Done with second year Pre-University exams, the SSMRV PUC II gang was in buoyant mood. We went for the newly released 'Premaloka' starring Ravichandran and Juhi Chawla. Juhi was a brand new face on the silver-screen, the movie was a super-hit in no time and every teenage boy was humming e nimbe hanninantha hudgi bantu nodu, e baaloo.... We occupied an entire row in the balcony and the crowd was entirely teenagers like us.
Few days later we were all set to go to Goa; Venkatesh, Ashok, Jayanna, Chandrashekar, Anand, Jayanth and me. After dinner, we all met at Ashok's home. Ashok's dad was informed that he was going to participate in a roller-skating competition.
In the train, we settled into our berths and chatted away for some time and slept off. Next morning we passed by Dharwad and now the landscape changed suddenly ...now our train was running through dense & green forests of Western Ghats. The next stop was Londa junction ...a pretty long one. We explored the railway station and chatted with our train driver, a friendly person who patiently explained Ashok's questions. The engine was a steam powered locomotive. Ashok asked if we could ride it ... the answer was no, it would be against the rules. It was time to leave, from here the train would be going mostly downhill .... through Western Ghats to the Konkan region. I liked the weather; sky was packed with clouds and the air was mostly misty and cool. The effect of white mist haunting the woods was magical. Everything in sight was damp with mist and rain. The journey was slow, at times the train moved real slow that we would get off the train and walk along it. We had many stops and we would jump off the train at every opportunity. We would try to identify plants and I did find one little curry-leaf plant next to the tracks. Hawkers were aplenty and we bought from literally everything; idli, vade, bhel-puri, fruits, tea.... Suddenly someone would get into the mood of singing and everyone woudl join in. Our co-passengers would smile at our antics.
Soon we were passing by Dudhsagar station and the train does not have a scheduled stop here but it did stop for a minute and to our good luck our bogie was right on the bridge across the stream with the falls to the left of our train. Except for one (with the camera), we jumped off the train and got the narrow wall- one wrong move we would fall into the gushing stream. The camera clicked and the train started moving.
We jumped off and quickly got on the train. That's when we actually saw the milky white water pouring down from God knows where. This is one of my best train journeys.
The rain was getting heavier as as we got closer to the coast and it was pouring heavy when we reached Margoa around noon ...that's where the train journey ended. We found a hotel and rented one room. The rain just kept pouring ...no signs of let up. Streets and tourist spots were deserted most times.
Venkatesh and Ashok were the planners. During the 5 or 6 day visit, we visited Mangesh temple, Ponda, Church of Bom Jesus, Panjim, and a bunch of beaches; Miramar, Calangute, Anjuna, Vagator... I relished the Goan baji-pav (it's not pav-baji) and had it at every restaurant or shack we entered. At Calangute beach, Ashok got friendly with a shack-owner and got engrossed in a conversation about Charles Shobraj. It seems Shobraj had visited her place few times.
The afternoon we visited Miramar beach, the rain had let up for couple of hours. The gang had a good time in the water, except me, I was watching their belongings.
Jayanth noticed a wooden crate floating pretty close of the beach and they tried to drag it ashore hoping it had some treasure in it. They struggled quite a bit but the crate held it's position and finally gave up as it started drizzling and picking up pace. The gang hastily dried as dry as possible and dressed up in damp clothes and rushed to a four table tea-shop. We ordered snacks & tea and as we waited Jayanna asked for his gold chain. I was surprised and asked him if he had given it to me. He begged not to joke and I told him not to fool around. He was on the verge of tears... I asked him to check me, lifted my sweatshirt off my lap and the gold chain fell off the pocket. I was shocked. Even till now, I just cannot recall Jayanna giving it to me. God knows how he took it ... we never discussed it again.
One strong reason for guys visiting Goa is booze and it went without saying for us too. We boozed every night. During one of the sessions, Anand got so sloshed he could not stand by himself ...you can imagine the rest or skip it and move on the next para.
During one of the bus-rides, between Panaji and Margoa, our bus had to wade to through water couple of feet deep. We could see water every where. This part of the road passed through a low-lying area. I asked a question about rain to one of the locals in the bus ... no response! We wondered if did not understand English or if he did not want to talk to strangers. Those days agriculture was still active and we could see green paddy fields through out our journeys. It's a beautiful place indeed ... with mining and tourism at it's peak people have shied away from fields now.
The last day we spent mostly at the hotel and went shopping ...jeans and nothing else. Ashok struck a deal at one of the shops and we picked up some 15 pairs. Soon we were in the train and back to singing and laughing. I had planned to get off at Dharwad, stay at my grandparents' place for a week and then return back to Bangalore. As train slowed down at Dharwad station, Jayanth was with me at the door and said he was broke asked me for ten rupees. I was no better but gave one precious 10 Rupee note ...back then life was lot more simple and fun. We did so much with so little money.
For the trip was unforgettable; friends, train journey, rain, baji-pav and wine.
I got all these pictures from Jayanth last week Jan 2010 and added them to this post March week 1.
In a launch crossing Mandovi river.
At Basilica of Bom Jesus.
At Red Fort Ponda.