Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter days in South Goa 2016

For most visiors, Goa is synonymous with beaches. And beaches are generally equated with beach shacks, a family tradition that goes back 50 years.  Though heavily modernized these days, the atmosphere remains the same, which is essentially all about chilling. 

My usual haunt in South Goa, set in Betalbatim Beach, is Magzika Beach Shack, run by the highly affable young gentleman Prajoy. His staff members, whose origins are from places as varied as Goa to Darjeeling, have been with him for 10 to 15 years.  

While in Goa, do as the locals do. My drink is the unique Cashew Feni, referred to locally as 'Caju'. A slice of lime adds to the taste, and the drinks go down smoothly, as the hours merge into the next. 

Pieces of green chillies cut longitudinally add to the fizz as the Caju drinks go down smoothly one after another.

Goan Fish Curry and rice are an excellent complement to the local Caju drink, the curry accentuated with the slightly twangy citrous Kokum fruit, a specialty of the Western Ghats.

After several hours of gazing at the sea, punctuated with sipping Caju Feni and diving into the uniquely flavoured Goan fish curry, it's time to set off on my walk again. The 5 km morning walk from Pristine Beach Resort in Arossim to Betalbatim was extremely peaceful, as the sun rose and the few people on the beach came to life. The scene during late afternoon was not very different.  

The magic of South Goa remains largely untouched, except for a few spots along the coastline. 

Migratory gulls stop by Goa during their journey south from the colder northern lands. 

The gulls fly round and round, quite a delight to the eye, as they land on the beach, take off and fly in giant circles and come back to the beach again.

The morning hours until 9 or 10 am are extremely quiet. By then the fishermen have sorted out the fish, cleaned their baskets and headed home, while the generally lazy visitors have not yet made an appearance. So the beach stretches are as private as can be. 

Life guards in South Goa enjoy a relatively peaceful life compared to their brothers on the beaches of North Goa. This life guard has wrapped his float like an 'Xmas gift, it looks like he will probably not need to use it this season.  

Most fishing boats are parked on the sand. This boat has been parked further up. Must have been quite an effort to drag it so far up the beach away from the water. The fisherman owner has probably gone away on holiday for a long time. A well deserved break, for sure. 

The slanting rays of the early morning sun never fail to create visual effects of light and shadow on the sand. Worth recording, though the camera on the mobile phone is not good enough. 

Grilled Fish with salad and fries is a good lunch option, alternating with Goan Fish Curry and rice. The local Racheido masala is used to grill fish such as Seer, and also to make light 'tawa' or pan fried variations. 

Long walks, splashing along the water, seem to be the highlights of lay Goan days along the beach. The hours melt away in Magzika Beach Shack. The shack dog invariably gets comfortable and settles down for a well deserved afternoon nap. 

The number of slices of lime and pieces of green chilly are an approximate indicator of time spent in the shack, which can often vary from 2 hours to 6 hours on a typical day.

After several hours in Magzika, as the sun begins it's climb down into the water, it's time to head back. 

The beach is a little more crowded during the late afternoon hours, a mix of visitors and locals.

A lazy walk from Betalbatim takes me to my next haunt which is Balton's Beach Shack in Utorda, about 2 km north of Magzika Beach Shack. 


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