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GOA: The Land of the Non-Conformists

I thirst for a vacation like people thirst for sleep, food and rest! This has been the case because of a combination of things, a healthy dose of wanderlust, a deep interest in any place's historic and cultural inheritance and possibly the company of friends and family that's equivalent to non existent even under a common roof! So when Revati and I started to plan another holiday for this year the best option to fit in an impromptu long weekend was obviously Goa, and while we showed usual enthusiasm for a trip all the people i mentioned it to went on a mental trip of their own! "Oh my God goaaaaa!!!!" Was the reaction ever second person had. We heard the variants of "you are so lucky, wish I could do this, maaan I need to go to Goa yaar!" Etc etc. I have travelled quite some deal before and to more exotic places but this unique public display of enthusiasm and envy was never expressed before! And well this got me thinking, then I stopped thinking a while because we were in Goa; and now I have repicked that thought as I write this. But Goa first....

Revati being a magician she is, she booked us for stay at Michelle's Garden cafe. The itenerary was ready, our list of cafes was on point. Getting a yellow Vespa to move around Goa for two days as soon as we reached Michelle's was just a cherry on top!

Michelle herself is quite an enigma. While I was expected a local Goan woman converted to Christianity some ancestors ago as is the case with much of Goa; this was not actually it! Michelle is a medium height, oldish, French and extremely pink propriteress of Michelle's garden cafe. She came to Goa on a vacation 40 years ago, fell in love, got married and settled here for good. French people can find love anywhere! Besides being resolutely pink and french she is also quite adept at making crepes, coffee and being extremely enthusiastic (to the point of being borderline scary) with her guests. She also has a brood of canines that are possibly too tame yet intimidating in numbers. Her general interest in looking into everything also made her plan our day for us and that lead to a discovery of mapusa market ( nothing great there!) And Saturday market (Goan version of the lil flea). Another advantage of Michelle's garden is that it is in anjuna and centrally located so that we could get to some of the best places without spending more than 15 mins in travelling!

The amaaazzinnggg fish thali at fat fish, the sumptuous wholesome breakfast at Lila cafe, a good light dinner at Baba Au Rhum (baobab) and the highlight of it all a serene, mind numbing, bizzarely beautiful evening spent at Eva cafe. Bless Revati especially for that one! That place grows organically out of the rocks and sand, all seating faces the sea, bright Greek colours and architecture and intricate decorations compliment the primary appeal of the place; to be able to watch a sunset with a mixed rhythmic sound of crashing waves and soulful English music... There are many words to describe the place and no words to describe all that you feel!

Goa all in all was a great experience, I could keep drinking some poison through out the day in a steady build up, the only reason why police would stop you was to check your lisence but not your breathe, it is common to have people roam around in the night clothes in broad day light, to have 1 litre bottles of petrol sold for 80 rs a piece at any street corner, to have people roll a joint at the table next to yours; nights are extremely safe, travelling convenient, a mixed (and often high) crowd. It is through these observations that my original thought began to creep back into the system, is this what makes Goa such a rage among local and international patrons?! The fact that Goa has no code of conduct, no expectations; mutual convenience and live and let live are the only policies that exist! Everyone minds their own business, the locals have legitimized 'responsible lawlessness' because that is where most of their business comes from. If we have to assign an adjective to every place, Goa's will be 'non conformist'. An appeal that you can have only in goa, any other place where you are a stranger too would not do this job because that doesn't go with the cultural nature of that place nor it's polity and economics. Goa has possibly struck that unique balance, almost close to what Amsterdam has struck in Europe but not entirely and this has possibly made it such a rage!

Goa doesn't conform to anything, not even to being a rebel, she organically melds diverse population of local goans, Christian converts, the portugese vistages on her canvas, the international and local tourists looking for the otherwise unattainable principle called 'complete freedom' and devout Hindu and Christian pilgrims who come to the Shantadurga Temple and to the Basilica of Bom Jesus respectively. Goa seamlessly makes spaces for all into her. It is this unaffected, yet not completely detached nature of Goa that possibly makes it such a favourite especially in India where almost every other place encourages some order of extreme and moderate conformism! For such of us Goa is not a place you go for cheap booze or the sea but a place that affords you the luxury of time, the impregnable pull of freedom and the complete assurance of overall safety.

It is quite well known that Goa has no east and west but only north and south and that is true not only in her geography but also her cultural upkeep; no east west/ right wrong notions, only the freedom of movement; the choices that one could make and of course a reverential understanding that each soul there has come with their own story and purpose and as long as all stay in their own space everything shall work out well.

Goan way of life could possibly be Utopia but as is the case with any idealism it doesn't hold up long, so let's let Goa remain that land of unchecked fantasy. Lets go there once a year or may be twice, let's top up on our share of wild fun and then lets go back to harbour dreams of one more fray into the land of non-conformists..

#travel #travelwriter #goanhistory #goahistory #thingstodoingoa #goain2days #whattodoingoa #cafesingoa #travelinindia #placestovisitinindia

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