164_6445-4.JPGBangalore far exceeded my expectations. Like Hampi, I had not even taken the time to visit during my first trip to India. And one of the primary reasons for this visit was to see an old friend from UCSB.

            Our overnight train arrived in Bangalore at 6am. We caught a rickshaw to MG Road, the commercial center of the city. We checked the rooms and rates at a few hotels, but decided to eat first, as they had a 24-hour checkout policy. Even with no onward travel plans set, we weren’t too keen on leaving our hotel before 7am. So we ate at the only open restaurant we could find at that hour and then killed another couple hours at a Barrista (India’s equivalent of Starbucks), utilizing their wi-fi. This was the first sign that Bangalore is wired. It seemed more modern in many respects than even Bombay. Like Bombay, I barely saw any cows and people generally drove according to the traffic laws. It seemed that Bangalore had modernized, while retaining the traditional methods that were more efficient. I.E. They still allow autorickshaws (unlike south Mumbai), but they’re legally required to use the meter. Bangalore has supermarkets, but small stalls are still around to offer chai and fresh vegetables. Mumbai seemed to have modernized without the retaining a lot of the old (although northern Mumbai) is a different story from south. And Delhi is still mired in the old, too traditional to modernize any way of life. I guess it could be said that Bombay is more westernized, while Bangalore is more modernized (distinguishing Westerness from Moderness). On the downside, Bangalore is pretty polluted/smoggy and traffic is a mess. Bangalore doesn’t really have any attractions and isn’t much of tourist destination. However, we did see quite a few expats around: men jogging in the early morning, women doing some shopping at the supermarket, and suit-clad men in the evenings. In such a homogenous country, it was odd to see non-Indian residents. We spent our first day seeing most of Bangalore’s “sites”: Cummon Park, the aquarium, an art gallery, a science and tech museum, a government history museum, and an old palace. The sightseeing was disappointing; the park was disappointing in light of Bangalore’s nickname “The Garden City,” the aquarium was akin to shopping at Ranch 99, the art gallery was one room, and the science museum was aimed more at children’s field trips than us. On the flip side, we walked around Bangalore and saw a lot and the admissions were mostly a flat rate (most places in India have a foreigner price anywhere from tens to hundreds times the normal price- racists!), so the combined admission of all the museums cost us less than 1 USD.

            The real fun began on Friday night, when we met up with my friend Sekhar. Originally from Bombay, he did his Masters at UCSB, before returning to India to work for GE’s Global Research team in Bangalore. He bought us drinks at a downtown bar and then treated us to a delicious dinner at an upscale Indian restaurant. It was awesome just to see him after two years, much less hang out and catch up with an old friend. The next day, Saturday, we took a rickshaw out to his end of town. First, he took us to a supposedly little-known, but fairly impressive Shiva Temple. Then we caught a bus over to the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) museum, which housed a collection of retired (mainly military) aircraft and several galleries of their history in photos. Anyone that knows my fascination with military aircraft, history, and photography can see why I liked the museum. Then came my favorite part of our visit.

            Delhi is known for long and rich history, so people visit the old ruins and forts. Mumbai is known for being a modern financial hub, so people hang out downtown. Bangalore is known for…you probably know it already: India’s technological boom and outsourcing. Yet most non-business travelers never get to see why Bangalore is called “the Silicon Valley of India.” Luckily, we did. Sekhar took us to his office. I wouldn’t call it an office really. I mean it’s a huge campus called the “The John Welch Technology Centre,” named after GE’s retired semi-celebrity CEO. Even before arriving there, just driving through the district was interesting. I was actually seeing everything I’ve read about India’s outsourcing and tech boom. Looking out the window was like seeing the articles come alive; huge campuses (everywhere) of large-cap foreign (Dell and GE) and domestic (Tata Consulting Services) companies and many more still being built to add further capacity (Accenture and GE additions). Like I said, we ended up at the enormous GE campus, where we had to register at the guardhouse, before proceeding through the gates. Having received our bright red “escort required” badges, we started towards the cluster of modern buildings. As we walked down the perfectly manicured path, Sekhar pointed out the huge elevated outdoor (and more space underground) cafeteria. Next to it was a large Japanese garden, complete with pond and adjacent rock garden. I guess the place had a Japanese theme as I saw several more rock gardens within the campus. The landscaping indicated no expense was spared. In fact, later, when we were sitting on a big lawn in the campus, Sekhar pointed out a huge political map of India planted in the grass, each state represented by a different plant. Inside the buildings were interesting as well. What I saw was a huge room, filled with dozens and dozens of chest-high cubicles; managers, analysts, everybody in cubicles. Even on a Saturday afternoon, there were a handful of people working. Mostly empty though, Sekhar showed us around; his desk, the product labs, other labs for research teams to test theoretical work, the gym, and rec room, even a library. For Sekhar, it was just work, but for me it was fascinating. It wasn’t just a call center or some low-level outsourcing (Sekhar’s team consists of PhD’s and Masters grads), but where real work and innovation was being done. Really interesting both on a personal level (my buddy’s office at a company I admire and invest in) and an academic one (example of MNC outsourcing to developing country). We spent the last half-hour chilling on the aforementioned lawn discussing GE, outsourcing, Indian work life, etc. Afterwards, we chilled at a coffee shop and then at Sekhar’s place, before grabbing some dinner and calling it a night. It was an awesome way to spend the day: Sekhar took us to three interesting places not listed in my guidebook, got to hang with him all day (including seeing his place), and had a lot of fun.

            Sunday was a lazy day. We woke up and ate breakfast, after which Joylani decided it was time for a two-hour nap. Sekhar came by in the afternoon and took us out to another great meal. After saying our goodbyes, Joylani and I just hung out and read/wrote for the remainder of the afternoon, going to bed early to catch our early morning all-day train to Kerala the next day. Looking back at our weekend in Bangalore, I really enjoyed it. Sekhar was an awesome host and guide. Yet, it seems that Bangalore is an easy city to like regardless. We were told that we experienced typical Banaglore weather, which was much like Hampi’s, and I wonder if all of Karnataka (not too humid 70s). Sekhar said it reminds him of Santa Barbara weather- who doesn’t like that? So the weather’s mild and agreeable, the city’s modern and convenient, and vibrantly growing. Although I skipped it the first time around, I’d recommend including a quick visit to Bangalore on any visit to India.





164_6445-4.JPGIt’s hard to find the discipline to write. When you’re traveling and seeing/doing stuff everyday, it even harder. And when you’re having fun doing these things, who has time to stop and write? Our more than half week in Bombay was reduced to one post. In Goa, I barely wrote and must admit that some of the posts were written several days after the events. Now, our two days in Hampi have been condensed to one post as well. I’m trying to find the discipline to write a little each day, but for now, this single post will have to suffice.

            Luckily, Hampi was better than I expected. Joylani roughly planned out a South India itinerary for us, when we were in Leh. Since that initial plan, I had considered removing it from our route several times. But Joylani said we should give it a shot, so we did. I was a bit reluctant to leave Goa for Hampi, but it was pleasant surprise. After 100 degree days and mid-80 degree nights, the cool dry Hampi weather was great. Like Goa, our room was part of a lady’s house. Initially it was nice, but she was kind of overbearing in “offering” services (laundry, scooter rental, food, etc.). But we weren’t at the guesthouse much, spending our days in the interesting town and seeing the surprisingly good attractions. I say surprisingly because how interesting could it really be to see more temples? Well, they were pretty cool. But even better than the temples was seeing the totally weird landscape all around Hampi. A couple years ago I read an article that perfectly articulated one of the reasons I travel: to see things I cannot even imagine. What does Hampi’s landscape look like? Rocks. Big round rocks. Everywhere. Okay, so I’m not as good a writer as photographer, so just look at the pictures to see.


The road leading into Hampi


Can’t really tell in this pic, but those ruins are really BIG!


Joylani and freaking big rocks! 

Things I cannot imagine about Hampi’s landscape: Where did all the rocks come from? Why are they so big? How come they’re all round and shaped so smoothly? It’s amazing because these rocks that look like giant pebbles stretch for as far as I could see (even standing on top of some hills). We rented a scooter our first day and checked out some of the more far-flung ruins and just walked a circuit of the smaller ones on day two. Seeing all the temples the first day was fun. The temples were not even as big as many of the rocks, but there were a ton of them, all grouped in geometric complexes. Many of the details adorning the pillars and walls were still intact, as most of the temples are only about 500 years old. Most of the ruins had no entry fee and so we were free to roam around, sit and write/draw, etc. Plus, there were barely any people at a lot of them, as there were dozens and dozens. Not too interesting history or anything to write about, but the temples juxtaposed against the boulder-strewn landscape was very photogenic, so I’ll leave you with photos.


Some tourists and boy carrying a boat to take them across the river…


Banana plantation, some palms, and you guessed it, more enormous rocks


The Bookshop and the Photoboxy

matt and the girl

joylani 130pxMatt and I have been in Hampi for the last 2.5 days, and leave in a few hours by train. Hampi is a small little village/tourist town surrounded by 500-600 year old ruins. The ruins consist of old temples, palaces, bath houses, market areas, etc. It’s an interesting place, one we almost crossed off our list because we were feeling “ruined out,” but I’m glad we came because Hampi, like the other places we’ve visited, has its own unique character from the rest. The main drag (like every other small town in India, is called the Main Bazaar) has an active temple on one end and temple ruins at the other. The new temple end consists of restaurants, travel services/internet, and souvenir shops.

Towards the other end is “low income” housing—homes people have made out of the pre-existing ruins of the old city bazaar. I think this was a smart use of the space for those who have moved in.

homes in converted ruins

We’ve walked down to the old end each day since we arrived in Hampi. Unique from the other places we’ve been, there are dozens of kids playing outside (probably due to the no cars being allowed on the Main Bazaar or beyond). They’re either digging in the dirt, rolling an old tire, teasing a sleeping dog, or playing cricket on an improvised field. All three times we’ve walked down the road there is this little girl—about three years old—who approaches us, asking something that sounds like “photo boxy,” but we’re not sure if she’s trying to speak English, or, more likely, her native tongue Kannada. Either way, we have no idea what she is saying. We try to ask her questions to clarify, but she just keeps repeating. “Photo boxy? Photo boxy.” (Matt says is sounds more like “futoboxshi”) She’s a sweet little persistent one and would follow us for a while before giving up and walking back home.


Down at the opposite end of the road we’ve made another acquaintance—book shop man. On our first evening in Hampi we had just turned on to the main road when we heard a proper-sounding voice calling out behind us. “Excuse me! Excuse me!” Upon turning around we saw a be-speckled, heavy set (with age), grandfather shuffling towards us, his hand up in the air to wave us down. Not sure what his deal was, we stopped to listen. “Excuse me, there is a bookshop,” he said (high-pitched emphasis on “book”) as he pointed in the direction of his store. I looked where he was pointing and saw a sign with clear red lettering “Book Shop,” indeed it was. The man went on to let us know this wasn’t just any book shop. He also sold incense, postcards, and essential oils. What a bookshop! We politely declined and walked on. The next day the same thing happened, only this time I was ready.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!”

“Hello.” I smiled and said, “There’s a bookshop, right?”

As though he hadn’t heard what I said or remembered giving us the same message the day before, the man stately pointed and announced, “There is a bookshop.”

“Yes, yes,” I said. “Maybe we will come tomorrow; we’re going to take pictures now.” He politely registered my response (not all do) and let us go on our way without another word.

Today Matt and I did plan on stopping by the bookshop to see what books were in stock. We weren’t any less than 10 or 20 yards away when I saw the bookshop man hone into our presence through his thick glasses. He quickly stood up, slipped on his shoes and began to shuffle towards us. “Oh no,” I told Matt. “Hurry and make your way to the bookshop so that he doesn’t tell us the same thing!” We were too late. He was already in front of us.

“Excuse me! Excuse me! There is a bookshop!”

“Yes,” I smiled, “We’re going there just now.”

Finally, it registered. “Ah yes, I remember you from yesterday!” he proudly said.

“What about the day before that?” I thought to myself. So Matt and I went to look at his thrice acclaimed bookshop. Most of the books were about Hampi. In fact, there weren’t that many books at all, and definitely not any I was even remotely interested in reading. I wasn’t interested in incense or essential oils either, so I settled on buying a few postcards and said goodbye to the bookshop man. Walking down the Main Bazaar a couple hours later, we caught a glimpse of him across the street, flagging down another tourist. “Excuse me! Excuse me…”

A few more snapshots from Hampi:

not quite tall enough

Not quite tall enough to get his leg over the bar…

getting a shave

Matt getting a shave from a kid who can’t shave himself yet…

freakishly large goat

can you spot the Yao Ming goat?


164_6445-4.JPGLeaving Calangute yesterday for a night in Colva was a compromise of heading to South Goa to catch our train (from Margao) this morning and still staying in a beach town. Initially it appeared to be much like Calangute; a main (touristy) road running perpendicular right into the long beach. But we found Colva to be much smaller and quieter than Calangute. The beach had less people, fishermen could be seen pulling in their nets, and the beach was flat and relatively narrow. Palm plantations lined the beach, which enhanced an already beautiful beach. Joylani found a ton of sea shells, which colored the beach a distinct combination pink/orange/brown, in certain spots. On the downside, accommodation was scarce and restaurants not as good as Calangute, two things I appreciated about touristy Calangute.

            It was nice to see Colva though. We watched the final game of the Twenty20 (the international cricket championships), between India and Pakistan. It was an exhilarating match that came down to the very last play. The restaurant/bar we were at was packed, with a crowd even watching the TV from the street. During the final minutes, everyone was watching, from the cooks to the bus that had momentarily stopped outside to catch the end. When India won, the place went berserk and people were setting off deafening fireworks for the rest of the night. It was fun to watch the final game with a bunch of fans (even better since they won). And while Colva was nice, I’m ready to explore other places. Next up: the state of Karnataka.



joylani 130pxHello Blog. It’s been a while. Let me explain. You see, Matt and I made it to Goa. Yes, the beach. Uh huh. So you understand the lack of writing? Good. Thanks.

Goa is a small, coastal state of India about an 8 hour train ride south of Bombay. The inland areas are bright green and lush with tropical plants, crops, and coconut palms. Catholic churches dot the landscape thanks to Portuguese colonialism. The beaches vary from long stretches of golden sand to rocky beach heads, and many are lined with beach huts offering cold drinks, food, lounge chairs, and shade. We stayed in Calangute, one of the busier of the beach towns, but since it was still the off-season, there still weren’t too many people and the 6km stretch of beach running along Calangute and the neighboring towns offered plenty of space to stretch out. Many of the shops and restaurants were still closed due to lack of business, renovations, or both.

Our guesthouse was a short walk away from the main action (and noise) in town and just a 15-second walk to the beach. It was nice to stay in a quieter spot where we were woken up by a rooster instead of cars honking outside. A nice perk to our room was that it had a refrigerator. In the mornings Matt and I could enjoy our breakfast of frosted flakes (Matt) and yogurt with granola (me) without having to decide on a restaurant, walk there, and wait for a not-so-great breakfast to arrive at the table.

We originally planned to stay in Calangute for six days just hanging out, reading, and walking through town and on the beach. Even though our daily itinerary didn’t consist of much, we never got bored and were surprised when we came to our sixth day. We paid our hotel lady for two more nights. Even though we didn’t do a whole lot, we never got bored. As Matt said, “It was like we left [Goa] and didn’t even know we were there.” Time flies when you’re at the beach. Here are a few of my favorite Goan memories:

  • The pigs. They seemed to be everywhere on the road to our guesthouse, lurking in the bushes. There were a few big ones, and many piglets. The pigs would scamper in front of our porch, looking like they’re trying to be stealth and avoid detection (probably because they’re afraid of being eaten!). For some reason, they would run as close to the side of the road as they could, and with their snouts naturally pointing down, those pigs couldn’t help but look conspicuous. My favorite was one big porker that materialized out of some bushes, and crossed the road in front of Matt. It stalled to take a glace at Matt and, after a short delay (the pig probably had to stop and think) it scurried off even faster than it was already walking as if it just figured out we could see it. Those pigs. They think they’re camouflaged or something.
  • Indian tourists at the beach.


    Try to imagine a couple hundred people at the beach who have never seen one before, or maybe just go once every several years (i.e. the antithesis of a Californian West Coaster). They don’t really know much about swimming, nor do the majority have swimming suits. What do they do when they see the water? Rather than setting up a little “camp” with beach towels, umbrellas, perhaps an ice-chest, a lot of people just stand around and watch the waves. Some go in the water. As for the women, if they go in the water it’s in full-dress. Saris, jeans, whatever. This is a fun sight to see because, I figure, it must be really worth it to them if they’re gonna go all-in. They’re having fun, and that is fun to watch. Most of the Indian tourists, however, are male. Those who fancy a swim and who have neither swim shorts nor the snazzy Goa tank top/shorts sets with the orange or yellow stripe down the side (sold by many shops along the road to the beach, very hot) strip down to their underwear (most looked like brown hotpants), frolic in a few waves, and then roll around in the sand with their [male] traveling buddies and perhaps engage in a quick sand-throwing war. It is definitely an odd site to see—partly due to the undies, and in part because of the openness of the male-male [though not homosexual] displays of friendship in a culture where male-female displays of affection, even as simple as hand-holding, are not the norm. Since we’ve been in India, I’ve seen many more guys holding hands than couples. The beach was no exception.

  • The monsoon. Despite arriving in the middle of monsoon season, Matt and I have been fortunate so far and have missed getting stuck in any big showers—partly thanks to being in Leh where it hardly ever rains, and partly due to well-timed naps or late-night showers. Goa was the end of that. Our third day in Goa I awoke to the sound of heavy rain. Looking outside our window I could see the coconut palms swaying in the wind and rain. It reminded me of the images I’ve seen on TV from Florida during hurricane season. Luckily the winds weren’t close to hurricane strength, but the rain was steady. After that first day of rain, it would rain off and on for short periods of time in the coming days. When we were on the beach it was easy to predict when a downpour would come because we could easily see the cloud approaching. But sometimes the rain came on so fast, all we would see was a wall of water and then 5-10 seconds later we’d be soaked. At night, this was a little bit more difficult. Sometimes the downpours would last at least 10-20 minutes, sometimes just a matter of seconds, as it made its way inland. Even when we got caught in the rain, I think Matt and I both agree that the showers were more of a delight than a headache.

the Goa short set

Shells on the beach. We spent our last night in Goa in Colva. Because we arrived late in the afternoon and didn’t get to see too much of the place, but we were able to take a quick walk on the beach before it got dark. There are small clam shells scattered all along the beach—the dainty pastel colored kind. The shells reminded me of the ones I used to collect in Redondo Beach when I was little. All of a sudden we came upon a spot of sand that was completely covered in shells. The shells were an inch or two deeps and spread out over several feet. It was wonderful. Just a lot of little shells. So I sat down in the middle of them until we saw a dark grey cloud approaching and it was time to retreat back to our hotel.


TO the left is our Calangute guesthouse, straight ahead is the beach.

Scooter Day



164_6445-4.JPGToday we explored the entire coast of North Goa by scooter. We stopped by the following beaches:





Just a long thin strip of sand backed by guesthouse and restaurants. There’s a small touristy souvenir market at the northern end of the beach. Supposed to be the capital of the Goan party/rave scene, but barely anyone was there when we were. Overall, not too impressive.





Rocky headland with small, flat, shadeless beaches on either side. A fort dominates the hill behind the beaches. There’s a ton of Indian tourists taking photos and checking out the tide pools. Again no reason to stay…the beach has no shade.



(just in case these pictures made you forget we were in India) 


The most northern of Goa’s beaches, this place is full of hippies. A few chill restaurants on the beach. Maybe too many hippies. We saw a dude with waist long hair and a loincloth-thong-thing frolicking in the waves. A swimmable beach with more Westerners than Indians (which means females can strip down to swimwear without awkward stares). It’s a really long beach without very many people. We spent the most time here today and would recommend it.




More than seeing all the beaches, I enjoyed exploring the countryside. Goa’s beaches are nice, but I think inland may be even better. On our way from the train station to Calangute, Joylani and I noticed the bright green colors of Goa. Today we zoomed through the fields and fields and fields of all shades of green. Just seeing the bright green paddies and coconut plantations would’ve been enough. But zooming through the fields and sleepy beach towns on our scooters was amazing. It was just a scooter, but it was still exhilarating to turn that handle and accelerate, feeling the wind in our faces, and feeling the 100 degree heat cool in the wind. It was an exciting day, but a lazy one too. A snack and walk at Vagator, lunch at Arambol, and chai at Anjuna. How much better (or lazier depending on how you look at it) does it get; beach to beach, meal to meal, all while exploring the vibrant countryside.

Old Goa



164_6445-4.JPGThe Portuguese took control of Goa by the mid-fifteen hundreds. They ruled it 400 years, until India seized it 1961 (nearly 15 years after Indian independence). Yet the Portuguese influence has left its legacy both on the place and its people. Although the uniqueness of Goa is immediately apparent, our trip to Old Goa (once said to rival Lisbon in grandeur) today has instigated this article.


The Place

Look at a map of Goa and you’ll immediately see that the airport is in Vasco de Gama. And although some major cities and beaches have been renamed, most people still use the old Portuguese names. Arriving in Goa, it is impossible not to notice the Iberian architecture. Besides all the cathedrals and chapels, the buildings are white or pastel-painted. Additionally, most homes have tile porches enclosed by short little pillared (for lack of a better description) wall and a wrought iron gate. If there weren’t so many Indians around, you’d think you were in Central America. Yet, even some of the Goans don’t look like most Indians.


The People

Joylani’s pointed out a few people to me, who “have Portuguese blood for sure.” When I ask her how she knows for sure, she says because they look like all the people she went to school with (apparently Arcata has a sizable Portuguese population). Regardless of how they look, a fair amount of Goans still speak Portuguese (most in addition to their native Konkan, as well as Hindi and English). Yet, perhaps the largest difference between Goa and Hindustan (Hindi for India, literally meaning land of the Hindus), is that a large percentage of Goans are Catholic. All the little shrines have Jesus, Mary, or a saint in them, instead of a Hindu god. And instead of burning candles, incense, and hanging marigolds around Hindu shrines in their homes/restaurants, they have Catholic shrines or crosses with the usual flowers or candles. Instead of Hindu names, the buses all have the name of saint, usually also displayed inside the bus with a wreath of flowers, flashing LEDs, and an electric candle- very Indian still, but Catholic. One of the switches in our room even controls the electric candle on a shelf with Catholic portraits. The funny thing about Goa is even some of the Hindu temples and shrines are built in the Portuguese/Catholic style of pastel colors and European architecture. The confluence of culture and religion can be confusing. In the US, it seems fairly easy to separate culture and religion. Yet in India, oftentimes culture is religion and vice versa, so Goa was extremely interesting in this sense (and as topic could fill volumes). A few of the ways in which Goan Catholic culture was manifested: women wore an antiquated style of dresses (which I assume was from European missionaries), alcohol was way more prevalent in public, and many men had “Christian names” like John or George.


Goa embodies India in that it’s different. So often India is stereotyped by the so-called Hindi-belt (stretching across North India from Kutch to Bengal), but Goa is different in everyway. From language to landscape, it’s an interesting and unique place.

Random Goan Musings

164_6445-4.JPGToday’s the first sunny day in three. It’s rained pretty much nonstop for the past two days, so its nice to be able to get out and walk around town. You know just hang at the beach and be lazy. You may find that statement comical considering we’re on somewhat of an extended vacation, but I heard even worse today. Joylani and I were sitting on some beach chairs under an umbrella earlier today. Next to us was a couple; the guy was just watching the ocean, while his girlfriend was getting a massage (there’s a ton of people that walk along the beach offering massages). They sat there for another 15 or 20 minutes after her massage ended, before getting up to leave. One of the waiters said, “Where you going? You know you can just sit here and relax- you don’t have to buy anything…” To which the girl responded, “I think we’re going to go and rest for a bit.” Joylani whispered to me, “What the heck have they been doing for the past hour?!” The past five days have flown by. Two days of hanging around our hotel doing nothing because it was raining, two days at the beach, one night at the most popular club in town, Tito’s (whose Hip-Hop Night was disappointing), one night of watching the England-India cricket match. We’ve hung out with our next-door neighbor Matt a good deal too. He and I share a beer in the late afternoons, after which the three of us go to dinner. Joylani joined us one afternoon to try some fenny, which is a local spirit made of coconut or cashew. It’s not as tasty as rum, but better than nasty vodka. But at approximately 1.25 USD for 750 mL bottle, who cares. Still, I prefer beer. If you can’t tell yet, it’s been an aimless few days, but I like Goa. I like it more than when I visited last time. I could stay here awhile. Our place is remote, but nice. The beach is just steps away. The town is small, but it has everything as it must accommodate thousands of tourists during the winter. Right now, the pace is slow. Before we leave, I do have some goals though: see more of Goa (the major cities, some other beaches, as well as the country) and start taking more photos again. Goa definitely is not as foreign as Ladakh, but since Orchha I’ve really failed to capture some great shots. It’s tough to travel, enjoy a place, and document it through writing/photography all at the same time. But I’m gonna really try. This post like our time here is rather aimless and random.

Made it to the Beach



164_6445-4.JPGToday was one of those rare days in life when everything seems perfect. I slowly woke up on the train this morning to the chai-wallahs. I am not a morning person (especially after talking until two in the morning with a couple of our bunk mates who were curious about America), so lazily waking up to a cup of chai as the jungle-covered hills of Maharastra passed by was great. The night before, we had met a guy with a great name (Matt) who was on his way home from a two-year Peace Corps stint in China. Like the evening before, we talked on and off all morning. By noon, we had reached our stop in Goa, just a small rural station from which we took a small bus to Mapusa, and then one to Calangute. Calangute is the most developed of the beaches, but we chose it for two reasons. One is that its supposed to be quieter during the offseason and, two, many of the other beaches would be dead before the tourist season. As we (Joylani and I, and our new buddy Matt) walked down the main road that ran perpendicular into the beach, the ocean came into view. Not the bay or industrial port of Bombay, but the beautiful light green Arabian Sea lapping up against golden Goan shores. Having been on the train all morning, the first thing we did was sit down at a restaurant on the beach.

After some kingfish, prawn fried rice, and an ice-cold beer, we introduced Matt to our usual gameplan when first arriving in a place. And I’ll outline it for you as well: The first thing we do in a new place is eat. This accomplishes two things; one it rids us of an annoying rickshaw driver who is intent on “helping” us find a room (rickshaw drivers get a commission when bringing people to a hotel, which gets tacked on to the room rates we get quoted) and gives us a chance to relax and recharge after hours or days of travel. Secondly, after eating, Joylani stays at the restaurant with the bags, while I do a circuit of 5-10 guesthouses. We do this for several reasons as well. One, neither of us has to miserably trudge around in the Indian heat in our backpacks- Joylani gets to sit and I get to walk quickly backpack-free. Two, I can check out a lot more guesthouses in a shorter time without all the weight and get better rates (perhaps because Joylani’s not with me or maybe because I make it clear I’m quickly shopping around). Anyways, it works out well for us and it did this time. Joylani chilled in the shade of the restaurant, while Matt and I checked out a half-dozen guesthouses. I was ready to head back and give Joylani the options (a big room but expensive, a cheap one but far from the beach, or a substandard room right on the beach), when a guy and his girlfriend pulled up on a motorcycle and asked if we were looking for a room. They told us they were on their way out of Goa, but that the place up the road was REALLY nice, so we checked it out. It was awesome- clean, hot water, balcony, 10 second walk to the beach, it even had a safe. Even better, I negotiated a price below even what I thought was possible (Usually I ask for the room rate, they quote me one, I ask for the best price, they lower it, I ask what if I stay x number of days, they sometimes lower it more, and then I’ll offer an even lower price, which sometimes like this case, they accept) (But if its fair price off the bat, I’ll just take it, despite probably being able to get it lower).  It was by far the best room I saw there and maybe the nicest room we’ve stayed in India thus far. We took one room and Matt took next door.

After getting Joylani and getting settled, we threw on our beach clothes and walked all 30 seconds to the water. The sand was soft and feet sank in as we walked. The ocean roared as a half-dozen waves continually broke parallel to the shore. The water was warmer than the late afternoon air, which was being cooled by a perfect breeze. Looking down the beach in both directions, salty mist rose above the wave-pounded beach. After walking for awhile, we contented ourselves to just sit on ribbon of sand sandwiched between a coconut plantation and the Arabian Sea.

We finished our night with a bright orange and pink sunset, a filling dinner, and just as I started my day, a cup of chai.

A Few of My Favorite Things…

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Anything my mom makes.

Blueberry muffins.

Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting.

Dark chocolate.


Fish tacos from Wahoos.

Guacamole too.



Just want to eat…

Kalua pig.


Mexican food.



Pho. Poi. Pumpkin Pie. Peanut butter.

Quaker Instant Oatmeal: peaches and cream

Rice. Cal Rose of course.

Soy Dream. Soy nuts. Soy milk.


Uncooked veggies.

Veggie burritos.

Wine. White cheddar Cheese-its.

Xcept not…

Yak butter tea…

Zigga zaa.