Monday, May 26, 2008


To travel the 300 miles from Mumbai to Goa on the Manavi Express train took 12 hours and endless tiny cups of sweet tea from the friendly circulating chai wallahs. Cockroaches crawled across my first class sleeping berth, but I didn't mind- I was too happy to be leaving Mumbai.

Entering Goa feels like stepping into such a different world that you have to pinch yourself. It is a small coastal state with just under 2 million people; the sky is clear and large, and the air is clean, with the ocean always close by on the west and a small mountain range to the east. Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961, and local religion, customs, and way of life reflect this influence with white washed churches from the 1800s, and ubiquitous five-point star lights in every home and establishment, side by side with Hindu temples. I was especially captivated by the star lights. At night, you can see hundreds of them glowing against the darkness in every colour imaginable.

It's definitely not the '70s anymore- most of the hippies are long gone- and while Goa still has some laid back, long term beach visitors, raves with Goan trance music are happening less here than an explosion of packaged tourism and a hot real estate market, particularly for the British, Russians (there is a surprising amount of vodka and Versace), and more recently, the newly wealthy from India, seeking vacation homes. This is a place to relax on the beach, and in a delightful twist, a place where cows rule that beach.

For more photos of Goa, please check my flickr page.

No comments: