Living In Goa

It's spring and there's a tree with yellow flowers, backed by some pink flowers behind it.

I have lived through 15 of my growing years in Bengaluru – a thriving city, increasingly growing in population, bustling with life and activity. I moved out of the city because it was beginning to suffocate me. It became monotonous, incredibly depressing and honestly, superbly predictable despite it being in a constant state of change. Even when I went back to Bangalore after three months of having moved out, I knew it had changed – with whatever new building was being constructed, with whatever new party places had popped up and with whatever new trend was hitting the streets. It wasn’t impressive.

I left the city to surprise myself. And surprises, surprises! Just now while I write this, I am looking at a beautiful yellow bird with an orange beak, black wings and eyes like they are lined with kohl, resting on a chikku tree right across from where I am sitting. It is 5.38pm, and there are more birds making appearances all around the house. It’s been almost 8 months since I moved to Goa, and I’m yet to get used to any of its little eccentricities. A lot of people make a lot of assumptions when I say I have moved to Goa. Either they think I have become a hippie (they clearly don’t understand the context of hippy culture), or that I party a lot. Neither of these is true. I am not just chilling (although, I do chill a lot – depends on what you mean by chilling). I am just as ambitious as before, if not more. But in the pursuit of being who I want to be, I want to give myself the benefit of enjoying life the way I want to.

So here’s what it has been like living in Goa.

I go to the beach A LOT. I also have a super close friend I made in Goa – Sakshi, with whom I go to the sea very often. I swim a lot in the sea. I swim as far as I can, although it still freaks me out a bit when I can’t touch the ground. I have seen the sea and its various personalities (but of course, not all of them, yet). I play with a frisbee while in the sea. I’ve also almost learned how to handstand in the water. I’ve seen pairs of fish jump out and into the water in the sea. I make a lot of fun of a lot of tourists (like on Holi, three white people were putting Holi colours on themselves just to post photos online). I avoid most of the touristy beaches, so I stick to Ashwem and Mandrem. I avoid Baga and Calangute and most other beaches that have either succumbed to extreme tourism or extreme pollution. Going to the beach so often has also made me far more conscious about non-biodegradable waste generation.

I love sighting birds. I have learnt how to spot them – more or less. I am yet to learn their names. But I have never seen so many varieties of birds in such a short span of time. Beautiful blue kingfishers are common sightings in Goa. They just perch on short walls and on electricity lines. There are also many many tiny birds that are hardly the size of my palm. And all these birds have unique ways of flying – some are even comical.

I also sit by the banks of the many rivers and streams that run through Goa. I’ve even started taking dips in them and trying to swim in them. And most of these are spontaneous, which means I never have any swimwear and so it’s just me in my underwear. And most of these places don’t have any people around, so I never really have to cover up. I also made a new friend recently, Nimmy, who does this so often, that my confidence to do this has increased. The kind of freedom I feel here is sort of unbelievable. Please let it not get jinxed. And rivers are honestly so stunning because it has so much wildlife in and around it. Goa’s mangroves that line these rivers are some of nature in its most untouched form.

Traffic is pretty much non existent in Goa. I travel long distances in Goa (upto one hour journeys), but it’s never too taxing because the rides are so smooth and easy, and the landscape helps. Recently, I had to ride back alone from Panjim through a long, abandoned roadway that lines a river of sorts, late in the night. In one way, I am so used to being paranoid that I was afraid of what could happen considering it was me, a lone woman, riding through long winding empty roads, through quiet villages and through dark streets lined by trees and streams, all in the hush of night. On the contrary, I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was to experience me, a lone woman, riding through long winding empty roads, through quiet villages, and through dark streets lined by trees and streams, all in the hush of night. Fun.

I am truly blessed that I own a scooter that takes me around Goa. A two-wheeler is truly the ideal mode of transport. I am dreading the monsoon though. Also, a lot of firangs think I look damn cute on my yellow Vespa, so whenever I go to Panjim, there’s often a rogue tourist trying to capture a photograph of me on my yellow scooter, with a yellow helmet, against the beautiful aesthetics of Panjim’s old Portuguese architecture. There’s usually no permission involved. But I’ve caught a few of them sneaking a photograph, and they always look so guilty for being caught red-handed and smile an awkward smile, and continue taking the photograph anyway. Well, it doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I think about how impolite it is, but I also hope it somehow lands up on the internet, and turns me into a meme or something and then I leap into the arms of fame and land on Ellen’s talk show. As long as it doesn’t land up on the internet and my face is photoshopped with a naked woman or pop up on some ad in some porn site, I am good.

I’ve just started socializing with people who are from Goa, and it’s been super interesting. I’m interacting with varied kinds of cool people and people from different age groups – which is all very new for me. I’m starting to get to know Goa’s local culture, its different lifestyles and its local spaces a little better, and it’s been very interesting and insightful. Goa never fails to leave me in awe. This also means familiarising with local drinks, and I’ve been loving and devouring Uraak – a concoction made from cashew fruits.

All in all, Goa has been great. It’s helped through times when my mental health started acting up, when I was feeling lonely and when I was feeling horribly lost.

Will I settle down in Goa? Hopefully, not. Getting to know Goa so intimately has only made my yearning to explore other spaces much more. However, being my first rendezvous with a brand new place, Goa will always be special to me.

Here’s my round up of recommendations for today:

1. James Blake has my heart

2. Since we’re talking about James Blake, here’s my all time fave!

3. My most recent movie exploit

It’s a lot like most of the recent Netflix teen-movies, but I do like the ease with which it explores sexual discovery. The lead character is very endearing. I would give it a 7/10.

4. Shout out to my super talented woke-boy friend

That flow is pretty legit.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hey Rini

    Stumbled upon your blog when I looked up the word Kaatukozhi which I saw on your beutiful artwork.. Which Zarmeen shared. Grear writing.. Enjoyed this piece on Goa.

    Aunty
    Farnaaz’ mom

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