I believe every country in the world needs a town like Goa. I’m talking about a soft place to fall. A place where life feels gentle, and simple. Just thinking back to the weekend calms me, and reminds me that Earth is definitely a cool place to hang for a lifetime or so. It’s an amazingly chilled-out experience, and will leave one feeling refreshed for quite some time to come. If you’re looking for more dramatic travel stories, typical of the kind I sprinkle throughout this journal, you will have to be satisfied with words of peace and calm instead.
Goa is not over-commercialized, clean, and gentrified. She hasn’t become all Hawaii-Waikiki-Beach yet. This is still India, thank God. You still have people throwing their trash on the ground, stray dogs lounging everywhere, cows and goats roaming the streets, and water that will leave you sick for days. I wouldn’t want Goa any other way. The charm which lounges around her streets and beaches, needs to stay there forever. If Babu in the make-shift Tropicana Beach Shack ever becomes a white-skinned, Marriott-working, red-uniformed, name-tagged dork named Guy, I will weep profusely. So let’s lock out all the business crony executives from lands far, far away, who might one day collaborate to build a massive casino in front Babu’s quaint, quiet hut. On a related topic, India is quickly becoming one of the next great superpowers on this planet. It will be interesting to see if the people can hold on to their roots, and not let the problems associated with this superpower status, blast away their charm, ideals, and beliefs. I believe in India. I believe they won’t let this happen. Clean up the trash, make the water safe, remove the caste system, and move people from huts to buildings. India, after you have implemented these changes, please continue to stay who you are as a people. When you have taken over the world as the next economic giant, at least I will be happy knowing that wonderful human beings did so.
The night scene. Goa has strong roots in the night-life, party scene. Much like American hippies migrated to San Francisco in the 1960s, so too did the European hippies migrate to Goa. Back in the day, this place was a gigantic, non-stop party zone. Their only means of survival was to sell the possessions they brought with them from their homeland. As a result, markets evolved from the sand, and eventually tourism found its way to Goa. Today, some of this party vibe still exists, creating a pretty good night scene. The bars are open until 4:00 a.m.; a far cry from the 11:00 p.m. closing time in conservative, girls-in-future-arranged-marriages, family-town, Bangalore. The happy patrons at these bars, sometimes overflow to the narrow, crowded streets as well. I’m not sure, but it seemed like I was allowed to drink on the streets if I felt compelled to do so. I also felt that if I was a drug-using kind of guy, anything I wanted was probably within shouting distance. What I did have a need for, however, was listening to some loud, chest-thumping, Indian/Bollywood dance and techno music. I found Club Titos; the only place to go for this kind of request. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Indian crowd chant, sing, and dance to their favorite music. Their energy was contagious, and I caught myself wishing dance clubs were like this in America.
Returning to the day scene, I love the free spirits that roam Goa. No, not the hippies. Nature’s gift to human beings: dogs. I love these animals so much. They melt my heart, and always make me smile. Compare my smile sitting next to a Goan dog, with the smile of me sitting in front of the Cairo pyramids. You will quickly learn which smile comes directly from the heart, and which one does not. There’s a reason the word, dog, is God spelled backwards. I mean sure, for this last sentence to work, you have to believe a divine source exists, speak some english, and be raised in a culture that labels this divine source with the letters, ‘g’, ‘o’, and ‘d.’ It would also help if you’re not someone that was bitten by these stray dogs, and died of rabbies. This is all probably a lot to ask. But it works for me, and I love the free souls that roam southern Asia. Dogs are a part of everyday life here, and this fact makes me happy. They walk among the crowds in the streets, weave their way around car and cattle traffic, and nose through street trash; just like any other city in India. On the beaches of Goa, however, they also become your friend for the day. They sleep in the shade, underneath your chair. They follow you to restaurants to watch you eat lunch. And they’ll even chase you into the Arabian Sea just for fun. I really appreciated these animals becoming my buddies for the weekend. To this day, they still make me laugh. I will see you again, my friends.
I miss Goa. Even as I write this, weeks later, I can still feel the calm and peace.