Its raining ..!!

"Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.." But I think what The Carpenters really wanted to say in the song was "Rainy days when Mondays, always get me down"...!! Otherwise how can the rain let you down..?

Its monsoon time again...little early this time it seems. Either way rains are always welcome. I do agree that it gets violent at times.. but ... but .. i don't know... "Too much of something is always bad". Rain is the most beautiful natural phenomenon according to me.. Ya there's rainbow, but its so out of impersonal..!!

How can you translate into words, the feeling you get when you walk around in the rain ..? Nothing matches the thrill when those first drops fall all over you. I always feel like walking in the rain till it returns home to come back another day. Walking on the roads is no more my idea of fun.. you can't be yourself then. I remember my earlier attempts at this.. people around did not report to the mental hospital only because I had the company of a good friend..!! Again you cant splash around in the puddles when you are on the road.. though you get many of them there. You can't lie down and "see" the rain falling... you cant lift up your hands and cry out at the skies...and you have to keep walking. Such a drag...!!

Rain brings back so many memories ...Bruno my dog, who wouldn't otherwise take a bath... the mushrooms you get after the rains.... the fun of standing under a tree ... the thunderbolts that make you little nervous at times.. the slippery ground... what not..!! For my Mom, the first indication of me being sick was me sitting inside when its raining outside..!! Those were days I was "supposed" to grow up ... and believe me, better were days before that. The trip back from school when its raining...with the whole gang of friends... umbrella safely tucked inside the bag.

mmmm... looks like its gonna rain here as well. Lemme try whether i can catch the rain while walking back home..!!

PS: By the way, do you know what rain is and how does it happen...? (forget the evaporation theory.. we are talking more sense here...) .If not, listen to the song "Holes in the floor of Heaven".

One day, shy and 8 years old
When grandma passed away
I was a broken hearted little boy
Blowing out that birthday cake
How i cried when the sky let go
With a cold lonesome rain
My mom smiled, said "Don't be sad child.
Grandma's watching you today."

Cause there are holes in the floor of Heaven
And her tears are pouring down
That's how you know she's watching
Wishing she could be here now..!!

Monsoon trip to Goa - Part 2

Panjim is a great place to spend time irrespective of how you like to do it. There is enough for everyone there - shopping avenues for the spendaholics, cheap booze for the bachanalians, beautiful buildings, structures and streets for the walk-n-admiraholics. It was raining heavily when we touched down at Panaji aboard a ferry, across mighty river Mandovi. Heavy rains soon gave way to a mild a drizzle and we set out exploring the streets of Panjim.

Rain is a little dampening initially, but once you give it some time, walk with it and let it pour down all over you with such grace, you suddenly realize how relaxing an experience it is. Rain is much like a beautiful woman.. comes and thrills you when you least expect. It is easy to pass a judgment on her sitting under the comfort of a roof but difficult to rate her once you get to know her from closer quarters.

We drove towards Calangute from Panjim and decided to take a little detour to Aguada fort. The winding road towards the lighthouse was looking exceptionally beautiful in the company of rain and lush greenery. We spent about an hour around the lighthouse and finally decided to touch base when hunger slowly started killing the excitement. We stopped by one of the dozens of Goan makeshift restaurants for some rice and prawn Zacuti. Though the prices were cheap, so was the quality of the food. But quality doesn't always matter when you are almost blind with hunger. (Guess the restaurant guy also realized the same!!) Without wasting more time we started searching for a place to stay and found 'Villae Theresa', a decent place close to the beach where double bedrooms were available for Rs. 500 a night. With all our baggage safely locked inside, it was time to hit the beach and fortunately the rains stayed away for the rest of the evening.

As we strolled along the white sands from Calangute to Baga, came a guy from a nearby shack, inviting us for dinner. Meet Sandy, who later introduced us to some fabulous Goan cuisine. He works for a beach side restaurant called 'Goan Waves' where 'Yang' the Great Dane also lives. Yang is a two year old black canine who loves to laze around the tables, nuzzling against the legs of the diners in return for generous tips of chicken, fish and French fries. The best decision we took during the whole trip was to trust Sandy and dine at the 'Goan Waves'. As we eased down onto the cane chairs facing the sea, Sandy started explaining the possibilities in front of us for dinner - Crabs, Prawns, fish, chicken, beef, Vindaloos, Xacutis.. blah blah. We decided on some crabs and some fish and some prawns and some beef and some chicken and some liquor..!!!

As the coconut Feni started to ease the tension out, I started noticing the people around us - of all makes and types. There was this young lady sitting all alone in a corner with a bottle of white wine and a radio. Sandy later told us that she is from France and is on her vacation here. There was this lovely couple on a couch beside us who were evidently spending a lovely and romantic evening. They were holding each other affectionately, occasionally planting a kiss on each others' face and sipping alcohol from the same glass. There was another couple towards the far end of the shack but the story was little different there. The guy was already drunk and the lady was trying to control him from shouting and dancing around (Did I say this was an Indian couple?). Yang seemed to develop some pity on the guy and was hanging around his table for most of the evening.. or was it the chicken pieces that were falling down from his unsteady hands? Before I could develop theories on Yang's behavior and the motive behind it, Sandy announced the starters.

There were three crabs on the table, nicely garnished with some salad and French fries. From the size and color they looked like members of the same family, but from three generations - son, pop and the grandpa perhaps..!! I stopped sneaking into the parallel universes around me and latched on to one of the crabbies. My universe was made up of just one thing for the next 15 - 20 minutes - cracking shells and juicy crab meat. The feni had started working inside and I slowly got enlightened on the reasons behind the goan way of living... what else will you do than singing and dancing when you have feni in one hand and tasty sea food in the other? The more the merrier..!! I thought of sharing my discoveries and newfound knowledge with peole around me, but Sandy came to their rescue.. this time with a BIG fried Red Snapper. Sandy seemed to have this special gift of timing.. he knew when to break conversations with crabs and prawns and when to force-divert your attention from the cute cuddling couple with a refill..!! I will have to tell this to him next time I visit Goan Waves.

It was midnight and the shacks were closing down. Sandy offered us chairs and we sat there close to the waves playing antakshari for an hour or so. Alcohol can at times make great singers out of fools like me. It was time to take another stroll and we soon joined a crowd around a huge fire. The sea was roaring, the skies were clear, the fire was warm and we were in full mood to enjoy. Soon we started burying each other in the sand.. just the heads sticking out of the sand, much like an over sized crab peeping out of its burrow. Finally in the early hours of the next day we decided to retire to the comfort of Villae Theresa.

The morning saw us sitting in front of Sandy's shack, waiting for the ham and Bacon Sandy had promised the night before. Sandy was nowhere to be seen an for few minutes we thought the previous night's hungama was just a dream..!! Soon Sandy emerged and our wait was over. We had bacon, beans and Ham for breakfast and washed it down with some beer. The combination worked well even early in the morning with the sea adding its own magic to the moments. Then as usual it was time to say goodbye to Goa and return to Bangalore.. we had a long road ahead of us. We bid adieu to Goa by afternoon... the rains were back in town by then flooding the streets of Panaji and almost blocking our way. I think the rains and Goa enjoyed our company... we did their for sure..!!!

Monsoon trip to Goa - Part 1

I remember reading about this book 'Chasing the Monsoon' sometime back. This is the story of a person (Alexander Frater) who followed the monsoon across India, right from the coasts of Kerala -where the spectacle begins- to Chirapunjee -the rain capital of the world were the grand finale unravels. There was a passage in the book which goes something like this... "Heaving a door open I stepped outside. Soaked to the skin within seconds I felt a wonderful sense of flooding warmth and invigoration; it was, indubitably, a little bit like being born again." A reviewer had the following comment on the book "...If all travel books were this good, everyone would just stay home and read..".I am now in a better position to understand the madness and fun behind such an endeavor.. after my monsoon trip to Goa through the coastal route two weeks back. I also feel that you should get out and get wet to really understand what he actually describes in the book.. words can never do justice to this phenomenon.

This was a trip which got postponed a number of times, thanks to some funniest and lamest of excuses you ever hear. But finally five of us set out on a four day trip. After a lacklusture drive of about 8 hours we reached the coastal town of Mangalore. Rain stayed away from us most of the day but came pouring down in the night.. right when we were driving down the ghat roads from Sakhleshpur. The night drive amidst the rain and the mist was really dangerous but the hot tea and fried fish for dinner almost made it up...!! We stayed in a dirty small motel that night... we just wanted a place to lie down for a few hours. Sleep conquered us in no time, much before the stink of the mattresses could get into our heads.

We started our journey to Goa next day morning. We reached Udipi in time for an early breakfast and it started raining immediately. It was great driving through the torrential rains this time as the roads were good. We stopped by the silver sands and ocean at a couple of places before taking the left turn to Gokharna. This impulsive decision to visit the Om beach proved to be worthwhile. The road towards the beach offers some great views and the serene beach devoid of crowd was breathtaking. We had our lunch there and spent a couple of hours lazing around. You cant do justice to the beaches in Gokharna with a couple of hours in hand. So we left Gokharna only to come back another time.. possibly for a beach trek in September. We passed through Karwar and touched down at Goa by evening. Our destination for the night was the Mayem Lake Resort, a small economic place ran by the state tourism department. The Mayem lake is not something that features in the itinery of normal Goa travelers... a small lake, far away from the beaches. We had a tough time finding this place in the night.. but that gave us an opportunity to travel across Goa in the rain, getting a glimpse of the villages of Ponda, Sanquelim and Bicholim.

The next morning showed us the real beauty of Mayem.. with its clean and vast stretch of waters and walkways all around it.. a perfect place to take a sabbatical to. It was raining heavily in the morning and the lake looked beautiful with the raindrops creating all sorts of patterns in the water. It was great to take a walk along the lake, amidst the cashew plantations, with the sweet sound of rain in your ears..!!! We decided to take the ferry across Mandovi river to Panaji and drove down to Chorao. Goa's only bird sanctuary - Salim Ali bird sanctuary- is in Chorao, near the ferry wharf. The ferry trip was interesting in the heavy downpour and Mandovi was flowing in all her glory and might..!! We reached Panaji and started searching for the one and only auto gas station in Goa - East Coast -and it took us a while to find this place. From Panaji, you have to go towards Margoa and after the church of St. Xavier(Bom Jesus) & Se Cathedral, you have to take a U-turn and join the one way back to Panaji.. about 2-3 kilometers ahead is the gas station, a little away from the road, but visible from the highway.

After filling the tank with enough gas to take us back to Bangalore, we set out to explore Panaji before moving to the beaches....

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