So Nicky made a very wise decision (which is quite usual for her) and decided not to invest in the property boom in Delhi. Even better, she decided to buy a house in Goa.
After pushing the builders to finish the construction on time, she finally got a date to take possession of her “ghosla” .. it was the 8th of December. Amidst several rounds of copious drinking, we realized that much work needs to be done to make that into a livable place. The house is in south Goa, somewhere near Colva beach. The more relaxed part of Goa, away from the “party goa” of Anjuna and Vagator.
Furniture ! That was the big ticket item. As the resident “vela” , I was asked to go furniture shopping. We went to a place in Okhla and looked at some antique (or antique lookalike) furniture. Nicky made a second trip and bought herself a truckload of stuff. Shipping cost to Goa : Rs 10,000. The stuff was due to arrive on the 9th, so we had to be in Goa to receive it. Nicky and I decided to make a trip to do the formalities of the house, and to set up the place.
Ruchi came back from her U.S. trip, and was not very happy that she had not been invited. So she and Waseem decided to tag along too. We decided to be a little prudent, and actually made a list of things we would need to furnish the place (and to survive for the few days without furniture of any kind). For reference, the list is available here.
We flew to Goa on the 6th, with tons of extra baggage. Physical. And some emotional. Oh, BTW… the furniture delivery folks were TOO punctual. They decided to deliver the day before we were supposed to reach. Luckily, Gina (the builder) agreed to put it in storage in another unfinished house.
We arrived at the house in the afternoon. And were quite taken aback. The floors were all covered in sawdust. Apparently this was so that they would not get spoiled during the finishing coat of paint. And during the installation of the doors. Yes, there were no doors on any room. Luckily, there was a door on the bathroom, but no latch. So we had to sing (or make appropriate noises) while showering or crapping, as a indicator-of-presence. Luckily, no untoward interruptions were reported !
Gina (let me tell you about Gina later!) got another room cleaned up, and we set up mattresses for the night. I managed to install a fan in one of the rooms (yep .. i can do that .. it was rotating in the right direction, and it has not fallen off yet). Rented scooters, and went for dinner to Martin’s Corner. That was the only meal in Goa I could not really enjoy. The airplane food, and the random sandwiches made sure that my stomach was in no mood to accept a pomfret offering. We made some necessary purchases (read beer and vodka and orange juice) and headed back home to a well deserved odomos-aided sleep.
Next morning we were woken up by the insane sound of a rooster crowing, and christmas carols being blasted at full volume (with jhankar beats. to the uninitiated, that means a remix). To get over the rude awakening (literal), we started on a nutritious breakfast of potato chips and warm orange juice. Mixed with vodka, just to disinfect it. With this uplifted mood, we started on the 30 km drive to Palolem.
The highway is pretty good, and the traffic is light enough not to be a major hazard to life and limb. It took us about an hour and a half to cover the distance. I will not say too much about the beach : it is quiet and less crowded as compared to the northern beaches, and perfect for a little R&R. We parked our butts in a nice shack, and started on a steady diet of mojitos. Food was ok, drinks were strong, and the water was just perfect. I think I got to ingest equal quantities of all three that evening !
On Monday, we decided to go to a nearby beach to chill out. We explored Benaulim, and Nicky had to leave us in the middle to take care of some formalities for her house. I dont know if that was a good omen, but we asked the waiter at the shack (Hard Rock) for some stuff, and wonder of wonders, we found some ! We had to pay about twice the market price (in MY estimation), but it was excellent stuff. So please excuse me if I am a little hazy on the happenings from that point forward ! I do remember having to triple ride the scooty back to the house, pick up Nicky and come back. I also remember getting absolutely smashed that night.
This is a picture of Nicky’s hands, after the registration of the house. They take fingerprints for positive identification.
The next few days were a combination of chilling out at Colva, Benaulim and Sernabatim. The highlight was the discovery of the excellent “Zebop” on Uttorda beach, quite close to the house. It is an amazing place, with great food. The beach is very chilled out too. The lowlight was the food at a place called “Sinatra’s Chilli”. It was a choice forced upon us by the time of night and the intensity of our appetites. Even that was not enough to offset the crappy food.
We did manage to catch a full moon party (quite lame, i must say) on Benaulim beach, at a place called Hawaii. It was quite an interesting night at that beach, with a movie in one shack and a indian classical performance in another. It was quite interesting to see “Mr Bones”, I cannot believe that such a stupid movie can be conceived by humans. Was probably used for extracting confessions at Gitmo. Is probably classified as a torture instrument by the UN.
The party had some fire dancers, and the venue was quite trippy, with glow in the dark paintings. I managed to get some nice pics there. It was not happening enough (or we were not high enough) to actually contribute to the dance floor.
On Nicky’s birthday eve, we decided to go to party in the north. We rented a car and drove down. Well, I drove. There is a place called West End where we ended up at around 11.30 pm. Well, we did turn up there at around 9, and were informed that the party does not start till later. So we went for some food (again, crap) and came back. But at least we were able to avoid entry charges ! Good trance music, the DJ was a woman, quite cute in fact (or maybe the music made her look that way), and even though the place was not packed, there was a good vibe going. Some Dutch people were recruited into singing “Happy Birthday” for Nicky. And we ended up driving back at 2 am.
Oh, BTW, Ruchi, Waseem and I decided to postpone our return by a couple of days. But Nicky was leaving the next day, so we dropped her off at the airport after another fantastic lunch at Zebop. But we still had not bought her a birthday cake. No issues, we would stop by at the Park Hyatt pastry shop. But we did not count on the enhanced security (this was just after the Bombay incident). We managed to bluff our way past one checkpoint, but even Nicky’s magic failed to work at the main gate. In the end, Ruchi managed to beg and plead her way inside, and procured a chocolate cake. But, no knife. So Ruchi produced a credit card (unused, she assured us), and we celebrated Nicky’s 25th.
We only had to return to the airport once. Ah yes, i remember, we were out of beer, and bought a couple of Kingfishers on the way. I think Goa is the only place, where when you buy beer from a car window, the guy asks you if he should open it ! So anyway, we just had to make one return to the airport because Nicky had forgotten to take her laptop from the car. But she safely managed to catch her flight, with time to spare. I think it was possible only because the flight was at 4 in the afternoon.
The house was getting into progressive states of readiness all this time. The furniture was bought in, assembled, and the cupboards were filled. We had latches on the bathroom doors by now (and I could finally crap in peace). Nicky’s favorite orange dining table acquired some use marks. The kitchen tiles were put up. A refrigerator was bought and stocked up with beer and vodka. Final coats of paint were being done. In short, the house was much closer to livability than when we had arrived. And thats the crux, it would not have happened if we had not arrived there and pressured them to finish up. When we landed up, all the workers were amazed when we told them we would be staying in the house !
The 3 remaining peoples did manage 2 more trips to the north. The “Shore Bar” at Anjuna was great, with the sea literally washing the bottom of the steps. One night, walking back from the place, we decided to light up on the way. And it seems that Waseem dropped all our supplies on the beach. We reached Paradiso, and I could not find the pack. I managed to convince the two of them to go back to the beach and look for it. I am sure that if we were even a tad bit more sober, we would not even have tried to do such a thing. Imagine trying to find a cigarette pack sized object on the beach. In the dark. Without a torch (yeah, we had one, but had conveniently left it at home). But we did look for it, and did find it !!! I attribute it to good dog karma. I was the one who had fed the leftovers to the dogs at Shore Bar. They were fish bones, but as Navin had convinced me earlier, indian stray dogs are all cool with that.
We never did go into Paradiso (the music sounded like crap), and West End was also closed, so we ended up just driving back. We came back to West End on Saturday night, where we realized it was a gay night. Lots of local goa boys waiting to be picked up. Maybe two or three cute chicks. Was never comfortable enough to enjoy myself all night. I was just trying to cover my ass.
I am always amazed at how things work out if you dont care too much. We managed to leave the house keys one night, and had to wait for the workers, who just happened to have a duplicate set. We managed to find our way around in the middle of the night, inspite of contradicting road signs and the collective wisdom of a frog between all of us. Such is life.
So, I must say it was a great experience, something like the hostel trips of the past, sleeping on the floor on mattresses, breakfasting on vodka and beer, not caring to shower or be clean (well, that was just me, i guess, Waseem actually showered twice a day. thats why there is a water shortage in india). Managed to see a uniquely indian sight of four people leading a water buffalo into the sea. No, I am not using euphemisms here. It was actually a buffalo. And it seemed to be enjoying the surf.
Have some great pics to show for it too, although Ruchi and Nicky have made threats on my life if I put these on the web without their approval.