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Goa – a fun getaway for many, a quiet find-yourself for some, a food and drink binge trip for many, an exploration of fine world-cuisine for some, a paradise for many, a paradox for some. Goa offers so many different things to so many different people… Its as varied as it’s beaches – some golden, some white, some rocky and some powdery. And often, all the different fascinating facets of Goa come alive and leave you breathless with your experience of them in that one single trip, no matter if it’s the blazing sun like right now, or when it pours down in glorious torrents on the heaving, restless sea in the monsoons, or when its BBQ, beach raves and Sunburn time in the winters!  Morjim beach

I have lost count of the number of times I have been to Goa – on family holidays, adventure with friends, conference with colleagues, or simply some quiet, downtime with the hubby. But this time, I wanted to go it alone – completely and unequivocally alone! So I booked a last minute train ticket, blindly picked out the no.1 Homestay as per Tripadvisor, making a booking with Ayesha Madon, the warm and friendly owner, in one phone call, and went off on a quiet soul-searching voyage. And it turned out to be one of the most memorable trips of my life – an adventure that I would heartily push every girl into take up at some stage in their lives… or, how about right NOW? 🙂

Here are a few scraps from my daily musings, a diary of thoughts captured in MY GOA PAGES

Day Zero

Off to Goa alone, leaving behind a trail of concerned questions, envious protests and hearty encouragement… a great start already 😉 How I love my girlfriends!
So… For the next few days, you get to live through my travels and travails right here…The fun, the frustrations, the epiphanies and the not-so-funnies will be recounted, hopefully frequently…
For now, as the train pushes off from the station abruptly, I am struggling to finish a mound of canary-yellow Chicken Biryani bought from REFRESH canteen at Mumbai’s CST station for Rs.89…

A canary-yellow Chicken Biryani from the CST canteen Refresh... huge portion, amazing price!

A canary-yellow Chicken Biryani at Mumbai CST

Not so much a Biryani as a Curried Chicken with gravy, topped with plenty of Yellow Rice, but a huge portion and immensely satisfying! But hey, how does the ‘Hot Gulabjamun’-wala on the train know I have a fetish for these delicious deep-fried mouthfuls??? Gosh, these are so GOOD!

Day One

(Train stopped early in the morning at a small station in the middle of nowhere for nearly 2 hrs. The station looked like a large, airy Portuguese cottage with red and yellow balustrade,pink potted plants, and white garden benches… Pretty!)

 

A quiet little station, far away from anywhere, early morning...

An early morning view of a quiet little station, far away from anywhere…

Its somehow liberating to step down to the empty platform of a tiny station at 7 am, with most people on the train still sleeping (read snoring inexorably!). The slight chill, the thicket of cashew trees and the quietude of the crisp morning hugs you as you take small sips of a too-hot, too-sweet coffee, waiting for the signal to turn green, and the train to resume its journey with a short impatient hoot…

My home for the next few days is this blissful haven, Capella. Charming cottage resting against the slope of a hill in Arpora, with swaying trees and enormous rooms, an infinity pool and an infinite view from my balcony, an open courtyard with a wooden swing and… an ‘Honesty Bar’ where YOU write down what you have consumed! Not to forget the 3 happy dogs (a sheep-y Rottweiler amongst them!) and 2 very snooty cats! And here’s my hot, welcome lunch – Brown Rice Pulao with Chicken Kofta, Chicken Dhansak and Fresh Garden Salad.

Capella's courtyard with a swing and tiled roof

Capella’s courtyard with a swing and tiled roof

My large room with a 4-poster bed and exquisite writing desk

My large room with a massive 4-poster bed.

A 'welcome-home' Parsi meal at Capella...

A ‘welcome-home’ Parsi meal at Capella…

Go With The Flow… Just what I’m doing in Goa! And that’s how I chanced on this Mediterranean-Brazilian restaurant overlooking the mouth of the Baga River.

Moonrise on Baga Beach

Moonrise on Baga Beach

White cages perched on a high canopy at Go with the Flow, Baga

White cages perched on a high canopy at Go with the Flow, Baga

The national elections having played dampeners to everything here, most favourites like Cavala, Hype, Club Cubana and even Tito’s are looking funereal! So after driving up n down in my current jalopy, lovingly named WAGGY R, I drove till the tip of the Baga outcrop n then spotted a curious-looking structure up amongst the tree canopies. I soon ended up sitting inside a white, fibre-weave globe atop a 2-storey high platform overlooking the languid Baga and the restless Arabian Sea. Digging into a Grilled Red Snapper En Papillote, served on a really thin slice of Caramelised Pineapple was nice. And meeting Brazilian Chef Guto Sauza n his wife over wine was even nicer! Day One… Big tick!

My trusted friend - Waggy R

My trusted friend – Waggy R

But wait…

On the way back home in the dark, I took a sharp left turn to enter Capella and almost drove in through the gates of an abandoned villa… classic scene of creepers, overgrown weeds, gray look of a horror mansion, looking scarier in the half-light from the car headlights! Luckily, it did not end in horror for me, as I realised my mistake, quickly backed out and sped off to take the next turn into my own well-lit, welcoming forest retreat and villa. Phew!

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