Monday, December 26, 2016

Winter evenings in South Goa 2016

Winter days are fruitfully spent in Magzika Beach Shack typically from 10am to 3pm, with the help of Caju Feni, salads and Fish Curry Rice or Grilled Fish. After that, a lazy stroll takes me back north. Locals play a game  of soccer on the beach, or sometimes it is cricket. 

Some visitors leave their litter behind, sadly, though the mess is nowhere near as tragic as it is in the North Goan beaches of Baga and Calangute. Will Indians ever learn to respect their environment and their fellow human beings? 

Balton's Shack has been my regular haunt in South Goa since the year 2010. Balthazar or Bala, the owner of Balton's, introduced me to Prajoy, the owner of Magzika, a few years ago. Since then I've been alternating between the two shacks. 

The time of day just before sunset on a Goan beach is a magical period, can't be beat.   

Water sports are not as developed in South Goa as in North Goa, fortunately, so the environment is spared. The last of the boats do their rounds as the sun appears to touch the water. Relatively clear winter skies allow the sun to be seen almost all the way down. The last of the walkers make their way back before darkness sets in, while the last of the kids draw figures on the sand. 

Down.. down.. all that is visible is the tip of the sun. The water sports folks never seem to give up. 

After the fish of the afternoon, time to catch up on a bit of green salad by  the water.   

Meanwhile, the light is fading fast, just enough light to read a book and sip local 'Caju'. 

Toes dug deep in the sand, slices of lime and pieces of green chilly piling up in the glass, the sun has quietly disappeared but the afterglow lingers for a while. 

Eventually the darkness takes over, the sound of the breakers making their incessant yet gentle 'swish swish' sound barely 50 metres away. Looking east, Balton's Shack appears well lit in the darkness. 

Twangy and spicy Fish Vindaloo is an excellent choice for dinner in the candle lit darkness, sitting by the water's edge, as the winter evening starts getting cooler. Rather different from a typical summer evening. 

X'mas time is superb in Goa, the temperatures are pleasant, resorts, shacks and restaurants are well lit, and Nativity scenes are set up inside resorts, homes and by the road.  

Balton's Restaurant on the street near Park Hyatt is another of my haunts, run by Tony. His brother Bala runs the beach shack. The shack and restaurant are both called Balton's.  

Balton's Restaurant is probably the best decorated and maintained restaurant I have come across in Goa. 

The decor includes two motorcyeles from the 1970s - a Rajdoot 350cc and a Bullet 500c. 

Once again, the hours melt away as the lime pieces and slit green chillies pile up as the Caju Feni goes down smooth as a whistle. 

Sometimes the choice is Goan Cafreal masala for dinner. 

And sometimes it's Goan Xacuti masala.

Some evenings I eat dinner at Pristine Resort. The cook whips up superb Goan Fish Curry. 

Pristine Resort, owned by Tony, has been my regular stay since the year 2010. Superbly maintained apartments set around a pool, a cozy restaurant, friendly staff, and a quiet setting overlooking cattle grazing fields, yet only one kilometer from the light sands of Arossim beach. This has put Pristine Resort on my yearly calendar. My taxi driver friend Tony lives next door, he picks me up from the airport and drops me back.   

Rooms at Pristine are well appointed and maintained. Rooms range from single rooms to large apartments. 

The Cross and Ganesha make a unique picture of serenity just by the restaurant.  

The candles burn by day and by night, appearing to wish us well. 

It is this environment of tranquility that draws me back to Pristine Resort year after year.

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