Winter remains harsh in the tuga homeland and generates a sudden desire to escape to another cozier side of the world.
Seventeen hours after take-off from a frigid Portela, we landed in sultry Mumbai. Blessed by the city's fluid traffic at this late hour, we quickly proceeded to Central Station.
The Long Rail Stretch between Bombay and Goa
There are several hours before the departure of the mandovi express but there is not a single room or business open at the station. With no alternative, we installed ourselves against the wall of a bordering platform, as abstracted as possible from the rats' incursions into the gloomy, oily depression in which the rails rested.
The composition starts shortly after sunrise. We celebrate the fact that the seats bounce like a blessing from Shiva. Once the luggage is accommodated, we land diagonally.
We only woke up hundreds of kilometers later, on the threshold of the state of Maharashtra and with that of Goa announcing itself.
"Old Goa, Anjuna, Panjim?" other passengers asked us to leave at the right station. We leave the train at the Old Goa station and, with darkness creeping in, we transfer in a white Ambassador to an inn named Punan, located on the Anjuna seafront.
Tropical Seaside and Anjuna Backpacker
That night, we still had a look at a rehearsal of rave parties in the vicinity. There was a full moon but the event lacked trance and the incessant approaches of sellers of everything ended up convincing us to return to the new rooms.
The first awakening in Goa is rewarded with an invigorating breakfast on an elevated terrace. We enjoy the meal with pleasure and tranquility. Not as much as we wanted.
It is with surprise that we hear female voices coming from below: “Little business, sir, madam!” just a little business.” Intrigued, we peeked over the balcony and discovered two young saleswomen on the porous black slab. They carry open cloths above their heads.
Teenagers intensify the appeal. "Very good cloth, madam. Please tell me a good price!”. By that time, we were giving absolute priority to the inaugural dive in the Arabian Sea. The wish would not take long to come true.
The rough sands of Goa and the Arabian Sea
After a long bath and a conviviality lying on the Anjuna beach, our appetite comes back to us. We bought pineapple kebabs and sweetened the morning even more. It is, again, short-lasting sunshine.
Indian cows, sacred like all, superb beach queens smell the sweet aroma of the fruit in the air.
In a flash, we have them with their snouts close to their faces, making up what was left of the snack. Its persistence becomes such that it forces us to rise from the fray.
Instigated by the battle won, those bathing cattle chase us as we run around, skewers at our fingertips.
We got far enough away to discourage them and took advantage of the swing to walk along the coast to the north. Also to those sides, more saleswomen and more cows would star in reproductions of the previous scenes.
Revenge is not intentional but, with proper authorization, we join a Hindu wedding so that, without any real warning or invitation, it summons us.
In a photographic way, we disturb him as much as we can.
Secret Files. Mulder & Scully at an Unexpected Cinema in Goa
We had to wait for the dark night and for the retreat from the terrace of Punan guest house to feel an undisputed peace. This time, for a change, we're the ones to stop it.
An intriguing glare flickers in the air. It doesn't seem to have the party pattern rave it's not even time for it. We decided to investigate. We found an almost full modular amphitheater. Even though we're not big fans, we find ourselves following an old episode of the X-Files series, projected on a giant white sheet.
In the heart of Anjuna, under a hyperstarry firmament, sweating from the heat of the Goan summer, among haughty coconut trees and other attributes of Indian tropicalism, we accompanied the duo Mulder & Scully in “Ice”, an esoteric adventure set in the grandiose arctic setting of Alaska.
But we were at fault with the Portugality of Goa. In the middle of the next morning, we rented a motor scooter and moved to Panjim.
In the capital, we wander through alleys with names as familiar as some of ours, go up to Altinho and to the church of Nª Srª da Imaculada Conceição.
Ao Deus Dará, through the streets of the Capital Pangim
In the neighborhoods of Fontainhas and São Tomé, we speak to several inhabitants with lighter complexions, olive green eyes and other shades, previously uncommon in those parts of India that only the Portuguese historical presence can justify.
One or two older natives dare to exemplify their rusty mastery of our language and even express some nostalgia for the already distant colonial past. “What I can tell you is that we all had a good life together, a Mr. Lourenço assures us”.
The Indian government disagrees, fulfills its role and continues to rescue the territory from the former landlords. It recently announced the enactment of a law confiscating Portuguese property in Goa. The decision still needs to be talked about.
The city's enterprising souls prefer to profit from the cultural legacy. We found it on one of the cruise ships on the Mandovi River. In addition to the crew, a battalion of Indian men and dozens of women from saris.
“Malhão, Malhão” and Other Portuguese Successes, Rio Mandovi Up
We had barely settled in when the hosts start a show that includes interpretations of Anglophone, Indian folk songs. And also Portuguese.
All passengers – us much more than the rest – are surprised by an imitation of a folklore ranch with an Indo-Minho look. Amazement turns to apprehension and, soon, to dread when they summon us to a distorted "Malhão, Malhão".
Indian men, on the other hand, rejoice when their turn comes. After the live performances are over, the animators loudly shout some Bollywoodesque success. As soon as he recognizes him, the mob hurls itself from the tables onto the dance floor.
As if they were all born Shahrukh Khans or other Mumbai idols, they squirm, waving their arms and hands back and forth, up and down wildly. And they emulate, in a delicious onboard ecstasy, the choreographies that they spent their lives admiring.
The women in the group, these, just watch.
On another afternoon, we passed through Old Goa and examined the majestic ecclesiastical heritage left there by our nation of adventurers, discoverers and missionaries, in particular the Basilica of Bom Jesus where lies the body of St. Francis de Xavier, the Apostle of the East.
Departure in Distress for Cochin
When we realized that the train we had to take south was passing the local station in three hours, we went into distress mode.
We ran off to deliver the scooter and got a taxi that was waiting for us at the inn while we hurriedly stuff everything into our backpacks. We pay for the stay and let the driver of this new Ambassador know that he has to follow through.
The man insists on proving to us the quality of those classics. It almost flies into the interior of Goa. Along the way, we still brag about the music on his museum car radio. We ended up buying the tape from you.
Upon arrival, we see Netravati Express already gaining momentum. We still got him. Fifteen hours later, we were admitted to Cochin.