…carrying half of the buffet table on my hips. Seriously. I kid you not. I have to now scour the wardrobe for trousers which are 99 per cent stretch lycra and elasticised waists. This is what eat all you can buffets, thrice a day do to me. Especially when they are interspersed with drink all you can bouts while lazing on beach shacks with interesting trance in the background, and the vast open sea up from ten feet away from the shack upto infinity where you can sit, with no concern of time and deadlines and actual number of calories contained per bottle of Bacardi Breezer, and laugh your lungs out at adventurous water sports types sputtering sand out as the speedboats fling them off their trailing dinghy into the shallows.
Ah well. I am the queen of mean. Goa was what it always is at this time of the year. Its beaches over run with mounds and mounds of burning pink flesh, in swimming costumes so minimal that some I swear were mere bands of elastic put on to dodge nudity laws. And to think I went into the flight panicking about how on earth was I going to face the world in my very very all encompassing hot pink one piece number. I actually worried about cellulite, and the random display of. And worried about causing an outbreak of conjunctivitis should I dare step out in public in said bathing suit. Now, for some background. I dont swim. Never have. Till last year I was the proverbial blind as a bat, and never dared get into the water. Yes, yes, ironies of life. The spouse is a champion national level swimmer and waterpolo player. Rather, was. Now he is a champion raconteur of anecdotes about his various swimming championships, down to second by second battles to touch the finishing line to the child whose eyes start glazing over with sleep the moment the spouse starts on them tales. In fact, I have occasionally encouraged the spouse to tell the child inspiring stories from his swimming days when the child has been bouncing off the walls showing no inclination to go off to sleep, and this strategy has been proved effective every single time.
Therefore. I have never owned a swimming costume. Not even in the heyday when the curves were hairpin bends and cellulite was something other lesser fortunate souls suffered. This time round, the eyes have been lasiked into perfection and I was going to get into the pool. By God, I was, and I needed a swimming costume to ensure irate pool attendants didnt fish me out with the leaf catcher if I got in wearing inappropriate attire. Therefore a swimming costume was purchased from Shoppers Stop seconds before packing had to happen. The spouse looked at it critically. “It’s not a Speedo,” he said in his usual economical manner of comment. Yeah, like I’m going to get into the pool and put Mark Spitz to shame. “It’s pink.” Er. Yes. I’m a girl. Girls wear pink. You have a nice bright blue Speedo. You are a boy. Boys wear blue. Its rather tiring to explain rudiments of colour choices to the man. He sat on the edge of the bed very patiently, and explained to me. “A real swimming costume is high on the chest and low at the back. It makes for better water resistance while swimming.” Needless to say, me and my low cut swimming costume spent all our time in the pool walking in the shallow end.
The pool, the beaches and the hotels in Goa are currently overrun by Russians. Throw a stone and you will hit a Russian. And they arent a very friendly race. Their language is the kind of rumbling stones which when you hear spoken behind you in an undertone can send shivers up your spine. Their manners at buffet tables are, to put it politely, aggressive. And their attitude towards those of brown skin is sniggeringly impolite. And we were at a five star property.
We counted the number of times we had been to Goa in the past and divided them into the visits pre-child and the visits post-child with the child in tow. The visits pre-child were at least twice a year and replete with hedonistic escapades that one will not recount on a public forum. The visits post-child, with child in tow has one great advantage that we have a handy photographer available who is keen to keep clicking pictures of us everytime we look. Ergo, we have lot of pictures of us this trip. And now we know what it feels like to be tailed by paparazzi, and thank our stars we are never going to be so blessed in this lifetime at least. Apart from that, we have been souls of sobriety. It doesnt help that we have a pintsize constantly asking us whether he can drink the orange juice from my glass.
With our resort this time being in South Goa, we were effectively cut off from the ‘happening’ Baga/Calangute stretch and made it all the way there the very first day we landed, after the kind of negotiations for car hire that would put drug peddlers to shame. The taxis outside the hotel had some kind of union which charged an arm a foot and almost every tooth one owned only for car on hire. And we had to put in petrol ourselves to add insult to injury. We spent the entire day eating more fish peri peri and prawn vindaloo than any self respecting stomach could endure. I swear I could hear my skin stretching.
The child did some swimming in the sea with his father and came back much insulted, and complaining violently about a wave which dunked him under the surface and deposited some sand in his mouth. I think the loss of dignity was by far the most painful. He was wiped, washed and put to sleep on a deck chair while more lotus eating happened till evening. When he woke, all he wanted to do was to get back to the room and television, so shopping was deferred to another day.
I sobbed copious tears only fellow shopaholics would understand as I passed all the stalls along the road without even getting a looksee within and not doing a single whittle them down to half the rate theyre asking bargain. The spouse’s heart broke as we passed Tito’s without getting a looksee in, being as we were, accompanied by child.
We hired a scooter to get into Margao the next day, and to go to Colva beach. This was, er, more cost effective. The spouse hasnt ridden a scooter since our dating days. And those were back when kick start was the norm, and phones were huge black instruments installed by MTNL only. And in some parts of the planet, dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Therefore the first few minutes on the scooty were, to put it gently, a little wobbly. The child insisted he would handle the accelerator, standing as he was upfront. I admired the confidence which comes from never having fallen from a scooter in one’s lifetime. I had bitter memories of badly grazed knees and one dupatta in the wheel strangulation so was naturally wary of the ride, especially given that buses and trucks had no compunction to hit the brakes when they spotted poor little us on tiny scooter coming up at the them from the front. I muttered the Hanuman Chalisa into the spouse’s ear much to his irritation, and kept my eyes closed whenever heavy vehicles approached at speed. Which was a bad decision because I am the navigator in the family. Naturally, the return journey was all about falling darkness, and strange roads through fields, and constant checking of signboards and milestones and pulling over to ask kind strangers to point us towards our hotel. In Goa, the standard response to any query for directions is ‘Go straight and ask again after five minutes.” Which I thought was very sensible. I could have done a cross country with this kind of direction giving.
We returned last evening. It was the kind of holiday that one enjoys for two days and then longs to get back to the routine of one’s regular life. And I never thought I’d say it but, I was longing for saada dal chawal sabji. Eating a sinful buffet spread, three meals a day, four days made me realise that I have no passing acquaintance with the concept of self control. I swear the restaurant managers kept a trolley handy just in case they had to wheel me away from the table. I am sure a couple of days more of this kind of eating and I would have had to take the needle and thread and a pair of scissors to the hotel bedsheets in order to fit into any clothing.
We returned to the wonderful cooking of my old trusty cook, who is retained more out of loyalty than for any validation of her cooking skills. Oversalted vegetables. Rice like kheer. Daal that was, well, a gruel. It gives me hope. I’m sure this is a conspiracy underfoot to ensure I get back to fit within a single frame size without additional effort. The spouse and I have decided that our next vacation to Goa will be to a hotel located in North Goa. Close to the beaches that buzz. And with plenty of kiddy activities to keep the child entertained. This time round, he’s just become the king of carrom.