Saturday, December 9, 2017

When I paused chasing - Goa Travelogue

In life many times I keep chasing something or the other. Either it is ensuring the kid is fed on time, or rushing to work on time, or completing a project before the deadline or keeping regularly scheduled tasks completed as per requirement on time.. Some days I feel that I need a pause button somewhere so that I stop running around and start taking in one moment at a time! And then it happened for three magical days..

 Thanks to my workplace for gifting me a trip to Goa.. Ideally it had to be a trip with work colleagues, but the bosses approved to take family and also sponsored tickets and stay for them. This was extremely nice of them.. Having a two and a half year old kid in tow, I had to play catch up with the speed of my bachelor and newly married colleagues.. But this time I let go of the catch up and chasing game.. For 3 days, I merely soaked myself of the experience of being in a beautiful place and that is it!! It has been quite a while since I have updated this space..So I thought..why not capture the wonderful experience of my maiden visit to Goa here..

Goa has still preserved her natural beauty to some extent though now we have real estate rearing its ugly head in this gem of a place..The sea and the forest all entwined close to each other..It has the charm of the Indo-European architecture and cuisine so much in abundance.. In the course of my brief span of stay, I also bumped on artists in every gully weaving his/her own dreams unapologetically..

One simple rule helped us sail through the trip comfortably - our priority one was kiddo's comfort.. We may have faltered at few moments..But overall I was happy by the way we did this trip..This was kiddo's maiden trip sans grandparents.. So the onus was now on us to keep him well fed and well rested and well settled.. Kiddo proved to good trooper.. He loved the bike rides through which he would invariably fall asleep..He tried different cuisine at the various places that we stopped over and was overall majorly co operative though he insisted on being carried only by me all the time..As he was happy..overall we all were happy..

Day 1:

We started off the trip with an adventure..M , kiddo and I  did a late check in with my colleague R's family and the boarding gates got closed.. We could not check in our luggages and had to tow them to the air craft on the own. Thankfully as we were traveling with kids, we got escorted till boarding. It was around 7 am on a Sunday morning when we landed Goa. It was a beautiful morning with pinkish hues. The ride from the airport to the the hotel at Calangute in the cab was so scenic. The harbor, the dock, the sea and the up and down roads that led to North Goa had its many beautiful sights which are stored for eternity in the recesses of my mind..

We checked in early to the hotel and were not provided rooms.. So most of my morning was spent at the hotel restaurant feeding and freshening up kiddo. Then when we got our bike, we pushed out to a Church.. We were the first to reach the church in our group and that was the only place that I visited with my colleagues as group..Since then kiddo, M and I kinda drifted to a different direction.. Post the church visit we explored the streets around it.. For lunch, M took us to an awesome restaurant "Ritz Classic". It was the first place where I tried a pan fried mussel served in the Goan way..

We then rode back to the hotel and we had planned for the Candolim beach for the evening.. Again here we reached slightly earlier than the rest of my colleagues .. So just for keeping kiddo occupied we ordered some starters in  a local beach side restaurant. It was a quaint European themed beach restaurant cum bar..I fed kiddo french fries, let him play with the cocktail glass umbrella, took in sips of the awesome pine apple mock tail , breathed in the fresh beach breeze and in general let time stand still.. Candolim beach was the first place where I saw beach side tattoos and hookah..It is such a pretty sight on a full moon night .. With a kid however , we were slightly anxious to not spend too much time there and we just headed back to the hotel.. I put kiddo to sleep around 10 pm and then caught up my colleagues on their pool side dinner hoping that next day , I would get to spend more time with them..

Day 2 :

Prior the actual visit, our group had booked tickets for water sports activity on Day 2 in the Baga beach.. Kiddo had woken up early so I was anticipating that he would sleep of by the time we would reach the water sport venue.. Nature however had other plans.. The tide was high in the oceans and the waves were angrily kicking in the shore.. So our water sport activities for the day got cancelled.. It was a sunny morning around 10:00 am.. I had rushed through a fast breakfast so that I can be in on time.. And then this happened!! So I checked in a beach shack with the view of the angry ocean. I ordered myself toast, fried eggs and a Jamaican breezer and settled down with the sleeping kid.. My colleagues were all ready to explore the next beach.. but by then I had not much energy to rush around.. I finished off breakfast calmly and then stopped over for shopping.. I did a fish spa and M got hats and shorts..

We were back to the hotel around 3 in the evening and that was the time I saw my other colleague R starting to Chapora fort with his kid and wife.. The rest of the team had already pushed off and I really wanted to do this place.. M was slightly wary and tired .. R and I kinda pushed M for another 45 mins ride and I can tell you that the ride was totally worth it.. When we reached the fort, it was a steep uphill climb for at least 9-10 mins. Kiddo had  slept off again.. So it was on the M to carry him uphill. There were many moments when he wanted to give up..But R pushed in to go further till we made to the top.. The rocky hill , the ancient fort , the yellow grass and the silver grey ocean on a windy day was so surreal.. It is here when cyclone Ockhi gave us a mini thrill.. Suddenly there was a gust of wind and the sand and the rocks were up in the air... The kids started to get super cranky..Black clouds were making their way towards us.. M  being him insisted  that we should do the downhill immediately.. Kiddo woke up and I was simply trying to shield kiddo's eyes from the wind and the sand and trying to contact the rest of the group.. As the phone network was poor, and the weather getting dangerous we then decided to go downhill.. Then a  slight drizzle started.. I had only carried a small hand bag with minimum essentials and was super anxious that kiddo should not catch a cold.. Half way through our ride back on my insistence, we stopped over on a road side bar for shelter till the drizzle subsided.. On our ride back kiddo was awake.. I figured out a friendly way of seating him on the two wheeler for long rides- with his face facing my chest and legs on either side of the bike.. We talked with each other in baby language about the green fields, coconut trees, the tamarind trees and the pretty homes and churches that were on our way back to the hotel..

Post Chapora fort we still had the Calangute beach to cover.. We both would have preferred staying back in the hotel..But as we had still got to do dinner some where outside , we started off to the beach. I was wondering why Calangute beach was having  a narrow entrance as per Google maps.. Later on we realized that we ended up going to a private beach of a resort hotel.. I gave the direction now and I suggested M to move towards the lights of the restaurant.. This restaurant was a fairy tale come true for me.. It had a live band of soft rock, the waiters were ushering in guests in their evening finery.. There was a lovely garden lit up with fairy lights knitted through the pink and green foliage of the bougainvillea.Candles were lit at every table.. The apple crumble ice cream, passion fruit panacotta and the hot chocolate drink I had was so yummy ..  M and I took turns to take care of kiddo and have food.. By the time we finished dinner it would have been 9 pm.. We bought  fluorescent bangles for kiddo and made way back to the hotel through the moon lit avenue.. We shopped few dresses and in the hotel, I dropped in to catch up with colleagues. Here kiddo threw a super tantrum.. I took him back to room, fed him oranges, banana and milk and around 10: 30 pm he drifted to sleep.

Day 3:

We woke up late this day!! Around 8:00 am.. My colleague R had already started to Panjim to visit the church.. The rest of the team was starting when I headed down for breakfast.. It was predicted that this day would have drizzle and rains all day.. So M and I decided to visit places only in 5 km radius.. I dressed up in the typical Goan style with dresses got in the Calangute beach and donned a beach hat. We visited a  local church only to find it closed.. We took many pictures and absorbed the beauty of the place.. We checked out a local art gallery and got T shirt and funky badges in a designer studio.

And then the inevitable happened.. It rained ! M got super drenched.. We stopped over on way back to the hotel to get bananas for kiddo and it rained again!! We dropped in a local German bakery to take in rest and calm down an angry kiddo who lost his fluorescent bangles in the hurry to get shelter from the rains.. Kiddo created enough havoc in the bakery to throw us out.. Thankfully the rains stopped and M being the person whom he is got us banana walnut cake and mango cheese cake through all the confusion.. In the hotel, I fed kiddo cake, pomegranate and bananas and gorged through bites of the awesome mango cheese cake.. We still had not taken our lunch.. M had discovered "Anand Sagar" - A Bombay styled Udupi restaurant.. We had yummy masala dosa and pav bhaji.. Unfortunately kiddo refused a bite of any of this food and was super cranky for sleep. Thankfully we finished off lunch soon and pushed back to the hotel to take some rest.

In the first couple of days, I fed kiddo some rotis packed by MIL , snacks and fruits brought from Chennai. By the last day evening, my reserves got depleted. I was not very happy in the way kiddo had taken in food on the last day.. Again thanks to M- he found out this wonderful restaurant for dinner- "South". The spread was traditional coastal cuisine.. I ordered myself a crab soup and kiddo vegetable stew and appam..M had ordered stuffed egg dosa and traditional Goan style chicken curry for himself.. Kiddo gorged on all the vegetables in the stew and I was very happy as the vegetables very clean, beautiful,well cooked and non spicy - just like home food for kiddo. I took appam and chicken curry.  Post dinner, we shopped for cashews for home , sweets for M's workplace friends and souvenirs for my mom and bro. We then returned back to hotel and I fed kiddo biscuits and milk and put him to sleep. Then M and I packed our bags for the journey back home.

Day 4:

We woke up around 4 am.. My colleagues have thoughtfully booked a tempo for the journey to the airport.. Kiddo had slept like a baby till we boarded the flight.. All hell broke loose when we were landing.. Here we had a cranky kid who had not had his morning milk and is hungry..and on top of it..he wanted to move around in the flight.. When the flight was descending he started getting pain in his ears.. I tried distracting him by feeding muruku..All in vain..He finally he pulled my hair and  bit my lips much to my embarrassment in front of all my colleagues.. Thankfully the flight landed..We were the first to whisk out our luggages out of the baggage counter.. We bid adieu to my colleagues. Mom and Dad were waiting to receive us at the airport. And happily with beautiful memories, we headed back home.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Parakkum Raasaliyae!

I have become a bit laid back in catching with music lately..Then I encountered this song.. which is so beautiful..  So I did hit the publish button in blogger after the longest break.. Gautum Menon, ARR, Thamarai and Carnatic Fusion music is a magical combination !