Monsoon masti

Monsoon masti

Monsoon masti

Goa in the monsoon, from a touristy perspective, resembles a post-wedding home suddenly shorn of guests, gusto and gaiety. A hangover creeps up on this now-swollen seafront of surf ‘n’ sand that had hitherto been throbbing, rather choked, with a touristy sea of humanity.

And the Goan air in the rainy season resembles the mood after a night of wedding revelry: somber, sullen and sluggish.

It’s as if the seaside retreats and crawls into a shell like a terrified turtle as the skies herald a tempest of torrential rain and roaring thunder.

Like the towering tents and shimmery shamianas packing up after the wedding is over and the last guest has departed, the seafront wraps up all its signs of hospitality, the hum of water sports and the hustle bustle of visiting hordes.

It is into this Goa in hangover mode, with its face overcast, its brow creased by the burden of a fury about to burst and its mood made sullen by the coal-dark cloak of cumulus, that we arrive, hoping to see a side of the sea that its sunny and smiling wintry face scarcely even gives a clue of.

As we scour the soaked seasides of Baga, Candolim and Calangute, there’s nary a sign of the revelry, the wedding-like gaiety that greets us on our winter trips: no Francis to dish out our steak burger or king fish sizzler at Big Bananas beach shack in Baga; no Michael to strum us an ode of Pretty Woman on his guitar; no barbeques at Britto’s, no native women to peddle their trinkets and sarongs; no DVD vendors to bring us our vacation-time visuals of Eat Pray Love, No Strings Attached and more.

The barren beachside is like a bustling bungalow stripped of festoons and festivity after a party is long over and the sandy stretch, sans the shacks, is like a refrigerator emptied of all lip-smackin’ goodies after having served a houseful of gluttonous guests.

But now it’s the turn of Nature to throw its party, to roll out a carpet of swollen surf, to bring the roof down with its rock band of roaring thunder, shimmery lightning and the curly-cropped Cumulonimbus & Co.

And what a party it is! Nature at its throbbing ‘n’ thundering best. The Goa of the winter and spring season seems much too tame and tempered in the face of this menacing monsoon mood.

Wintry Goa is like waltz, well orchestrated with rhythmic yet restrained moves on the watery floor of well-behaved waves. But rain-time Goa is like rock ‘n’ roll, Nature’s orchestra gone wild, the charged waves belting out an uninhibited, uncensored rock concert on the wayward watery dance floor.

Designer hats that are our staple for winter visits now stand discarded. Beautiful brollies are instead brought out. Resort wear is out, raincoats are in. Stylish sandals are out, comfy Crocs are in. But what can the poor umbrellas, rainwear and other water-proof stuff do when the seething skies open their shutters to pour down sheets of water!

Lounging with feni and fish cutlets in a stray shack that braves the monsoon fury to stay open in Candolim, we’re busy absorbing the clouded but cool face of the beach when a clap of thunder sounds a discordant note in the Bollywood’s Chhamak Chhallo number that’s playing. We speed up with the sumptuous spread laid out for us and are just stepping out of the shack towards our car when there it comes: not a slow sputtering shower but it’s as if the heavens have simply turned on a tap right over us.

When a soaked Goa packs up its shacks — the emblems of its epicurean diversity — and it’s no more party time for the visiting foodies on its frothy waterfront, we learn to do what many monsoon travellers imbibe: scour the Goan interiors for rain-resistant eateries tucked away along bylanes and bridges to pander to
monsoon-ravenous appetites.

And this turns out to be quite a culinary journey indeed. From the ubiquitous Punjabi Dhaba in Calangute, that continues to dish out its fish fry, to Infantaria in Baga that is inviting with its Goan sausages, chicken croissants and quiche, to a more continental fare at French pizzeria Baba Au Rhum nestled in Arpora, there are, thankfully, eateries dotting the countryside that are not closed and cater to the drenched ‘n’ dining, if not discerning, monsoon tourists!

Rain or sunshine, we discover another staple of this seaside in our quest to sample the seasonal stuff: the poi. A fluffy wheat bun, more like a puffed up, baked, round roti, the poi is a local produce that the natives subsist on. And running into a poi-wallah on a bicycle in Arpora becomes our culinary find of the season.


For, even in the rainy season, the poi-wallah is as regular as the clock. His bicycle ring early in the morning on a landscape made more lush by the night-long showers signals that fresh supplies are on their way. And for rain-intimidated tourists who may be wary of eating out closer to the waves, he stands as a symbol of culinary continuity in the face of wavering seasons.

Interestingly, the poi lends itself to many a culinary combination, as our cuisine experimentation revealed. It can be had as a roti with fish curry or ready-to-eat Goan sausages if one doesn’t want to venture out of the resort on a rainy day; it can be sliced and stuffed with filling and turned into a burger for the brat pack yearning for a slice of McDonald’s or Domino’s and so on!

Goa in the monsoon may thus not be in a party mood, with not only its shacks and eateries all packed up post-party but even its flea markets, be it the Wednesday Anjuna Market or the Arpora and Mackie’s Saturday Night Bazaars, shut down, but it certainly has something on its platter for offbeat travellers. A more lush landscape, quaint eateries perched in the interiors that often get overlooked in the peak seasons, and best of all, solitude far from the madding crowd.

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