Who Says You Can’t Party With Your Mom in Goa?

There’s an old picture of my mom in our house. She’s standing on a boat, eyes almost closed, looking into the distance, almost as if she’s staring into the future. Her expression’s calm, serene even, as if she’s unaware of the troubles of the future.

Ok, ok. I know its a cliché that Indian guys love their moms. But I bet even the most hardcore Indian guy would think twice before taking their mom for a holiday in India’s top party destination. But it can be done. And has been done with style. All explained below. Warning – you may be overcome with an irresistible desire to gift your parents a dream holiday. In which case my work is done.

I’ve always been a pretty calm guy. But, as any kid knows, I have driven my mom mad at several occasions, sometimes out of genuine doubt, sometimes just to see how far I could test her patience (we all do this, don’t deny it). Bless her heart, despite going through a difficult divorce and raising me and my brother on her own, without any family support, my mom somehow survived it all. I promised myself that I would make sure her troubles and struggles would be worth it, sooner rather than later. No one deserved an awesome Goa holiday more than her.

I love to travel, to new places and old. I love good food and discovering all kinds of quirky things which people don’t know even about well known places. Having been involved in the luxury hotel business in Maldives and Goa, I had a good background to prepare the ultimate holiday for my mom. And by a great holiday, I mean one with great experiences, not just expensive hotels.

It was the month of August, 2013. Mom’s birthday’s there in the first week. This is how it went.

Goan monsoon

Goan monsoon, fresh and windy

It was a cloudy morning when I headed to the Dabolim airport in a hired car, which I was driving. I’d just quit my job, and planned to spend the next few days in Goa with mom, before returning home to Delhi. So we had a good 3-4 days in Goa. I drove fast but carefully, a little apprehensive. Didn’t want mom to get caught in the rain.

Downing food at Down The Road, Panjim

Downing food at Down The Road, Panjim

The first place we headed was this lovely restaurant in Panjim called Down The Road. We had a light lunch there before heading off to our hotel in Candolim. This was my mom’s first proper visit to Goa, she’d last visited as a child on a school trip. We settled into the very laid back hotel Casablanca, and then spent the day exploring nearby places. I took her to the Fort Aguada nearby.

Goan monsoon

Goan monsoon

Then we drove on the road to the Aguada prison, and I stopped by this place by a massive old banyan tree. There was an unbelievable view of the sea from there.

Be careful, mom!

Be careful, mom!

Mom’s eye’s lit up and she went running forward like an excited little girl; I was a bit afraid that she might slip. It was nice to see her so happy and carefree :). We clicked a few pics, and sat for a while, enjoying the fresh sea breeze, the grass and flowers. Later, we even saw a flock of brilliantly blue peacocks crossing the road. We visited the popular Café Bhonsle and the famous Ritz Classic later.

Our getaway party vehicle

Our getaway party vehicle

I’d hired a white Wagon R for the trip (rented at about Rs. 600 per day), which I drove. The freedom it gave us, was great. I had a rough itinerary in mind, knowing a few places that we should definitely not miss.

Whenever, wherever for great photos

Whenever, wherever for great photos

Whenever wherever we liked, we stopped to take photos, anytime we saw anything interesting. My mom loves seafood, and I had something really special planned for that. Later.

August is a great time to be in Goa. The seas are wild and rough, swimming isn’t allowed. Its the monsoon period, and the sky can pour torrents any time, the rain gods having devious fun opening the heavenly faucets to drench us unsuspecting mortals.

On the green roads of Goa

On the green roads of Goa

The upside was that there was a heavenly smell of the freshly moist soil, the bright green grass and plants everywhere, and absolutely no traffic anywhere. You know what a blessing that is if you’ve ever been stuck in traffic in the rain in any of the metros. None of that here. Just your heart singing as you press on the accelerator, taking you where you desire, warm and snug in your own car with old song’s playing in the car’s music player. It helps to prepare a playlist of your mom’s favourite songs before hand :).

Spicy Elephants

Spicy Elephants

As beaches were out of the question, we drove to Ponda to visit the Tropical Spice Plantation. We got lost and took the wrong way, but even that was fun as we stopped, and while Google Maps was caliberating, took a few photos on the road with the lovely green meadows and some curious cows. The Spice Plantation is a great place to take your parents. In the parking area, they have 2-3 elephants which you can ride (and maybe bathe). After buying tickets (a very reasonable Rs. 400 per person),  walk down across a small wooden bridge into a wooden hut area, where a local Goan guide awaits to show you and your group around.

Lemongrass tea and white flower garlands

Lemongrass tea and white flower garlands

The guides first offer you an aromatic lemongrass tea and garland you with small, delicate white flowers.

Laxmi, our well informed guide

Laxmi, our well informed guide

Then they take you and show you lemongrass, cardamom, a spice plant which has 5 distinct flavours (I forget the name, it was panch something). As it was raining, I was given a giant Kingfisher umbrella, which was pretty funny to carry around. We also saw how  Uraak, the local Goan liquor made from cashew nuts, is traditionally prepared.

All natural, eco friendly and absolutely delicious

All natural, eco friendly and absolutely delicious

The tour ends with a sumptous lunch made with all the locally grown spices. Both veg and non veg options served in traditional earthen pots and are eaten on coconut coir plates. Mom and I sat peacefully, enjoying the delicious food, and watching other families and kids around us.

Butterfly Conservatory Goa

Butterfly Conservatory Goa

Another place which few people know about is the Butterfly Conservatory in Goa. Mom loved this place, with all its beautiful butterflies and various fragile, flowering plants, specially grown to attract the butterflies. A citizen’s initiative, the Butterfly Conservative is run by a very amiable Goan couple, Dr Jyoti Heblekar and his wife, who even serve a delicious lunch (on request). Dr Jyoti also takes you on trek up the mountains through heavily forested area to visit a waterfall which is quite an adventure (one I did not take my mom on :P).

A lovely large butterfly

A lovely large butterfly

The best time to visit here is September, when the valley begins to bloom with dainty, pretty flowers making it feel like a verdant paradise interspersed with stars that have fallen down and taken root. The couple have a pretty amazing house, their roof is covered with grass!!! They take you to the top and you can even sit and have tea and see the hill rise up above you. Visit it if you haven’t already.

Huge chandelier

Huge chandelier

Next stop was Old Goa, where we visited the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus, a huge church. The high ceilings, giant glass chandeliers, red-blue stained glass windows and statues with beatific expressions always inspire a deep awe, no matter how many times I visit.

We checked out of Casablanca  the next day, and shifted to the Maitri guesthouse in Baga, a very comfortable place run by a very friendly family. I was friends with Sudi, who manages the place. They warmly welcomed us, and we moved to a very comfortable room.

Cheese Garlic Naan and Hot Chai

Cheese Garlic Naan and Hot Chai

We spent this day driving and exploring beaches. From Anjuna to Arambol, we drove far. It was a grey, cloudy day with a heavy hint of rain. At Arambol, we had a delicious snack of Cheese Garlic Naan and hot chai, a brilliant combo that is especially heavenly in the cool weather.

At Chapora Fort

At Chapora Fort

On our way back, we stopped to visit the famous Chapora fort, where the Dil Chahta Hai scene was shot. Mom had a little trouble climbing up, but she good naturedly made her way walking “diagonally” (in a zig zag manner), as she so cutely put it.  You gotta love your parents for their little quirks.

Random salads

Random salads

Lunch was at the Mango hotel at Vagator. Egg salad,chili chicken and my most favourite ginger lemon tea with honey.

Ginger Lemon Tea with Honey, yay!

Ginger Lemon Tea with Honey, yay!

We dropped by the Asterix Hostel, and Mom had great fun exploring the place and reading the colourful messages other travelers have scribbled on the walls.

Travelers musings on the walls of Asterix

Travelers musings on the walls of Asterix

I’ve written a whole post about it here.

We went back to rest after the whole day of driving. Evening was upon us and I told Sudi it was my mom’s birthday, and I wanted to do something special. We booked a table at the famous Britto’s on Baga beach, which was a perfect setting.

Glittering Britto's

Glittering Britto’s

At night, we left for Britto’s. The restaurant glittered with candle lit lamps on the tables, and various assorted memorabilia. We ordered drinks and talked, as I waited for the surprise to come. A black forest cake with a huge Happy Birthday message and candles was brought to the table, much to mom’s delight.

Dark photo of delicious food

Dark photo of delicious food

The prawn curry, and chicken curry were perfect accompaniments to a lavish birthday dinner.

Nightlife at Baga Beach

Nightlife at Baga Beach

After dinner, we went to the bar next to Britto’s so that Mom could get a feel of the famous nightlife of Goa. We heard some bad karaoke singing and the took a walk on the beach, which was full of people even at that late hour.

Mom and I spent some time chatting to this guy trying to sell us glow-in-the-dark bands, asking him how he came to be in Goa and his story. Though we didn’t buy anything from him (he was charging almost Rs. 1000 for the band!), he was happy to talk and tell his story.

One of the best parts of the trip was when we drove to see the sea at Vagator beach that night. Quiet, with the silver moon shining above and the gushing sound of the waves, it was peaceful in a way that only Goa can be.

A happy Mom

A happy Mom

Finally, the next day, I drove mom back to the airport. We stopped at a temple on the way to take blessings for the journey home. The smile and relaxed expression on Mom’s face, and the happy memories of the past few days, was enough to know I’d done something right.

So who says you can’t party with your Mom in Goa?

Gift your parents a Goan holiday, they more than deserve it.

Links to places we visited:

  1. Butterfly Conservatory
  2. Tropical Spice Plantation - great for a one time visit and lunch. Elephant ride and batch seems to be a bit overpriced at Rs. 600 each for 10min (as of August 2013).
  3. Hotel Casablanca - nice place, with an ok ok buffet breakfast. Rooms are comfortable, and staff is friendly, but I recommend eating somewhere else.
  4. Maitri Guesthouse - Great, comfortable place, and I think the wi-fi has been installed. Call Sudi to book a room. He can even have a car sent to the airport for you. Super convenient.

Jamaican Passion with a Goan Flavour

Its a slightly long story, about why Jamaican Passion is the best flavor for Breezers. It involves Jamaica, Goa and of course, a pretty girl. Read on.

*****

I’m not an excitable guy, normally. But on this particular day, as I motorbiked along the Arabian Sea with the sun shining down, and the fresh breeze, I couldn’t help but smile, and even hum a little. It was a beautiful day in Goa and my destination awaited me. I was going to meet her again, after so many years. Carla Willis.

I thought back again to how it had all started….

I was 25. I’d gone on a vacation to the spectacular Ocho Rios, a small town on the north coast of Jamaica. I’d taken off, telling no one other than a few family members and friends. I just wanted to be alone for a while, far away from familiarity and monotony. Though I had a nice job at a good company, I wasn’t really happy with what I was doing.

walking on beach

I spent my days taking long walks and fishing, with just the squawking seagulls and roaring waves for company. It was nice, peaceful even. No four walls to shut me in, no mobile phone, no constant checking of the watch for time, no boss hounding me to finish that client assignment before that deadline (otherwise the world would just implode right?). Just the open sea, the sky above and my thoughts.

2

I liked looking at the people relaxing in the water. The Jamaican people seemed to embody and express the vibrant energy of the place in their play, dance and even the tasty food.

One day, everything changed.

I was at napping at my favourite spot as usual, behind a bunch of rocks, just close enough to the water that the waves would lull me to sleep. It was a little far from the more populated area of the beach, where I couldn’t easily be seen; I like my privacy. Being a new comer though, I had no idea about the changing tides. As I slept, blissfully unaware, the waves grew larger and larger. My book (Shantaram, in case you were wondering), was soaked and ready to sail away. My fishing gear was about to follow, gradually giving way to the insistent tugs of the seductive sea.

Luckily someone saw me.

I woke up to someone roughly shaking me, “Hey wake up,wake up, WAKE UP!”. Groggily, I opened my eyes saw her for the first time.
Carla

Actually, with the sun behind her, I didn’t quite see her, but quickly woke up to the fact that I was drenched and my few belongings were quickly being swept out to sea. We ran around for the next 10 min, gathering all the stuff.

Thankfully, we managed to get most of the things. I was sitting cross-legged in a dry spot, looking over all my things, when Carla came and plonked the wet Shantaram in my lap. Seeing my rueful expression, she couldn’t help but laugh.

And that’s when I really noticed her. She had a beautiful deep laugh, and her nose scrunched up in a really cute way when she smiled. The wind blew her long black hair, partially covering her eyes, which were also laughing at me.

” Fra wha pawt yuh deh? A weh ya baan?”.

By now, I’d spent enough haggling with Jamaicans in the market to understand that she was asking where I was from. I told her I was from India, and we got talking. She’d seen me, walking around alone, and had often wondered about my story (and hoping that I would be smart enough to avoid being robbed). I found it easy to talk to her, and soon found myself sharing everything.

Curry_Goat_with_rice_and_peas_(in_this_case_kidney_beans)

banana_pudding2804851288_c144557bf4

We went to the Fisherman’s market, and continued talking over spicy curry goat rice, rich plantain (a sweet dish made from banana) and lovely gizzadas (a heavenly Jamaican dessert).

And we cemented our friendship over 2 bottles of ice cold Jamaican Passion Breezers.

Over the next few days, we explored Ocho Rios together. We went to the famous Blue Hole, Dunn’s River Falls and the famous Reggae Beach.

8

We went diving together in the deep blue waters. Being underwater in that silence was like being in another world. It felt like there were just 3 people in the world,  Carla, me  and the dive instructor. I really wished the dive instructor hadn’t come along.

Thanks to Carla, I discovered  a Jamaica I would have never found on my own. I fell in love with the relaxed pace of life, the uncomplicated serenity of it all. I got to know her much better too; she’d had a rough childhood, and had lost her brother recently. However, she’d put it all the grief behind, and was working hard to save money for herself and her sister, for further education and a better future. Her optimism and zest for life was infectious and my problems seemed insignificant by comparison.

I told Carla about my dream about being a writer, and she encouraged me to work hard on it.

Everyday, after we said goodbye, she’d smile and say, “See you inna di lights”. (See you tomorrow).

4

We went dancing and Carla even taught me Jamaican slang, which was fun. I learned how to say:

1. Wa’ppun mi key? (What’s up man?)

2. Mi lub yu kyaan done. (My love for you can’t end.)

3.  Wa mek yu sweet so? (Why are you so sweet?)

4. Mi naa jesta. ( I’m not kidding.)

Of course I learnt a lot more slang words, but they’re not for kids.

It gave me a rush to speak like the local Jamaicans, and we turned many heads when we went to places together.

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Evening drink together

We ended every day with 2 bottles of Jamaican Passion Breezers, it became our special ritual. I came to associate that cold, sweet, exotic taste with a day well spent.

All too soon, it was time for me to leave. Carla came to drop me at the airport. We stood, looking at each other, wondering when we’d meet again. I hugged her, and thanked her for all the unforgettable memories. She kissed me and left, her warmth lingering on my cheeks.

holiday-141712_640

Ocho Rios would never be the same.

…….

And today, again, we were meeting after 7 years. We’d kept in touch over email and Facebook. She’d informed me that she was coming to Goa, and whether I was free to meet her. Of course I was. I wondered how much she’d changed.  Pictures are fine, but I wondered whether her nose still scrunched when she smiled.

041

We’d agreed to meet at the Saturday Night Bazaar near Baga beach. I parked my bike, and made way to the entrance. The evening air vibrated with thumping music and sounds of the Bazaar. The bright lights shone over the water of the adjoining river, which lent a delicious coolness to the surroundings.

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Across the bridge she waits

A pair of bright white lamps shone over the small bridge to where Carla was waiting. A lovely woman sat on one of the wooden chairs, looking out over the river.

Was that her?

She turned, the table lamp light cast a soft yellow glow, revealing 2 bottles of Jamaican Passion on the table.

I knew it was going to be a wonderful evening.

*****

This fictional story has been written as part of an entry to the Catch the Flavour contest held by www.breezerindia.com (Click to play the Breezer game). I’ve never been to Jamaica, though it sounds lovely and I would love to go there and make friends with an actual Carla. 

For best story reading experience, start again after clicking on this lovely Bob Marley song “Stir It Up”.

If you liked the story, grab your closest friend/family person/lover and a pair of Jamaican Breezers :). Dancing is optional (though it may be irresistible).

Here are the resources used in writing this post:

  1. Tripadvisor – Activities in Ocho Rios
  2. Ocho Rios Wiki
  3. Jamaican Slang Glossary (Check it out for all the fun slangs to use with your friends, even adult ones!)
  4. All pictures used were my own, or downloaded from Pixabay (site for downloading free HD quality photos) or from Google Advanced Search to ensure that no copyrights were infringed.

5 Cool Things to do in Panjim, Goa

Here’s a short and sweet list of 5 cool things one can do in Panjim:

1. Delicious Naturals Ice Cream

Naturals Ice Cream Menu Panjim Goa

Naturals Ice Cream Menu

With fresh flavours like Tender Coconut, Chikoo, Kalajamum and old favourites like Kesar Pista, Kaju Kishmish and Roasted Almond, there’s something at Naturals for everybody. It’s even endorsed by lots of celebrities, from everyone like Amir Khan to Sanjeev Kapoor!

Ice cream Celebrity endorsements from movie stars and more

Celebrity endorsements from movie stars and more

So step away from the hot sun into this glorious little haven of all things sweet and icy.

My happy colleague with 3 Naturals flavours

My happy colleague with 3 Naturals flavours

I’ve visited a few times with friends and colleagues and always walked away satisfied.

2. Walk around and enjoy the typical Portuguese architecture

Sometimes, it is a pleasant change to just walk around and feel the place.

View from Down the Road, Panjim

View from Down the Road, Panjim

The cute yellow buildings, the shops, the people, all are so very different from a big city. No one’s in a rush, people do not honk and are not rude. And what Goans consider traffic is nothing compared to what people in metros suffer (those who make the Delhi-Gurgaon commute everyday, I feel your pain). Step into the small shops, talk to the people, even if you don’t buy anything.

I was walking one day along side the floating casinos, and just happened to catch the flag lowering ceremony which happens on the main road everyday around 6pm.

It was quite thrilling to watch the police stop the traffic and then trumpet solemnly. Unlike the ceremonies in Delhi, the police are quite friendly and the guy lowering the flag smiled good naturedly as I took a few photos.

3. Catch a Movie at Inox

Enough of the beaches? There comes a time when you just want to grab some popcorn and watch a movie.  Catch the latest flick  with your friends at the Inox (click for map). Here’s where Goa’s city crowd descends when they want to watch a movie. I saw Wolverine 3D here, and the quality was pretty good.

4. Shopping, Banking  and Repair

Panjim is one of the few places where you can shop away for branded clothes, do your banking work and get your watch/mobile repaired. All the major banks are located conveniently near the centre, not too far from the shopping area. All this stuff is not always possible near the beaches. At Panjim, you’ve got everything close together, so its easy to get your work done.

5. Discover delicious Goan street food and Cafés

Case in point being the Goan Ros Omelette, a dish which combines the best of chicken curry, egg and pao (bread). Directions and detailed review here.

Goan snacks - Crunchy, fried and sweet

Goan snacks at Chai – Crunchy, fried and sweet

There are many other options like Chai Pani, a small eatery where many office goers gather during a break for a steaming cup of tea and typical Goan Snacks, all priced around Rs.5-20.

Sweet Buns - with banana goodness

Sweet Buns – with yummy banana goodness

There are of course famous Cafés like Café Bhonsle, which is a must visit for tasty Sweet Bun (which is sweet, but not a bun), Mirchi Bhajji (served with fresh coconut chutney) and other nice stuff.

Mirchi Bhajji at Cafe Bhonsle

Mirchi Bhajji at Cafe Bhonsle

I leave you to discover your own cool things to do in Panim :). What are your favourite things to do in Panjim?


10 Trippy Songs to Add Fun to Your Goa Road Trip

You’re on the road in Goa, hooking up your playlist to get the vibe going.

Add these, and you can’t go wrong!

  1. Sasha Lopez – All my People (heard this song a LOT in Goa, you can see the party and beach vibe here :) )
  2. Emancipator – Maps (perfect for road trips, instrumental)
  3. Emancipator – Soon It Will be Cold Enough (nice for road trips, very relaxing :) )
  4. Emancipator – With Rainy Eyes (Ok yes, Emancipator is @#$#^ brilliant!)
  5. Amit Trivedi – Lazy Lad (whats a song list without a little Bawliwood and Amit Trivedi :P)
  6. Tiesto – Strobe by Deadmau5 (You should listen to this one first, actually)
  7. Chemical Brothers – Orange Wedge (Nice vibe)
  8. Slowly Slowy (Yep, I threw in another Bawliwood song while you weren’t looking)
  9. Swedish House Mafia – Save the World (Superb song, best when sung aloud together with friends, drunkenly)
  10. Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (An old favourite)

Click on any song above to watch the video. These are not typical Goa trance songs, nor are they meant to be.

Green hills of Goa

Green hills of Goa

They are fun songs to listen to while driving around the hilly, green roads of Goa.

Warning: Driving and Drinking is NOT recommended. While friends may sing, have one sober, designated driver to avoid party pooping incidents :)!

SO, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR :)?

Click on the link below to get awesome savings on your Goa booking! And get cracking on an awesome Goa trip :).


 More booking options available on Book Holiday Now (for a limited period only). Check it out.

Enjoy and have a blast!

Best Pizza in North Goa

Where do you get some of the best and authentic Italian pizzas (with a Goan twist) in north Goa?

Read on.

On a relaxed Saturday evening, I heard good music and smelt a heavenly flavor wafting out of this place in North Goa, quite busy even though it was off season in Goa.

Pizza Roma - Abode of blessed thin crust pizzas

Pizza Roma – Abode of blessed thin crust pizzas

Authentic Italian Pizza in Goa?

Of course, I stepped in to check it out.

The preparations

The preparations

They were quite meticulous and focused on their preparation; always a good sign. I tapped my foot to the music, after giving an order for a Pizza de Goa; the fact that it had lots of cheese and chunks of the famed Goan sausages was mouth-wateringly appealing.

Into the hot oven

Into the hot oven

There was a Italian family sitting, with little kids running around shouting “Salami! Salami”, and a couple of other tourists. Enough seating for around 20 people, with 4-5 tables. Its a nice place to go with 4-5 friends and gorge on pizzas, which come in 2 sizes; 12-inch and 8-inch. Though I love the Cheese Burst crusts of Dominoes, thin crust wood fire oven pizzas are something else.

Resistance was futile

Resistance was futile

Since I was alone sadly :(, I just had the 8-inch Pizza de Goa, all to myself.

It was nice, hot, well baked, and bursting with cheesy goodness. I will be sure to try some other ones on my next visit. Definitely visit here if you ever happen to be in North Goa.

How to get there:

Anjuna to Chapora

Anjuna to Chapora

It’s a 10min bike ride from Anjuna beach, just opposite Sakana restaurant, the Japanese restaurant I’ve covered earlier (read about it here).

Click on the above map to see the directions on Google.

Feeling hungry :P?



Here’s a Quick Guide to Speaking Konkani

When you do land up in idyllic Goa, chances are that you are going to run into the locals. And luckily for you, 90-95% of Goans can communicate in English and understand it quite reasonably.

So, after much research, trial-error and field testing strange pronunciations,  I proudly bring to you a quick guide to speaking Konkani.

Locally in this beautiful beach destination, Goans speak Konkani. It is very different from Hindi, the national language of India. Konkani is not exactly a dialect, not exactly a language; it doesn’t have a script. Like most Indian languages, it comes from Sanskrit.

It’s an exciting experience to try and learn a few words of the local language, especially if you get stuck in a far away village area (bound to happen when you adventurously bike around and run out of petrol). People will appreciate the effort, and look at you in a different way, because you’re not just another hippy tourist or city slicker.

Lots of Goans are expert bargainers in Russian, especially at the Saturday Night Markets. It’s not uncommon to see the locals call out to tourists in Russian. It might be fun to learn a few Russian words as well (I have, and it’s a great conversation starter. For about 2 sentences. And then its smile and wave, like the penguins in Madagascar).

The below given list of 30 fun and helpful English-to-Konkani phrases has been compiled for your viewing pleasure and designed to endear you to the locals.  Sure to be a big help when you want to give your stomach a rest from extra spicy food (no.9), hail a taxi (no. 27), or just tell people that you LOVE Goa (no. 28). Not to forget the most important sentence to learn in any new language, – “Where’s the toilet?” at no. 12.

You’ll get the hang of the correct pronunciation and accent, especially when you practice with Goans at the shops, cafés, restaurants and the beaches.

S.No. Type English Konkani

1

Greetings! How are you? Tum kosso assai?

2

What is your name? Tuchem naum kitay?

3

My name is Julie Majay nau Julie

4

Where do you come from? Tu koyee-sau yet-ai?

5

Thank you Deu borem korum

6

Sorry Maaf kor

7

Yes/No Hoee/Na

8

In Restaurants and Hotels I am hungry Maka bhook lagleah

9

I do not want it spicy Maka tik naka

10

Water Oodok

11

Can I have the bill please? Matshem bill hadshi?

12

Where is the toilet? Sundas khuim assa?

13

Can you help me? Maka modot korshi?

14

Do you have a room/house to rent? Tu jay shee room/ghor asa?

15

I’d like a room for the night. Maka eke ratik room zai.

16

What is the charge per night? Eke ratik kitle poishe?

17

Can I park here? Hanga gaadi dovrunk zata?

18

Shopping How much? Kitlay?

19

Too expensive! Ekdtom ma-araog!

20

I don’t want it Maka naka tem

21

Travel Does this bus go to (Panjim)? Ee bus (Panjim) voi-ta?

22

How much to (Baga) (Baga)vossoonk kitlay pot-ollay?

23

Does this bus go to (Anjuna/Baga/Candolim)? Ee (Anjuna/Baga/Candolim) bus?

24

Drive more slowly! Sossegarde solay!

25

Turn left/right Dai-an/ Ooj-an wot

26

Where is the (Police Station)? (Police Station) khuim assa?

27

Can you get me a taxi? Maka ek taxi haadshi?

28

Fun phrases I love Goa Maka Goeya boray lakta!

29

I speak a little Konkani Aoo thodee Konkani ooloyta

30

Food is good Jevon borem

You are sure to see the Goans smile as you stumble,err, I mean, maneuver your way through the Konkani words. You may even get a discount while shopping or negotiating for a room/beach shack :). You can definitely sing along to the Konkani radio songs, much to the delight of your driver (even if you do not understand a single word).

Have fun, go a little crazy! You’re in Goa!

Secret of Getting Around in Goa

Shhhhhhhh!

So you want to know the secret of getting around in Goa?

Read on…

If you are alone, and have just gotten off at the Panjim bus stand, and are wondering how to get around Goa, have no fear.

The dashing pilots are there.

No, the pilots do not have ANYTHING to do with airplanes or any other aviation related machinery. Proudly astride yellow colored motorbikes, these gentlemen will carry you swiftly to your destination. This gentleman happily posed for me at Panjim bus stand.

In Goa, the yellow color on the bike’s (or scooter’s or moped’s) number plate signifies that the bike (or scooter or moped) is for tourists. You’ll see this on bikes for rent, for example, as you can see on this lovely bike (my only long term relationship in Goa). She’s an Avenger and a lady, and if I ride her again, we’ll have to think of a name.

So back to the pilots. They can take you from Panjim to anywhere close by, like Dona Paula, Miramar, Candolim, Calangute (highlighted in blue in the map below). These are the popular areas, so I would recommend renting your own bike from here, if you want to go further to other places like Baga, Anjuna.

The pilots are pretty decent for the distances to the blue highlighted places. Any further and it becomes cost prohibitive/expensive. They should ideally charge around Rs. 100-110 (US$ 2-3) for distances upto 10km, which is more reasonable than auto-rickshaws in Goa (at least in central Panjim area), who charge Rs. 60-70 for 3-4km! My friend from Goa say Panjim to Mapusa (12km) is typically Rs.100(US$2), and a return journey (Panjim-Mapusa-Panjim) would be around Rs. 150.

However, its not recommended to go piloting, if you are carrying a lot of luggage (2-3 heavy bags). It’s cool if you have just your back pack and 1-2 light bags

Enjoy your pilot experience when you come to Goa, its one of those typical Goan things. It’s a fun way to get around Goa.

And here’s a sweet goodbye from our dashing pilot at Panjim.

How to out-drink Russians in Goa

How do you out-drink Russians in Goa?

You wait for a special festival called Holi. Then you play some music and introduce said Russian to a very special cousin of the famous Feni.

Russians may have vodka, but Goans have got Uraak. 

Uraak container at the Soma project

Uraak container at the Soma project

“Uraak” is not the sad squawk of a dying bird, but one of the famed drinks in Goa, made from the distilled and fermented extracts of the cashew fruit. You’ll get a strong whiff of this drink being made in distilleries all over Goa in the period of March-April.  In a clear glass, it looks cloudy, quite similar to coconut milk, but is easily identifiable by its characteristic strong smell!

Stronger than vodka

Stronger than vodka

Sorry André, no offence. I have great respect for you, Russians, and their famed drinking abilities.

Я люблю Россию и водка :)! (I love Russia and vodka :))

But I got to tell this story.

It was Holi in Goa, and I was all alone.

The sea called to me, and I left home for the shores of Ashwem beach. Walking along the sandy coast, I heard loud music thumping from close by.

What was happening?

The Soma Project. Also known as La Cabana, Ashwem

The Soma Project. Also known as La Cabana, Ashwem

It was the Soma Project, a relaxed beachside resort and restaurant I had visited earlier. They play great electronic and trance music. I entered the Soma Project from the sea side, and was immediately greeted by a raucous bunch of guys. They were the staff, bartenders and waiters, who ran the place. They had arranged for the Uraak to be brought locally and were now enjoying the same. I was invited to partake.

Holy Party at La Cabana

Holy Party at La Cabana

So of course, I did.

Practical tip: It is generally advised not to buy Uraak from the highways while on the road. The product may be contaminated with other liquids and can be dangerous. Drink only with trusted people as far as possible.

André and Moi!

André and Moi!

I sat down with Hitesh, the marketing manager and André, the Russian. A big friendly happy go lucky fellow, it was André’s last day in India and he was wondering what all this commotion was about.

We had a few glasses of Uraak, then proceeded to dance on the floor, encouraged by the shouts of Hitesh, Rocky and others. Maria and a few other guests at the resort joined in the celebrations. We had a wonderful time dancing to trance songs interspersed with some Bollywood numbers!

All this Uraak was for free. Since it was Holi, they just wanted everybody to be happy and have fun.

André had to sit down after the third glass. He was very happy to have participated in Holi with crazy, dancing Indians; an experience he’ll not forget soon :).

I finally walked out after saying goodbye to André, Maria, Rocky and others.



 

Hot Lemon, Honey and Ginger Chai

Hot Lemon, Honey and Ginger Chai

I went to another restaurant called the Baba Huts to have some more food and rest while the Uraak wore off. After a scrumptious Chicken Sizzler and Cheese Toast, I settled down with a hot Ginger Lemon tea.

Golden Ashwem Beach

Golden Ashwem Beach

It was nice to see the sunshine on the sea, turning the water to gold. I spoke to a few people from the UK sitting in the restaurant, a girl named Scarlet and 2 other guys, Tom and Phil. Sipping my tea, I got know that they were in Goa on vacation. Scarlet actually worked for an Indian family based in the UK as governess for their children, and was on a break because of school holidays. Tom and the others were around my age (25-26) and just here to chill. It is quite nice to meet with other travelers and share stories. You always get to hear something new, and learn how others think from a different perspective.

The bill at Baba Huts came to Rs. 410 (around US$ 7), which is pretty decent considering the quality and quantity of the dishes served. I recommend the place for a relaxed afternoon of swimming and soaking the sun, especially convenient if you are based in North Goa. You can easily move to Morjim, Mandrem and Arambol from the Ashwem beach.

How to Get to La Cabana:

Mapusa to La Cabana

Mapusa to La Cabana

As it shows on the map, La Cabana is about a 30min bike ride from Mapusa. It’s a pretty straight forward road, but I recommend asking people for directions around Morjim; the roads are tricky there, and its pretty easy to get lost. I once ended up there at 3.30am, reaching a massive banyan tree and a haunted temple. Not fun when you are all alone on a bike, freezing in shorts, and cursing yourself for not wearing a jacket. But that’s another story.

Have you ever celebrated Holi in India? What did you like best about it? What’s your craziest Holi story?

Share your stories in the comments below :)! And click on the banner below to book your holiday for your own crazy Goa adventure :).

Related links:

  1. The La Cabana Experience
  2. La Cabana Tripadvisor Reviews



Best Dessert in North Goa – Passion Fruit Chocolate Tart @ Sakana Restaurant

Looking for amazing, yet delicious Japanese food in Goa? And the best dessert in North Goa and possibly the planet (I don’t say this lightly)?

You won’t find a better and more authentic Japanese restaurant in Goa than Sakana,  at Chapora.

このレストランは、本当に素晴らしいです!(This restaurant is truly awesome :)!)

Sakana (which means fish in Japanese) is run by a sweet Japanese lady and her Israeli (to be confirmed) husband, Niko. Both are very nice and warm people. I make it a point to talk to the Japanese lady on each visit. She is always happy to converse in Japanese, and I am happy for the opportunity to catch up. Though she was busy in the kitchen, the Japanese lady came out for a smoke, and I said hello. We talked for a bit about how the restaurant was doing and then she rushed back to the kitchen to attend orders. I caught up with Niko later at the bar, before leaving.

The first time I went there, I could hardly believe such a place existed, just on the main road of Chapora. Well lit with warm yellow lights, tastefully and simply decorated with myriad Japanese memorabilia, you have to see it to believe it. There is creatively made Sakura tree, with pink flowers and lights adorning its upper branches. It hardly seems possible that it has been made out of plywood and painted over. There are pictures of saké, Asahi beer and serious looking Japanese ladies in kimonos on the wall. You literally step into another world.

Sakana interior and the Sakura tree

Sakana interior and the Sakura tree

I sat down and waited. A blonde girl came to take my order. From her accented English, I knew she  was French. I asked her which place in France she was from. Surprised, yet pleased, she said she was from Paris. I always enjoy the look of surprise on people’s faces when they wonder how I know which country they are from (usually accurate 90% of the time, of course French is easy, some other European languages are much harder), hearing their stories about how they ended up working in Goa while backpacking or on vacation.

She gave me the menu.It had a nice calligraphy style picture of a fish and Irashaimase (“Welcome”) written on it.

"Welcome"

“Welcome”

But I already knew my order. Kingfish with rice and miso soup. I tried a different kind of salad with shitake mushrooms and noodles.

I had a Japanese green tea while waiting for the food to come. I looked around while sipping on the hot drink.  The seating is relaxed and comfortable. There are options between sofa-like seating, table, a long wooden bar type seating. I chose the bar type place, to get a good look of the restaurant’s patrons. There were many people, busily chatting away with friends and family. There was a Russian family, with small kids (around 5-6 years old) running around. The Russian kids were playing some kind of hide and seek game, and their worried parents would shout (“Idzisuda!” – Come here!) whenever they ran out of sight or towards the road. A relaxed and peaceful hum, clinks of cutlery and the soft murmur of people talking and enjoying their food pervaded Sakana. 

Once the order came, I couldn’t wait to get started and took a deep, delicious bite of the Kingfish, before remembering to take a picture for all you folks :).

Kingfish, Miso Soup, Rice and Salad

Kingfish, Miso Soup, Rice and Salad

Other than King fish, Tuna Teriyaki and Avocado sushi rolls are also pretty good. The steaks have received rave reviews.

But hey! You came here to know about the best dessert in Goa right? 4 words. 

Passion fruit chocolate tart.

There is a God. Of Chocolates and Strawberries.

There is a God. Of Chocolates and Strawberries.

It’s soooo good, only one word to describe it: Fantastic + Fabulous = Fantabulous!

 The dessert is fantabulously amazing. One of the best I have ever had, anywhere in the world.  A delicate chocolate cake crust, topped with chocolate mousse, further topped with sweet, luscious strawberries and passion fruit, with bonus sprinkles of Pomegranate. You won’t have the time or will to talk after taking just one bite. It sends you to chocolate heaven. You will find religion after eating this sumptuous, scrumptious dish.

Amazing food, as always. And other than the dessert (which I had twice), the food is very light. You don’t feel heavy at all. The bill comes in a cute little wooden box.

How to get there:

About a 10min bike ride from Anjuna. That’s it, easy. Here’s the map.

Anjuna to Sakana Restaurant

Anjuna to Sakana Restaurant

Sakana is right next to the Bubble Brunch Bar.

Best time to visit:

The restaurant is on the main road of Chapora, and open from 12.30 pm to around 11pm. Definitely visit when you are in Goa. Keep in mind that though the dishes are slightly expensive (around Rs. 200-500 for main course), compared to other close by restaurants, the ambiance and experience are totally unique. Worth every bite. Fantabulous.

Note: Sakana is closed during the heavy Goa monsoons from June-September. Despite rigorous searching, I’m yet to find a better dessert. And I’m eagerly waiting for the reopening in October.

Restaurant Contact Details:

  • Call:(+91) 9890135502 (please let me know if the number does not work, and it will be updated)
  • Address:
    • Chapora Road, Vagator, Goa, 403509
    • Landmark:Near Chapora Petrol Pump

Related Links:

  1. Sakana Trip Advisor Reviews – Read about other foodie’s experiences.



Best Hostel in North Goa – Asterix

To Travel is to Live” – Seen on the wall of Asterix Hostel

So you want to have a blast at one of the best hostels in North Goa? Here’s how I did it.

After getting my trusty red Avenger at Panjim, I headed over to north Goa, to Vagator. My destination was Asterix, a hostel with rave reviews on Tripadvisor. I’d heard a lot about it and was curious to experience it for myself. Why miss out on visiting one of the best hostels in North Goa?

At the Asterix entrance

A couple of wrong turns, going back and forth on the main road looking like a lost tourist and I was there. A kind lady called Mary Ann sitting behind the desk took the registration details and then showed me around. I was pretty impressed by the relaxed ambiance, how clean and organised everything was.

My dorm room on the ground floor

Asterix hostel has two wings. The main one has a dirt track leading up to the hostel. You go down the path, past the gate, and reach a building with leafy trees all around. There’s a fun common area with books and board games, 2 hammock like seats/swings you can sit on and chill out with other guests.

Mary Ann showed me the dorm room which I’d selected. It was an AC dorm room at Rs. 500 (US$10) a night, to be shared with 5 others.  Quite a good deal. Mary also showed me the pantry, which has filtered water to drink, as well as a fridge with beer and snacks. The beer is cheap, just Rs. 40 (less than US$1)! The beer and snacks are charged, but on an honor system. Have what you want, just write your name on the notebook along with the quantity you had and you’ll be charged on check out. Mary Ann also explained the laundry system. They’ve got numbered laundry bags, 1-5. All you have to do is drop your clothes in one of the bags, and then they’ll be washed and returned. Then you have to hang them up to dry. It was pretty reasonable, I think around Rs. 50/100 (US$ 1-2) per laundry bag and lots of guests use it. Also their wifi password is really cute :P. Can you guess what it might be?


I took a lot of pictures of the kitchen and hostel, noting the messages various travelers had scribbled on the wall. Some of them were really creative; all of them had a whiff of adventure.

“To Travel is to Live”

Definitely NOT Kingfisher

“I ran and I’m still running away”

The most fun part of the day was in the evening, when I headed to the main hostel. A couple of German guys, David, Alex, Benji, a Swiss guy and an English girl, Charlotte were sitting and playing a beer game. It looked fun and I joined them. The game’s basically everyone taking turns to ask a question. The question consists of giving two options and asking everyone what their choice is, for example; God or Nature. After everyone gives their choice, the person who asked the options tells the correct choice, e.g. God. So everyone who was said Nature, has to take a swig.

It’s quite a fun game to play in hostels, especially with new people and travelers. And you get to know a lot about other people, from the way they answer their questions. We moved from God or Nature to much more adult options, which I won’t discuss here. Go to Asterix and find out for yourself.

Asterix has a fun code of conduct which I found pretty interesting.

Asterix Code of Conduct



If you feel hungry, just walk out to Mango tree. It’s 2min away from Asterix, and has a bar. You can sit order Indian, Continental or Goan; lots of options. I stayed at Asterix for one day, and had breakfast at Mango tree on the next.

Mango tree restaurant and bar

Fun way to get to Asterix: Hire a bike at Panjim, and it’s a 25-30 min ride away. 10min from Anjuna. Ask anyone for Asterix hostel near the Mango Tree restaurant. It’s on the main road, you’ll see a sign with Asterix’s helmet on it. Be alert, the sign’s kind of small, but you won’t miss it if you’re looking for it.

Anjuna to Asterix Google Map

Budget: Low – Medium

  1. Rs. 300-400 (US$ 6-8) per night for non-AC dorm room
  2. Rs. 500 (US$10) per night for AC dorm room
  3. Rs. 1300 (US$26) for a single room which can be shared by 2 people

Keep in mind that these prices are in the low season of June-August. Prices will be higher during the peak tourist season of Oct-March. Call ahead and check to be sure.

Important Asterix Contact No.s

Goan Flavour Rating: Bombastic 10/10!

All in all, I would rate Asterix a 10 on 10 for the stay, experience and ambiance. Compared to other places to stay, this is definitely one of the best options in north Goa. I met a fun group of people, talked to this dude who’s a sailor from Turkey; it’s a great place to hang out if you are travelling alone, or with 1-2 friends.

Turkish sailor friend!

If you liked this review, click any of the banners on this post to book an unforgettable and fun stay at Asterix Hostel.