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Go Air to Goa

Our flight to Goa was not until 3:00 pm, so we were able to indulge once again in the comfort of Win’s apartment, rising late in the day to be greeted by Win’s staff who were quite eager to make us a traditional Indian breakfast, followed by a few cups of that, now oh so familiar, sweet milky Indian coffee. Win had arrived home very late the night before, and though we had done our best to communicate to the servants that it would be okay for them to go home, the entire staff had stayed the night, setting up beds on the kitchen and living room floors. At one point I found myself apologizing profusely when in the middle of the night I had tripped over one of them on the way to find my cell phone charger.

We resisted departure as long as we could, feasting on the abundance of Internet, filtered drinking water, and cups of coffee which Win’s staff so generously gave to us.

When the time came, we hauled the bikes downstairs to the courtyard, where we began to pack them up.

We could not do this, however, until one of the security guards finished taking a ride around the building on the Speed TR. This he did with much gusto and a huge grin, taking quite a few victory laps on Scott’s bike, while I headed out along frontage road looking for a cab.

When I finally made it to the intersection, I found myself confronted with a fuming, deafening gridlock of black and yellow cabs, all honking and screaming at each other. Most of these had fares and were too locked into the mayhem for me to attempt to make contact and initiate bargaining. On the other side of the raging gridlock, I found a number of cabs that all seemed to be lorded over by a central character, a large fellow in the flowing white gown and cap which advertised his religion. He had a number of cabs and rickshaws. The cabs all seemed unable to go to the airport, and a rickshaw was too small to fit ourselves and our luggage. For one reason or another each cab driver I spoke to seemed unwilling to go to the airport. Finally I was able to find a driver in one of the small van taxis they call “Omnis” who seemed interested in driving us to the airport, and though I was making good progress in nonverbal communication with him, the white gowned fellow came over and began to play translator, taking the opportunity to work out some sort of profit-sharing deal with the driver. Soon we had agreed on a price, and our man was jamming the Omni into gear, suspension lurching and belts squealing forward into the steaming gridlock that separated us from Scott and the bikes.

Some 10 minutes of horn honking and traffic jam aggravating later, I pulled up to find Scott smiling at me from behind his sunglasses. All our bags were packed up and piled neatly in a corner. The staff had lined up to shake our hands, as the security guard who had ridden the bike started to give us the hard sell on why we should just leave the Speed TRs with him, since we were, after all, going back to America, where folding bicycles grow on trees.

Wrong on both accounts, we assured him. And with a tip of the Panama hats, we were back on the road. The van had no third gear, so the ride to the airport was very loud. But soon enough we made it. Negotiation of the domestic part of the Mumbai airport proved quite simple. It had been remodeled since we visited it during the pilot study, and it now gleamed with all the new wealth of India.

I went off in search of some Vadas to snack on while Scott waited in a vast and snaking line to take advantage of our free coffee coupons (Thanks Go Air). I was just returning when I heard Scott scream out in pain, “Aye! Aye! Aye!” It seems that just after his long wait was finally over, he was proudly returning with the scalding load when a small portly woman, in an attempt to traverse the massive the line, ducked and wove behind him, scuttling through Scott’s legs and popping up at precisely the right moment to spill boiling hot boiling milky brew all over the two of them. I hustled to grab napkins and Scott and the woman began a fierce bout of apologies.

Later on, Scott was running his arm under cool water. “We just can’t seem to execute a domestic Indian flight without some mishap,” he observed. Would it really be India if we could?

Onboard Go Air’s flight from Mumbai to Goa, we found some subtle increases in the pricing of on-board snacks compared to the Bangalore-to-Mumbai leg, but for the most part were once again quite impressed with the airline. We also had the great pleasure of sitting next to a beautiful young architect from Goa by the name of Anna, who was happy to sit in as a surrogate member of the AsiaWheeling advisory board for the flight, explaining to us that travel back to Bangalore would be much easier by bus, and showing us on a map how we could take a cab to another city in the nearby province of Karnataka, and catch a bus from there to Bangalore.

Very much in Anna’s debt, we exited the airplane into the fresh air of Goa, which we savored for only a second before being herded into a bus and transported to the airport’s interior. Goa is certainly a tourist destination. The airport was like a less organized, less expensive version of the one in Bali, with many tropical potted plants, beach imagery, and figurines depicting men carrying loads of coconuts and scantily clad women whipping their shawls around in the sea air. We couldn’t wait to do the same, so we quickly piled into a taxi and headed south toward our hotel, a place that had come highly recommended by our friends in Mumbai, by the name of Cozy Nook.

It was in a place called Palolem Beach, in the south of Goa. And when our driver finally got there, we were not only quite hungry but surprised to find that our hotel was only reachable by walking down the beach. Rather than deal with that on the cycles, we locked them to a pole with a large “no parking sign,” which was being widely ignored by the locals, and headed down the beach.

It was a bit of a trek, and gave us the chance to take in the world around us. It was a nice white sand beach, covered completely with inns and restaurants.  Everywhere we looked there were white people, mostly in the sort of hippy-esque Indian influenced garb that is oh so common among those post-army-service Israelis who seem to be spread all over India and south-east Asia, spending a little time traveling and relaxing after what was no doubt an extremely intense experience. These made up the majority of the vacationers, but the group was also spiced with large numbers of older, more affluent looking European and Australian types, bathing in the greenish brown opaque sea, playing Frisbee on the beach, or strolling and attempting to fend off the many begging stray dogs which scurried everywhere.

We were almost to the Cozy Nook when my stomach suddenly tensed into knots. I had forgotten my Ukulele back where we parked the bikes! “Sorry, Scott,” I said “You’ll need to haggle for the room and check in alone. I need to run back and see if it’s not too late to save my baby.” So I threw down my pack, took off the Panama hat, and began to sprint down the beach. A couple of stray dogs joined me at first but soon lost interest. My legs began to throb and demanded I slow down, but I refused them. Finally panting and wheezing, I scrambled up off the beach and across the concrete parking area, but my uke was nowhere to be seen.

My heart fell like a stone into a frozen abyss of defeat. How could I have been so stupid? How was I supposed to sit by the beach here in Goa and strum Jimmy Buffet’s Margarittaville without my trusty uke? What an idiot I was… Ah, cruel fate.

Just then I heard a fellow call over to me. It was our cab driver. He was sitting at a nearby Chai stand, sipping tea and in his hands… my ukulele!

I ran over to him with tears in my eyes and took the instrument. I looked down at it. Not so fast, I thought, there are still a few more places we need to go together.


  1. Mark/Dad | March 28th, 2010 | 12:36 pm

    Thank goodness for honest cab drivers!

    And your drive-to-the-beach-video reminds me of a question I asked long ago–how do you get 360Ëš pans in your videos? Not so hard in a cab, but I’ve seen them when you are bicycling!?!

  2. Woody | March 29th, 2010 | 4:39 am

    @ Mark/Dad
    With regards to your question, I’m afraid that I magician must never share his secrets.

  3. Lulu | March 30th, 2010 | 7:56 am

    happy to hear your ukelele remains to be a travel companion!

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