Some people slag off the month of February like there should be a hole in the calendar. You feel the weather turning, and know for sure it’s not a case of hot flushes. The nip in the early morning turning to heat, turning to cool temperatures at nightfall is just a prep to the sweltering months of humidity to hit your neighbourhood. But fret not, it’s just 28 days to payday and a whole lot of fun packed in the middle. February has plenty of good stuff going for it in Goa. So, let the pro take you through it.
I never miss a great home feel Goan Fish Curry Thali. After quick fix kitchen meals at home in Mumbai eaten in a rush in and out on work, coming home to Goa to local food is just the incentive I need to haggle airline prices and hop onto that flight. On one such touchdowns, I dragged my buddy Photographer Prasad Pankar to join me at Vivanta By Taj Panaji (Panjim) for a heart-felt fish curry thali at Tease. The lunch special `Goan Stories’ turned out to be just that. A four hour lunch over a splendid spread of Goan flavours, chatting nine to the gills, savouring fresh kokum spiced fish curry, crunchy crab cooked in an assortment of coconut and Goan garam masala hinting a nostalgia of wood fire cooked meals at my family home, dainty river tisreo in a mild gravy of ground spices, fresh red chilly rechado crumb fried king fish, a portion of dried prawn kismur embellished with green chilly, onion and mild sprinkling of coconut, local bhaji of cabbage and tendli, a portion of onion and lime diced tomato salad, and Goan hard boiled rice served on a plantain leaf. Of course, generous portions of sol kadi to wash down the excitement kept our conversation rolling, and three helpings later between both of us, a desert of bebinca and dodol also found space between the rapidly flowing laughter and local gossip.
Charming nuances, attention to detail (like a garland of jasmines, post meal amla-ginger flavoured digestives, a going home goody bag of curry and xacuti masala), the very art of narrating a Goan story over a Goan meal perfected. It made us both sentimental, grateful and excited that life had blessed our hard work, and here we were swapping notes on what to do next.
That’s how food rolls off our Goan tables, friends meet each other over hearty meals to catch up on life, parents pass down family traditions of food, secrets, values and bonding. A Must-Do if you are visiting Goa.
It makes our world wobbly feet and debit card Visa happy. No soul therapy is greater than retail therapy. Thankfully the Wendell Rodricks Design Space (at Campal-Panjim) is just a hop over from Vivanta by Taj and straight into the Valentine collection. (launching 1st February onwards). The Capsule Collection features 12 one-of-a-kind dresses and tops in shades of love red, shimmering silver and sinister black. Fabrics like foil print rippled lycra, soft satin linen, wrinkle-free poly-crepe and box pleated georgette are accented with crinkle organza structured details and sparkle embellishments. Take it from me when I say no ensemble is complete without a generous helping of accessories. Luckily, ‘Silvense’ by Vrindaa Ashwani (statement jewellery) and ‘Gush’ by Vrinda and Manav (shoes) are also on showcase. So mix and match what suits you best and self-love. It IS the only way to nirvana.
Haven’t we all heard wide-eyed-in-awe stories of how lucky we are to be living in Goa? Correct. We are. And so, no matter where a Goan teleports himself/her to places of work across the globe, we will all trot home for our local festivities, celebrate them robustly and trudge back to our work places full of stories of who did what, where, how and with whom. All things fun, over the top, gregarious and no holds barred happens during the Carnival (Feb 10-13). It is meant to be loud, period. For the not-of-Goa, do not misread this as anything chalta hai. It does not. Goans pride themselves of their festivals that cut across race, religion, colour and politics. We will all fight, crib and squabble with each other another day. But when we celebrate, we do so with passion and pride, young and old, Hindus, Catholics, Muslims and assorted in between. Surely, Carnival, which borrows heavily from European history of our past, and the assimilation of Independent India and her multi-hued culture, takes to the streets across the cities of Goa in colour, floats, parades, costumes and music to celebrate three days and nights of eating, drinking, dancing, clubbing, and binging to make way for the 40 days of penance, repentance, and abstinence to follow Christ’s crucifixion. Post Ash Wednesday, expect a somber Catholic to reign in after hours and a mellow self restrain of reflection towards self improvement.
Here’s to February then. The days will soon get longer, the evenings lighter, and before you know it, it will be Spring.
Photographs of Goa/Carnival: Manish Chopdekar