By Jaya Biswas

 

Generally people steer clear of the place during the monsoons, but Goa in the rains is the place to be… A sudden trip to Goa during the monsoon, was indeed special. For my friends, it was just another weekend trip. To me, it was not only my first visit, but an ‘ultimate’ Goa experience in every sense of the term; a much-deserved break after two years of working in Mumbai.
A 12-hour overnight journey by train from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, took us to Thivim station on Saturday morning. After hiring a private car we (eight of us) headed straight for our resort in Baga. I could immediately connect with the place. Feasting our eyes on the lush green countryside, it couldn’t have been better.
Goa was at its romantic best. And Baga was beautiful – occupying a small region in the north, next to the more populated, Calangute. We were glad to find out that the resort we chose to stay offered special monsoon discounts.
The weather was lovely… cool breeze followed by bursts of rain smoothed our creased city brows. We didn’t want to spend the afternoon cooped up inside our rooms. It was drizzling as we started walking down the beach with pitter-patter raindrops tickling our senses.
We discovered Valencio, a sea-facing shack on the beach. Normally the shacks disappear during the rains as the sea becomes wilder. The street shops vanish as well. Restaurants operate with just a minimum number of tables. Valencio was the best option we had, and frankly, we weren’t disappointed. The food served was amazing. The coconut-flavoured Goan prawn curry with steamed rice was out of this world.
Post lunch, we managed our way to the nearest market looking for sarongs, slippers and ‘Goa-embroidered’ T-shirts . A speciality there, it could be the perfect gift for friends back home. And boy! The little shops had lovely silver jewellery; needless to mention we were on a shopping spree till late evening.
Too much of ‘walking exercise’ had obviously made us hungry again. And Goa being foodies’ paradise, there was no derth of restaurants. This time we stopped at Brittos for dinner before retiring for the day. One of the popular food joints in Baga, Brittos is known for its lip-smacking prawn curry and prawn chilly fry. It was not only its delectable spread  and décor, but what also kept us glued to Brittos was a quaint little tattoo shop right within its premise, where you simply had to let go of inhibitions and get a tattoo done. Albeit a temporary one, all you had to pay was Rs 350 for a small butterfly, a dragonfly or a cute little devil.
The Sunday morning English breakfast at Infantaria was amazing. Its colonial architecture, aristocratic look and feel were like adding extra maple syrup to the banana pancake we had.
If you have never visited Goa in the rains you will never know the transformation it brings to the state. Usually buzzing with tourists, Goa during the monsoons could also be a loner’s paradise. Sitting in the lounge overlooking the sea sipping your favourite Feni with delicious seafood could be the best way to spend time, which of course we decided to put on hold till our next visit.
Commuting in Goa on rented two-wheelers was most convenient. The clean, dust-free roads were indeed rejuvenating.
Our next destination was Fort Aguada. The greenery around was a sight to behold. Yes, it was the same place where Aamir Khan’s Dil Chahta Hai was shot. The view from the fort was breathtakingly beautiful with trees, crystal clear water and the vast expanse of the blue sky kissing the horizon. A visit to the adjoining lighthouse was equally thrilling. Though the climb to the top was extremely tiring, it was worth it.
After a quick bite, we decided to go back to the resort and get ready for the night expedition which Sasha, a local friend, had already chalked out for us. It was meant to be a surprise for a first-timer like me.
We set out on our ‘mission’, two on each bike. The night breeze was chilly, but our enthusiasm kept us going. Sasha, who now doubled up as our guide insisted we switch off our headlights, in case cops caught us loitering in the wee hours. Having driven for more than an hour, he asked us to halt.
We parked our bikes and found ourselves in the middle of a jungle. Thankfully, it wasn’t cloudy as stars played hide and seek from between the branches and leaves of enormous trees. Once we adjusted to the surrounding, we could hear the low buzzing of the insects and lapping of waves somewhere nearby. Sasha informed we were in one of the remotest areas of Seolim, situated on the banks of river Chapora. Seolim was the last ‘bourgeois’ village in the north of Goa, on the extreme North-West point of the taluka of Bardez. Thankfully, we were carrying mosquito repellants which came in really handy. An enchanting spot, we soaked in the tranquillity, absorbing the sheer magnificence of nature till 3am.
Our drive back to the resort was heart wrenching, but then we had to leave for Mumbai in the next few hours.

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