05 Jan - 22 Feb 2015 Benaulim

Benaulim = Beach, Beer, Bed... 
Matt: Recuperating from the travails of life on the cold Northern Indian road ([1], [2], [3]) and having a whale of a time as one of the most junior "club members" amongst all the senior-citizen beach bums who hang out on the sunny, sandy beaches of South Goa, a liberal holiday destination since colonial times.

“My day is done,
and I am like a boat drawn on the beach,
listening to the music of the tide in the evening.”
(Rabindranath Tagore)

Matt: Settling into the relaxing and somewhat boring routine of a perfect beach holiday: (i) spending the day reading and dozing on a sun bed by the palm-fringed beach and watching mesmeric sunsets over the Arabian Sea from the safety of a deck chair at one of the seasonal beach shacks (open only during the benign northeast monsoon, between October and May; my fav for lunch: Roger's Beach Shack, my fav for sun downer: Patrose Beach Shack), (ii) socialising at the Nepali-run German Bakery with ageing ex-hippies from the West (mostly skinny tea drinkers, ethno/tribal leather necklaces, pushbikes), noveau-riches from Russia (mostly pot-bellied vodka/cola drinkers, gold chains on their necks, Royal Enfields) and a few ordinary mortals and friends (e.g. Malvinder, the Punjabi version of a Viennese coffee house character; Ueli, the Swiss expert on chhurpi aka Nepalise yak cheese; Robert, the English Welshman from MI7), (iii) dining regularly at Srusthi's Karnatakan Canteen, Sharmina's Tamil Restaurant and Fridola's Tandoori Restaurant), (iv) enjoying Goa's Christian beer prices (650-ml bottles of cold Kingfisher Premium Lager with 4.8 % alc./vol. for INR 65.- or US$ 1.05 per bottle, 500-ml cans of cold Kingfisher Draught with 5.0 % alc./vol. for INR 50.- or US$ 0.80 per can; available from any of Benaulim's well-stocked wine shops which are busy with "Spreading the Spirit of Goa"), and (v) coming to grips with the incredible number of different flavours of Goa's home-distilled, very potent cashew feni (one-litre plastic bottles for the fixed price of INR 200.- or US$ 3.20 per bottle with 42 - 45 % alc./vol. from any of the village's not-so-hidden shebeens, best quality from Pinto's - sa├║de!).

Matt: Learning from my friendly Goan hosts Sandra & John (Flavia's Nest +918322771007, comfortable and clean fully furnished one-bedroom apartment, price on request) some interesting trivia about Goa: (i) that most Goans are Catholics, have dual citizenship and own a Portuguese passport which makes it easy for them to find employment in the doomed European Union, (ii) that Goa, even though the smallest state in India has the highest bank saving deposit and is the only Indian state with a uniform and actively enforced Civil Code implemented by the Portuguese, and (iii) that Goa's experienced dentists charge only INR 5,000.- or US$ 80.- per ceramic crown and INR 10,000.- or US$ 160.- per Zirconia crown.

Matt: Bringing myself to explore Benaulim's hinterland, recceing the streets of nearby Margao, a friendly one-horse town littered with Portuguese-era mansions, churches and seminaries, and diving into the hectic and labyrinthine covered market and its relaxed shebeens.

Matt: Dragging myself away from the lazy life on the beach, taking the Bikaner Express train no. 16,312 in India's filthy three-tier sleeper class (with metal-grilled windows) from South Goa's Margao aka Madgaon Railway Station to Jodhpur in Rajasthan (1,662 km, 28 3/4 hours, INR 390.- or US$ 6.30 per senior citizen) and meeting up at Jodhpur's railway station with the courtesy driver from my next guesthouse, the atmospheric Cosy Guesthouse +912912612066, buried deep in the maze of lanes of the dilapidated old city and with killer views of Jodhpur's mighty Mehrangarh Fort and the 15th-century Chamunda Devi Temple where more than 200 people were killed during a human stampede on 30 September 2008 CE.

For Raoni, Tien and Ronja:
Als es mir Anfang Januar in Nord-Indien zu kalt wurde, habe ich mir 2,000 km weiter suedlich einen sonnigen Strand in Goa herausgesucht, um mich vom Umherreisen etwas auszuruhen und zu faulenzen.
Der schoene Sandstrand hier in Benaulim aehnelt sehr Euren sauberen Straenden auf den Toronto Islands am Lake Ontario. Kinder spielen im Sand, Erwachsene liegen im Schatten und lesen spannende Romane von Amazon, Familien spielen zusammen im flachen Wasser; alles ist hier in Goa so aehnlich wie bei Euch auf Ward's Island. Aber halt! Da gibt es doch einen interessanten Unterschied zwischen Benaulim und Toronto, zwischen dem Indischen Ozean und dem Lake Ontario; einen Unterschied, den man nicht sehen, nicht hoeren und nicht fuehlen kann. Diesen Unterschied habe ich aber ganz deutlich geschmeckt, als ich einmal beim Schwimmen aus Versehen etwas Meereswasser (sea water, saltwater) geschluckt habe: Das Wasser hier im Arabischen Meer ist sehr salzig! Ganz anders als das Wasser im Lake Ontario (lake water, freshwater), der ja ein grosser Suesswassersee ist.
Wenn Ihr jetzt einen Essloeffel Salz in ein Glas Leitungswasser schuettet, es umruehrt und dann kostet, wisst Ihr ungefaehr wie das Wasser im Arabischen Meer schmeckt. Pfui Deibel! Und den Durst kann man mit Salzwasser auch nicht gut loeschen. Deshalb hatten wir auf unserem Segelschiff, neben den Biervorraeten, auch immer sehr viel sauberes Trinkwasser im grossen Suesswassertank, denn salziges Meereswasser kann man nun wirklich nicht trinken. - Weshalb wohl koennen Schiffbruechige auf dem Lake Ontario niemals verdursten?
From India, with Love!

Click below for more blog posts about scenic beaches

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from Germany:

For Amazon deals from the United States, please click here
For Amazon deals from Canada, please click here
For Amazon deals from the United Kingdom, please click here