Reminiscing about Goa

In the good old days, four annas could fetch a pao bhajji and tea, hardly any passenger would complain if a bus driver stopped for a shave and even the governor walked to Old Goa for St Francis Xavier’s feast.

Inflation was not a problem then. 1 anna (= 4 paisa) could buy a whole lot of food items and articles. One could have a bread and tea at an anna each and bhajji for two annas. Sugar cost 50 paise per pound (half kg) and jaggery and potatoes, about 3 annas a piece, per pound.

Though the cost of food items and other goods was low and often remained static for years, the people’s poor economic conditions constrained their purchasing power. Most people could not even afford to buy a bicycle and had to walk home after working in the main cities like Panjim. Very few families had cars and a few buses were introduced later in the same decade (1950s). On an average, there was just one or two buses on every route. The first caminhao would leave from Panaji at 7am to Agasaim, taking about an hour to reach its destination, without any regular stops. Any passenger could stop the bus anywhere. 

The network of tarred roads existed only between towns, especially Mapusa, Panaji, Margao and Vasco. Beyond Cuncolim, the national highway was a kutcha road. The village roads were mostly kutcha roads. In Panaji, the Dayanand Bandodkar road along the river front was fully tarred up to Dona Paula, as the governor traveled on it from Raj Bhavan to the old secretariat. MG road, 18th June road, Rua de Ourem and the Altinho road from the old Secretariat were tarred, but most other internal roads were kutcha roads.

The lack of basic infrastructure determined the people’s lifestyles and their night life. The main towns of Panaji, Mapusa, Margao and Vasco had government-supplied power. A pall of gloom and darkness would descend over almost all villages, and even suburban areas after sunset. Villagers used to light torches of coconut leaves and walk home in the dark. Even students were forced to study and do their homework only in daylight. 

Recreational activities were hard to come by. Football was perhaps the only sport given any importance. Cricket was played at the school-level and there were also some amateur teams. In villages, people played loggorio. For children, there were some strange pastimes. A hand-held contraption made of discarded reels of thread, fixed to a cross-shaped bamboo piece kept children busy. One of the reels at the top of the contraption served as a steering to push the wheels around.

The education scenario in the state was rather dismal as well. There were a few high schools in Panaji, Ponda, Mapusa, Margao, Vasco and among villages, Parra and Cuncolim. “The total students answering SSC exams was around 800 to 900, as against an average of 15,000 now and schools were affiliated to the Maharashtra board.

Amost all students, including some from Ribandar and St Cruz, walked to school barefoot. Students from Aldona and Britona availed the launch service. And most students used to go to Bombay for higher studies. 

Today life is very different in Goa. And this has made the Goans lazier. 

But in the old days, things were different. Given the difficulties that the Goans faced, the long distances they had to walk and the limited resources and amenities that they had to cope with; the concept of soscegado was a totally different one. 

The Monsoon in Goa

 

There is something quite majestic about the monsoon in Goa as is batters down in fury on the dry earth.

Im sitting in my upstairs Suite at my Mitaroy Goa Hotel and as I type this, I can hear the rain thundering down on the tiled roof above me. Whenever I stay at my Mitaroy Goa Hotel in the monsoons, I make it a point to stay in the upstairs Suite so that I can hear the rain as it hits the tiles.

There is something in the Indian Monsoon that brings out the writer in one and the Monsoon in Goa has the same effect. Images of hot samosas (homemade by one of the ladies in Fontainhas) and adrak wali Masala chai automatically pop into my mind. It was 7th standard Hindi class, if I remember correctly, where we had this one story about a man who came back home after work and had the hot samosas and masala chai that his wife had prepared for him. And the image has stuck in my mind.

During the day, I love to sit on the my Suite balcony and watch the rain as it cascades incessantly from the rooftops. The coconut trees sway in the background, bowed down by the constant rain that falls on it. Sitting on my Suite balcony and watching the rain pour down, I am both enamoured and awed by the force and fury of the monsoon. I also watch as the small rivulets turn into gushing little streams and how the students from the nearby school walk in these streams on their way back home. Like the cliche, it seems to be the girls who carefully and daintily side step the streams while the boys make it a point to step right into the big puddles!

The advent of the Monsoon in Goa also signifies the end of the tourist season in Goa. On the beach mile in North Goa (read Baga, Calangute, Candolim etc), the shacks are securely shut and covered, to be opened after the monsoon has passed. Surprisingly, there are still tourists in Fontainhas and for some reason known to them alone, they all seem to be French. Although originally the Portuguese Quarter of Panjim, it is now French that can be heard in the streets as the French tourists walk around with their cameras and their umbrellas.

The Panjim riverfront is a popular Monsoon hangout for local and tourist couples alike as they hold hands and walk along the Mandovi river. Unmindful of the pouring rain, it seems that these couples only have eyes for each other.

Another popular Monsoon sightseeing spot is the Dona Paula jetty, a few kilometres drive from Panjim. If you climb to the top of the small outcrop, near the statue of Dona Paula and her lover, you can marvel at the force of the waves as they thrash and pound at the Dona Paula jetty, sending their spray  high into the air.

But the Monsoon is best enjoyed outside the city of Panjim. Driving through the verdant green fields and small villages outside Panjim it seems as if the whole of Goa has been washed clean by an unseen hand!

Mihir Nayak

Top 10 things to do on your Honeymoon in Goa

Goa has always been one of the most beautiful honeymoon destinations in the whole of India, being blessed with miles scenic beaches with swaying coconut palms, old colonial Heritage Portuguese buildings, delicious cuisine and a easy going, laid back populace.

And most Honeymoon Couples that stay in one of the Honeymoon Suites at The Mitaroy, Goa – often ask for a list of things to do while they are on their honeymoon in Goa.

That is why I decided to blog about my Top 10 list of things to do as a honeymoon couple on your honeymoon to Goa:

1. A romantic walk on the beach

After checking in to their Honeymoon Suite, the first thing that honeymoon couples usually do is head to the beach. There is nothing more romantic than walking hand-in-hand across miles and miles of scenic beach. And Goa does have a wide variety of beaches to offer. From the busy beaches in the north to the untouched beaches in the south, honeymoon couples are spoilt for choice. While the waves crash in the background, the honeymoon couple seems completely oblivious to the beauty outside, so taken in are they by the beauty of their partner walking hand-in-hand beside them. And after a while of walking on the beach, the honeymoon couple sit down, close to each other, and admire the expanse of seemingly endless blue ocean.

2. Champagne Breakfast

One of the most popular things to do on a Honeymoon is to wake up leisurely to a Champagne Breakfast. While we serve a complimentary Champagne Breakfast at the Mitaroy Goa Hotel at a time of your choice, most hotels in Goa usually offer Champagne on the menu. Combined with freshly pressed orange juice, waking up to a glass of Champagne is one of the most romantic things honeymoon couples can do on their honeymoon in Goa.

3. Listen to the music of legendary mandolin player Emiliano

The O Coqueiro restaurant and bar is one of the most romantic restaurants in the whole of Goa. O’ Coqueiro (pronounced as o-co-ke-roo) means Coconut tree in Portuguese. The O’ Coqueiro restaurant is housed in a sprawling, old Portuguese-style ancestral bungalow right on the Mapusa – Panaji highway in the small village of Porvorim. Rather plain by day, in the evening the lighting and greenery give it a romantic atmosphere that is hard to describe.

Every Friday, Emiliano and his band play a medley of Portuguese, Goan and Hindi music that keeps your feet tapping through your meal. The O Coqueiro restaurant and bar is also home to the Chicken Cafreal, a delicious Goan chicken dish with a delicious dark green gravy, eaten either with Basmati rice or Goan paav bread.

4. View the impressive colonial architecture in the capital city of Panjim (Panaji)

Goa is not just about the beaches. 400 years of Portuguese rule has left an indelible mark on the architecture of Goa and nowhere is this more evident than in the capital city of Panjim or Panaji. After building up a glorious capital city in Old Goa, the Portuguese were forced to flee to Panaji or Panjim to escape the water contamination in Old Goa. The upper class Portuguese set up residence in and around the Neighbourhood of Fontainhas and then set about building up Panjim as a worthy successor to Old Goa. While certain buildings and statues had pure prestige value, other buildings like the high court and the administrative offices also served a bureaucratic purpose. Today, honeymoon couples can marvel at the Portuguese architectural heritage as they walk past magnificent buildings built in the Portuguese era such as the first Medicine University or the old City Library. Many honeymoon couples also like to walk hand-in-hand along the Mandovi pier as they watch the twinkling lights of the luxury yachts and casino ships moored in the river.

5. Discover the Latin Quarter of Fontainhas

Quietly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Panjim or Panaji, the capital city of Goa, is the neighbourhood of Fontainhas, home to The Mitaroy, Goa. The neighbourhood of Fontainhas (which means “little fountain” in Portuguese) is home to the last surviving Portuguese families of Goa. In 1984, Fontainhas was declared a UNESCO Heritage Zone & most of the buildings and churches here date back to the mid 19th century.Fontainhas has a number of designer boutiques where you can shop for Portuguese crockery, glassware, art and clothing. With its narrow winding streets, quaint bye lanes, old heritage houses and distinct Portuguese flair, Fontainhas evokes a nostalgia and longing for the romance of an era gone by.

6. Visit the location of the tragic love story of Dona Paula de Menezes

The Dona Paula beach and promontory is named after the Portuguese Viceroy’s daughter Dona Paula de Menezes.

This young, innocent girl fell in love with a local Goan fisherman. This match was however, quite unacceptable to the Viceroy who forbade his daughter Dona Paula to ever see her young lover again. Distraught with love and sorrow, Dona Paula could not bear a life without her young Goan lover and threw herself off a cliff into the unforgiving Arabian Sea.

Left with nothing but his daughter’s memory, the Portuguese Viceroy named the area Dona Paula, as an eternal tribute to his stubbornness and forbidden romance & love.

Today, there is a black stone statue of the young Dona Paula and her Goan lover on a rocky promontory jutting into the sea with a sweeping view of the Marmagoa Port in the background.

The Dona Paula beach and pier is a popular spot for honeymoon couples to visit. Most honeymoon couples walk up to the top of the cliff to pay tribute to the stone statue of the young Dona Paula and her undying love.

7. Visit Goa’s only bird sanctuary

The Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is Goa’s only bird sanctuary and one of the most romantic spots in Goa for honeymoon couples to spend an afternoon.

Named after the famous ornithologist Dr Salim Ali, the scenic and serene atmosphere of the Sanctuary make it a perfect spot for honeymoon couples to while away their time, whispering sweet nothings in each others ears or just gazing fondly at each other while listening to the natural bird calls in the background.

8. Discover the remnants of Goa’s Portuguese Heritage Homes

The Braganca House in Chandor is one of the last remaining Grand Portuguese Heritage Homes.

In the centre of the small, sleepy village of Chandor in south Goa lies a 450 year old sprawling Portuguese mansion named Braganca House. For honeymoon couples looking for a peek into the lives of the landed gentry of the Portuguese era, the Braganca House is probably your best bet. From the ceiling tiles hand-painted by Chinese artists, to the oyster shell windows and the exquisite porcelain plates from Macau adorning the walls.

In the magnificent ballroom, with its Italian alabaster marble flooring and crystal chandeliers from Venice, honeymoon couples can let their imagination take them back to the days when the aristocratic couples of old Portuguese Goa glided elegantly across the marble floor.

9. Trace the history of Goan Houses at the Houses of Goa Museum

Designed by the famous Goan architect Gerard da Cunha, the Houses of Goa Museum is a strange ship like structure situated in the middle of the road in Bardez, Goa.

The Houses of Goa Museum is a collection of household articles and trinkets that depict the history and heritage that is unique to Goa. Honeymoon couples can take a look at unique items like a rare hat stand, old French windows and rare postcards of Goa dating back to 1900s.

According to Gerard da Cunha, “Goans, who were people who were converted, were looking for a new identity, and thus embarked on the experiment in architecture, to produce something unique and unseen anywhere in the world”.

Da Cunha’s landmark museum provides a ringside view!

10. Make love in your own Honeymoon Suite

No honeymoon is complete without the consummation of the marriage itself. While it is nice to discover the local sights and sounds of Goa, most honeymoon couples at The Mitaroy, Goa come back to their Honeymoon Suite in the evening to freshen up for dinner.

After a romantic dinner under a starlit sky, it is time for honeymoon couples to return to their Honeymoon Suite, light up a few scented candles, turn off the lights and discover the pleasure of making love to each other till the early hours of the morning…after all, that’s what a honeymoon is really all about, isn’t it?

Honeymoons are special, once in a lifetime experiences and rest assured, we will take special care of you and make your honeymoon something you will remember for the rest of your lives!

Please make your reservations well in advance since we are often booked out quite early.

Click Here to Book your Tailor Made Goa Honeymoon Package Now!

Dona Paula Beach Goa – A tragic love story !

The Dona Paula Beach (a 10 minute drive from my Mitaroy Goa Hotel) is a pristine beach with a tragic love story to its name.

Dona Paula beach was named after the Portuguese Viceroy’s daughter Dona Paula de Menezes.

This young, innocent girl fell in love with a local Goan fisherman. Of course, this match was unacceptable to the Viceroy who forbade his daughter Dona Paula to ever see her young lover again.

Distraught with love and sorrow, Dona Paula could not bear a life without her young Goan lover and threw herself off a cliff into the unforgiving Arabian Sea.

Left with nothing but his daughter’s memory, the Portuguese Viceroy named the area Dona Paula, as an eternal tribute to his stubbornness and forbidden romance & love.

Today, there is a black stone statue of the young Dona Paula and her Goan lover on a rocky promontory jutting into the sea with a sweeping view of the Marmagoa Port in the background.

The bay of Dona Paula in Goa lies at the sangam (or meeting point) of the Arabian Sea and the Goan rivers Mandovi and Zuari. Dona Paula is located in the suburbs of the capital Panjim (where our Mitaroy Goa Hotel is located). Dona Paula is also a very fashionable residence for the rich and famous of Panjim. Originally a fishing village, Dona Paula attracts its fair share of visitors and tourists who come to marvel at its pristine beach, its natural beauty and the romantic legend associated with it.

When you are in Dona Paula, you must visit the ruins of the Cabo Fort, erected in 1540. The Cabo Raj Niwas is one of the most elegant governor’s residences in the whole of Goa.There is also a 180 year old English cemetery, open to the public along with a chapel, which has a memorial tomb of Dona Paula de Menezes with her history engraved on the tombstone.

In Dona Paula, you also have the National Oceanography Institute which was opened in 1960 to study the local Goan marine life alongwith the Marine Biology Museum. A little further (around 9 kms from Dona Paula) is the famous Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, in the island of Choro by the side of the Mandovi river and named after the famous Indian ornithologist. The Bird Sanctuary is spread over an area of 2 sq km and is a delight for bird lovers. 10 km from Dona Paula is the famous Reis Magos church. This historical landmark is one of the oldest Churches in Goa and was dedicated to the three wise men of the East who brought the baby Jesus gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.

The Dona Paula beach itself is one of Goa’s best beaches for water sports such as windsurfing, water skiing, para sailing, motor boat rides etc. There are also several organised water sports facilities on offer in Dona Paula. If you do happen to get serious hunger pangs with all the water sport action, there are quite a few seafood restaurants along the stretch from Dona Paula to Miramar – including Martin’s Beach Corner, Sea Pebble, Menino’s and Sea View.

Stay Romantic!

Mihir