Back to Reality

12 Nov

A Facebook status update my one of my friends: “Back from Goa, unfortunately.  Was Mumbai really this crazy?”
A reply: “Coming back from Goa is like having a week full of Mondays.”

I must admit, one of the best things about being in Palolem, Goa, was eing treated like royalty.  I don’t know if some of my expat friends had the same experience in north Goa, but in the south, we were spoiled.  On our first night at the Palolem Beach Resort, we made ourselves at home at the beachside restaurant.  When undecided about what to order, the servers brought out platters of the fresh catches-of-the-day.  They then agreed to marinate our selections for a couple of hours and have it ready for when the rest of the group joined us for dinner.  In the meantime, we lounged at the table with drinks in hand as the sun set over the Arabian Sea.

The next day, a group of us walked down the beach to find a suitable spot to park ourselves for the day.  Some people wanted direct sunlight for the optimum tanning experience, while others (myself included)  wanted chairs and umbrellas to avoid direct sunlight at all costs.  We got to Cafe del Mar, threw our towels on some chairs, and headed to the bar to order drinks.  We noticed that there were men still doing construction on the bar and tables and working to get the bar ready for the beginning of beach season.  Kennedy, the manager of Cafe del Mar, assured us that construction would be complete by the time the evening crowd arrived (it wasn’t).

In the meantime, some European women came back for their chairs that we had since claimed.  We gave them up, and before we could decide what to do, the staff from the bar began pulling more chairs and umbrellas out of storage and setting them up for us on the beach.  And, when the rest of the group joined us later, chairs and umbrellas were set up for them as well.  We spent the whole day there (and the next day too), made friends with Kennedy, and requested to have a table reserved for us later, promising we’d return after a couple of hours for dinner, drinks, and hookah.

Cafe del Mar

Let me explain that making reservations isn’t as easy at it sounds.  When I called to reserve the room at the Palolem Beach Resort three weeks ago, the receptionist told me to call back two days before my arrival to confirm the booking.  “But, I will have the room, right?”  I asked.  “Oh, yes, but just call to confirm.”  Sometimes, or most times, certain processes in India don’t make any sense, but I decided to go with it.  I called the next week to inquire about airport pickup (which I knew we wouldn’t use), then double checked that the reservation was still on file.  Then, I called two days before arrival to make sure there would be enough towels in the room and to confirm the reservation.  So, I didn’t understand, why, five minutes before boarding the plane to Goa, I received a call from the receptionist asking me if I’d be checking in that day. UMMM, YES!!

So, you can understand why, when Kennedy promised to hold a table for us while we went back to our rooms to shower and change for dinner, I was skeptical that he would follow through.  But, he did, and we kept our end of the deal, ordering plenty of  food, drinks, and hookah before moving on to the only other club we could find on the beach.

***

Tonight, I met up with a friend who had gone to north Goa the same time I was in Palolem.  We didn’t go into specific details of our trips, but we both agreed on one thing:  Maybe we shouldn’t have gone to Goa so soon after arriving in Mumbai.  Going to Goa for a weekend just makes coming back to the city so dreadful.  Before Goa, the madness of Mumbai was the norm.  We had learned to sleep through the constant honking; we were used to pushing ourselves, or getting pushed, onto buses and trains; we’d come to expect to have our cell phone service shut off once a week for no reason.

But, now, being pushed onto a crowded train is frustrating, and, in the last 24 hours,  I’ve yelled at six customer service representatives with Vodafone for “screwing me over.”  After a serene weekend in Goa, all of these norms just seem like major inconveniences.

Druv's Kitchen at the Palolem Beach Resort

 

On the way to the Goa airport

No trip is complete without a little hiccup: tire blowout on the way to the airport

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