goans Party.
On one side of the statue is the GTDC hotel, Calangute Residency. Must say, Government hotels have the luxury of the best location among all the hotels. Colva Residency that we saw in the morning also enjoys a similarly great location…just a stones throw from the main Colva beach. On the other side are again lots of shops. Some random people keep coming to us, asking if we are interested in getting a tattoo…Sadly, I am not that adventurous! I spot Sagar restaurant, which I had already read about earlier. Aman tells us that the food in Sagar is very good and we should have our lunch there only.

Calangute is again a pretty crowded beach. Although the view is lovely, but I am not too impressed! May be the crowd is a turn off. Too many people around…Madam, Do you want a tattoo? Sir, head massage? Madam…earrings…coconut…pineapple???? Blah blah blah.. I am missing the solitude of Colva Beach.

We walk down the beach into the waters…water is a little muddy..We move back. To get rid of my boredom I decide to something totally dumb, or you may call it a bit cheesy too. I draw a heart complete with an arrow cutting across it, and write our names in it. As soon as I complete it waves wash it away…much to the delight of Mr. V. I make it again, and once again it gets washed away. Not to give up so easily, I move a little backwards and draw it again. Success at last!  😉

By now we have started to feel hunger pangs and hence move to Sagar. It is a small restaurant overlooking the Calangute chowk. While we wait for our order to come, I make waving friends with an ultra cute baby. She gives me a toothless grin every time I wave at her. I then start playing peek-a-boo. As we continue with this remote gaming, our food comes. The aroma of sambhar is heavenly. The food is simple but delicious nevertheless. With our tummies full, we are now back in the taxi.

Aman takes us to the Candolim beach next. For a change, it is a very isolated beach. I am feeling a little sluggish now after lunch. So I just decide to lie down in the sand. Mr. V however has some energy left. He moves towards the sea and gazes at it in one of his deeply contemplative moods. 

I am feeling recharged after this short break. I get up and join Mr. V. We hold hands and just stand their, our feet immersed in the waves that keep going back and forth. It is one of those moments when nothing seems to matter and all you want is to be one with nature. It’s a very  spiritual and greatly rejuvenating experience and the best thing is that I have my soulmate to share this divine moment with me. 🙂

From Candolim, we hop down to Sinquerim Beach. This beach is not too crowded. I love it’s tranquil, serene atmosphere, and its glistening sands. We relax there for some time.


Enough of beach bohemia for the day! Now I desperately need some change. 
Next on the agenda is the Aguada Bay.To reach our destination, we drive along a hilly terrain. The road looks so clean and BLACK as if newly laid.On our way we also spot the Kingfisher Villa, Mr. Mallaya’s den in Goa. Some guys have all the luck ! 😦
We move up towards the Taj’s Fort Aguada . It’s a huge hotel campus with some beautiful villas and cottages, looking down the Aguada bay. 
We get down the taxi and head to a point which must have been a part of the Aguada fort. Huge stones line the walls..The view from the point is beyond words. We see waves rushing towards the shore, running into the rocks with a great vigour.. At a distance we can see towering palms lining the coast. It’s a lovely landscape, and we are thrown back into our reflective frame of mind. I close my eyes, taking in the sound of waves crashing against the walls of the fort. It is a surreal feeling.


We are now headed to the Fort Aguada. On our way we spot a small temple along a small rivulet. Aman enlightens us with some valuable info…This is where the (super-flop)movie, Bhoothnath was shot. Wow..I should not miss this temple! Click! 

Aman now seems to be in real hurry to take us up the fort. He tells us to keep time, so that we don’t get late for the river cruise.
We reach the fort and walk towards it. A huge number of people are also headed towards the fort, most of them students again. I catch a few words in the air… DIL CHAHTA HAI! A boy is saying that he will tell his friends that he went to the same place where the movie was shot. Poor guy..he, like many others doesn’t know that it is NOT the same fort, that gained an iconic status with the presence Aamir, Akshay khanna and Saif. That fort is Chapora near the Vagator beach. Although Chapora was in my original plan of things, but Aman tells us that due to rains, the clay around the fort has become very slippery and it will be difficult to climb our way up to the fort. So maybe next time we are in Goa, we will go there!
 

Coming back to Fort Aguada, it’s a magnificent monument. A board tells me that the Portuguese built The Fort of Aguada to protect old Goa from any attack and prevent the entry of any enemy into River Mandovi. We now walk along a  dried up moat and enter the fort through colossal gates. There is a light house too standing in the middle of the fort campus. I try a trick shot, made so popular by photographers in Agra.
Not bad, hmm??
 
There is a splendid view of the sea from the fort. We see a huge dark cloud …looming at the horizon…casting its shadow over the sea. The sea changes its colour to dark grey! I get a feeling that the dementors are approaching!!! Expecto Patronum!
We explore the fort campus and then a quick look at the watch and some huge raindrops force us back to the taxi. Now it’s Mission Panaji. On our way I see a derelict church standing in the middle of nowhere. It looks really mysterious. I want to catch it in one of my frames but Mr. V is hell bent on not letting me go. I somehow persuade the driver to stop for sometime. By the time Mr. V can stop me, I run inside the gate and enter the church premises. It has a very haunting feel.
I click some photographs. Just then I see hubby dear rushing towards the gate, very sure that some serial killer has taken me! He pulls me back to the taxi and now I sit back like an obedient child looking forward to the river cruise on Mandovi.
We get down at the gate of the ticket counter for the cruise. As he had told, we are lucky to avoid the late evening rush for the cruise. We smoothly slip inside and enter the cruise. It’s a 3 level boat. We take two window side seats in the middle level. Usually they have cultural programmes on the upper deck, but today because of rains, the arrangements have been shifted downstairs. A siren goes off and the cruise starts. The  emcee for the evening comes on stage and announces  the start of cultural programme, which would include local dances and DJ. Frankly, we are not too interested in the programme. I would rather look out and enjoy the view of Mandovi. There are lines and lines of boats along the banks of the river. 
 As we move ahead, we see some more cruises in the middle of the river…On a closer look, we get to know that they are floating casinos. There is one Casino Royale too.

As the local music blares out of the loudspeakers, we go around, exploring the cruise, checking out the stalls…Not much variety for food here. The anchor is asking all the couples to get on the stage to dance…Ohh.. we better run before he spots us! So we escape to the upper deck. Hardly any people are there as it is raining hard..As I am forced to wear my raincoat once again, I hand the umbrella to Mr. V. who very efficiently breaks the handle 😐 Huh!

Anyway we go out, and enjoy the rain..Mandovi is now looking even more beautiful as it reflects the lights coming from the boats..We lean on the railing and enjoy the view.
After having some fun in the rain, we go downstairs. I am feeling hungry, and what better way to get rid of the hunger than having our very own 2 minute noodles. Yes, there is a maggi stall too, and both of us being maggi freaks rush to the counter. Mmmm..nothing like a bowl of hot maggi noodles on a rainy day! M loving It!

The cruise is now back to its origin and as we ready  ourselves to disembark, a group of some fat men in Bermudas standing in front of us start roaring Ganapati Bappa..Morya…The whole boat reverberates with Ganapati’s chant. We get down the boat and head to the parking lot.
 
Our next stop is Kamat’s which I have read is a good veg hotel in Panaji. This time we have some North Indian food. Done with our rather early dinner, we now head back to our hotel. Discussing the next day’s plan, we realize  that we will again need the taxi. Aman is a great help in chalking the next day’s plan. He advises us to get ready early the next day as we have another very ambitious endeavour on our hands.

Alright the hotel is here. We say good bye to our friend, and he flashes his close-up smile.  I am quite exhausted now, and sneezing has resumed. Both of us badly need some rest now. So we move towards our villa. One of the boys rushes to tell us that our stuff has been moved upstairs…Yippie..!

The room is not too different from our first room, but it opens into a small balcony. I will have to wait till the sun rises to see what view the balcony has to offer. Till then, lights off people! I am already on my flight to the dreamworld…..zzzzzzzzzz

Tighten Your Seat belts..We are Landing In Goa!!!

Go Goa….Go Air… Everything seems to be on the go now..Yes.. Yes.. Yes…We are going to Goaaaaah!  M just bubbling with excitement…Bags are all packed.. Tickets in order…But I have been coughing all night, still feeling feverish. I call up a doctor friend of mine who suggests some effective medicine that won’t spoil my plans.

We are now just waiting for the neighborhood taxi that we booked last night to drop us at the airport…it should be here anytime now. Oops..its 15 minutes past the scheduled time…where is the taxi??? Ohh God! Damn..I didn’t mean rain gods! 30 mins past..yet no trace of the taxi…and the flood gates of heaven are still open! Is my vacation jinx still on??? I start getting nervous…and angry too…Mr. V doesn’t have the right number for taxi! I give him a stare…hot enough to melt the polar ice caps!
 

We finally decide to go to the taxi stand, hiring an auto. The taxi owner says that taxi just reached our house..Uff…It’s like tragedy of errors! Finally the taxi gets its rightful occupants. I am taking deep breaths! I pray to God – “No more excitement now, till we reach Goa. And let the Delhi traffic behave itself for once!” Gods oblige! 🙂

The flight to Goa is a pleasant one, leaving out a rather noisy group of friends playing dumb charades with some annoyingly dumb movie names…I swear I have never heard any movie with those names!!! Clouds are a good distraction. I close my eyes…imagining myself on the beaches of Goa… Suddenly Captain’s voice wakes me up from my dream. There is some turbulence…the lights go off… More excitement??? Naah! Just a minor scare Aaal ijj well!
 
Soon clouds part and give us a glimpse of the vast stretch of green below us. From the moment it becomes visible from the flight, Goa mesmerizes me… The lush green paddy fields, lovely green woods, silvery waters of the local rivers..and the huge mighty sea..I fall in love with all of them from the word Go!



I stick my nose to the window…with my hand constantly tugging at Mr. V’s shirt … LOOK … LOOK …LOOK! Poor guy…just ends up looking at my face! (Not that I mind it!)

Flight lands and we head out of the plane. A pleasant cool breeze welcomes us..and although it has rained earlier in the day, there is absolutely no trace of the oppressive heat and humidity that is so synonymous with Delhi rains!

It is really thrilling to enter Goa. I can feel a spring in my steps as I walk out of the Dabolim airport. Mr. V senses the excitement…He pulls my cheek and says -Welcome to Goa! Ok.. Besides Goa, there is something else too, that has charmed me, but we will stick to the topic of Goa 😉

Once out, we board a taxi to our Hotel, Beleza by the Beach. OOOOO…I really like the sound of it…very exotic!

In the Taxi, while Mr. V is relaxing and taking in the beauty of Goa, I go into a total clicking over-drive…Don’t want to miss anything that was going by..

The landscape from the taxi is absolutely breath-taking…Palms and coconuts line the road on both sides, and then  there are lovely Goan villas with the tilted roofs…Wish I could own one of them…Sigh!!!


 
The people around look so much at ease, totally relaxed, living life at their own pace. This is such a pleasant break from the maddening rush of Delhi life! And as they pass us by, they have a warm, welcoming and very endearing smile on their face. No wonder, so many tourists choose to stay in Goa for long periods, keep coming back and still can’t get enough of it. Goa and Goans both make you their own instantaneously! 

Mr. V activates the GPS Navigation system on his mobile and we get to know that we are very close to Colva…

 Just then we reach a railway crossing. We wait for 5 minutes but no train in sight..then the gates open..as we cross the tracks we see a train standing at some distance…Wow! Did we just make a train wait for us to cross?


GPS lady is telling us that we have to move 800 mtrs Right..towards our destination…and sure enough…we reach our destination. Beleza by the Beach is a lovely hotel. It has some beautiful villas lined up against the backdrop of swaying palms. 

Following the customary welcome and formalities, we are guided to our room.As we enter our villa, a huge hall welcomes us. Attached to it is a nicely designed kitchen area. It is properly equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, crockery and cutlery. I am impressed. The décor of the room is very pleasant. 

They give us a room on the ground floor. I am not too happy about this as I was hoping for a room on first floor with a nice balcony!
We enter our room and like it. Quite cosy!!
 


 The attendant shows us around the room explaining us where to get what! Although we like the room, we call up the reception guy to ask if any room is available on first floor. He tells us that one room will be free the next day, and they will have no problem in shifting us upstairs 🙂 Yippiee…!

The journey and all the related excitement has now taken a toll on me and the fatigue pulls me down. Not to forget the constant cough..and slight fever! I decide to take an hour’s rest. After which we can head out and explore Colva beach. Mr. V wakes me up from my slumber and tells me to get ready. He is sounding extra enthusiastic..and there is a reason behind that! While I was catching my forty winks, he went out to the beach and spent some time there. And now he can not wait to get me there. 
Once ready, we go out and through the hotel’s private pathway, we move towards the beach. And then..I get my frist view of the Colva beach and the Sea. It’s amazing. 

The best thing about the beach is that except for a couple or two, there is nobody on the beach. It seems like our private beach. Wow..such a luxury!  We move towards the sea and sit down there. I kept gazing at the sea..Looking at its mighty waves…that rise suddenly and vanish as soon as they touch our feet..I listen to the roaring sound of the sea ..and feel so small in front of it. It is really an overwhelming experience for me.

We get up and head towards the main part of the beach. As we move, it starts getting dark. There are some boats along the beach and fish net. Thankfully I can’t smell the fish…courtesy my persistent to the cold!


A gentle breeze is blowing, and I see palms swaying along…I am reminded of this lovely song from Dilli ka Thug- Ye raatein ye mausam ..nadi ka kinara..ye chanchal hawa.

We reach the main part of the beach…It is relatively crowded. After playing in the water for some time, we go out of the beach towards the market area. It is lined with various Sea-food joints. We move further to find some shops selling all sorts of T-shirts, and hats, and beach wear. 

I am starting to feel hungry now. We ask people about Sagar (which according to my research is a decent South Indian restaurant near Colva). We are directed to a simple looking food joint just across the road. We enjoy a delicious South Indian meal at the restaurant.  With our stomachs full, we move out. I am starting to feel tired and a bit sleepy (2nd dose of Cetrizine at work!)

We hire an auto (very different from Delhi ones..!). It is closed from all sides, more like a mini car. 


Now we are in our room..tired but super excited! It has been a lovely day..and there is lot more to come tomorrow. I have butterflies in my stomach for the approaching adventure. Ok folks..That’s it for the day..I am zooming to the world of dreams…!

शुभरात्रि 

Go Goa!!! :)

They say that when you are going to do something new..you should have something sweet! Well..It took the sweet experiences of my Goa trip that finally coaxed me into writing down memoirs of my best trip ever.


Flashback…

Me and my hubby, Mr. V had been planning for a nice break for quite some time. But Murphy’s Law seemed to have a real liking for our plans..and therefore all our great plans met an end like policies of Tughlaq! And this was not without side effects…Whenever work pressure would mount, I would start getting desperate to escape from it all. This would be followed by thousand arguments…which were always won by me…as I would use the best trump card—We have never gone for a vacation???? Thus, many a battles were fought to get that elusive vacation!With Mr. V always on the losing side… 😛


Its not that we were forever stuck in the National capital! ..In fact, there had been many random fun-filled trips and weekend getaways that we went out for…to places around Delhi and nearby states. But a real exotic vacation had eluded us all this time. And a major reason for this was that somehow we were not able to get time out of office. Finally the month of August,2010 showed some promise of the holidays we had been waiting for…A long weekend… Determined, not to let this opportunity go waste, I took the entire planning in my hands.. (much to the delight of Mr. V!)

After browsing through hundreds of travel blogs and tourism related sites, and listening to suggestions from Rocky and the Nomad I zeroed in on Goa. Goa in Monsoons did raise some eyebrows…’What the hell are you going to do there in monsoons? It rains cats & dogs there at this time of the year! No water sports..it’s gonna be boring.. !’ But I was unaffected..coz I had seen some pics of Goa during rains…and its beauty was really spectacular…some experts had in fact commented that Goa gets its beauty treatment during monsoons…and this drove the nature lover in me, totally crazy..!!
So it was decided..Goa it is!! Man..was I excited…but amusingly, my family seemed to be even more thrilled than me..!

With the whole travel euphoria, I totally immersed myself insome serious research..best places to go..what to take along..best beaches of Goa..best Vegetarian restaurants and their location..(very important!!!)..and lots more.. Wow..I collected so much information that I felt like I  was writing some dissertation on travel to Goa..Finally, we booked our tickets on Yatra…and Trip advisor helped us to zero in on the Hotel that we were going to stay at.. A lovely property near Colva beach, one of the best beaches in South Goa.



Zipping to Present >>>

So here goes..With tickets and hotel booking done, we are all set for the great Monsoon bonanza in Goa.. Yuhooooo …Goa Here We come 🙂                                                                  To be continued…..

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