I land in Goa (yes, yet again) with Pink Eyes (viral infection in the eyes) and a limp left leg (after suffering a painful hip sprain, with pain radiating all the way down to the heel) and a bag full of prescribed drugs which included an antibiotic eye drop bottle, a spare eye drop bottle, a spare bottle for the spare bottle and a handful of painkiller pills and gels. Not the perfect condition to be in to start a vacation in a place like Goa but still, I start in the perfect way – I order a beer as soon as I reach the resort in Agonda beach.
Agonda is a nice long pristine stretch of beach in U shape with rocky boundaries at both ends. It is really quiet with very few tourists (mainly foreigners) and as an added bonus, most mobile connections do not work here – it’s a real Getaway spot.
I’m staying in a resort recommended by a friend who happened to stay in the same place a month ago. Rama Resort as it is called is clean and affordable. It is basically two rows of log cottages with a restaurant and lots of trees in the middle. Each hut features a big double bed with a mosquito net and a wooden dresser. The attached toilet is very spacious and runs both hot and normal water, and the highlight is that it doesn’t have a roof. Instead, a thin green nylon net serves as roof mainly to keep out flies and falling leaves.
Had this kind of setup been anywhere outside of Goa, you would have expected secret eyes from the surrounding tall trees to pry on you, but in Goa you can just let your guard down. It is easy to assume that they would have seen plenty of skin already and they wouldn’t bother to do silly things. I also find Goan hospitality to be of a certain good class and the Rama Resort guys are extremely decent so it’s okay to let your pants down without thinking twice.
I finish my first beer and promptly order another one. It’s already evening. The afternoon flight from Bangalore and the long drive from the airport to the south of Goa made sure I only reach in time to catch the sunset – not a bad time to arrive though. I sit in the resort’s lounge overlooking the beach and watch the sea shimmering in the golden light of the setting sun.
I put on my dark sunglasses – so dark that no one can see my eyes – and keep a watchful eye on the pretty foreign women in bikini swimming in the sea. I don’t want any foreign woman to drown in an Indian sea. I don’t care about the foreign men.
In the fast fading light, I see a black board leaning on a plastic chair. Something is written on it in white paint. I decide to check it out. I drag my limp leg and walk up to it. It’s a hand written advert for a dolphin ride trip. As I try to figure out what’s written on the board, a man comes running to me. He is an old man in rugged clothes.
I click this the next morning
He’s the boatman. He speaks only Hindi but my Hindi is elementary. He goes on to elaborate what I will be seeing in the trip. He says he will be taking me to see dolphins, then Butterfly Island where I can go fishing and finally to Honeymoon Island – I don’t know what I will get to do there. In my pidgin Hindi, I ask him how much it costs. He quotes an amount. My biggest problem with Hindi is the numbers. I know only up till 10. The number he quoted looks big and I don’t have a clue.
Yet, I try to negotiate. We talk back and forth. I’m just following the basic rule – whatever the amount quoted you negotiate on it.
The man smiles, shakes his head and quotes another number. I’m like, “eh?”
Then, two middle-aged foreign ladies, who were seriously studying the black board for some time, decide to chime in.
They speak a language I cannot understand a word of. They ask me something, but assuming they are asking for the trip cost, I tell them, “Around 1500, I think, I don’t know” and shrug my shoulders.
They smile. We all look at each other, nod our head and smile. I don’t know what I’m nodding for, but it gives me the feeling that it’s not for the best outcome. And it isn’t.
The boatman has taken our nodding for confirmation.
“Confirm?” he asks. I look at the old ladies. They give a thumbs-up.
“C’mon, we haven’t fixed the rate yet”, I say. The boatman ignores me.
He tells us that the boat will start early the next morning and asks us to gather in the same place at 6 am.
I have not decided to go, but then, eager to end the conversation and go back to my vantage viewpoint, I nod again. I’m thinking I’ll simply not turn up after all I’m not paying an advance.
This will prove to be a mistake. The next day this man will chase me down on the beach and ask for compensation.
Soon night falls. As darkness takes over, a strange air of melancholy surrounds the place. Normally in Goa, beaches come to life in the night but here it is quite the opposite. The resort lounge also turns unbelievably dull. Some have their head stuck in books while others are silently sipping at their beers and staring blankly at the sea which remains perpetually engulfed in darkness. The music coming over the speakers is barely audible. It seems like a good atmosphere for a person contemplating suicide.
I ask the waiter boy and he says that the beach is a nestling site for the endangered Ridley Turtle so there are ordered to keep the noise level and the lights down at night to give the turtles a chance to nest. Fair enough.
There’s no point in hanging around any longer. I’m also in no mood to go turtle hunting because I’m beginning to feel tipsy after trying concoctions of various spirits over the course of the evening so I choose to walk to my room.
On the way I encounter the two dolphin trip ladies sitting in the porch of the hut right next to mine. We wave at each other and say goodnight. We are neighbors after all.
I’m about to hit the bed and I realize I need to take my pills.
Pain in the leg had subsided a little allowing me to comfortably forget about pills.
Then the damning thought follows. ‘Is it safe to take pills after drinking?’ I ask myself.
I ponder about it for a good half an hour. I post a message in one of my Whatsapp groups and wait for an answer. When no reply comes, I decide to take matters into my own hands. I press out two big pills into my palm. I say a quick prayer that I should be alive to keep a protective eye on the bikini clad women for another day and then wash the pills down my throat with a gulp of beer.
In the wee hours of the morning I wake up feeling extremely uneasy in the stomach. It is clear that I have upset my stomach. The stomach has a mysterious way of working. When upset, it does a quick calculation of the time you need to reach the nearest toilet seat you know of and gives you as much time. The nearer you go, the greater the urge. But I try to cheat my stomach by imagining I’m far away. An angry stomach sometimes cools itself. I open my mobile and connect to the resort Wi-Fi to take my mind away from the rumblings inside. My mobile jerks and beeps to indicate I have received messages.
“Joshi, No! Don’t take pills after drinking. Pani Kittum” says the first message and others have gone on to warn me with a list of side-effects.
Pani kitti mone!
The Stomach knows – that the toilet is only about 10 feet away.
When the dam is about to break, I jump up from the bed, rush to the toilet and start the business with a loud sound like that of a boat engine starting. I hope the two old ladies don’t wake up thinking the first boat to Butterfly Island is already here.
Several minutes later, once my stomach is completely empty, calmness prevails and I’m thankful that my misdeed has only resulted in a bad tummy – maybe it has nothing to do with it at all. Anyway I have got away with it.
Cold breeze gently swirling around, it’s just the stars in the sky, the soothing sound of the waves lapping on the shore and me – with the pants down of course.
If you are looking for a quiet vacation in Goa, look no further than Agonda beach. In a recent survey by travel website TripAdvisor, three of India’s beaches have featured in the list of top 10 beaches in Asia and in that Agonda beach has been ranked #4 (best beach in India), mostly for being wide, quiet, picturesque and a great spot for sunbathing and relaxing with relatively few tourists around. Another Goan beach, Palolem (just 15 Minutes from Agonda) has been ranked 8th in the list for its beach hut accommodations. Radhanagar Beach on the Havelock Island in the Andamans is at number 10.
Rama Beach Resort is among the best accommodation options available in Agonda. I just loved the place and would wholeheartedly recommend it to you.
And, I promise you that it won’t pinch your pocket. Standard Room (all are log huts) costs per night (per room, for 2 adults) may vary from 1500 to 3500 rupees and Sea Facing huts from 2500 to 4000 rupees based on season. Deluxe Rooms may set you back by 5000 rupees per night in peak season which is a fair rate by the way.
Food is costly, but the restaurant is not run by the resort so you have the option of visiting other cheaper restaurants close by.
Note: Entire Agonda beach shuts down during the rainy season i.e from the end of May to the beginning of October. The best time to visit is between December and March.