Up in the air

Long long ago when we didn’t have 157 channels and 24 by 7 TV, we recorded our favourite shows and watched them on a loop till we could recite them back in our sleep. I remember repeatedly watching this disney animated feature on insomnia and sleep analysis which began with “Research shows that people do not sleep like logs”. Our first night in Goa and I’d have challenged that bit of research in a boxing ring.

I slept lights out, like a log or the grateful dead. I had no idea I was that tired! I woke up too late for the walk along the beach which is how I typically began most mornings on my previous visits to Goa.

While we had to fend for ourselves as far as lunch and dinner went,  the good folks at the Villa Alina did put up a healthy, though not very hearty (no eggs!!!), breakfast for their guests. We had fruits, juices, coffee, toast, cereal and the warm, crusty and flavorful Goan poee bread. My husband, the kids and I loved it but everyone else was a bit iffy. I guess it was not everyone’s cup of tea.

Speaking of tea – is there anywhere in India you do not find the amazing  and enterprising cooks of Bihar? I found them on the Goan beach serving the most wonderful adrak chai! The place is called Milonies and we headed there most days and those were visits that served us well.

Post breakfast, we gathered up our stuff and walked down to the beach. While the smaller children busied themselves with sand castles, the older ones wanted to try out parasailing. There are a number of people running the water sports and you don’t even need to find them – they’ll find you. Only tip, ensure everyone is in life jackets before you get on the boat. The jackets seem to be in short supply, especially in children’s sizes, and they will try and trick you into getting on the smaller boat which drops you off at the bigger boat where the launch actually happens. They will tell you that there are extra jackets on the bigger boat but this is not true – don’t fall for it. We wasted some time under the hot sun waiting for them to arrange lifejackets for all of us and went in two trips but once there, it was wonderful.

The sea breeze was cool and lovely and we saw dolphins! They actually have a separate paid dolphin viewing trip but the dolphins obliged us by coming over to visit instead! One by one we got into the harness and were shot off into the sky like some tribal coming of age ritual. I insisted to my husband that I had come of age some years back running behind a jeep on the outskirts of Bangalore but he was merciless. Once actually up in the air though, it wasn’t frightening at all! The boat was much scarier in the choppy waters. Up there, it was smooth – just me, my thoughts and the vast expanse of ocean. After a while it seemed to me that my friends and family on the boat were trying to say something to me. I called out ‘What?’ without really feeling much panic – floating in the air does that to you. I was too sanguine. The rope came down and instead of landing gracefully on the boat in the manner of the triumphant heroine I felt like, I found myself dumped unceremoniously into the water like a teabag! Soaked and sputtering I finally landed and asked them WHAT that was all about. My shameless friends simply said ‘We thought you said ‘yes’ when we asked if you wanted the dip’! I am pretty sure a person saying ‘What’ does not look at all like a person saying ‘Yes’ and I suspect they lied.

Back on sand, the older ones went on the jetski and then it was time for lunch. The hot sun, the boat ride, the water had combined to make us all ravenous. We headed for a beach shack and ordered simple Indian food. Now the good thing about beach shacks is that they aren’t a bit pretentious! You cannot tell the chef at a fancy restaurant how to cook his meals, but here we let them know exactly how our kids liked their dal chawal and my younger one had four helpings! This being so unprecedented that the rest of my family almost forgot to eat at all! He wanted a fifth helping but worried about tummy aches later, I said a firm ‘no’! The food was simple and delicious besides being light on the pocket. And then it was back to the villa for a shower and sleep.

There is a back entrance into the villa which is really convenient – you can wash your feet and leave your shoes by the pool and not make a mess inside when you go to your room. I got in first with the kids and had them showered and clean by the time my husband came back. If you’re a parent who has ever been on holiday, you’ll agree that gift is worth ten gucci shades!

I soaked our family’s clothes in shampoo water after dusting off the sand in the garden – and I know I am completely betraying the extent of my boring domesticity here – but after I’d rinsed and hung them out to dry in the bright goan sun they came back cleaner than our expensive washing machine can ever manage back in Bangalore! I know it is extremely uncool to be gushing about laundry in a post about Goa but heck – I’m a mom – what do I know about cool anyway?

While everyone else siesta’d I spent my time roaming the villa grounds and discovered two open wells. They had been covered with shadenets for safety but were full of water and quite lovely! I have a thing for wells. My grandfather was a passionate champion of open wells, temple tanks and old fashioned rainwater harvesting. I can see what he meant. The wells were charming, beautiful and most importantly functional!

I was also pleasantly surprised to see wet and dry bins in the kitchen. I chatted with Rani who works there and discovered that unfortunately, the staff were not particular, or informed, about what goes where but at least Goa seems to have made a start. I also saw a dry waste collection center later during my trip so yaay Goa!

At night we decided to dress up and do the whole fun thing. We landed up at St. Anthony’s which was wildly unsuitable really. It was hot and stuffy inside. The younger ones were miserable. Mine fell asleep without dinner which was ok given his massive lunch but his friends had a hard time of it. My friends though were intent on making it memorable. Me and my girls, we went up and karaoked The Friends theme by the rembrandts. It was noisy and we couldn’t hear ourselves and the sound system was bad but hey! We went up there in front of a huuge crowd of unknown people and sang! Could we BE any wilder??

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