Saturday, January 13, 2007

Goa -- V

The fifth exciting episode of a four day trip to Goa undertaken by thirteen people not long ago

The story so far:-

Thirteen people in Goa. Consumption of large amounts of alcohol in the space of one hour. Subsequent vomiting a.k.a retching, bazaar visits sans the most interested(interesting?) person in the group, forts, beaches, banana boat rides and accosting by spurious men, dressing decent for an upcoming Christmas midnight mass, being there.

The saga continues

Since the name of the church we visited is unknown to me, I will refer to it as the church. We visited only one church in Goa. This one is located near the Kamat hotel(a poor way to be identifying what, I am sure, is a famous church in Panaji; but I have no other way, sorry) and is situated on a level equivalent to the third floor of most tall buildings and one has to reach there by climbing flights of stairs. It is quite a massive structure and boasts grand, rather Roman architecture. The inside looks much like the cathedral in the famous baptism-and-simultaneous-execution-of-all-enemies sequence in 'The Godfather.' But anyway, to my novice eyes, all cathedrals look like that famous movie cathedral, so don't really go by my judgement.

We went in and sat down in chairs that had been placed just outside the church, in front of the main entrance. Naveen said they'd let us in after a while and we would really have to rush in and grab seats, because there would be a terrible rush for them when the doors opened. Indeed, there were a lot of people there that night, Christians and others alike, Indians and Delhiites alike. Close to midnight, they opened the doors and O, we rushed in! We ran to the nearest relatively empty benches/pews(these were what people had to sit on, inside, instead of chairs) and seated ourselves. Bibles printed in what I presumed was a rare offshoot of Latin were present on every bench(Naveen later said it was Konkani). We waited for midnight to strike, so they could say some of those operatic Hallelujah/Carmina Burana things, yell out 'Merry Christmas' and serve us good cake. Alas, 'twas not to be! A gentleman in an odd suit came up to us and enquired, "Are you Catholics?" An answer to the effect of "I am an Indian, sir! How can you put religion above nationality?? I am deeply affronted and wounded by this petty question of yours! O!" was brewing in my head, but I just said no.
"Then can you please wait outside? Many Catholics are waiting outside, without getting a place here. I think this will benefit them more. Please do not misunderstand. There are chairs outside and you can watch the whole event on the projection screen we have put up there. Can you wait outside, please?"

It would have been easy, funny and rather a test of the man had I said "No" and continued to sit there, waiting for His kingdom to come. It would have been of further interest to observers of human nature had I said "Jesus wouldn't have asked me to leave..." and continued to sit there. However, all of us non-Catholics, children of a lesser God in the eyes of that Goan church, were of a pacifist nature and quietly left the church building and sat on the chairs outside. Naveen, KK and Sneha(the latter two being non-Catholics and actually, I suspect, followers of the Lutheran church of Salisbury, England) were left sitting inside. Naveen had a genuine interest in the proceedings, by the look of him, and the other two were waiting for 1:00 AM, so they could go to a party(it was later revealed by Rakshith, who also went to the party with them, that aged men dressed in formal clothing swivelled at this party).

Then, at the stroke of the midnight hour, as eighteen unknown people slept, Goa awakened to Christmas...

It was good that we got out of the church when we did. The mass began all right, and it would have been interesting too, had it been in English. But an elderly priest(who was the head honcho there) came up to an altar that had been set up for addressing people outside the church as well and began speaking in Konkani. And O it was incomprehensible! The story of Jesus, along with those of Abhimanyu, Karna and Kilgore Trout, is one of the four most moving stories I have ever heard. In Konkani, it is supremely incomprehensible. So we wisely decided to go a safe distance away and wait for it to get over. It is eminently amusing that KK and Sneha stayed inside the church and listened to a midnight Christmas mass in Konkani for what seemed like two hours.

After the mass, it was time for another visit to our favourite coffee shop and yours, Aunty Maria's. Of course, with none of the party presently drunk, the excitement level wasn't as much as the previous visit(interest levels in these chronicles may also be sagging due to the increasing delays of their publishing and the decreased alcoholic content in the stories. I do not blame you). Still, Arvind managed to click pictures of a painting(yes, a picture of a painting. Kind of redundant, but ok) featuring a man with a suspiciously pivotable neck, which scared the living daylights out of a lady who was serving him coffee.

After a midnight mass, what could be more appropriate than a visit to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the saint Francis Xavier lies embalmed and having one toe stolen, repenting his decision of ever moving to Goa and suffering the loss of digits(1 nos)? In one car and one bike, seven of us embarked on a high-speed ride to old Goa, at 1 in the morning. The road to old Goa is fantastic(as seems to be the case with all roads in Panaji) and we(ok, 'they.' Bastards didn't let me drive.) hit top speeds of around 120 consistently. The ride back is particularly computer game-like. Criss-crossing little roads, light provided only by a sad little natural satellite orbiting at roughly 3, 85, 000 km from the earth's surface, a happy lack of traffic and pollution, quaint, old-world structures for houses, creepers overflowing from gardens and surrounding the walls of the houses, an astounding ride. Consummately satisfied(I've always wanted to say this), we returned to our rooms. And it was this night, I am corrected, that we sang Sanskrit poems and hit songs by Dr Rajkumar. "Ashwamedha" thundered, "If you come today.." resounded, "Punyabhoomimaadarannamami Bharatambikam" echoed mightily. Verily, it was a feast for the ears!

It wasn't. We were idiots messing around. But having fun doing it.

December 25th, Monday

The next morning found us on the way to Mayem lake. A much acclaimed lake, this lake is the envy of all other lakes within a short radius(which comes up to a total of zero, I suspect). Once again, the bike saw two resourceful fellows zoom off and the cars had to bear an extra person's weight. Mayem lake is far and has little to interest you, unless you want to go a-pedalling in boats, which you can do in Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud or a host of other places. You get lime soda outside the gates and you can drink that and leave, feeling rather dissatisfied about making such a long trip(it is about 25 kms away from Hotel Check-Inn, 18th June road, Panaji).

Vishnu had parked the car deliberately leaving the front bumper sticking out a little into the road. The car thus stood in an inquisitive manner, as though it had just joined a discussion and was asking around to be kept abreast of the matter.

We will now take a brief detour and return with the hopefully final installment of these chronicles after a short hiatus. MiddleClassBrahmin Inc. hopes you will forgive this inconvenience. We do wish to affirm that we do not give a damn whether you do or don't, anyway. It is my parents who feed me and not you(except you, you and you. Oh, and you. You all know who you are). OK, you want me to go on about your parents...? Anyhow, we will return after a short, non-commercial break.


Harish said...

Oho! Goa V!

oLLe fast aagi mugistiro haagide Goa series-na?

'Consummate' pada prayoga chennaagide. Nija.

Courrpted by excessive corporate terminology, I liked the word(or phrase or whatever) "Middleclassbrahmin Inc". Nice.

tangled said...

Dammit my boy.
Why don't I have adventures like this?

Rakesh said...

hey.. u r missing 'memorable' events like
i) Mr Menezes braking suddenly at 2 a.m. in front of the Cathedral to shock the life out of the vehicle driver behind..
ii) Mr. N'Kumar's reactions when he was riding pillion with Mr. Sandeep Sharma, and ofcourse the ferry....

Harish said...

Has MiddleClassBrahmin Inc. thought of when to release Goa-VI?

Nish=) said...

eagerly waiting

Arjun Sharma said...

[Harish]Houdu, corporate jargon is used nowadays.

And MiddleClassBrahmin Inc. has not yet decided when "Goa -- VI" will be released. Dogged by controversy and accusations of excessive dramatization when there was need for none, and spreading the false impression that we are all more fun than we actually are, "Goa -- VI" will be a mature, well thought out, educative piece of writing. It is expected to be out within a week. Thank you.

[Tangled]I don't know. Maybe you should all drink more. Or come with us next time around. It won't be as much fun as the written word makes it seem, though. I am a sucker for dramatization. Like the 'ego clashes' thing. I have been told, in no uncertain terms, that there were none such by her, him and him.

However, these being three of the five people who left me behind and threw me out of a room, I will flip the finger at such accusations and proceed in my own happy way.

[Nisha]OK OK, it is in production now. He he...

Arjun Sharma said...

[Rakesh]Yeah, I thought of putting that in, Naveen's immaculate braking. But it became too dramatic a description as I began including it. So, tegditte pakkakke.

However, you're right, Mr Menezes' sudden braking scared the, to make a bad joke, beJesus out of the car immediately behind, in front of Bom Jesus' basilica. As Naveen remarked, that fellow was himself driving a rented car. "Nanden hogbeku" anta, he must have driven off without a word uttered in reproachment. All Fate's games.

As for Mr Kumar's reactions, I thought the reaction in the car was funnier. Shhh, you're leaking out what lies in store!