India

My Own Goan Experience

I arrived in Goa to find that it is green and beautiful but on the flip side, dirty, rubbish everywhere, potholes in the road AND it was the monsoon season. Hang on, why was I there again? Oh, yes, to see my friend, Nishant.

I stayed in Calangute, a seaside town on the southwest coast of India. It has a definite island feel, much like one of the many islands in Thailand. Palm trees swaying in the wind, shacks selling swimwear and souvenirs and golden beaches right by the Arabian Sea.

Goa was conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century and they ruled for 450 years. Reminders of this long history are everywhere from the brightly coloured villas and houses with their covered porches and verandas, to the Baroque style churches and palaces.

In fact, I was in awe of the houses and other buildings I saw; painted in every colour of the rainbow, contrasted with the lush green vegetation surrounding them. Goa was definitely growing on me.

Bearing in mind it was the monsoon season, there weren’t that many people about. I mean foreigners. There were plenty of Goan folks just going about their business; woman walking their children to and from school, peddlers on the beach, groups of men hanging out. As I walked passed, a couple of the men who were with their friends said “Alright darling” (Ha, they wouldn’t be brave enough if they had been alone); another was video recording me as I walked passed them on the beach. I wonder if they saw me scowling when they played it back?

As a single female, walking around alone (my friend was at work), even in the middle of the day, it’s quite disconcerting to get so much attention although, in fact, it’s nice when people say hello. I didn’t feel unsafe, not at all, but I definitely wouldn’t walk around alone after dark. Mind you, I wouldn’t do that in my hometown, it wasn’t just Goa.

Having spent the first evening having dinner and drinks with Nishant, I had the next day to myself. I had been reading up on single women travelling around India and, quite frankly, it got me nervous. There have been so many stories about bad things happening to women, I was really apprehensive about going out on my own.

As it happened, it was raining and I almost used that as an excuse not to go anywhere but, after a while, the rain stopped and I took the bull by the horns and ventured out on my own. And I am so glad I did.

I went for breakfast, had a wander around the town and went to the beach. On the way back, I had lunch and I befriended a waiter and the owner of the bar, Amit and Sunita. They were such lovely people. Sunita told me that during the high season the bar would be packed out all day, every day with tourists but in the monsoon season it’s a different story; everywhere I went there were hardly any people around.

Having been in Goa for a couple of days, I wondered whether I would still go travelling around India on my own. I think if I had landed in Delhi, which I imagine would have been more busy and hectic, I probably would have got on a plane straight back to Thailand. Thankfully, I have since changed my mind about this. I think it was a case of not having been there before and not knowing what I was doing; how to dress or behave, that sort of thing. Even though I had been reassured by Nishant who told me I would be absolutely fine. And I was.

The following day, Nishant had the day off so we went to Goa’s capital, Panjim. We had a full English breakfast to prepare us for our day out. Honestly, who goes to India for a full English? But I have never been one to eat the local delicacies for breakfast. I certainly don’t in Thailand, it’s cereal and toast for me!

We stopped at Miramar beach to take a few photos, went to visit some churches and temples that I wanted to see and drove around Fontainhas, the old Latin Quarter in the city. It’s really beautiful with quaint little lanes and beautifully coloured buildings. The ones that have been restored are stunning, and I saw many villas that I imagined myself living in. Even the ones that hadn’t been restored still had a certain charm about them.

From Panjim, we drove to Old Goa. There isn’t much to see there but the drive along the Mandovi River is fabulous. What we did see is the Basilica de Bom Jesus, a beautiful Baroque style church which is over 400 years old, making it one of the oldest churches in India. Inside, the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier lie. There is a public viewing of his body every ten years and a huge number of tourists come from all over the world to pay respect.

Across the road is Se Cathedral. This cathedral was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese in 1619. It originally had two towers, but one collapsed when it was struck by lightning and was never rebuilt. The architectural style of the Se Cathedral is Portuguese-Manueline. The exterior is Tuscan and the the interior is Corinthian. It has a beautiful, white facade and it’s surrounded by green gardens. Inside, the gold reredos is stunning; carved with scenes from the life of St Catherine.

The last day I spent wandering around, I had lunch and a few drinks. In the evening me and Nishant shared a lovely meal together. One of the things I was looking forward to was the Indian food. I love it. I eat it as much as I can even in Bangkok. So I wasn’t disappointed to find that it was, obviously, more delicious than any I had tried anywhere else. The thalis were amazing.

All too soon it was time for me to leave Goa. It’s always the same, you look forward to something so much and then, in a flash, it’s over. But, having had doubts about India and thinking I wouldn’t go back there, I am definitely going back for more adventures at some point. As for Goa, that trip was unquestionably one for the memory banks.

An Airport Challenge

Airport Challenge, talkingthailand.co.uk

I have wanted to go to India for such a long time and I got the opportunity to visit a friend in Goa and when opportunity knocks you should jump at the chance, right? Well I did. I didn’t quite jump mind you, I deliberated-a lot. In the space of a few days, I was going, then I wasn’t going, then I was going again and it was only after approval from my dear mum (I still need her approval at my tender age!) that I decided life is too short for this much deliberation.

The journey was far from uneventful. I have never flown on an international flight followed by a domestic flight in one day before and it was confusing to say the least. When I checked in at Bangkok I asked the lady if my bag went straight through to Goa because I was to get a connecting flight in Mumbai. She told me it would but I needed to clear customs in Mumbai.

I didn’t really understand that but nevertheless I got to Mumbai with no problems. It wasn’t so plain sailing after that. I got to the arrival hall where there were signs for domestic transfer, so far so good. I followed them and it took me passed an office for diplomatic passports and, as it turned out, E-tourist visas, which is what I had arranged before my trip. The office was exactly the place I needed to be to clear customs but at the time I didn’t realise that. There were no signs for that!

Airport Challenge, talkingthailand.co.uk

Now slightly baffled, I asked someone which way I needed for domestic transfer and she directed me to the immigration queue. Now I realised what the lady in Bangkok meant by having to clear customs.

After about 10 minutes, I walked up to the desk only to be told that I needed desk numbers 4-6. Yep, you guessed it, the office where I had passed earlier. So, back I went and now I saw the sign for E-tourist visa, not a sign with an arrow but on the window. Honestly, who looks at those! Not me, apparently!

There weren’t many people in the queue, so I waited in line to be stamped into the country. I waited and waited. Each person had to have biometric tests done; fingers scanned and picture taken. But the scanner wasn’t working properly, so it was taking up to 15 minutes to get one person done and there were about ten people in front of me.

By this time I was starting to panic; what if I missed my connecting flight? I had a good two hours between flights but with all this delay the time was ticking on. Eventually, after an hour and a half I cleared customs and I had to race to the domestic terminal. It wasn’t over yet!

If you remember, the lady in Bangkok told me I wouldn’t see my bag until I reached Goa, so I by-passed the luggage carousel and queued at the bag-drop counter. B-A-G D-R-O-P! Still the penny hadn’t dropped. I stood there wondering why I had to wait as I had my boarding pass already, so I asked the lady if I needed to check my bags in. She told me I did.

At this point, I began to lose the power of speech. I babbled what I had been told in Bangkok. The lovely lady replied, “Yes, they do go through, but you need to drop them here. Go back and get your bag and come back here.” Time still ticking!

So, I ran back to the luggage carousel only to met by a large security man who asked, “What happened, ma’am?”

I could hardly get my words out. But he let me pass, only to find that my bag wasn’t on the belt. I felt like crying by this point. I am not going to Goa today I thought. I ran up to the desk and tried to explain, I am going to Goa, the delay, my bag, blah blah blah……….He replied, “Is that your bag?” I turned around and, lo and behold, my bag was sitting on the, now stationary, carousel looking as lost as I felt.

I could have kissed that guy. I rescued my bag and made my way back to the bag-drop counter. Before I got there though, I had to get my bag scanned but the security guard must have seen my face, nearly in tears, because he told me just to go through. As I approached the bag-drop counter for the second time that day, a guy came racing along shouting “Goa! Goa!” Now I knew I was on borrowed time. The lady quickly checked my boarding pass, I said goodbye to my bag once more and I walked, half-ran actually, to the domestic terminal. I got there still with ten minutes to spare.

Finally, I arrived in Goa in one piece, although I had to fight back the tears a few times. I actually consider myself well travelled and know what I am doing at airports but that day I was certainly put to the test. Thankfully I passed! Just!

 

Streets of Delhi

A while ago I did a guest post for one of my fellow bloggers. This post is from him about his home town in Delhi. His blog is about his life in India and the things he does and sees. You can be sure of a very interesting read, so do check it out.

http://processingthelife.com/

ENJOY 😉

I was wondering for many days about what I should write for my guest post and since Gill has written a brilliant post for my blog, I was a little nervous. I have visited limited places till now and most of my posts in my blog are about Delhi  because that’s where I live and it is also the central point of my blog.

As I started to ponder about what will be the best thing I could write about, the answer was simple, it should be about Delhi. Since Delhi has so many beautiful places to see it would be a unfair to post about few things only. So,I thought the best thing would be able to take you through the journey which I do most of the days. A typical Delhi journey. This journey will give you a feel and knowledge about the normal daily life in the streets of Delhi. I have this habit of taking random pictures and like street photography a lot because it allows you to capture raw moments. You can capture unknown people and some really amazing moments.

Streets of India
Streets of India

This picture shows the first place where I visit the everyday. This is the road adjoining the metro station. This picture has been taken by me when I was standing on the foot-over bridge which connects the parking with the metro station.

Metro view
Metro view

View from the metro is always wonderful. I like standing on one side of the metro and looking outside. The people moving in cars have no idea that we are moving in this metro though we are able to see them. I always wonder where these cars are going? Where are these people going? Whom do they want to meet? Every moment you travel, you see so many people travelling simultaneously and sometimes it makes me feel really wonderful to be part of all this.

Indian market
Indian market

Some days I used to come with my father to this market. This market is not so popular but they have some really nice sweet shops. I like the sweets here. They have their unique taste. The sunlight and the trees creates a peaceful atmosphere.

Busy street in Delhi
Busy street in Delhi

While going to my college I used to leave my metro at this place (station) and take the bus from here. This is one the busiest roads in Delhi and most of the time it faces traffic jams. There is nothing worse than being struck in the traffic that in the morning, one feels the whole day is wasted. You can see that this is not a very wide road but so many vehicles are moving simultaneously here.

Crowd at Delhi street
Crowd at Delhi street

I thought you won’t believe about the crowd and the traffic so I’m posting this picture. That’s what it looks like when the crowd fills the road. Buses and people are everywhere, it’s morning time and everybody is rushing to their work. Though there is a little chaos but that’s the life of city. This fast moving life makes this city the place it is and as they say “DELHI MERI JAAN”. 🙂 😀

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Gaurab - Processingthelife.com
Gaurab – Processingthelife.com

This post is written by Gaurab from ProcessingTheLife.com

His blog is about Travels, photography and writing about India and Indian culture. His blog also contains essays, tips and his opinions.