Sunday, 2 March
I finally set out to do what I had been meaning to do forever: walk to Arambol and back.
I left my guesthouse at about 8:16 AM. It wasn't my intention to break any brisk-walking world record and went about it at a slow, leisurely pace, stopping often to take photos… An hour later, I was sunbathing in Mandrem. I love the anonymity of being here. I chose the most secluded spot I could find - as secluded as it can get with all the morning joggers, meditators, yogis and yoginis, and fellow walkers about - and stripped. "When in Goa", right?
By 11:15, I was sunning myself and having lunch at Laughing Buddha in Arambol. The waiter recommended the butter chicken and I decided to have it with some cheese naan. I wasn't happy with either and didn't finish my food. I made up for it with two luscious avocado lassis.
I did some last minute shopping along the road before making my way back to the beach for the long walk back to Morjim. I was actually doing well on time when, for absolutely no reason, my left knee froze up while I was somewhere in Ashwem. It was slow going from there. But not so slow that I didn't have time to check out more shops on the way home. By the time I got back to Morjim, everything was back to normal.
I freshened up quickly then headed back out for my 4 PM practice massage schedule with Pradeep, the massage therapist at the school (which is also an Ayurvedic center).
On the way back to the guesthouse after the massage, I stopped in at Cafe Delicieux. There were about seven hippies in front of the patisserie, dreadlocked and leather-clad, revving up their motorbikes. It would have made for a great photo, with the caption: "Because hippies need cake too."
They didn't have any of the cakes I wanted, so I left and went looking for something else to eat. I decided to try Cafe No.1, which claims to have the No. 1 kebabs in Goa. I must admit that the lamb kebab was superb, but I didn't like that it was served with bread (- I didn't eat the bread), and that, if you wanted some grilled tomatoes, you had to order it separately. The place was nice and cozy, and would have been a cool place to hang out, but it was a rather expensive joint at 300 rupees for a kebab.
I stayed in in the evening to pack and figure out how much excess stuff I had to ship back to Manila. Believe it or not, I only have an excess of five kilos for the domestic flight and none for the international flight. I have exactly 20 kilos of luggage to check-in and seven (- okay, maybe eight) kilos of carry-on luggage. I don't know if I should be impressed or disappointed with myself…
Monday, 3 March
I decided to fly out to Mumbai earlier and changed my flight to tomorrow instead of on Thursday. I also purchased an extra five kilos of luggage allowance.
At 10 AM, I was Lua's "model" for the second massage course she was taking at the school. I wanted to try it out because, if I liked it, then I may come back next year to take the course. Except that I fell asleep for most of the massage. I had barely slept in the evening and, when I finally did, some Russians were creating a ruckus at the guesthouse at 4:30 in the morning. But whatever little I can recall of Lua's massage was very good. Then again, Lua is a gifted therapist and has an amazing touch. It's light but very reassuring and calming.
After the massage, I hung around with everyone for some chai, and then I took off on my own to the nearby fish curry rice shack for some lunch. I've decided that, among the nearby thali shacks, they offer the best value for money when it comes to a fish thali. I ordered extra fish (not a kingfish but still a good piece of fish) and the owner went out to get a cup of curd for me when I requested for some. All in all, I paid 100 rupees. I hope they do more business and are still around in the coming years.
Around 4 PM, I massaged Abhay, Urja's friend who was also her assistant during our massage course. He had very nice things to say about my massage but I still need to work on my pressure. He said it will come with time and practice. I am proud to report though that, for the first time, I remembered the entire sequence perfectly.
On my way home, I stopped for my last carrot cake at Cafe Delicieux. It did not disappoint.
It's amusing how my legs can still attract attention. I was wearing a short, loose dress (- as is my custom) and, while I was walking to lunch, some foreigner turned his motorbike around to accost me, but I was busy on the phone so, after cruising beside me for a while, he sped away. And then, on my way back to the guesthouse from Cafe Delicieux, the French owner of a restaurant stopped to give me a lift, just as this guy from Belarus was pulling up. (The Belarus guy had already stopped for me twice weeks before, and was twice refused. He got my number - supposedly for a massage - but he would only call late at night, so I'd pretend not to understand and hang up.) I was only a short distance from the guesthouse and politely declined the offers, but was flattered. (Especially since I had just given a massage and felt like a wet rag.)
In the evening, Aless dropped by the guesthouse for a quick chat, then Urja came by for me on her scooter and we had dinner at Home Cafe, a lovely vegetarian restaurant in Mandrem. I had an enormous veg thali and a smoothie. (Both were very good.) And, for dessert, Urja and I shared a crepe. (Not so good. It probably would have been better had it been served hot or cold, but it was a resounding bore at room temperature.)
Tuesday, 4 March
I had breakfast with Lua near the school. She had French toast, while I had a cheese and potato paratha (80 rs.). Then we went back to the school and I gave her a massage. She's the first woman and non-Indian that I massaged after the course so, for her, I did it perfectly. High praise coming from a woman whose touch I respect. Typically, I forgot one thing in the sequence but made up for it afterwards.
I then said my goodbyes to Calvin and Pradeep. I had given Urja a hug earlier but, when I left, she was busy with Ayurvedic consultations. Chetan's massage course had just wrapped up so he was on a break and I had to say goodbye via text.
My bags have, more or less, been packed for two days so there isn't much to do but wait for the cab driver to pick me up and bring me to the airport.
Let's see... So far, it's been an excellent trip. I've excelled at eating, drinking, smoking, but scored a big, fat FAIL at exercising.
Goodbye, Goa! I hope it doesn't take another eight years for me to come back!
Wednesday, 5 March
Had a luxurious pedicure this afternoon and, I didn't think it was possible, but I now have very happy, clean , soft, supple feet!
Loving the foot soak in a copper tub at the Jean-Claude Biguine Salon in Bandra, Mumbai.