The weekend trip to Goa

Panaroma - en route to Mumbai 
I think my first trip ever to Goa was in 2007 when I passed out from college. Those days, after you finished your college, it was in vogue to gather the whole jingbang, go to an exotic destination for few days and hopefully create memories that would last you a lifetime. But for me, there is nothing home to write about it except the painfully long train journey and scorching heat that made us all fight for every single breath.

So since then I have been to Goa like a million times with friends and for work. And each time I went with friends, I either ate and slept or spent time in a casino playing poker. For the records, I am a teetotaler and I dont eat sea food. When I went for work, I was largely confined to the hotel I was organizing the event at. Over time Goa became a place that to me meant two things and two things only. Work. Or poker.

Now that I am out of work, the travel-to-Goa-for-work-bit is ruled out. And for poker, since I have realized in the last few days weeks that I am not really as great as I thought I was, I have stopped looking forward to Goa for poker. Of course I havent given it up as yet. I will play smaller games (micro stakes) and then see how things go. I can afford to lose some money I think.

So Goa, has become a place where I dont really know what to do (its sad when you order vegetarian french fries on a beach - even the waiters smirk at you). I am anyway not a huge fan of how native Goans treat people like me (more on this sometime later). So most trips to Goa are now instigated by friends. And I go there for the sake of merely going there, spending three days away from email and computers and coming back. No real pleasure to be honest. I could do as well by merely not stepping out of my place.

But then this weekend a few weekends back, I went to Goa and the trip was way different from other trips.

This time I was in Goa for less than 24 hours. Like all my previous trips, I did not do my regular jig of dinner at the beach, binge at the casino, long car rides at night etc. But, spent one whole evening on a beach and talked with my friends about an idea that we are working on.

The noteworthy thing is not the conversation or the dinner; but something that happened on the beach.

Picture this. You are on the beach at night getting drunk on Breezers and Red Bulls and then out of nowhere, it starts raining. And raining hard. Cats and dogs. The kinds that you are helpless against. You cant run, running would be futile, by the time you move even an inch you would be drenched. You cant stand, its raining so hard that it hurts. And there is no protection. Its you and water. Hard, thick drops of water. Falling with enough force to go deep in your skin. Tear your skin. And you touch your heart and soul. And open you. Open you for contemplation, for thinking and for lot of other such things that I dont really have words for.

I dont know why but I headed to water. I dont know how to swim. And I was not drunk. And I play it very safe. And thus I stood right at the point where the ocean and the earth battle it out to claim turf. There was water pelting on me from up above, trying to hammer me into earth. There was water splashing at my feet, sometimes reaching upto my knees, trying to drag me into the sea. And there was winds, fast enough to sweep you off your feet, trying to take me away from earth and the sea.

Three forces of nature, furious forces, all trying to dislodge from where you are. All three forces trying to tell you to go find a shelter. All three forces getting fiercer by the minute. It got really scary after some time. But I stood there. I help my ground.

And then suddenly most amazing thing happened to me. I dont know why but I let myself go. I loosened up my body. I submitted to Mother Nature. I just wanted to be one with her. I left myself to her discretion. I spread my arms and I looked up. I could not really see any child Gods at play but I could see some stars, playing hide and seek with clouds. I couldn't see the moon but the clouds had some kind of faint glow on em, as if someone is smirking at me for being ignorant. Or as if someone was dismissing me with an all-knowing smile.

Meanwhile rains, water from the sea, winds, everything was still playing but they were not strong anymore. They were gentle. Like they want to give you a massage. And cradle you like a baby. Like you were their baby. I suddenly somehow knew that I wasn't going to get harmed or get hurt. I knew there was someone looking out for me. I knew I was not alone. Like a friend says, God was with me.

Except that I dont really believe in the concept of God. Whatever it was, it definitely was not a divine intervention or something. It wasn't any hand from any God. It wasnt the light that is supposed to show me the way. Its just a stupid coincidence really. Nothing. And yet I want to read a lot into it. I want it to be some kind of a sign - like I want to hang onto anything that I can lay my hands on, when I am out of breath in the swimming pool where I spend a lot of my mornings.

So, let me park this bit here.

The second thing to have happened was that I chose to drive back to Mumbai, rather than taking the flight. We took a combination of some state highway and a national highway and the outcome was a drive that lasted more than 12 hours through roads that were as flat as steel plates, as bumpy as battlefields, as curvy as a Jalebi (there was this particular bend that looked like an angular Z), as straight as a ruler that we used in school. And then there were numerous places along the way that were so scenic that a good photographer could actually click postcards out of those places.

We passed trees, green stretches of land, forests, waterfalls and other such places that we hardly get to see at our concrete jungles. Since this was for the first time that my mind was unoccupied by random thoughts about work and life, I could enjoy these things.

We stopped at numerous such places and spend time soaking in the energy from nature at work.

There were pure shade of greens that made you feel great about just being alive. At those places, you forgot everything that is cluttering your head. You became thoughtless. They were so soothing that you felt as if you are starting your life all over again with no baggage.

There were amazing waterfalls and the water was so fresh, so clean that it could remove all the dirt from even your soul. Like that dip in the Ganges. Just that this time we were on top of some mountains in the Western Ghats. I had never expected water to be this cold. This penetrating. This sharp. This heavy. I did not have the guts to actually take a shower. A friend did.

And finally, there were clouds. Passing right through us. Its a wonderful feeling to have a blob of cold dense air pass through you. You know you can hold them if you stretch your hand and yet they remain elusive.

So the rain on the beach and the drive through the most breathtaking scenery I have seen in some time, was something that I hadnt anticipated at all. More than anything, it was the first time when I felt Mother Nature's awesomeness. I mean I have been to mountains and other such places but I have never felt this touched. And I realized that I havent been kinds to think a lot about nature. In fact, on the contrary, I am an energy and convenience hog.

But after this trip to Goa, something has begun to change. I have become lot more conscious. I mean I dont think I can survive without AC but I will start to being that shift in my thinking. It wouldnt happen overnight. It may or may not even happen. But I will make an attempt.

I am glad that I went and great that I could see the immense power of Mother Nature. Lets see if this sticks with me.

Oh, and the biggest lesson? That I am we are insignificant. All the stupid things that we attach to ourselves, ego, emotions, all of it is frivolous. Over rated. And hyped. Need to start living in harmony with nature.

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