stepping into the new year in Goa.

You are riding by dense palm grooves lining the roads, forming a thick canopy over your head. You can see the sun filtering in through it, can feel it kissing your back as you sprint by, watching the world through hair in your eyes. The houses in every block around here look like the ones you have seen in storybooks, all decked up as colorful little present boxes wrapped in fairylights. The streets are laced with Christmas decor, there’s a shining North Star hoisted from the ceiling in one corner and a Santa waving from the balcony in another. It is a different kind of world around here, a magical one, a world so much more habitable than the one you’ve got in your own city.

You are staying in a cute little cottage which has got lush green meadows for the frontview. You think, it looks adorable. The quiet around here kind of grows on you. You can hear the cuckooing around here apart from the usual banter of the birds. It feels like a secret little world, tucked in a hushed corner away from the noise and clutter of the city. It feels so pristine and rustic that you immediately fall in love with all of it, the coconuts stranded on the roof, the bananas blooming in the backyard, sunlight splayed into fritters on the palm grooves.

There is sand in your hair, salt in your eyes, water in your ears, sun burning your skin. You uncover for the first time what beach feels like. You bend over and dig your fingers across the water into the sand trying to hunt down seashells on the sandbed. There are plenty of them, whites, and browns and every shade in between. You find a really pretty one, a starfish-lookalike, edges intricately carved out and buried in the sand. You immediately pick it up and keep it in your sling bag. Later when you will zip it open, you will find the entire bag reeking of a weird nauseating smell and you will need to buy a new one. But until then, you are ignorant and this shell is a token of love from the sea.

You are lying inside a beach shack gulping down spaghetti with beer as you watch the sun go down into the sea. It reaches the zenith of its beauty before it is wiped out from the horizon. You want to be like this. The lady whose place you are staying at, was telling you the other day, that she had always wanted a house like that, a cute little cottage submerged in greenery, nestled peacefully in the lap of nature. She said she feels grateful to God that He gave her exactly what she had wanted and that she feels content. You realize, you are chasing this feeling, the bliss that comes along with content and gratitude. You want this for yourself, the feeling of having done everything you have always wanted to, having realized all your dreams, having reached the zenith of your imagination, having been at your capable best. But to reach this feeling of having achieved what you have always wanted to, you will first have to know what you want. And to figure that out, you will first have to sift through your crap and create some headspace for new things, and may be, new people. You realize, all you are seeking is self-awareness exactly, and may be this year will bring that along too.

You are riding back home, your body aching for your warm cozy bed, toes yearning for the linen touch. Full moon night falls tomorrow but the moon is anyway, almost a whole, tonight. And it is going to be daybreak soon. It is 4 A.M. You have to ride 50 kilometers and there are still 40 to go. The cold is gnawing at your skin, and you feel like you have lost all sensation, except that of the wind whirring in your ears, so loud that you cannot hear your own voice over it. You ride on nevertheless, with your gaze getting gradually attuned to the thick intermittent white line painted out on the tarmac, screaming the kilometers skipping beneath your feet.

You stop by a small roadside cafe for chai. It has got indoor seating, so you quickly get inside those glass doors, craving for the warmth more than the chai. They don’t have chai, so they give you coffee, which turns out pretty bad unfortunately. But everything is welcome as long as it is killing the cold. So the bland coffee seems okay. Even the ‘Soldier’ playing on their cable seems okay.

May be this is a year of firsts, may be this will be a year of firsts. You want it to be. The first time you pick a homestay over a hotel lodging, the first time you watch a mind-numbingly expansive and seemingly-never-ending stretch of water sprawl before your eyes, and the first time you walk right into it, the first time you stay grounded against the waves no matter how hard your ankle might be slipping on the sand underneath, the first time you watch the sun vanish into the sea, the first beer on a beach, the first ever road trip mapping a city from one end to another, the first nightout under a beautiful glowering-white almost-whole moon making its presence starkly felt even through the branches, the first time you bring home gifts with your own money, the first time you leave a place with sand filled pockets and a bag stinking of sea shells.

One of your friends, from office, had told you the other day, that whatever you do on or around the New Year’s eve, you keep doing that for the whole year. You wonder if your whole year is going to be a string of beautiful explorations if you happen to be exploring around yourself and inside yourself around this New Year’s eve. Is this going to be the year of soul-searching? You can’t possibly tell rightaway but all you can do is have faith.

And then one day, many many many years down the line, may be you will feel exactly the same as that lady feels today.

All in due time, before the sun goes down.

 

IMG_20171230_083331070a glimpse of the first morning in Goa from the bus window

 

IMG_20180101_141413 (1)Benaulim beach, Goa

 

IMG_20180101_153308 (1)New Market, Margao, Goa

 

IMG_20180101_164255the beautiful home we rented in Majorda, South Goa

 

IMG_20180101_164313the entryway to our home, Majorda, South Goa

 

IMG_20180101_183458047watching the streets lit up with Christmas decor while riding along the way

 

IMG_20180103_145819_758Vagator beach, North Goa

 

IMG_20180103_145924_781soaking in the sun at the Vagator

 

IMG_20180103_150139_640Vagator, North Goa

 

IMG_20180103_162630_910Majorda beach, South Goa

 

IMG_20180103_163652_355Benaulim, South Goa

 

IMG_20180103_165149_012Agonda beach, South Goa

 

IMG_20180106_131730_638 (1)riding on the streets, South Goa

another day, another night.

This is one of those nights when you huddle in a corner of your bed and type. You contemplate your choices. In your heart you know what you truly want. But it is just not coinciding with your reality in the present moment.

Your head is a mess of things, more than you can comfortably accommodate. Perhaps that’s why you are calling it a mess.

You think you are like a mayfly. You live for the moment, in the moment, very well on guard about the impermanence of everything.

You cannot sleep most nights because there are dreams, not those that overpower you while you sleep, these are the ones that are tugging at your heartstrings to keep you awake, all night, until your eyelids become too heavy to carry their weight and you drift off.

You completely abhor people asking you questions about your whereabouts, telling you where you should or should not go. You have waited so long, expecting them to understand you are mature and wise enough to make your own decisions, to act out of your free will. And still it looks like, the knowledge has hardly seeped in. How long will you wait more,to be finally free of this burden? At one point, something snaps inside you and you just cease to bother anymore.

You are working in a domain you can hardly care about. And it reflects perfectly in your work, the nonchalance about it all. Still you take it as a challenge, the capability to focus on it, and try to improve on the performance everyday. At the end of the week, your truth glaringly stares you in your face and you know, that all that effort, all that time, has trickled down to a progress, if it can be called any, assessable only on some submolecular level. Fuck, you have shrunk down all the scales of measurement.

You look at yourself in the mirror, and see an average looking girl who will hardly ever amount to anything if not for her words, her stories, her laughter. You graze your fingers down the glass and smile. You are perfect for yourself in your head. And you will achieve all that you set out to. You notice that the curve of the smile has deepened.

On weekends you go out to watch the best sunsets in town. You are walking listlessly down a road and there it is ,the orange ball of gold glaring at you, some miles up the road. You drink the view in, gulp it down your memory lanes, along with a hot chai. The steam arises from the kullhadh as you soak it all in, and the experience is akin to heaven.

For the first time in weeks, you arrive at a decision. This one, you have made yourself, for yourself. This time, you have allowed no one to nose in and sit like an unwanted blob upon your life, to plague your mind with their opinions, to rewire your brain according to their mindsets, to pencil in their own crap in your to-do lists. And you are well aware that it is going to be hard, that the sail will not be smooth, but you are ready to put yourself all out, on the line, to pursue that flicker of a dream that keeps you burning through the night.

You come home, to a kitchen overflowing with unwashed dishes and bins overloaded with garbage.  You are hungry and scour your fridge impatiently but can only spot milk cartons and corn flakes boxes propped in a corner. The house demands cleaning and you know you’ve got a lot of work on your hands. It is quite exhausting, the cleaning , the maintenance, the daily chores, but never once did the thought of going back crossed your mind. You just cannot bear to live otherwise, devoid of your free will. You freedom is more important to you than home-cooked food and a squeaky clean kitchen. You are going to clean it anyway. May be tomorrow. Or soon enough.

Somewhere an analogy strikes. There are always good and bad sides to taking a leap,and just as this one you took months ago, has its beautiful and ugly moments, may be the ones you take next, will have their own set of paradoxes that will be fully capable of a safe coexistence. Do whatever you want to, have always wanted to. You are going to be alright.

You resign yourself to bed at night, holding a hot cup of Bournvita with the TV tuned in to Travel Xp. You wish to travel around the world like this one day and your head already buzzes with excitement.

But you’ve got office tomorrow.

It is getting colder now and you pull you blanket closer, turn on a side and sleep. But not before you have read a few pages of the book you have lately been obsessed with . Time crunch just doesn’t cut it. Responsibilities or no responsibilities, you’ve got to live for what you live for.