Goa this time round (Jan end)

This trip had more of a holiday flavour than the last – for one, it coincided with our wedding anniversary and then it had Kabir with us. But it wasn’t all fun and games as furniture hunting took away some of our 8 precious days.

Birdwatching: Didn’t manage any focused birding – but one day, just when I mumbled that I needed a ‘pick me up,’ Kishore pointed out a female Asian Paradise Flycatcher taking at least 3 dips into the complex swimming pool to cool off! Two other lovely birds, Common Kingfisher and Brahminy Kites, were commonly seen. And two Golden Orioles and a White-cheeked Barbet just appeared on a casual walk around the complex. Black Drongoes, White-throated Kingfishers and Black-Shouldered Kites, on the other hand, were all over Arpora fields. Being a good spotter, Kishore always manages more bird sightings than me, and saw a Crimson Sunbird several times from the flat balcony.

Friends: An interesting aspect of the trip was meeting Amit-Kirti Kalra. Connecting with friendly faces from the city life helps the experience of Goa feel real – otherwise it’s like a collage of moving colours! Thanks to their presence and their daughter Aashna’s birthday on the 27th, we covered South Goa on one day and the Tropical Spice Plantation with them on another. Aashna’s interest in Brittos pastries and shakes helped experience a motorboat ride from Baga till Anjuna on one afternoon too. Those aspects of the trip cheered Kabir like few other.

Then, I met my friend, Kamlabai on Calangute again. She’s made me some great bottle slings, potlis and bags on each trip. I find though that her bags are never as good as our collective inadvertent invention – a colourful waterbottle sling. I’ve got her to make me so many but am surprised that she hasn’t started selling them with her bags. She says that they don’t sell. And, I ask her to at least display a couple. To that she says that the ones on display are taken away quickly. Then, what’s the problem in making more, I haven’t understood. But she is affable enough to meet again, and I can always think of some people I want to take slings for from each visit. This time she made me and Kabir two complimentary mobile phone pouches as well that look rather nice.

New Experiences: We decided to unravel some beaches of North Goa ahead of Baga, and covered Anjuna and Morjim. As expected, Anjuna was full of people and sellers, and Morjim had fewer shacks, no stalls but showed a clean, swimmable part of the Arabian sea. Kishore-Kabir frolicked into the waves while I watched over their stuff.

Also visited a spice plantation (Tropical) for the first time. Had high expectations from it but it fell flat against them. We’ll try to go over to a couple more to decide if they’re worth bothering about in general.

Living a regular life in the flat was new experience too. Cooked khichri on two occasions and otherwise ate out.

Food: We’d to experience Ritz Classic again. And, we did, but almost at the end of the stay. Starlight’s prawn masala and crabs were fun, and Spice Oven’s thin crust pizza got home-delivered so it felt great. The general experience of getting food ‘parcelled’ wasn’t positive though. Starlight cribbed about doing so.

The ‘only for season’ food places had appeared all around Arpora – Spice Oven and Honey were reasonable with continental, and popular for Indian (which we didn’t try), preparations and we figured that their owners were from Manali. Saffron was popular for its tandoori food among locals but we had their Goan fare which was fine.

One of the residents mentioned Kimfa as a good Chinese place on Baga but we managed visits only to the regulars in the form of Infantaria, Anthony’s, Souza Lobo and Capricorn.

Shopping: I’ll do a separate post on furniture based finds and cover other forms of shopping here.

For Handicraft, I love the look of doll puppets and clowns available at Aparant – the Government sponsored handicraft shop in Panjim and elsewhere. I also like the look of bottle slings and potlis made by Kamlabai, a bag seller on Calangute. Then, there is Heirloom in Panjim that is run by a nice gentleman who’s only too happy to chat about his carefully procured wares and has priced his items reasonably in comparison to another place where I happened to find one or two similar tribal craft pieces.

This time round, Kishore and I managed to halt in time to drop by the Tantra Tshirt shop on Candolim. Its range of tshirts was very much more satisfying than Shopper’s Stop in Gurgaon. I’d no idea of the line of Tantra Women Ts and enjoyed looking through their funny proclamations. The store owners Prince and Max were also a delight to talk to.

Another innocuous looking place but one that offered much pleasure was Happily Unmarried on Candolim. Its bottle openers, mugs, coasters, tshirts were lots of fun to drool over – even for a happily married sort like me.

Then, there was Fabindia. Am I happy that it makes its presence felt in Panjim and Candolim with its great range of clothes, furniture and homeware. Even if I’ve no particular shopping plans from Fabindia, on each visit, I’ve managed to convince Kishore into browsing its shelves with me.

But more about the Fabindia experience and elsewhere in another post.

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