Wednesday, December 25, 2013


I am a storyteller. I collect stories. Sometimes I am a listener, sometimes the teller and more often than not I star as the protagonist.

My friend SKT recently said emphatically that I needed to lead a cool life so that I would have cool stories to tell my grandchildren. Now all the risks that I take in life, cool things I do are being done for a greater cause—to ensure that my grandchildren will have a cool grandmother. Considering that I am not even married and also have no children, the idea of grandchildren seems like way into the future. However, since taking a stand for a cause is the in thing, I have decided to up my game and collect more interesting stories. Primarily, by leading a more interesting life.

So the first step in this direction was taken a couple of months ago (long before SKT passed her diktat). I applied for leaves, planned a just-me holiday to a destination where people believe going without your friends is a sin. Enough eyebrows were raised when I announced to my family, friends and colleagues that I was heading to Goa all alone. My first solo-trip would be taking me to the west of the country, away from the Delhi chills. Fortunately, a few close friends were supportive. One in particular, let’s call her Jaspinder because she loves this name, was spectacular. She travelled through the roads of Goa to Hampi and then to Gokarna during monsoons (and I like to believe the last part of this sentence) just so that I could make my winter better.

With an itinerary readymade all I had to do was keep my spirits up, pack my bags, and count days to the first day of my vacation. I want the esteemed people reading this blog post to note that Lops or Loofah needs to be given a medal for putting up with my whining as time decided to move at a snail’s pace, especially during the last two weeks before I hit the road.

I think 300-odd words are enough of a preamble and I should start by telling you the details of my trip. This year was about overcoming fears for me. One of the nastiest voices that lives in my head asked me earlier this year, ‘Are you afraid to spend money?’ So, I promptly bought myself a fruity gadget. Then again, it rose its wild head and asked, ‘Are you scared of being alone? Do you like yourself enough?’ And I decided (not in this order) to pack my bags, plan for two months, and spend some time with myself. Just me. Away from everyone I know; love most of the time; hate almost everyday.

So now those of you who were wondering who does that and were polite enough to say it to me have an answer. I do it. For reasons best known to me and thanks to this blog post to the 10 other people who might read it because their names appear in distorted forms. Just to ensure that I spend as long as possible with myself by spending as little money as I could, I pleaded my mom to use one of her passes to book my tickets in a train that takes 40 hours to reach Goa from Delhi. The journey was interesting to say the least. The 60-year-old gentleman sitting in the seat opposite mine was a talkative one. And who better than me to pass that judgment. Fortunately, that was not his only talent. He was a names-dropper as well. Apparently, his super power is to write letters to world leaders, advising them on policy decisions. He went into details about these letters and then about how all the events were occurring in this world to ensure that he rule it soon. He was entertaining for most part. The only time I felt a little troubled was when he interrupted my movie watching by telling me, ‘movie toh beta aap baad mein bhi dekh lo ge. Mujhse baat baad mein nahi kar paaoge.’ By the way, I was watching the Lord of the Rings (trilogy) for the first time ever.

I survived the 40-hour journey without any incident. Uncle snored a lot and then said with full filmy emotion the next morning, ‘neend nahi hui bilkul bhi.’ Apart from that it was all good.

I reached the Madgaon railway station just a few minutes before 6 a.m. The rest house where I am staying, again thanks to my mom’s relentless lobbying, is less than a kilometer walk from the railway station. You would think there is nothing adventurous or interesting about a kilometer long walk. But for a girl, travelling alone, from Delhi, walking in the dark with a suitcase and a bag-pack full of clothes, shoes and fruity gadgets, the walk before the sun had woken up is a BIG deal. You would be happy to know I reached safely and was welcomed with warm smiles which tried to cover the surprise in their eyes to see a solo traveller earnestly.

A quick check-in, a hot bath later I was on the road. A stranger advised me not to travel alone while I waited for a bus at the bus-stop. After losing my patience, not with the stranger but because of the waiting, I decided to hire an autorickshaw for a day. The driver, Jeetendra (I tell you the powers that be also want my life to have a constant filmy element), took me on an 8-hour tour of South Goa. He dropped me off at Fort Aguada. Waited patiently as I came back sweating after exploring the ruins in the scorching sun. Then he convinced me to take the Dolphin spotting cruise (not that I needed too much convincing, it was on my list!). I think he felt a lot of pity for me. He must have thought, ‘Poor girl, has no friends and family also doesn’t seem to love her. I must join her on the boat.’ And there he was on the boat, asking me if I wanted my photograph clicked. The boat was also ferrying a Sikh family. They had interesting questions to ask. After spotting the white, super-sleek ship owned by Vijay Mallaya, the patriarch of the family wanted to know if, Mallaya also took savaaris (passengers) to see dolphins. The son a few minutes later asked of the boat owner if the Indian Navy ship would be available for hire. Now, these statements are funny, because we were at the time sitting in a motorized boat, which did not even have a solid roof. It was covered with a blue net, which hardly managed to save our skins from the sun.

Jeetendra, who for the day was my best friend, left me in peace at Britto’s as I stuffed my face with pieces of the delicious cinnamon apple cheesecake, recommended by Sangy. I booked a beach bed for an hour and just lay listening to the sound of the waves, a young couple coochie-cooing in the adjacent bed, and a loud woman discussing each and every dish on the Britto’s menu sitting on the bed on the other side. To sum it up, I had 5 minutes of quiet and 55 minutes of entertainment.

Jeetendra (I love to say his name again and again), then took upon himself to ensure that I checked one more item on my list. The ‘Facebook friend of original Mika’ also known as Bhishambar, had decreed that I go to Chhapora Fort—the REAL Dil Chahta Hai fort. So I pestered Jeetendra. He said even he had never been to the fort so this was as good a time as any and decided to accompany me to the ruins. The climb to the fort is as close to Roadies as I’ll ever be. One has to walk through slippery small stones covering a steep slope. Fun walk that was. Not once did I abuse the ‘Facebook friend of original Mika’. Cursed her, maybe. But to be fair, the climb was worth the view. Jeetendra’s astute observations ensured that I laughed a lot.

This was the first day of my trip. I am not bored of myself, yet.

Tomorrow I take the bus to explore South Goa.


Anonymous said...

Have an eventful and memorable solo trip! :-)


Indrajit said...

Wowww !! great! enjoy the solo ride and explore your inner self to the fullest. :)

deejthtraveller said...

Very interesting read, especially the uncle's comment on his poor sleep & the Sikh family :D. I will also try Britto's and the fort :)