FMLM – A Skeptic’s Take on Goa – By Sandeep Menon

NOT YOUR USUAL GOA TRIP

I have always loved travelling. But there is also an inner sceptic in me that questions the typical and atypical with equal gusto. My wife and I decided to do a Goa trip. And why not? After all, we all grew up watching Dil Chahta Hai. Goa is, therefore, the dream destination for an entire generation. So, what if half of India has been here and loves talking about it!

Cutting the mumbling short, we had to tick Goa off and so we did! Herd mentality, anyone? Well, here’s free advice to all state tourism fellas – you guys try too hard to attract tourists. Just make a movie that’s a cult favourite and you will have hoards of tourists visiting you like forever! (And that’s your introduction to the inner skeptic in me… )

So, Goa happened to us and here’s how. 

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It was a 16-hour long journey in the train and we stayed in the Goa, the land of sun, sand, spices and seafood for over a week. 

But here’s what we did differently. We decided to explore the state on a scooter. So, in toto, we rode over 700 kilometers and visited over nine beaches, ate in more than ten exotic food shacks and met loads of interesting people. 

I had the two leading ladies of my life lead me on this adventure. The first, the all-knowing lady of Google Maps, who led our way, and the second, my first lady, who the married would agree are always all-knowing!

We rented a scooter and scooted off to discover the famous and not-so-well-known pockets of Goa.

Here’s a friendly warning for bike lovers – there is no difference between a bike and scooter in this tourist state. You can ask for anything, you will always get only a scooter! We tried asking for a bike, but we were given a Honda Activa in return. And if you are an adventure junkie, you would enjoy riding a scooter here.

Our scooter came with some unique features; I am guessing these are custom-made or shall I say, kashtam-made! The accelerator had a mind of its own; it was as if it was always in a hurry to reach somewhere – a stark reminder of the lives we lead when not holidaying, perhaps. All I needed to do was start the scooter and the accelerator would accelerate on its own. So, braking was never an option. It was either ignition on or ignition off.

If you love playing cricket, you can channel your inner slip fielder here, who waits in anticipation for the direction the ball would get hit. The only difference, your reflexes will need to be reversed. You need to respond in the opposite direction! Braving the odds, aren’t we?

There is something in the state for video gamers as well. If you love the road rash game, you will love driving in Goa. It’s a guessing game and it really is anyone’s guess. If the vehicle opposite you put a left indicator, in all likelihood even that driver doesn’t know where he will turn. So, the roads keep you on high alert. After driving around for a week on Goan roads, I have made a small conclusion. – If the driver puts a left indicator and turns right, there is a high probability that he is drunk. – If the driver puts a left indicator and turns left, there is a high probability that you are drunk. And this brings us to the next observation about the state.

There are more wine shops here than petrol bunks. And it is petrol here that gets sold in black with a 10-15 per cent premium!

We went to all the usual suspects here. You will see people rave about different beaches…#Baga, #Calangute, #Vasco, #Palolem, #Anjuna, #Varca and likes. We visited them all, thanks to my wife. But the end of the day, they are just beaches: its sun, sand and the same waves everywhere.

Just that the crowd is different. For us, Keralites, there is a major similarity with Goans. We breathe unionism and apparently, Goans do too.

Taxis here are unionised. Outside our resort, there was a taxi union, which ensured no other taxis came our way. There weren’t many self-drive car options too. And we heard the unions would puncture the tyres of these cars at night. The taxis aren’t cheap too. They charge about Rs 650 for an eight-kilometre ride.

But what was really impressive here was the state of the roads. Despite all the rain they get, the roads were in a pretty good state (compared to Kerala). For all the hartals we do back home, I wonder why we don’t do one for getting better roads. Well, that’s dope for another story.

A SKEPTIC’S TAKE ON THE MUST-DOS IN GOA 

If you are a guy, take the shirts out and bring in the sleeveless vests and shorts. Even boxers would do! And just like you take a dip in the 22 sacred well in Rameswaram, you need to take a dip in the waters of each of the famous beaches here.

Take a selfie with a foreigner or if they don’t agree, at least with a beer bottle in your hand!

If you are a girl, it’s a must to have a short trouser or a palazzo.

And if it’s your honeymoon, ensure the mehndi is fully visible with the sindoor more visible than the nearest traffic light. And don’t put too much sunscreen. If you don’t tan a little, people back home won’t believe you went to Goa.

Goa is India’s jugaad to those that can’t visit Thailand. And you have to do here what you would otherwise not do back home. Goa for us was a typical Indian adventure. We met some very interesting people. Some rude, some sweet. And there is loads of local talent. Music breathes freely here and its art with a heart all over.

And if you are wondering why I didn’t do the typical Goa Itinerary of drinking, partying, beach tripping… well, I did it all when I first visited the state with my friends when I was single. Not a skeptic, after all, aren’t I?

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