Rajan Bala
A soul-stirring first novel…could well be the first of its kind in India written in English …
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Meenakshi Mukherjee
It is a novel difficult to put down.

Charu Sharma
What can I say? Take a bow Hari.
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Places - Goa

Among all the beaches I spent lazing at Goa, Kolva remains my favorite. There's something no-nonsensical about the place. A long and seemingly never-ending beach - I walked some 11 kilometers once and still did not reach its end then. Of course it's called by different names every hundred meters but we all know that it's the same beach!!

Kolva beach is 7 kms from Madgaon which is the biggest town closeby. A straight (or is it winding?) road from Madgaon takes one to Kolva. I have vivid memories of the 7 kms because I walked most of it with my young skipper Vivek Jaisimha after what could probably be my first drinking binge on wine (and most likely his) during a Ranji Trophy game against Goa in 1986. Back then there were not too many buses that were transporting people back from the beach after 8 p.m. so we had to leg it to our hotel.

That was the last I stayed so far away from the beach. These days I park myself at the Sukh Sagar a well hidden little hotel which is exactly five minutes away from the beach. All basics are taken care of - clean sheets, hot water, breakfast, reasonable price, morning tea - so unless it's fully occupied, we head straight there. For all meals and beer we head off to the beach and find one of the shacks that abound a small distance away from the entrance of the beach.
Now the entrance of the beach can be spotted easily because it is where most people congregate. It's this funny thing with the day tourists to Goa. They get off the buses in droves, race straight into the water right opposite the entrance, plonk themselves fully clothed in the water (or worse strip down to their underwear in other cases), some grab a beer and drink it all down like its going out of stock but what intrigues me is this - they do not travel more than 500 meters away from the entrance. Maybe they fear the bus going off without them, which is a valid reason!

But all the fun is farther away from the entrance. The crowd peters out, there are more quality shacks, there's a bit of peace and quiet and that's where I'd like to go. When in Kolva I normally head off for a nice long walk early in the morning when the sun is still mellow and try to do as much as I can before I start getting hungry. It's a long lovely walk and you can see the fishermen's boats returning pretty soon with their catch and selling off some catch on the beach itself. I stop when I am hungry at any of the shacks that catches my fancy and do a fine heavy breakfast of fresh fruit juice, toast and one of those fine cheesy omelettes they make. Settle down with a book or the music or just watch the blue sea and the blue sky and then head off lazily in any direction that pleases me. Normally by then, someone from the gang spots me and we either hook up for a beer and some more lazy living. Closer to lunch we work up an appetite by either walking (my style) or swimming (other styles). And then it is back to any of those shacks for a fine lunch of the new catch. Beer and King fish fry, rice and fish or prawns curry. That's heaven. We just about have enough strength to head back to the room and doze off.

Evening's begin with a pick me up tea. Walk down to the beach. By now the tourists are in. So head far out. Jog or walk until its time for sunset. Settle down on the beach and get ready for the big show. You don't get a better sunset than on the western coast of India. It's truly magical until the Sun fades off. It always takes me many more minutes to get out of my trance and then with a deep sigh, it's back to the action at the shacks again. Sometimes if we find a better joint for food and drink that's not on the beach we head there or even to some event. Night ends way late, of course, normally with a late night walk down the beach - another magical experience. And then fully sated, its time to head back to the faithful bed.
I have spent six full days in Goa repeating exactly this same routine every single day and believe me, I was enjoying the routine more and more everyday. Do just that when you're in Goa next. Pick your beach and stay there. Just laze, eat, drink and make merry. I'd wager a bet that you could do it for the rest of your life and still not get bored!


 
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