Where I go: Majorda, Goa
So I heard that Goa wasn’t “really India” but decided that my first foray into the unknown should be relatively tame. That said, I did try to mentally prepare myself for the onslaught and assault on the senses by venturing to Little India to change my moolah. And going to the Indian Embassy to arrange for a visa also felt like it could’ve been a visit to the subcontinent itself. There’s a certain headiness that surrounds India. The air gets spicier, the pace slower and I involuntarily find myself shaking my head when I speak. Preconceptions aside, I’d recommend Goa to anybody who’s working up the courage to set foot into India. Flew into Mumbai, was completely overwhelmed by the buzz, and being the absolute chicken I am, took the first flight to Goa. Kingfisher Airlines, by the way, is sort of the Virgin Atlantic of India, right down to the larger than life CEO. Also, I was suitably impressed by the hyper-efficient cabin crew who served and cleared not only drinks but a hot meal, and separately at that. All in the span of 45minutes. WOW!
Goa, for the uninitiated, is huge and I liked Majorda (in the south) best. Because I am a strong believer in reading the fine print, here’s the disclaimer that came with the Vivenda:
“*/** Please note that we are in a village, so we do not have a view, unless you count blue skies and coconuts. Also, being in a village in Goa means cocks, crow; chickens, cluck; pigs, grunt; children, play; parents, grumble; dogs, bark; Christians, sing and Church bells ring amid all the other signs of life you would expect in a South Goan Village. ***The Tuk-Tuk remains a figment of my imagination and my bank manager’s lack of one. For the moment.”
Wearing: Tie-dyed finds and harem pants from the roadside markets, vintage Dior sunnies, Coco Mademoiselle and wooden beaded bracelets from the nice lady on the sea shore.
One of my worst habits is traveling next to empty handed then shopping up a (local) storm once I land. Attribute this urge to my need to assimilate and begin the transformation into little hippie tourist at the first street market I see. Scored some sweet tie-dyed maxi dresses for a song and put them on heavy rotation the next few days. Funny story: because I insist on washing my new acquisitions before wearing them, I accidentally tie-dyed all the white towels in the bathroom while frantically wringing out my sopping wet laundry. Note to self after buying the destroyed towels off the hotel: Them dresses weren’t so cheap after all!
Reading: Seven Days In The Art World by Sarah Thornton
A photographer and all-round artsy friend gifted me with this great read in hope that I’d be more cultured after. Hate to disappoint but I’m no closer to becoming the “art lawyer” he had not-so-secretly wanted me to be. However, I did enjoy the traipse through the world of art, from The Auction to The Crit, and then The Fair, The Prize, The Magazine, The Studio Visit before leaving it all behind at The Biennale. The book, however, did score me some brownie points with Charlotte, the wonderful Vivenda proprietress who mistook me for someone with impeccable taste and an artistic eye. If only she knew!
Also reading: The “personals” in the loo! Charlotte had the brainwave of wallpapering the loo with the personal columns from newspapers of old for guests to read while on the potty. “Gentleman doctor, 30, seeks tall, slim fair-skinned bride with big eyes from good family.” Any takers?
Watching: The (small) world go by. There were the most adorable Norwegian-English twins splashing in the pool, Totty the child-bride Basset Hound chasing her tail, Nigel the barman mixing drinks behind the “lorry back” bar and the other guests in the dining room mirror which made dinner feel strangely like a skype date!
Eating (and/or drinking): Excellent steaks on caramelised onions with Masala mashed potato and an exceptionally gooey chocolate mouse constituted a right royal English sit-down dinner en masse where I imagined we were all guests in a grand English manor. Around the dining table that night was a cosmopolitan bunch which made for delightful conversation. There was a journo with The Economist who had recently relocated to Delhi, a Swedish model and English photographer who were doing a shoot at Vivenda, two English roses on a girly holiday and a French couple whose accents got thicker as the night wore on.
Drinking the unlimited supply of excellent vino paired beautifully with each course, plenty of lemongrass-lime tea and pink lemonade.
Oh, and for a more authentic Goan dining experience, we did eventually make it to Zeebop (“the breeziest shack in Goa”) for crab rolls and butter garlic squid.
Toting: oversized DKNY tote that fits everything and some. Gone are the days where I used it to lug 10kg of groceries home from Lidl in Stockholm every fortnight. Part of said tote’s retirement package is that it gets to go on holiday to exotic locales and not carry more than a magazine, the iPad and water for the road.
Trotting: Trusty havaiianas slim. My college clique gifted me with not one but two pairs for my 21st and I’ve never looked back. In fact, I lived in those havais till they snapped and I (almost too) quickly replaced them with a pair for USD2 while in Rio one summer. Needless to say, for this rough and tumble trip to India, I left the suede Tod’s cap-toe ballerinas safely at home.
Listening: Armin van Buuren trance around the world podcast, cicada chorus outside my room, and uh, not meaning to sound cheesy, the waves lapping against the shore.
Loving: The crazy long list of things to do, the adult high chairs by the bar and Simon (the proprietor’s) humour.
Where I sleep: In the wonderfully restored Vivenda dos Palhacos. And more specifically, the room I stayed in was called Ooty. It was love at first sight when I stepped into the converted kitchen. Seeing how I live to eat, something about sleeping in the ice box resonated within me. As did washing up in the transformed kitchen sink in the morning. Another feature I REALLY liked about the room was the cracked mirrored bathroom that reminded me so much of the Sass&Bide store in Sydney. Mirror mosaic for the win.
What I bring: Sunscreen of the highest power, sunglasses, wide brimmed straw hat, trashy magazines like Cosmopolitan, not-so-trashy magazines like Monocle and Vanity Fair, bug spray, postcards, TravelCalm ginger, iPhone, tons of small change for tips, beggars and itinerant hawkers, antihistamines.
I know it’s a good trip when I return heavier from the food, lighter in the wallet, and with the same number of antihistamine pills (and freckles…) as I left the house with.
Have a wonderful summer and may you have adventures a’plenty!
For more of Jo’s travels in India, go take a gander through m0remysterymeatballs.