…and so we drove from Baga to Panjim, with the boot jammed, one eye on the clock, and one eye on the road. Me with the other eye out for the road signs, not too much because Goa is familiar home turf almost, having visited there at least a couple of times a year for the past ten to 12 years or more. We sped along, crossing the bridge, turning into Panjum, with a scribbled address on a scrap of paper asking everyone where was St Inez. Saint Inez. As I pronounced it. Everyone stared at me blankly and shook their heads. In desperation, I grabbed hold of a cop. Metaphorically speaking of course, you understand, indicative of my desperation, given we were at five minutes to five, “Where is St Inez?” I mouthed slowly, much in the manner of Chris Tucker meeting Jackie Chan in Rush Hour airport scene–you know? The “You Speaka English” one. He stared at me blankly and shook his head side to side to indicate a no. “Look, look,” I thrust the paper into his face, “Cacula Motors, St Inez, Panjim…..(pronounced Saint Eeenez, of course, what do I know about these things).” His face broke into a wide smile, “Madam, Santanas, you must say Santanas, go straight, take left from Military Hospital.” Aaargh. With visions of Black Magic Woman in my head, we went straight and took said left, located said service centre for Honda, where the guard was just about stretching languorously to pull the shutters down. A pretty young thing came out to check the damage and her face creased into an expression of physical pain seeing the crumpled boot, the broken bumper and the smashed tail lights. In fact, I was looking at said damaged boot at leisure for the first time myself, and almost had tears in my eyes at the thought that I might not be able to recover my cosmetic case from within.
She made some rapid calls and spoke in rapider Konkani with a disembodied voice at the other end, and informed us we would need to take the car to their workshop at Verna to get the boot opened. And that this would be done after the surveyor would assess the damage. And we could get this done the next morning, because, of course, the workshop would shut now.
But all our luggage is in the boot, I asked in gritted politeness, can’t it just be opened up by someone here? We can take our luggage and go back? But apparently procedures are procedures, especially where insurance is concerned. So we didn’t want to take a risk. And the actual repairs would take seven working days, subject to the availability of parts. It was a good thing she was a wee pretty lass, or the spouse would have hurled some unparliamentary language.
We drove back to Baga, looking for a garage along the way where we could get the boot opened up. Never mind the damn insurance and the surveyor. At Calangute, we located one. Stopped the car. Stop an accident hit car at a garage and immediately a crowd collects like said vultures to carrion. “Kaisa hua, kidhar hua, kitney speed pe they, woh kitney speed pe tha, pakkad ke maara ke nahin.” Nope. Not the laid back Goa mechanics doing all the asking, the Goa mechanics were still being enticed out of their perches to take a look at what could be done, these were the vacationers down from Bombay, Pune for the Diwali break doing all the asking. “Bahut damage ho gaya hai, abhi lamba chauda bill phatega.” Errm. And then, “Madam ko laga to nahin,” in needless attempt to drag me into the conversation. The mechanic looked at boot, tut tutted a bit, struggled a lot and then gave up, advising the spouse to take the car to the Honda service centre the next day to get it opened by trained professionals. We drove off glumly to the hotel, telling ourselves we could pick up a change and spare toiletries from the stalls along the side of the road, but what about the grandmother, saree, blouse, petticoat was not what was available at these stalls. Unless, we could convince her to get into a nice batik printed gown of the kaftan variety if available. Got out of the car and shut the door. Spouse stood looking at the boot and kicked it in anger, and viola, it swung open like that man Ali Baba’s yawning cave. We grabbed the luggage and hauled it all into the reception area of the hotel ourselves, before the boot changed its mind and shut itself, and then of course, said boot wouldn’t shut, so we ran around begging for some rope, which was threaded through various openings and tied together. At last, to bathe and change. And hit the Zanzibar shack, our all time favourite shack on Baga, where the owner and the spouse are on back slapping hail fellow well met terms. We showered, perfumed, togged self and kids up for dinner. The grandmother was exhausted from the journey and declared she would order dinner in. And having ordered dinner for her, we took ourselves off to the beach to locate Zanzibar, it’s familiar black and orange hues, but did we think this trip was going to let us have it so easy, just yet?
(Watch this space for the next instalment).