‘Susegad’ and Romance of the rains – Visiting Goa during monsoons

Goa is one destination which is on the bucket list of one and all. Be with family or friends, a honeymoon trip, reunion or bachelorette – Goa just perfectly fits the bill. Add to the rigmarole, all the cancelled plans for that perfect Goa trip and then being stranded as the lone enthusiastic member on the gradually silent WhatsApp group. As with all travel destinations, you will find numerous guides on the world wide web about the tourist season in Goa starting from October. Some of them will give you the list of must visit places and some will warn you against visiting Goa during the monsoons.

But ask yourself, do you want to be a tourist who goes by checklists or a traveller who loves to collect the most precious memories in the cafés frequented by locals or joins them for an impromptu dance celebrating a win in the local football league? If you belong to the second category, travel to Goa during monsoons and just enjoy the sweet, laid back and amazingly quiet Goan life amidst the plush greenery which floods the state in form of paddy fields. Monsoons are actually the perfect time to enjoy the much touted ‘Susegad’ (idyllic charm) in Goa.

View of Vagator Beach from Chapora Fort

If you are wary of heavy rains playing spoilsport, which is also a valid safety concern considering Goa receives heavy rainfall every year, you may plan the trip during end August or just the beginning of September, when the serenity of monsoons, empty roads and lovely smiles are yet to be replaced by the professionalism of peak tourist season which begins in October.

1) Enjoy the quieter roads

The trip to Goa is often planned to escape the drudgeries of city life. Surely, you do not want to get into the same traffic jams or overhear the sound of constant honking when in Goa. The end of monsoons can be the perfect time to explore the quieter roads with next to zero honking and the only traffic jams that you face are the ones where a herd of cows need to cross the road. Just hire that scooter and drive like a true local while enjoying the leisurely views of the roads lined with coconut trees and dotted with lush green paddy fields. Don’t believe me? See this!

Parra, Bardez. this is the place where the popular Bollywood movie ‘Love you Zindagi’ was shot.
The beauty of clear blue skies
Enjoy the views of lush greenery

2) The beaches are cleaner with lot less people

Beaches are the primary attraction in Goa. Monsoons can be the perfect time to enjoy the perfect sunset at the beach with only serenity or the lone dog for company. In fact, the otherwise over crowded beaches like Baga, Anjuna or Vagator may prove to be a bliss (like they were originally) during this time. You can bathe in the sea or look for the umbrella during that occasional drizzle and pitter – patter.

Baga Beach
Sunset at Vagator
Vagator Beach

3) The ‘touristy’ attractions have a lot less selfie seekers

As with the beaches, there are lot less tourists everywhere including the popular attractions like Basilica of Bom Jesus (popularly known as the Mummy church in Goa), Dona Paula beach, Chapora or Aguada Fort. We all know what a menace the modern day evolution of selfie hunters can be, especially in crowded touristy places. Ask yourself, do you want your vacation mood to be spoiled by serpentine queue in front of a view point for a split second selfie or you just want to click that perfect photo and then lounge and sit around to enjoy the view and treasure it till eternity? If you are sucker for moments and the romance of memories like me, late monsoons can be the perfect time to visit Goa for you.

One of the churches in Goa
Basilica of Bom Jesus

Fort Aguada
View from Fort Aguada

4) Discover the yet ‘unexplored’ side of Goa

During the peak tourist season, the roads are crowded and the villages abruptly disappear to give way to make shift hotels, lodges and restaurants. The charm of travelling through the winding village roads while enjoying the idyllic village life that Goa is known for, remains unknown to many. You may never spot the fisherman on river Zuari or just walk around at your own sweet pace to discover the old Latin quarters in Goa – the Fontainhas. Right in the middle of the busy and bustling Panjim (Panaji) city lies the old Portugese residential houses which will transform you back to a different era altogether. There will albeit be package tours taking you till the very famous St Sebastians Chapel there, all through the year, but the joy of discovering the meandering narrow lanes with colourful balconies on your own feet, without jostling and asking for space is amazing to say the least. The names of the roads or the colourful road signs will remind you of the picture postcards from the coveted Portugese or Spanish vacation or if you have been there, will definitely take you a trip down memory lane. Now, who minds either of them?

One of the houses in Fontainhas area, Panjim
Beautiful Road signs
One of the relatively wider lanes in Fontainhas

Chapel of St Sebastian, Fontainhas, Panjim

5) The restaurants will have the best of food with no overcrowding and you get the best of the views

There is no denying that some popular restaurants in Goa are closed during the monsoon season as it is traditionally considered the off season. But, the best of the lot are always open. During my week long stay in Goa, I ate a lot of Goan, Continental and seafood while selecting the places based on popular recommendations. If you want a perfect mix of best views, food, ambience and overall a wonderful place to just chill and laze around Britto’s at Baga beach gets my thumbs up. I loved the food so much that I went back twice. The seafood platter is to die for and worth the price.

Grilled Fish at Britto’s
The seafood platter at Britto’s

If you want more exclusivity along with some breathtaking views of Arabian sea go to Curlies at Anjuna beach. The vibe of the place is leisurely and while the food was decent, the fact that you can sit and enjoy the views for as long as you want while sipping your favourite mocktail, cocktail or beer makes it a winner for me.

View from Curlies, Anjuna beach

The first two I mentioned are quite well known in Goa. There is also another place where I went and loved, called Fisherman’s Cove near Candolim beach. This is where I had my first taste of the famous Vindaloo and Feni shots along with some very nice live music.

At Fisherman’s Cove, Candolim

All these places become supremely crowded during the so called season time and I have heard stories of long queues outside the restaurant for a seat (like the ones outside Arsalan during Durga Puja). If you want to skip the line and enjoy the best views of the sea or just enjoy the leisurely pace while enjoying good food and good life – monsoons can be the perfect time to visit Goa.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t plan. Just book the ticket, reach Goa, hop on a scooter, switch on the Google maps and just explore the lush greenery, the lazy charm, the uncharted serenity and the out of the world food during monsoons. Yes, there may be a potholes or two along the road due to the rains and it is always safe to be alert about the rains, but the general condition of roads in Goa is very good and it is completely safe to drive cars or scooters.

Goa actually needs no reasons, seasons and plans. Don’t fall in the trap of package tours, must visits, day based itineraries- Goa is much more than all that and all the bountiful put together. The millennial FOMO (Fear of missing out) is not the thing in Goa 🙂

P.S. All photos published here have been clicked by me and no unauthorised use is permitted.

#HomeKahon – The story of my Indian Home

The story of designing my first home from scratch.

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They always talk about first love, but rarely in our documented history do we prefer talking about our other firsts?

The first job, the first salary, first car, first home….

You may call me severely materialistic, but all these hold a very special place in my heart, just like my first “Aam Panna” I shared with my husband, the first story that got published or the first ‘Phuchka’ that I had in Calcutta after returning from Europe after a year and a half.

Designing and making a ‘home’ out of a ‘house’ is always a challenge, especially if it is your ‘first’ one. You want it to be special and unique. My wishes were no different. I was a never a big ‘home decor’ enthusiast.

In fact, I often scorned at my mother who would scold me or my sister at the very sight of us sluggisly sitting on the sofa and squishing away her cushions. I was always the lethargic kid (“lyadhkhor”) as they call in colloquial Bengali), who loved her sleep.

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A trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – A bit Closer to ‘Heaven’

Last Sunday, I returned home after completing an epic Euro Trip of sorts. For most of the part of my trip, I was travelling with my best friend, one who is known as ‘the husband’ for the more mundane and prosaic world, to some places which have been on my bucket list for quite long.

To tell the truth, a year and half of my stay in Europe, did change my perspective towards life. I love the utter chaos of Calcutta but somewhere down the line I do miss the quaint little coffee shops and those cobbled streets of European cities. The story with omnipresent ‘honking horns’ of Calcutta is that I abhor when I am here and I miss them when I am outside where driving on a road is actually a civilised affair. Alternatively, I miss the serenity when I am back in my hometown. The traffic itself is a a jarring reminder of the adventure ahead on the road.

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Memory Closet

Piu stopped to look back. He did look familiar.

There was a glint of “recognition” in his eyes too. Did he smile? Was it that same impish grin.

Piu started hurling out those cardboard compartments from the memory closet really fast.

Somewhere deep down, that smile brought about a lot of happy memories. The smile was almost like the touch of her grandmother’s, her thamma‘s, hands which smelled of Boroline. The touch that she yearned for when that long drawn divorce battle drained her off, emotionally and financially.

And now she was back in the city where her thamma once lived, the city which always made her feel at home and at peace.

This time she had a mission. She wanted to get rid of that very house where she had met Ranjeev. That same very old house on Southern Avenue where Ranjeev asked her out for their first date. She remembers that Ranjeev tried hard to impress his father’s ‘Tolly Club’ membership, while she continued being snooty and explained to him why ‘Calcutta Club’ was a class apart.

Ironically, Ranjeev’s father wanted to bring down her thamma’s house and develop the property. That was a decade ago. They fell in love and the house remained to stay on, as per her wish.

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Maggi Memories :)

So Maggi has been banned and Nestle India is surely in for long drawn legal battle to get it back on the racks. As a lawyer, I will follow the twists and turns that will make the TRPs soar. In a parallel universe, a reigning God will proclaim victory and declare verdicts on Indian television while shouting his way to glory. But media trials, newshour debates and all other related adult life complications are not the staple of this post, rather its about a life saviour and a friend.

Maggi was not quite a regular part of my life when I was a kid growing up in 90’s India. My mother was very strict and careful about our diet and she did not quite like the idea of instant noodles. That did not stop me from wondering about whether Maggi could actually be made within those 2 minutes. On those rare Sunday mornings, when I had the privilege of having Maggi, I would make sure that my mother saved a little bit of the tastemaker that came alongwith. I liked the tangy taste, the chicken noodles one tasted better. Mind you, this was still 90’s and all those other variants like “Atta noodles” and “oats noodles” were still not in vogue.

(Image Source: Here)

And then law school happened. Our campus was strictly residential and we had the privilege of sampling NALSAR mess food. I will rate NALSAR mess food as one of the better hostel food served in the country, but then if there was a true saviour for those innumerable days of hunger pangs and home sickness – it was Maggi. Strangely enough, even when my mother abhorred the fact that I often skipped my meals and substituted them with Maggi as my dinner, she got me an electric kettle so that I could prepare my first ‘self made’ meals at my hostel room.

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Being the Bengali Jamai!

Last week, a friend of mine who traces his origin to the Indian state of Bihar expressed his desire to exchange places with my husband, for the grand “Jamai shoshti” lunch. The conversation arose when I had shared a hugely popular picture of a Bengali son in law sitting and sampling a wide(st!)variety of dishes cooked and served only for him, on social media.

Truth be told, I do not know about any other culture in this world, which celebrates their son in law(s) or “Jamais” with such fanfare and gluttony. We have an entire day dedicated to them, as if being the cynosure of all eyes for the rest of the 364 days, was not enough. And to follow the ritualistic conclusion of any Bengali festival, “Jamai Shoshti” essentially is all about celebrating our love for food.

All these give rise to a belief that the ‘Bengali Jamai’ is a very pampered lot. Indeed, they are. But then again, it is not a very easy job either!

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Stories from Barcelona – La Boqueria Market

Barcelona is a city that I immediately felt at home. While the whole of Europe and especially German cities takes pride in being prim, proper and every thing nice, Barcelona is that wild untamed spirit who refuses to follow rules. In my mind, Barcelona is a lot like Calcutta.

The city has a unique feel which is hard to describe and anybody visiting the place can feel the pulse while setting foot on the majestic La Ramblas. Barcelona is often called the party capital of Europe and a pitcher of Sangria while walking across the La Ramblas will make you understand the precise reason why it is called so. But make no mistake, Barcelona is more than just La Ramblas, the beautiful beaches, or for that matter those masterpieces by Gaudi or Camp Nou. The die hard Calcutta girl within me will suggest that you take a walk down the Gothic Quarter ( a part of the erstwhile walled city) or walk past the Barri Gotic and you might just feel that you have just walked past one of those much photographed and iconic North Calcutta lanes- probably of Hedua or Shyambajar. Does that sound lustworthy enough?

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