Wednesday, October 14, 2015



It was a dark and stormy night. Actually no. The night was, if anything, particularly starry. The waves were gently lapping against the perfect crescent-shaped Palolem beach, emanating the silvery moonshine that many a pair of hearts that beat as one long for. The beach itself was dotted by an eclectic mix- nirvana seekers from Israel and Eastern Europe, corporates unwinding after a long day or week, undergraduates just excited to be there, shack owners and workers looking on in that bemused indifferent manner that is unique to shacks in Goa. Self was oblivious to all of this- copious amounts of the poison of choice had been had and the moon, when glancing lovingly at this gift to mankind, would have observed one Lefty happily ensconced on an unoccupied deck chair in a deserted corner, sleeping away as the revelries wore on. Hours before, Sumedh had called to let us know that he’d made it to IIM-B, and we’d ensured celebrations did the achievement justice. A couple of hours later, as the sun was still contemplating how to say ’ssup to the world, I opened my eyes to find a canine on top of me. Apparently, the deserted deck-chair was its regular sleeping spot and fortunately, this particular best friend of man had decided to be accommodating instead of marking its territory. It was that sort of night.
The poori-sabzi at Plantain Leaf was a treat for ravenous souls. Also a welcome break from the daily dose of seafood we’d happily been partaking for the last couple of days. It was somewhere between my 15th and 20th poori that Gogo rang- Joka it was to be. Some minutes, excited phone-calls and several pooris later, Sumedh called. The Dry Campus had done the inevitable and extended the admission offer to him. On the way back from Fort Aguada that day, Sajal got to know that his LBS waitlist had been converted. Paths ahead had firmly been charted. The Dominos and Baskin Robbins on the Fort Aguada road will forever remain the final notes of the perfect swansong that Goa provided. It was that sort of trip.
Infantaria had been recommended for its cheap beer and frequent promotional offers that made it even cheaper. An ideal place to celebrate employment offers and more importantly, to celebrate the memorable experience that Joka had been. Except that human beings will continue to remain irrational and order rum based cocktails in a place known for cheap beer. As was wont at the time, the bill exceeded the cash that our collective selves had and the responsible BigD was dispatched to the nearby ATM to cough up the balance. The night ended with hard-nosed newly deemed managers allowing themselves enough emotion to make inebriated speeches on how everyone loved everyone. And the house remained firmly divided on the important subject of whether or not Neha Dhupia had visited Brito’s the night before, or whether Flambay’s was indeed the best restaurant in Goa. It was that sort of discussion.
No one could have anticipated how special the years at A-202 would be. In one of my more ambitious moods, I had planned to pen another of my ‘those were the days’ posts when DebD handed over the keys to the apartment. That didn’t materialize, but a trip to Goa during those years did. The years of living the carefree campus life, with the important distinction of having enough money in your pocket to do whatever you wanted. Looking back, Goa was perhaps the only trip that all 6 of us managed. Guess it just had to be Goa. A quick two-day break, 2 cottages at Palolem, sumptuous lunches at Margaon and broken side-view mirrors en route to the airport. It was that sort of weekend.
Curly’s was happening. So happening we couldn’t get a table and had to sit on the mattresses outside. My eyes had decided to play spoilsport that very weekend and a nasty headache persisted. The resort at Miramar had been a find. We’d initially planned more exotic locations to escape to before Sajal was solemnized into the dark side but things could finally not work out. The trip was too short, too unplanned and too unspectacular; however, it will forever remain a footnote on the chapter that I could call my best friend’s wedding. You could take someone out of Goa but not Goa out of someone. It was that sort of realization.
In less than 24 hours from now, I’ll find myself in the familiar environs of my favourite holiday destination once again. The trip- retreat in this case, couldn’t be more different from the previous ones- a unique blend of the professional and personal worlds. Faces that made the earlier avatar of the retreat so memorable will be conspicuous by absence, another stark reminder of how loneliness is an unwelcome companion to the firm journeyman. As I pack my bags tonight and glance through Yo Yo videos in a last-ditch attempt to try and pick up some dance steps, the prospect of going back to that corner of India will trigger sepia-tinted memory jaunts. There are many moments to be added yet, to the Goa-labelled Pensieve in my life. We decided long ago that Goa much more than a trip, vacation or journey. It will be that sort of pilgrimage.

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