To start with there a was a lot of dithering and dathering. Should we go, should we not. Goa or some other place. Dates weren’t working out. The child refused point blank to come along because ‘Goa is boreding’. Which I was sorely inclined to agree with, having visited Goa at least twice a year for the past 12 years.
Add to it an entire slew of extraneous factors and at a point, we had reconciled ourselves to spending 2011 without a holiday. As it turns out, this was the holiday, like the proverbial condom accident child, which turns out to be the one most likely to stay embedded in one’s mind for eternity, stories of which shall be told to the grandchildren until their eyes glaze over. Such an action, emotion, adventure, drama this trip was, that it, like most road trips, ended up being one of those so immortalized by Jerome K Jerome in his treatise on a trip down the Thames in a boat. You know the one. You don’t? Three Men in a Boat? No? *gasp. shock. die* Go read it now, your education is so, so very incomplete.
In keeping with the tradition of the book, we did take the decision to go off to Goa completely last minute, which had us scrambling around for hotel bookings in the course of the previous day, and having gotten the required confirmed rooms, conforming to all our statutory requirements—read On Baga beach (our usual suspect hotel being full up for the dates required, what with the high profile ThinkFest being on, and one gadzillion people visiting Goa at the same time, and all the hotels rooms being booked up for months–of course I wasn’t attending any ThinkFest. I don’t go to a place like Goa to do any thinking. Goa is meant for vegetating on the beach, a Breezer in hand), within walking distance of the sea, with 24 hour room service, swimming pool, hot and cold running water, and such very essential essentials, including hospital and doctors within 10 minutes driving distance, given the child was with us, plus the grandmother, and the mandatory requirement of the rooms right next to each other so that the child could be shunted between rooms depending on his level of distractibility.
The scrambling to pack began. I had but a few hours to pack. It overwhelmed me. I almost sank down onto the bed and wept, but found I was made of better steel. I roused myself and rushed off early from the office to do the needful. Packing without a list. No excelsheetofied list. In normal situations, this would be blasphemy.
There hadn’t been enough time to make out a list. To me, this was tantamount to packing blind. If you are a list person, you would understand the pain. The list syndrome is so terrible that one is physically unable to proceed without even a rudimentary list in place. To placate my list obsession, I scribbled down on a the back of a used envelope three columns, me, the child and the spouse.
As is expected, the spouse’s column of packing was the shortest. Shorts, t shirts and underwear, and shaving foam, and razor. And toothbrush. Being married to a retrosexual man has its advantages. As long as it is wearable, he doesn’t care what colour, fit or print I dump into the bag. It was mine and the brat’s packing which had me running around shrieking like a headless chicken. To start with, all my beach gear had been deposited at the mater’s thanks to limited storage in the new premises (where we are actually two cupboards short compared with the previous home, which had longer walls in the bedroom and accommodated more storage space). So a rush rush trip to the mom’s to dig out them shorts and itty bitty tees was in order. Rushed back home. Tried them on to check whether they still fit. Screamed in horror to find some were shrunk by gremlins while in storage and could now only fit stick insects. Took the more generous ones and dumped them into the bag. Dumped a few clothes for any occasion when I might need to be clad in a socially acceptable manner and not with clothes which comprised some strings and scraps of cloth.And then there was the eternal grappling with the question of life or death—how many shoes, slippers and such like to carry along. Much internal debate later, it was decided I would take a separate bag for, hold your breath, shoes and bags. What? What? What? A girl goes to the beach. She goes shopping. She goes pubbing. She goes to the disco. She might need to meet some people formally. I’m a girl scout at heart, always be prepared. Ergo, packed two pairs of beach sandals, one a pretty floral print, one a neon green funky slip on, one pair of neutral tan kitten heels, the sneakers were worn for the car journey and one pair of leopard wedge heels—for easy walking, and a pair of black satin stiletoes. Of course. A girl always needs a pair of stilettoes in her luggage. You never know. And a little black dress. Make that a black shiny top and fitted jeans for me. A must pack. What? I could just get invited to a formal do even at a beach holiday, couldn’t I?
Then there were the shorts. The debate, the modest knee length ones. The mid thigh length ones. Or the skimming the butt line ones. Modesty won, given I was embarked on the journey en famille.
And sunblock. Lots of it. Tubes scattered randomly into every bag to ensure I didn’t miss out even if a bag got left behind. The child had clothes packed for twice the number of days we planned to be there. As I always do, given his penchant to get wet/dirty/throw up, please feel free to add to the list. The trip would eventually end with him returning home with one set of clean clothes of the bags full packed to zip splitting levels for him.
So we set off bravely into the dark morning, 4 am to be precise. We zoomed past the dark, deserted streets of Mumbai and reached New Bombay where the spouse, my darling calm, collected, organized spouse, realized the petrol tank was running on empty. And no 24 hour petrol pumps to be found given it was barely 5 am. Some desperate asking around and we took a short detour off at Kalamboli to wake up a snoring attendant, who was most snarly about being woken up from what surely must have been an X rated dream, and got us fuelled up for the journey. We sailed along smoothly, stopped for brekkers at a McDonalds, Dominoes, Café Coffee Day triumvirate near Satara for nutrition, coffee and other essentials like rushing to the loo. Dressed in our thin Mumbai clothing, we shivered in the chill morning Satara air which must have been definitely below 10 degrees Celsius. For all ye laughing your guts out there, that is freezing point for me. I shivered until my teeth created percussion rhythms and drank down some hot coffee to warm the innards and almost asked for the whereabouts of a a 24 hour wine shoppe, hoping to get hold of some bottle of warming brandy.
Back on the road, and ten minutes into the trip, came the big bang. Eeesh. You dirty minds. Not that. This was actual physical collision. With a Skoda Octavia ramming smack bang into us, when the spouse slowed down to avoid a random right lane swerve by a trailer in front. Naturally, all hell broke loose. After the first five minutes were spent thanking all the Gods in heaven and on earth that no one was injured, given the child, the niece and the grandmother were in the back seat, much frantic arguing ensued. The boot was jammed shut. We decided to reach Goa and figure out insurance and repairs. So we took the right off the NH4 post Kolhapur and into the ghats to reach Amboli and then eventually Sawantwadi. The spouse, as usual, suddenly realized the fuel tank indicator light was blinking. And blinking pretty furiously at that. I am not a religious person, but I prayed hard. Being stuck on the ghats with children and an elderly person and no fuel was not my idea of a great start to a vacation where we had already started the morning with the car getting smashed in. But more drama was still to follow. Read part two tomorrow.
(To be continued)