For my Assam Tribune Column/January 2009

I wonder whether I should comfort myself imagining you’ll say – “Isn’t this the same Nidarshana who used to write here regularly?” or face it – “who Nidarshana?” Considering my unpunctuality, I very well deserve the second scenario and any attempt of self-accreditation should be scraped off impromptu. But this time I have a valid reason – I just got married and was waiting to hit base with my honeymoon story! And here I go...
Looking at my then fiancé’s purse shrink as the “the Day” approached, I expunged all hopes of a honeymoon and half-heartedly packed my bags for Hyderabad (my present settlement). And it wasn't till we reached the airport, that Don (my husband) bombarded me with: “Did I tell you, we’re going to Goa”! Over and above my usual tearful overwhelm, I goaded him with my hows, whens and wheres. Well I both love and hate this habit of his – had I known earlier I wouldn’t have bloated my bags with heaps of mekhela-sador and gifts.
It was long past evening when we reached Goa. We drove down South through sparsely lit narrow roads, fringed with coconut trees and stretches of hinterland, interspersed with sloping roofed houses – that reminded me of my hometown, Nagaon. Even the air smelt like home.
The next surprise was – Don had taken a Club Mahindra life-time membership and we’re on a weeklong vacation at their Varca Beach Resort. What followed was too dramatic for a travelogue, but I cannot resist – he walked me into a studio apartment (kitchen attached), ornate with balloons, a huge bouquet of reddest of roses, a bed flaked with petals, Al Di Meola (jazz guitarist) in the backdrop and like the cherry on the cake – a bottle of my favourite port wine (San Andrés). Coming from an otherwise far-from-romantic, geeky husband (for a hopelessly romantic wife) the surprise-spree was far too much for an ambit of some 10 hours. I was knocked out, of course!
The first thing we did the next morning was raced for the sea (just a stone-throw away from our apartment) and ran on and on till the waves would not let us dare further. That remained our favourite sport during our brief stay, besides playing beach volleyball, watching sunsets, digging crab-holes, lazing on the hammocks and biking through the winding lanes of South Goa.
The Resort had just about everything to keep a vacationer hooked – multi-cuisine restaurants (one at the beach), swimming pools with Jacuzzi, putt golf tracks, electric buggies for transport within the club, Massage, Sauna and beauty parlours, Gym, Wi-Fi, souvenir and grocery shops, discotheque, children play rooms, an activity centre with library, cyber cafe, carrom, chess, TT and pool tables, and a hall that hosts cultural programmers, team-building games et al every evening. You also have an array of hobby classes to choose from – painting, salsa, guitar, yoga and meditation, clay modelling, swimming, being the best picks. Their private beach was one of the neatest I had ever walked upon and with activities like parasailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, dolphin watching rides, banana rides, and campfires at night – one just wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. Don won the Carrom and Pool tournament, while I was miserably beaten at both and my proposed Ludo tournament never happened.
Club Mahindra service and hospitality was impeccable. There too the Security Guards were Assamese (like in most metros) and my nightmare of the Nepali “Shalam Shaab” getting replaced in Bollywood movies with some Assamese version got further reinforced.
Sight-seeing buses clubbed up at the main entrance, but we preferred exploring on rented bikes (Rs. 350 a day). Kentuckee (for reasonably priced grand food) and Mickey (for great live music and ambience) at the neighbouring Colva beach became our favourite dinner joints and for the hog in me it was a “nirvana” of sorts gorging on fresh seafood (from shark meat to lobsters), Goan cuisine (Pork Vindaloo, Chicken Xacuti, desserts like Dodol, Bibinka) with sips of coconut or cashew Feni.
One morning we rode some 50 km all the way to North Goa, via Panjim, did some sightseeing, spent the evening shopping at Anjuna flea market and danced the night away at Mambo’s by the Calangute beach. Swaying together with the swanky crowd made of tourists, hippies and who not, I was reminded of those Goan beach parties I would so gape at on the TV as a kid. Yet another evening we walked along the beach all the way from Varca to Colva (some mighty 8 km!) and came back walking (read “crawling”) through roads so dark and devoid of humans, that I cannot think of any place I have visited which had such roads and we felt as safe. Unlike most tourist hot-hubs, I found simplicity and a happy-go-lucky attitude written all over the local Goans. Their land exuded that same spirit and perhaps that, along with the sea, the sand, the sun, the carefree abandon, replete your Goa experience that you carry along and want to come back to, again and again.
Back in Teleguland, one noon the door bell rang and a Sony Bravia 32” LCD coloured TV came in – the last instalment of our holiday package (with affordable EMIs that package was a steal!). Hallelujah Club Mahindra! And thank you dear husband for everything! Goa travel guide in my next column! Also, feel free to mail me for more on Club Mahindra Holidays.

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