The land of cows, curry, and controlled chaos.
This is exactly the look you’d get from me if I catch you taking a pic of me sunbathing!
Be forewarned you’re going to see a lot of pictures of cows in this post. As you already know they’re sacred in India and it’s illegal to harm them (and whoop! whoop! yes I got my Indian visa and made it to Goa). One cab driver told us he’d end up in jail with a hefty fine if he accidentally ran into one, so they roam freely. They’re every where, moving along at their pace, doing whatever they like, wherever they like — including napping on roads, playing on the beach, and, ahem, getting frisky under my balcony. I thought something was falling apart, and quickly discovered that cattle are, um, feisty lovers — luckily they’re also quick about it. The unimpressed female never even bothered to stop walking.
Cows aren’t the only ones roaming freely in packs. Dogs, who are not sacred, do the same, and while it’s not illegal to hit them vehicles pause and swerve and let them have their space as well. The animal lover in me made quite a few stray friends. This lil guy was my fave because he pawed me when I stopped petting him and then he barked at me to move along when my friends walked away. He followed us all the way to our hotel and then rejoined his pack of friends.
There were so many stray dogs, but they weren’t sad. They were free and, for the most part, happily enjoying the sights, smells and sounds as much as we were.
For the cat lovers out there, we didn’t see too many of them, probably because they’re smart enough to stay off the streets and roam about courtyards and alleyways instead.
Okay enough about the animals. I didn’t go to Goa to see them. I went to relax on beaches, drink at beach shacks, and inhale as much Indian food as possible. And OMG did I. Everything I ate was delicious. The only meal that disappointed was breakfast, and that’s because Western me wants her fancy eggs and breads (and good God a decent latte!). We stayed in Candolim, which wasn’t very busy because we went during off season, but that’s okay. We got to mingle more with Indians on vacation than Westerners like us, which made for more of an authentic experience — although whooping it up in a bar with tourists (even local ones) doesn’t portray life in India, but I’ll take it. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we danced. My favourite place in Candolim was the Fisherman’s Wharf, the one place that was busy every night with great live entertainment. Another place we thoroughly enjoyed was Sunny Side Up, a restaurant on the beach with great food.
Bagga beach is where the party is at even during off season. Restaurants/bars line the beach with tables, chairs and all sorts of entertainment. We saw fireworks, tight rope performances, fire dancers, and a whole lot of people inhaling a whole lot of goodness. Needless to say we laughed, we ate, we danced with the moon and surf. Because I knew I’d be whooping it up I didn’t bring my camera (I didn’t want to lose it or drop it in the water). I wish I had. lesson learned.
We also got to see locals dancing in the street to celebrate Ganesha, the elephant god, who according to the Internet is also the patron of the arts, sciences and letters. My kind of God.
I nabbed this from the Internet (sorry it didn’t provide a byline) to give you a taste of what we saw. Our dancers weren’t throwing colors, but a couple we met said they were part of a dance like this in Delhi. Anyway, long story short I like a religion that celebrates with lots of dance and color!
The way they celebrate is a good metaphor for my experience of the country. It’s sweaty, it’s spicy, it’s colourful, it’s loud, and it is ugly and beautiful all at the same time. It’s coy and totally uninhibited. The traffic and constant beeping drives you insane, but it has its patterns and it surprisingly works — until it doesn’t. Then you wait until it’s time to pick up the frenetic pace again.
And it has all of this…
My experience with the visa process and then the airports (although Mumbai is a surprisingly beautiful airport) made me not want to travel to India again, BUT my experience there made me want to see more. I only had a few days in one of its corners, a lovely one and totally worth the trip; India I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but there’s plenty more to explore and experience.