01 October 2013

Goa, India - (11)

Monsoon season is not yet finished and the rains were very heavy during the night, leaving pools of water on the beautifully manicured lawns of the Holiday Inn/Averina Resort, Goa. It is no wonder that Goa is a malaria risk area, heavy rains, high humidity, rivers and lakes. Fabulous breeding ground for the mosquitoes!
As usual, breakfast is a feast. Besides my English Breakfast tea and omelette every day, I try at least one Indian dish with breakfast. What is so amazing is the huge variety that is on offer - something different every day. The Indians also love their eggs so there is always a queue at this counter. The chefs are so fast and so good at making perfect omelette's right in front of you.
Our tour today is with the Holiday Inn bus to Mangueshi Temple, Old Goa and Colva Beach.
We started off at 14.00 hrs with a very full bus - again, we are the only Westerners aboard. It is great to see so many Indians enjoying their own country which is so vast that it could take up many holidays in different parts.
This ride was an experience in itself - bone-shaking, rattling, creaking and groaning, the bus struggled up the hills in first gear and very seldom reached full speed. Being high up we could see all the small settlements/villages as we passed and, always, hundreds of scooters darting in and out of the traffic. Many drivers without helmets. Today we saw larger houses in very bright colours scattered amongst the more squalid looking ones. Bright yellow, purple, orange, lime green and red are popular colours and stand out in the greenery which is everywhere in Goa. There appears to be new construction of apartment blocks (called Residency) in quite a number of areas so the economy can't be too poor for the construction industry. In some of the areas there are large. modern complexes which stand out, being so Western looking and clean.
At the start of the journey the passengers were very vocal but we could not understand a word of what they were talking about. Gradually, silence descended which was most odd. Looking back, we found that virtually the entire bus load had fallen asleep! Peace and quiet for a spell. Not that we minded the chatter, they were all enjoying themselves and on holiday, after all!
As we chugged along, we took to spotting names or signs along the way as we were still wide awake!!
Tobacco Free School
Infant Jesus Laundry
Papa Joe's Goan Restaurant
Ferrao Ice Factory
Chapel of Glorious Saint Sebastian
In Sirlim:
Royal Lush Family Restaurant, Wee Wonder Kindergarten, Watch Repairer and Repairer of Two Wheelers
Other Villages:
St Francis Xavier Chapel
Dream Skyline Residency
Be Happy Caterers
Angels Primary School
Rosary High School
Mum's Darlings (Child care)
Top Gear Bar and Restaurant - do you think James May, Richard Hammond and  Jeremy Clarkson have visited this pub during their Indian visit?
Walk In Hotel
Are We G-Oan Out - Pub
Janki Wine Store
Eco Friendly Putty that prevents your paint from flaking - they sure do need this in the rain and humidity.
Right Fuel is your Right - seen at a Petrol Station
Just Inn Bar and Restaurant
Adam and Eve - a  place for all occasions - the mind boggles and one has to wonder what goes on here?
Divine Medical Centre
Drive slowly - accident prone zone - ya right!!!
It seems that our bus does not have indicators as the guide needs to stick his arm out of the window to indicate when we are turning left or when asking somebody behind to slow down. Just ahead of us was a lorry and the co-driver has his door wide open - Indian Air-Con? He did eventually close the door when they passed another vehicle. At the back of most trucks there is a sign saying "Horn Please" So they expect one to hoot at them? Seems so.
Cows in the middle of the road are commonplace - how they do not get run over is beyond me. These cows also seem to be lying down much of the time - not grazing and chewing the cud. So they are either too well fed or have no energy to move? Only very load honking horns seem to get them up and off the road.
Goa has many dogs, all look totally ill and underfed, many have their ribs clearly defined. Very sad to see.
After about an hour or so, we reached the Mangueshi Temple. This Hindu temple is over 400 years old and is dedicated to the goddess Shiva. In the car park there were many buses and also a State Bank ATM - a blue bus parked and waiting for people to draw money. The road to the temple is lined with small shops selling clothing, trinkets, snacks etc. It is also very filthy with litter scattered all over. This is despite a sign at the temple asking for Silence and "Maintain Cleanliness"  The ladies outside sell the offerings meant for the gods of flowers in banana leaves at 10 Rupees.
Before entering the temple, shoes must come off and one has to walk barefoot into the temple. In the temple, the half-naked, fat men (no tops) are sitting cross-legged and doing their prayers and blessing the followers by giving them some "water" which they put to their mouths and then they throw it over their heads. No photos are allowed inside the temple.
We were watching this when a chap asked us where we were from and offered to show us something as he was a "priest of the temple" He took us outside to a large, wooden carving but I have no clue what he said it was. He then proceeded to tell us that:
We would expand our business
I would receive promotion - yeah, I can promote myself at long last!!!!!
We would move to a new house in April
Our children would all become very successful in 2014 - I think all 4 between us are already pretty successful.
We would return to India in 8 months time!!!
He professed to "see" things when talking to people as he was a priest.
By now feeling hood-winked, it came as no surprise when he asked for money. I have my doubts that he was even a priest, just some local looking for gullible tourists to con. The men in the temple are all rather large - this guy was dressed in normal clothes and skinny!!!
Oh well, I suppose everybody gets conned at some stage in India - we will be more careful next time.
What did really make me mad was the state of the place - for a temple that is supposed to be very holy, it is surrounded by filth and litter so how can this possibly be of any value to anybody? Surely, it would not take much to employ a few cleaners to pick up the litter strewn around outside by the Indian tourists? The mess just gives off bad vibes. One would also think that anybody visiting would want to make this a holy place and cleanliness is next to godliness? Or does this not apply to Hindu temples? Sad to see.
Our next stop was Old Goa - again hundreds of buses and tourists. This was the Portuguese capital of Goa - today the churches and cathedrals are all that remains. The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi was built in 1521 and looks very imposing. We only had time to visit the Basilica of Born Jesus where the remains of Saint Frances Xavier are preserved. He was a missionary and the Patron Saint of Goa. Born in Spain 7th April 1506 at the Castle of Xavier. He was a brilliant student and excelled at sports.  He later became a priest and after journeying for 13 months, he arrived in Goa in 1542. He undertook many hazardous journeys whilst preaching and died on 3rd December 1552.
Before entering the grounds of the church, one is again accosted by women selling candles. I was offered candles so accepted them and walked off!
The lady came tearing after me telling me that I had to pay her. They are very shrewd, these people. Anyway, I handed the candles back amidst her voluble protests that I needed to pay! The grounds of this church are immaculate and clean - a major difference from the Hindu Temple seen earlier. Restoration of some sort is in progress and this is now a Heritage site.
Back in the bus, we shook, rattled and rolled onwards towards Colva beach.
On the way, we spotted the following:
Drive with Care, life has no Spare
Driving Rash causes Crash
Don't be a Hell Mate, wear a Helmet
There were more of these signs on a large bridge that we drove over but the driver had a good speed going so could not write them all down!
Passing a railway line, we spotted some people walking right on the tracks - one hopes that they have the train times in their heads to get out of the way!
As we started on a minor road towards Colva, the "Speed Breaker"  humps are back in full force. So irritating to slow down every few yards for a Speed Breaker. Our bus is unable to break the speed limit which seems to be 50 km per hour for 2 Wheelers (Scooters), 70 kms per hour for cars and 60 km per hour for Commercial Vehicles. I wish!
However, it seems that there are accidents as we passed the Paediatric Neuro Centre along the way. There are many kids being carried on 2 wheelers, most without helmets. There was a huge Dental College and also a Signal Corp Army base along the way plus My Eye Hospital and Clint Restaurant.
Billboards are all over, they are huge and advertise Milk, Insurance, Housing Products and Jewelry.
As we got closer to Colva Beach, shops were lining the road on both sides. The parking area at the beach was again packed with buses. Unfortunately, it was now rather late and the light was fading so we could only take a very short stroll the the beach which was full of people, staring at the sea. A large Life Guard building = busy beach! This beach is apparently a huge favourite with local Indian travellers and gets even busier during October month when many pilgrims come to visit Colva Church. One of the Indian guys wanted a HOUR here. Bummer for us as the light was gone so a walk on the beach was out of the question and we were not too taken with the many shops around as we are watching our budget!
There are loads of food stalls, ice-cream vendors, plus fancier jewelry shops that offer Credit Card facilities, pubs etc but we abstained from everything.
A beer would have gone down a treat but the bladder would not have been too happy afterwards in the "shake, rattle and roll" bus and I refuse to use local toilets.
There were many scooters available "Motor Bikes On Rent" and the Black and Yellow Colva "Auto Rickshaw Stand"

The cleanest looking restaurant I saw was affiliated to a hotel!
A local chap, also on the bus, started chatting to us. He lives in New Delhi and is employed by an American company in Reno, Nevada. He was telling us that he had recently visited Johannesburg on business and visited the Gandi Museum there. Being paid in USD makes life very pleasant in India I would say! We have to admit that we would never be able to walk/move around so freely in South Africa as we have been able to do in India. The folk are pleasant, honesty seems high on the list of priorities and even the beggars/hawkers have a smile on their faces when you say No.
Get the place cleaned up and it would certainly be a wonderful country. Even with the honking horns and traffic!!
A great day out - who needs rock and roll music when you can enjoy the Holiday Inn "Shake, Rattle and Roll" Bus???

© Judelle Drake

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