Friday, February 23, 2007
Five Days In Paradise!
Please note that this trip report is meant to serve as a backup in case my brain's RAM crashes some day. So its pretty long but certainly not boring. Be patient and lets begin....
1) THE JOURNEY BEGINS...
The moment for which planning was on from months has finally come! I reach Neeta travels office with mom and dad alongwith me and my first embarrasing moment arrives- all the people who have gathered are the diploma students whom I have never met before. Finally, a sparkling white Volvo pulls in and so do Anita and Nik. We settle down at the best possible seats and after some discussions with the driver about the route and stops, we begin the Goa journey, mom and dad following in car as "Escorts"!
Thrity minute later, we reach our first pickup point at Centaur hotel, Airport and the first big blunder comes to light! Deepak and Sidd, the two "great" responsible people have reached centaur Hotel, juhu! in the meantime, our two "heroes" finally arrvie with Sidd's mom accompanying them. We begin for our main pickup point-Sion.
By this time, the crowd at Sion had gone restless, and rightly so since we were a good one and a half hours late! Unfortunately, A fake frantic call to Pratik Shah, telling him that we are still at Parle, however did not bring out his usual "Shot mat de re!" The excitement on seeing the huge crowd gathered at Sion "woke" up some of the people. Within 2 minutes, as one by one, everyone climbed in, the bus was packed to its capacity.finally seeing Ishi also coming was a pleasent surprise! Aah! Now its finally looking like a proper Wizards Trip! As promised by me a few days back,. Most of the Sion people didnt know that the front half of the bus had more reclining and comfortable seats and so according to our norm, the last seats were filled first. Anyways, who cares for the comfort yaar!
As we reached Vashi, we stop for answering Nature's Call (only the guys, ofcourse!) and Pranay comes up with a crazy idea of photographing people "in the act".
In two hours, now we are at a small roadside dhaba near Pen for our Dinner break. the looks of the dhaba has already turned off some of the people but there is no choice na!
We settle down and enthusiastically order a variety of dishes but to our surprise, everything from Paneer makhanwala to Veg Korma is the same gravy! The only variety was home made noodles that Deepak has. bad luck for him that little is gonna remain for him to eat with everyone's eyes on it, especially Ishi. The noodles are gone in couple of minutes and Deepak now settles for other food! Pranay, who is already irritated by Antakshari settle with me in the middle rows with Sidd and Yogi behind us for a long night ahead. The bus driver decides to show us the movie "Golmaal". I ask him, "Why cant u play the movies we have brought with us?"
His reply was "Kya kare sahab, koi koi bus wale raat ko 'vo' wale movies lagaate hai na, ab aapke saath me ladki log bhi hai, ab kya batau... sahab samajh gaye na..to checking bahut strict hai!",
Meanwhile, Anoop comes up with the idea of having a question answer session. Yogi comes up with the first one- "Arre Pranay, tere Yahoo ke display pic me bhi ye broken heart wala pic hai aur tere mobile me bhi same pic hai. Iska reason kya hai?"
"Uske paas USB cable hai!", was Anoop's spontaneous reply sending everyone of us rolling in laughter!
As night deepens, one by one peole start gettin sleepy. The 'No sleeping in bus' policy now begins to go down the drain. Sidd is the first one to begin a nap. I start feeling sleepy too but continue with listening to music and gazing out at the star filled night sky as the bus runs through the Konkan villages. Deepak, sitting first is busy singing and Pranay records Deepak version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". After around 12 midnight, almost everyone is asleep except for me, Pranay, Yogi and the singers at the back. We keep ourselves busy appreciating the driver manouvering the ghats as the date changes.....
By around an hour past midnight, Nik is now desperate to answer nature's call but the driver is refusing to stop enroute. Nik's frustration is making him walk up and down the length of the bus, even shouting to the driver, "Arre tu insaan nahi hai kya??!!" Finally, relief comes at Chiplun at 2 am. As soon as the driver stops, all the guys are out on the street, which is empty n chilly, relaxing themselves! back in the bus, its damn chilly now and the blankets provided are proving to be insufficient!
2) GOA.. HERE WE COME...
Its 5 am and everyone is feeling the cold now. Almost everyone is pretending to sleep but the temperature is not favourable! And help arrived at 5.15 am when the driver stopped at a tiny dhaba somewhere in the middle of nowhere! the piping hot tea in the middle of the chilly night is nothing short of a heavenly feeling!
Its Daybreak and we are around Sawantwadi. Panaji is now only 55 km away but the dampener is... rain in November! Finally at around 10 am, Its Goa finally! But not the end of journey yet. One more hour of sightseeing from the bus and we are finally at Colva! The Beautiful blue sea is looking inviting! And the Hotel- Colmar Beach Resort is bang on the beach!
The first room allotted- Room No 48 on 1st floor was immediately snapped up by us- Pranay, Sidd, Yogi, Rohit and myself! Immediately, even before the others get their rooms, Pranay has thrown his clothes around, got his Mickey Mouse towel and he is off to the pool straightaway! Yogi follows suit soon and within no time, almost all Wizards are in the pool! The non-swimmers like me tried and tried to learn swimming but to no avail! After an hour in the pool, and a couple of photographs later, we are back to the room, and Pranay, Yogi and Rohit go for shower together!
For Lunch, we are all at Hare Krishna restaurant where population of flies can easily surpass the entire human population fo Goa! And the food comes really really slow, best part being Nik gets his soup in dessert after lunch is done! The food isnt anything to write home about. The restaurant manager puts an offer which is hard to resist-
"If you have all your meals here and not at Pasta Hut nearby, I will arrange for a free dance party and a campfire on beachside for you!"
Inspite of the flies, we reluctantly agree! Greedy guys!!
We end up the evening with just a photo session on Colva beach. But I didnt know that there is a lot to come.....
Its getting dark and we settle down on the cool and calm beach for a casual chat We walk back tired to the hotel, not ready to hit the dance floor for once! But the music did the trick I guess and we settle for around half an hour of junglee dance, we have dinner consisting of Chinese stuff by the beachside. Post dinner, we set out again for the beach. Now the atmosphere was pure heavenly! Moon shimmering brightly over the sea, the waves crashing against the shore, light music from the beachside bar and cool breeze! What more can one ask for! Maybe it was this atmosphere that made someone suggest that we should talk "bhoot stories"!
Rajendra comes up with the first bhoot story which is not very frightening but very much hilarious! One by one, the stories start cropping up and everyone's in the "bhoot" mood now! Its Milo leading the way with one story after the other, some believable, others not. We dont even realise its 1 am and reluctantly decide to return to the hotel. Everyone goes to sleep giving me the responsibility to open the door when Rohit returns....
3) TIME TO EXPLORE GOA
I open my eyes to find Yogi missing from the room. i wake up Pranay and ask him, "Raat ko Rohit ko andar aane ke liye door kaun khola tha?"
Pranay is shocked to hear this and says,"Abe, tu khud hi to khola tha!!"
I am too embarrassed to even reply to that! I mean, if "I" opened the door for Rohit, how is it possible that I dont remember it!
This is our first "encounter" with the breakfast at Hare krishna. We have rubbery parathas and sugar syrup as Tea served for us. After getting enough 'fuel' for the day, its time to get set to explore Goa. The bus that hotel has provided is of capacity 37, so 7 people have to tour separately for which a Tavera is arranged. Pranay, Yogi, Binu, Pratik Pawar, Ashish, Shrikant, Anita, Rohit, opt for "separation" from the group while the others settle into the mini-bus.
We pass through the beautiful South Goa countryside (though hardly anyone is looking out) and reach traditional Goan museum called Bigfoot. the general mood of the crowd is to skip this point and continue to "more interesting" points. So, off we go again and in the midst of Antakshari and singing, we reach Shanta Durga temple.
This place seems unique. the temple is actually a cross between a temple and a Church. Interesting architecture! We start with the first of the many photo sessions for the day, and luckily we get the first proper group pic here with 33 Wizards together! Cool! Next destination, Mangeshi temple.
We are told in some superbly humourous Goan Hindi with typical English accent that this temple is "kul-devta" of Mangeshkar family and it is a "jagrut devsthan" meaning every wish made here comes true! This is the first place outside Mumbai, where I fond a person who has heard of VJTI! What a pleasent surprise! What we find interesting is a huge chariot lying in the courtyard which we try to (unsuccessfully) pull, providing more photo-ops.Its getting scorching hot now and cool frsh fruits and ice cream here is like heaven! this was going to be a long run upto Panaji, since we had refused to have lunch at a roadside dhaba near Mangeshi.
But before lunch, we reach Old Goa and decide to check out the famous Bom Jesus Basilica, a monument that features prominently on every tourist's list. We check out famous body of some great Saint preserved in the church for more than 300 years. The surroundings look straight out of a European country and so we settle for some extensive photography rounds, in the process even roping in a couple of foreign babes to click our pics and pose with us, which they happily oblige!
Its lunch time and we are in Panaji now. The non-veg eaters finally find a place that serves their kind of food! We veggies settle separately. And its one tiny humble cockroach that scared the shit out of Nikunj! It was a sight to see!
Post lunch, Planning a prank, Ankur comes with a red rose (which is slit from the middle of its stem) and offers to Mona who picks it up from its stem, as a result getting only the stem while the rose remains with Ankur! If that was hilarious, more was yet to come! Deepak, also with a slitted rose, goes upto Ishi and offers her the rose with all sincerity. If it was the smartness or reflex of Ishi, we dont know, but she picks up the rose from the top, thus getting the rose while the stem remains with Deepak!! Now, that's the ultimate misfired prank!
Finally, we manage to reach the first beach on our agenda- Miramar, passing the colorful IFFI Celebration Street enroute. By sunset, we are off to the last destination for the day- the romantic Dona Paula. By the time we reach Dona Paula, its almost dusk. Someone asks whats for dinner tonight at which Kartik comes up with a nice one- "We will have Lesbian Chicken and it will inherit its properties to everyone eating it!" Mona is surely not gonna forget this one as it haunts her throughout the trip! Some night photographs, more requests to Deepak to propose the girl-that-never-existed, a walk on the dangerously dilipidated jetty and we begin the journey back to the hotel, but not before Mundu getting into his crazy elements and offering to remove his Pink shirt which Mona was not liking, and more crazy antics!
Dinner is again the not-so-great stuff at Hare Krishna's. We try to enjoy
the meal in the open air restaurant in the silver sands of Colva beach and post dinner its heading to the beach! Tonight after the regular big group meet, its just a few of us left at the beach. We decide to lie down on the cool silver sand and gaze at the millions of beautiful stars in the clear Goa sky. All this time, the bar on the beach is playing some really soulful music and we dont realise how time flies by and its 1 am. Probably the most amazing and unforgettable hour or two of the trip so far! Heavenly! After some pointless discussions, we retire for the day.
4) TIME TO HEAD TO THE BEACHES!
We get up pretty early and decide to have a stroll on the beach before getting ready for an exciting day ahead.
By now, Pranay had made bigtime enmity with the uncle at Hare Krishna and it ensured in one more fight between the two over poor quality of breakfast. And for once, I believe Pranay is right this time!
Finally post breakfast we settle in the same bus as previous day and the so-called "rebels" depart for some unknown locations separately in the car they had managed to get. Our first destination was to be Fort Aguada, a good hour long drive from Colva.At the fort, we scatter around to explore the remnants as if we are on an archeological mission to find lost treasure. The view from the top is simply mesmerising and no need to say it resulted in a long photo session with no possible permutation-combination of people and no possible corner of Fort Aguada remaining untouched! Next destination- Anjuna beach, again a long drive away.
We reach Anjuna in the blazing afternoon sun making it very uninteresting to venture out too much. Finally we depart for Calangute beach stopping for lunch enroute. The bus driver stopped at some restaurnat in the middle of nowhere for lunch. The lunch was quite managable but it took ages to come. The high point ofcourse being the World's Smallest Masala papads served- 3 of them sitting comfortably side by side in a small plate with some place still left! Post lunch, the guys are quite excited since everyone has heard that Calangute is the place to go firang babe-spotting!
One look at Calangute and it was no different from Juhu beach on a Sunday evening- clogged choc-a-block with tourists of all kinds- from the desi families to firang babes and hippies. We decide to have a stroll down the beach for some "bird-watching" and have a game of beach volley ball before departing for boat cruise at Panaji.
At Panaji, We board an oversize 3-deck 'cruise' boat and take up seats on the open top deck. Meanwhile, someone spots some dolphins in the river and within a few seconds, the entire crowd is jostling for space at the edge of the deck to see the dolphins. There were 4 of them, gracefully swimming in the quiet waters of the Mandovi. The onboard 'performance' was one of a kind with a Goan dude singing (or rather screwing up) Hindi hits in a heavy Goan accent! This is followed by a so-called Russian dance by some very Indian looking babe. What followed next was simply unbearable- a lavani or something similar! And so we all head for the AC discotheque on the lower deck and shake some legs for around an hour till the end of the cruise.
Post cruise, its time to return to the hotel. We board our bus, one passenger extra (Pingu) and start the hourlong journey back to Colva. we head for dinner, where else- our very own Hare Krishna! Today, the dinner is much better, the gravies tasty and the rotis softer or maybe we are just too hungry! Post dinner, we head for the beach as usual.
5) JHINGALALA AND THE WILD NIGHT
After some frantic efforts, We manage to light a bonfire out of waste coconut leaves and wood provided by the hotel and have some tribal dance around the fire. Somehow, Mundu gets really wild and does an unforgettable tribal dance cameo leaving the entire group speechless! However, the bonfire didnt last too long and it was all over before we could even think of sitting around it and doing something. But the festivities were not over. Pooja and some girls alongwith Pratik Shah had managed to bring two cakes- one for someone's birthday falling today and the other- for the Three Semesters Of Unity Of VJ Wizards! We cut the cake amidst shouts of "Three Cheers for VJ Wizards" on the beach itself and the crowd soon dispersed into smaller groups.
It is around midnight and me and Sidd join the Diploma gang- Anoop, Ashwin, Ronald, Binu etc for a walk down the beach and decide to go for ice cream at 1 am to a 24 hour ice-cream parlour just outside the Colva beach bus stand. A bunch of guys having Chilled ice cream at 1 am! It was amazing experience!
Not willing to sleep, we decide to start some pranks. First, we go to the room on Ground Floor where Hambar is sleeping alone with Pranay covering himself with white bedsheet pretending to be a ghost (he anyways looks like a ghost but that is a different matter altogether!) but Sidd shouted "Bhoot!" a bit too early thus the prank misfiring. We rush to Pratik Shah's room on 2nd Floor and barge in shouting that the Watchman is pissed with us leaving the inmates of the room in momentary shock! As we repeat the same prank and barge into Ankur's room similarly, the Watchman actually appears and Pranay decides to confront him.
The Watchman asked, "Kya kar rahe ho?"
Pranay replied, "Baatein kar rahe hai."
"Kis baare me?"
"Andar aake aap bhi suno!"
Now, The Watchman shouted, "Jitna aawaz karna hai beech me jaake karo"
Pranay, pretending to be innocent," beech me kahaa?????..... Oh Ok!! BEACH pe???" leaving the watchman mumbling something but he finally left us alone.
6) THE LAST DAY AND THE WILD GOOSECHASE FOR PARASAILING
Its our last day in Goa and some of the over enthusiastic guys (and girls too) took off on rented bikes to God-knows-where. I set out with Varu to the beach to try para-sailing but as our bad luck would have had it, we are told that para-sailing has been discontinued from today itself due to some problems with the cops. This left us, especially Varu quite disappointed. So, we decide to check out other beaches. The hotel manager informed us about a beach nearby which has para-sailing and to try our luck there, me, Varu and Pingu decide to take an auto-rickshaw to the nearby beach while quite a few people were now ready to take on bicycles and ride all the way to Madgaon.
After a 15-minute autorickshaw ride, We reach a completely deserted beach with the three of us, a couple of local boys and a sole stall owner completing the entire human presence on the beach. Ofcourse, in this situation, para-sailing was out of question and so we decide to take a lone auto-rickshaw out of here to Madgaon lest we are left stranded. We finally meet the cyclist gang at a Madgaon restaurant and as they leave for some shopping, we decide to head back to the hotel. But this time we decide to take the public transport mini-bus to Colva.
The bus that was to take us to Colva was a mini-bus of capacity of around 30 people already packed with 50 people and many more waiting to get in. After literally squeezing in the crowd, the rumbling bus begins its journey, its old speakers blaring out some hip Hindi hits. The crowd keeps on increasing stop after stop and for the first time in my life I realise that Mumbai's local trains in peak hours are not the most crowded things around! This 30 minutes of jammed pack travel in a cramped rash running bus will certainly remain in my memory for a pretty long time!
Meanwhile for the others, the entire afternoon and evening goes in packing stuff and cleaning out the rooms. We stuff all our luggage in one room making it look like a godown and wait for the bus for the homeward journey to begin. Ofcourse, one last visit to the beach, one last look at the silver sands, one last glance at the bar on the sands- our source of free soul stirring music and one last round of photographs before we begin the journey back home...
7) GOODBYE GOA...
Its around six in the evening and our bus for the return journey- a white Volvo arrives at the Colva bus stand. With a heavy heart and heavy hands full of luggage we look back at the hotel and the beach against the golden sunset and settle in the bus.
Some enthusiastic folks make an attempt to start with the same sing-n-enjoy sequence that we had done five days ago. In the meantime, the bus driver decides to treat us to Phir Hera Pheri, a movie no one is interested in watching. Nevertheless, we allow it to beam on the TV screen in the front of the bus. But soon after, i dont know if its the effect of the movie, or the tiredness of five days of enjoyment taking its toll, but one by one almost everyone falls asleep only to be woken up abruptly by the driver for dinner break.
Hesitatantly, we slowly get down from the bus for dinner but some like Anita and Rohit are completely oblivious of the break and continue their sleep! The TV in the restaurant was showing a Twenty-20 match between India and South Africa- Live! This suddenly aroused the cricket fan inside all of us and we settle to some hard cheering match watching in this small hotel in the middle of nowhere, only to be reminded by the driver that we have a long way to go!
Post dinner, the mood is unanimously in favour of going to sleep and even the most hardcore non-sleepers are now in deep slumber as our bus races past the Konkan countryside under a black starlit sky. The night passed by pretty fast and before we could realise the driver reminded us that we are at Pen, a mere three hours from Mumbai and we should take a early morning tea break. So we are back to the 'all-gravies-taste-the-same' hotel where we had stopped five days back, but this time only for tea and refreshments.
We decide to spend the last two hours doing what we do best- Singing! We are still so engrossed in singing that nobody realises that we are already at Sion and half the people have to get down. hurriedly we all get down, bidding an almost tearful farewell to those who have to get down at Sion with a few warm hugs exchanged and many hands shaked. We dont feel like separating but unfortunately the driver is not equally emotional and so he speeds off the bus even before we can get in again, only to stop a few hundred metres ahead, forcing some guys to do a morning jog to the bus.
The feeling inside now is of an uneasy calmness. The mind is suddenly blank. The heart is not ready to accept that the wonderful trip has come to an end. As people get down along the way from Bandra to Andheri, the mind feels more and more lonely. Finally, I alongwith Anita and Rohit get down at Malad leaving the bus to the Borivali residents. As we settle into the car for the journey final back home, I am almost on the brink of crying since it has finally dawned on me that now its back to the normal chores after spending Five Days In Paradise!!!!
- - - - - - - - - -
TailPiece : THIS IS HOW IT ALL BEGAN..
One fine afternoon, Pranay informs me that last evening in the college canteen, a group of around 10 guys have decided to go to Mahabaleshwar after exams and asked me if I wanted to join in. I immediately reply in the affirmative and the same evening, a check with the travel agent, Neeta Travels, springs up a surprise- a tour to Goa would be cheaper than one to Mahabaleshwar! When I conveyed this news to Pranay, he was completely shocked and it was a split second decision to change the destination to
Goa. And as the news was passed on to the class, day after day, the number of people ready to join in increased.
The girls were all mentally prepared, the question now was- who will break the ice first. Finally, Mona was the first one to confirm her presence and this opened the floodgates for the girls. All possible tricks to convince parents were tried and slowly we had 11 girls ready to join in taking the total figure to a mammoth 44!
On the other hand, inspite of program almost confirmed, we decide to ask another tour operator for the same tour and after initial promises he failed to give a decent package, so we decide to go ahead with our Neeta Travels Volvo package. Also, an alternative that creeped out on almost last moment was to go by train- take the Dadar-Madgaon Janshatabdi to madgaon and have an ex-Goa package. After some heated discussions and class split up about train journey, we finally finally decide to go ahead with the original package itself.
On the last day of our exams, post exam, we settle in the middle of the college Quad for money collection and collect Rs 108,000 in cash! But all in all, Five Days In paradise was realised only as a result of this planning and effort and that too all in the middle of the end-semester exams going on! Phew!!
My World...My Views by The Blue Indian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.