Sunday, October 7, 2012
(Disclaimer: now that everyone is writing about their Goa-trips, I too dug out this old write-up of a holiday I had in Goa a few years ago. Old it may be, but still it will be entertaining if you want to get a bird’s eye view of how to live it up in Goa.)
It was the blessed day after the final exams and all the world was at peace- except me, for my peace was disturbed by a strident call on my mobile phone, which I successfully avoided picking up till at least 10 rings and then had to. It was my useless friend who had called me and woke me up just when I was trying to catch up on lost sleep. “what Bobbs?” I asked in an exasperated tone...the exams had just got over yesterday and I was trying to get a head start on all the lost sleep of the past few weeks and here was this fellow disturbing me already. I was up to here with my friends, sick of their faces, as I was sick of college and sick of studies and especially sick of exams- all I wanted to do was turn over and go back to sleep.
But Bobby had some news which perked me up “Machan, do you wanna go to Goa for a vacation?” he asked. That did the trick – I woke up faster than you could get me to if you poured a bucket of cold water on my face. “You serious?” I asked him back and he said “yes...I have already spoken to our usual gang, Raj and Karthi are ready to come with us...we will leave this weekend.” “That’s just three days away Bobby..What are we gonna do for tickets and stuff? I asked him- for I was usually the one sober guy of this over-hyper gang always assessing the odds realistically whenever the guys wanted to do crazy stuff (and BTW, every gang needs one like me to keep them grounded). Bobby waved off my objections “all taken care of, courtesy online travel portals. I have booked rooms there in a beach resort on Baga beach and got flight tickets for our return trip on Go-air. But we have to adjust on our trip to Goa- only three days left to Friday and I just couldn't get any flight or even train tickets. We will have to go by bus- from here to Bangalore and from there onwards to Goa. But it only one way, on our return we are going to travel in style – our first flight trip...yay” I couldn't believe Bobby was this cheerful this early in the morning given the amount of alcohol he had consumed the previous night in the post-exam party. But you could never tell- some guys just dint get the meaning of a hangover- they had heads like rocks.
So there we were, all four of us at Majestic Circle, Bangalore where the central bus stand was bright and early on Saturday morning, courtesy an early morning sleeper deluxe bus from madras- for Bangalore is just 5 hours away by road from madras and however late you try to board a bus here they are going to drop you off in an unearthly early hour in Bangalore, aren’t they? Well after making use of a temporary room for hire at a local lodge to freshen up and have breakfast we hit the brigade street/mg road circle- for shopping. After all we were going to Goa- land of the sea and sun and we needed to stock up on costumes like half pants and 3/4the pants and in-your -face slogans printed (cuss words/obscenity) t-shirts and stuff the likes of which we wouldn't be caught dead wearing in our hometown. But that’s what vacation is for, isn’t it? A place to go crazy and do stuff you wouldn’t normally do in front of your home crowd?. Anyway we caught the afternoon bus from Bangalore to Goa- an ordinary bus this time with all its attendant clanging and shakings and which required us to climb down and walk up the road in two places that evening when the road (the ghat road) was steep crossing the Sahaydri mountains in the Karnataka/Maharashtra border and which finally dropped us off early the next day in Goa.
Goa was everything we had heard about. The place literally rocked from day to night and night to day. We did all the touristy things- like waking up in the morning and hitting beach after beach after beach to dunk our heads in the sea before even brushing/bathing in the morning and trying out all the water sports like paragliding, sea biking etc. we also gorged on the local food- awesome Konkani cuisine with a Portuguese touch- fish/crabs/prawns staple dishes, available everywhere we went around Goa and the taste rocked in even the smallest of beach-shack restaurants. The nights were equally filled with rounds of dance spots and discos where the cover charges paid at the entrance also provided you with the company of a co-dancer for the night- which system I highly recommend for our local madras discotheques to solve their perennial stag invasion problems.
The only regret I had in my time in Goa was the entire absence of the smell of coffee. For someone accustomed to waking up to the fragrance of bed coffee daily- Goa literally gets on your nerves- due to the abundant supply of alcohol available but nary a coffee anywhere. By the third day I was up early and walking all over the town in searching of the ubiquitous Nair tea shop- which I was sure that I would find somewhere or other...after all, these guys were even in the gulf countries- selling chai to Arabs- why wouldn't they be here? But no such luck. All the wine shops and bars were open at 6 '0 clock in the morning but you cannot get a single coffee anywhere.
By the end of the trip, exhausted though we were the excitement of our first flight trip beckoned and we packed and set off for Panaji airport promising to be back for next Christmas again to Goa (we actually did it- went back the following two years too- a hat trick of sorts- but that’s a story for another day).We reached the counter of Go-Air and checked in our bags and when we got the boarding passes my friend booby who was trying to chat up the pretty girl on duty at the counter with a oh-so-innocent “oh my gosh this is our first plane trip..We are all so excited. Can you give all of us window seats so we can enjoy watching the flight getting up and landing?” The pretty girl would have none of it. She must have seen a lot of such characters over the years and she shook her head sweetly but said with steel in her voice “i am sorry sir, that’s just not possible we have already allotted all our windows seats to early boarders. You will just have to adjust with these” and she shoved them back right into his face and turned her head aside and pretended to be busy with something else.
Bobby came back crestfallen and told us that he had been unable to procure us the window seats he had challenged he would get. But as he passed around to each one of us our boarding passes and we saw the seat numbers printed on them -from 33 to 36”, our friend raj, whom we always affectionately called by the nickname mama, gave a low wolf whistle and said “guys turn around slowly, no sudden movements you idiot, slowly, casually and check out the mom and daughter sitting behind us”. He had been facing us all this time and he had caught sight of something behind us. So we all slowly and casually turned around and we saw a (what looked like) mother and daughter, a hyper hip couple, wearing identical t-shirts and skirts, seated on the waiting room chairs and clutching boarding passes in their hands bearing the numbers 32 and 37.
Controlling our sudden excitement, slowly, slowly, we backed off and bobby was soon reeling with the back slaps and hi-fives “you dog” said Karthi, “how did you pull this off? I never would have believed it if someone had told me earlier about this” bobby preened and pirouetted around as if he had planned and pulled it off all by himself instead of getting blind lucky. For the other two had not been around the counter watching Bobby’s compelling performance like I had been and they didn’t guess what really had happened.
As the flight was announced and we went forward to join the line-up to board, Raj pulled us all back “wait for it, join the line in the back”. When Karthi asked the obvious “why?” and he said “just so to make sure that they board first and are settled in their seats fully by the time we reach them. Otherwise they might ask to change seats and get away from us” we nodded our heads in wise agreement and then only then, we pulled out our tickets to check out the numbers printed on them, for the mother had a boldly printed 37 seat number pass in her hand which put her in the right-most corner window seat and by default her daughter had the left-corner window seat on the opposite end of the aisle. Consider my surprise to find that I had the number 33 with me, which put me right next to the daughter and karthi had 34 beside me which was the aisle seat and bobby had the other aisle seat 35 and lucky dog raj had what he always wanted – the middle seat beside the sexy aunty.
And as we walked up to join the line- I could literally see the wheels churning inside Bobby's brains. He wanted either one of the middle seats, didn’t mind much which, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. But before he could open his mouth, Karthi struck first, in a wheedling pathetic voice he asked “Machan, machan, please da will you let me sit in the middle? I don’t like aisle seats, whenever I travel and the vehicle goes a bit fast I feel like vomiting and sitting inside I can’t reach over to the window fast enough to lean outside and vomit so I will end up vomiting all over you”. I thought fast – this guy was literally capable of doing it- vomiting over me...why risk it? So I told him “here’s my ticket, you can sit in the middle seat beside that girl.But take care that in 10 or 15 mins after the flight lifts off you start throwing up and then request the girl to exchange her seat with yours and move her into the middle seat between both of us, deal?” I asked him and he agreed and we shook hands and exchanged boarding passes.
Bobby, left with no other option now, asked raj causally “mama do you want to sit in the aisle seat and rub all the air hostesses thigh's, as they pass by you every time?” as if he wasn’t interested in such a thing himself and considered it below his usual standards. But Raj was too experienced a player to fall for it and he shook his head with a sigh “you know, Bobby, I would love to, but I am feeling soo sleepy that I can’t keep my eyes open even now. I am gonna plonk myself in the middle seat without disturbing anyone and nap off and let you enjoy feeling up all the passing air hostesses all by yourself”. That would have fazed anyone but my buddy bobby was made of sterner stuff. Non-plussed by this clever brush-off he put his brain into active drive, trying to think of a way to outsmart the smart mouthed raj. And he did it in a totally unexpected way which took all of us by surprise for its ingenuity.
As we were walking down the tunnel to board, bobby casually mentioned to raj “hey, is that your hand luggage tag that just fell down?”...Raj turned his head to look back and while his concentration was fully occupied in checking the ground for the so-called fallen baggage tag, Bobby in one astonishingly swift sleight-of-hand move pulled out Raj's boarding pass which was peeking out from Raj’s shirt pocket and shoved in his own. Raj might have caught a glimmer of that move in the corner of his eye, but he didn’t guess what had happened due to all the distractions around. As I and Karthi looked on in awe, bobby waved to us the coveted pass which he had just now- pick pocketed off his best friend and went inside the plane.
We got in without any more ado and settled into the seats with our allotted numbers. I was on the Right aisle seat, Karthi beside me in the middle and the girl on the furthest right window seat and on the other side of the aisle, Raj on the aisle seat, Bobby in the middle and the aunty on the left window seat. The plane left on time and Karthi beside me, clutched my hand tightly as if we were newlyweds on our honeymoon, I didn’t realize till then that he was afraid of flying and this guy wanted a window seat? Hmm!! He was even risking his phobia to sit beside a girl.Why so desperate? I thought. When the seat belt lights finally went off, everyone relaxed a bit and people stretched and got up. And Bobby, whatever he had been doing till then beside the aunty must have excited him, so he got up and went back to the toilet in the rear of this plane. And then something happened which took us all by surprise.
Our friend Raj leaned over and whispered to the aunty in the window seat. She nodded her head and turning over to our side said in a loud voice “Beti, these people want a window seat, it’s their first time on a plane it seems, you come here and sit beside me”…the girl beside us looked at her mother, nodded and got up and moved over to the other side of the aisle where she got into the middle seat between her mother and our friend Raj, who in one swift blow had got both mom and daughter to himself in a second and left us (me and karthi) both agape with this adroit move of his. When Bobby came back to sit beside his hard won seat beside the aunty, he was politely pointed to the window seat in the corner (beside karthi) triumphantly by Raj who said with barely concealed glee “Bobby, Madam has been so good to give up that window seat you wanted..Enjoy your trip” and he promptly leaned back in his seat with a contented sigh and closed his eyes….the look on Bobby’s face? Priceless.