The third part of my trip involved a long needed vacation within my vacation. At this point my sisters and I had shopped for six days straight and it was time to kick up our feet. So we traveled (a quick 1 hour flight) to South Goa, but because it was right before the start of peak season everything was fairly quiet…so we took it in stride and did a whole lot of nothing.
First, let’s clear up some confusion. Before deciding to go on this trip I had concocted a vision of Goa—one smallish city filled with sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. I was half right. One side of Goa is covered with beaches, but it is actually a small state in India with many localities. An allusion to the state’s history can be seen in the name of its largest city “Vasco de Gama.” While the area has an ancient history, it was colonized by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century and was annexed by the Indian government in 1961. Consequently, this state is filled with historical sites that range from the ancient to the modern.
Here are a few of the places we traveled to during our stay:
Vargota Beach: The infamous rocky beach. The pictures speak for themselves.
Fort Aguada: Built in the sixteenth century, the fort was meant as a way to guard the Portuguese from attacks by sea. While the lower part of the fort is now a beach resort, the upper part provided some awesome vistas.
Bom Jesus Basilica: A World Heritage Site, this basilica is also the site of Saint Francis Xavier’s body. A friend of Ignatius Loyola, Xavier was also a co-founder of the Jesuits. I couldn’t get any pictures of the actual casket (and couldn’t see the body), but from others who have seen it before its apparently extra creepy.
Food, Glorious Food
In general, I eat a lot of home cooked Indian food when I go to Mumbai, mostly due to our tendency to succumb to what my cousins’ call the “weak American stomach.” So most days our meal includes the traditional Indian meal, with slight twists that depend on the house we are eating at. This consists of what I call Dhal, Bhat, Rotli, Shak (so Lentils, Rice, Bread, and Vegetable). When we ate out the food included South Indian Dosa’s and Uttapum–and some delicious butter chicken/tandoori and some food in the non-Indian variety. For anyone heading out to Mumbai here are some suggestions:
American Continental: Just Around the Corner (Mumbai–Andheri)
Chinese: China House, Mainland China (Mumbai: Bandra)
In Goa (at the “shacks”): Zeebop, Brittos, Martin’s Corner
The last three days here were filled with the usual end of vacation running around, but first let’s talk about the verdict. Here in the United States, the one verdict that I remember EVERYONE paying attention to was the OJ Simpson trial. That was a verdict filled with racial tension and class tension. This was not that kind of verdict. One week before we were supposed to leave the High Court in India was to give the verdict in the Babri Masjid Case, a sixty year old dispute between Muslims and Hindus that involved the destruction of a Mosque on what Hindu’s believe is the holy birthplace of Lord Rama. I won’t go into detail about the actual case, just that the verdict has been long anticipated, and will probably still go up to the Indian Supreme Court before it is laid to rest. In talking about what might happen family members reminisced about the riots in the 1990s, when it was too dangerous to even step outside the home. The insanity and the fear, and the worry that the decision in this case might launch the city and the country into another round of craziness.
Postponed to the day before we had to leave, the good news is that the verdict, coming from three different judges, divided the land into three parts for the three disputing parties (1/3 to the Hindus, 1/3 to the Muslims, 1/3 to the wrestling group that used to have property on the land) fair and even. However, since the tension was palatable–you could almost sense the city and the country breathing in relief as the decision was read. And so…business went on as usual.
And by usual I mean last minute visits to relatives, collecting clothing post-alteration, and my favorite activity whenever I visit the other city that never sleeps–bangle shopping! Like fabric shopping the rows and rows of colorful bangles provide so much potential for pretty, and is also a highly valued art form. You walk in, give your price point and the bangle vendors put the set’s together according to the outfit’s they match up with. Super fun. Check out this video at Priya Bangles (Yes, I do think its funny that the store has the same name as me).
My trip ended in the same way it progressed, with a mad rush. My cousin got stuck in traffic so I ended up going to the airport three hours before I needed to for a 1:45 am flight. I ended up getting into a great conversation about World Cup Soccer and American Sports with a South African-Indian family (4th generation South African, whose history in South Africa began with indentured servitude for the British). I also got to take a quick break in London (six hour layover) to visit some cousins for breakfast (Giraffe in Richmond–two thumbs up).
Back to the story. I did learn something about my family while I was in India. My grandmother told me about her father and how he made his way up in the world–taking care of everyone around him and how to this day his name is respected. I also learned that my family is full of singers, and are talented in many, many, ways that I never expected. It was a great three weeks–and I came away with more than just clothes. I came back full of memories.
Click here to view the full photo album from the trip.