By the end of this trip, I had realized that there is something I will always miss, I can’t cover it all. While most of my trips were always about covering every nook and corner of the city, this one was just about watching sunsets in the evening and star gazing at the night. While most of my trips were about discovering the place, this one was about discovering myself. This trip taught me that it is okay to not always span every valley in the city, even if you might not return to the place again. It’s more important to enjoy every moment and be present in it fully rather than covering everything. Though both have their own thrills, it’s up to you what you want in the end.

This Goa trip started with my travel collaboration with Untrodden Roads for the shoot of their cinematic video, then came a surprise visit by a friend, celebration of my birthday, and then finally going solo in this beautiful part of Goa that I had never seen or heard of before, Arambol. It was like experiencing three different trips in one single place. Staying at different corners every time, meeting new people, and starting afresh: this is what I think made this experience even more memorable.

Dressing up, carrying a suitcase, changing multiple outfits in a day, all this was never my kind of scene, I was always more of a backpacker. It was going to be an entirely new experience, shooting and posing, rather than exploring, or that’s what I thought initially.

On the first day itself, these beliefs of mine were broken. On the evening of the 8th of January, we landed in Goa. Got freshened up and started our trip by walking to Candolim beach, getting all drenched in the water, and playing Kabaddi with the waves (Yes, Dear Zindagi moves). It was then and there that I knew I was in for fun and it is not going to feel like work at all. Later on, when Adi (our cinematographer), and I went for a night stroll till the uncrowded ends and ended up admiring the stars to no extent, I knew I had found someone who looked at the stars the way I did, and understood the magic they brought to us. The day ended well and we were all set to begin our shooting the next day. So, we went back to our hotel, funnily wearing each other’s footwear, not one but all, a small incident but enough to realize we were all together now.

Riding on scooty and witnessing the serenity of Goa marked the beginning of our second day. Experiencing those lush green palm trees embrace us while the weather turned sunny, was a beautiful experience indeed. Riding and having fun on the journey, we reached the Mini Vagator Beach (actually I and Mahima got lost for about an hour before that, those who know me, know by now, funnily enough, such incidents always end up happening to me), did our shooting, played around with the sand, had lunch and left for what was about to turn into the experience which made me fall in love with sunsets all over again, the experience which reminded me that why when someone asks ‘Beaches or Mountains’, my answer would always be ‘I can’t choose ever’. We went on a short hike near Aguada Fort and what we witnessed next, fully mesmerized me with its beauty. The moment we reached there, I climbed down further till the rocks allowed, found a rock to sit and stared at the sun setting. There’s no count of time that I have, for how long I sat there, but it was till the sun had set and the colours of the sky resumed to normal when I finally looked around to check where the others were. I will definitely recommend this place to anyone who likes watching sunsets as much as I do especially in uncrowded places. Go, and enlighten yourself with the beauty that nature has to offer us.

Afterward, the night marked an entirely different experience altogether. When I decided to stay back at Baga beach to gaze at the stars and the waves for a few more hours, and Adi too decided to stay back, I knew I had found a friend in a traveller. Gazing at the stars for countless minutes, actually hours to be honest, then later on going for a night scooty ride and telling my stories and hearing the words ‘You inspire me’, I was reminded of the importance of sharing my stories and making whatever little difference I can. But has a trip or even a day ever ended for me without some vivid or crazy incident happening? As I reached my room, at 4 am all tired and ready to crash, I realized it was locked from inside and my roommates had already gone to sleep. Punching, kicking, and shouting, there I was outside the door wondering where to crash tonight when finally, after a few minutes (which seemed like an eternity back then), one of them got up and opened the door and I could sleep in my own bed.

The next day (10th January) started with the excitement for the following day (11th January was my birthday), everyone was planning something but I was still unsure of what I wanted to do and who all I wanted to be present there. This birthday was going to be entirely different for me. From the usual routine I followed every year of partying with all close friends, doing slum visits and having dinner with my family at the end of the day, this birthday I was all alone, in a completely different state, unknown to almost all (Yes, I had hardly told anyone I will be in Goa). I was excited, thrilled yet nervous about what the day would mean to me this year. With the rush of all these emotions, I was all set for the shoot that day.

The morning started with a boat ride on the Sinquerium beach, witnessing the beautiful dolphins around in the water. The water was so soothing and the air so refreshing, I ended up being lost in my own thoughts for the entire ride, until the very last few minutes when I decided to go in front to stand and enjoy the breeze for the leftover journey. Following this, we decided to go to this exquisite place for lunch, Alcove Resort. The view was ravishing, a definite recommendation if you want to experience delicious cuisines with an amazing view of the entire Vagator beach. Then the day turned from peace to fun as we decided to go for a sunset boat party and I ended up grooving to the Goan dance numbers first, imitating the beautiful and talented dancers that performed on the stage and then later on after being invited on the stage by the anchor to dance with all my friends, ended up crazily dancing my heart out.

While we were dancing, I saw this young girl sitting on the side nervously, recording us on and off, I went to her and asked her if she would like to join us for the dance. She told me she didn’t know how to dance and I told her I didn’t either and then told her my secret to dancing. Her father came ahead and asked her to join, she nervously got up and started dancing a little, soon the songs stopped, but her image, her nervousness, her father’s thank you, and meeting her entire family later, all this remained ingrained in my memory. It is always such a pleasure to meet the locals and to talk to them, and this incident made me reminisce about my own childhood, my own self probably 3-4 years back. That secret remains between the girl and me, but I hope it stayed with her, and that one day she would grow up to realize what it really meant.

As the night drew closer, I was all excited for my birthday, especially when I got to know a fellow traveller (Shrey, trip lead from my last trip), turned into a really good friend, was reaching Goa that day, all set to celebrate my birthday together. From cutting multiple cakes to getting smashed by one, from going to LPK (definite recommendation for those who love partying, it has a good crowd), to dancing and grooving all night to the wonderful songs, from laying down everywhere trying to look at the stars (which were nowhere to be seen), to end up crashing at a different hostel altogether at 5 in the morning, it was definitely a night to remember and a crazy yet beautiful start to my birthday.

Waking up to two good news, I had gotten an off from the office as well as from the shoot for my birthday (except for dinner and shack party), I was all excited to see how the day proceeds. Tired as I was when I woke up, due to the previous night’s events, I was all charged up once I reached back to my hotel all ready to see how the day goes ahead. Shrey asked me what I would like to do on my birthday, and what an ideal birthday would be for me. Stopping for a moment and thinking about it, I realized maybe it is just how the day is going to proceed, with no plans, no phone calls, no wishes to accept, and the entire day doing whatever I felt. Instead of doing anything out of place, I realized, all I wanted to do was normal stuff, whatever came to my mind naturally, and nothing special or extraordinary. Who defines special anyway? Sometimes I feel normal is special for me, and not planning is ideal for me. In the end, we ate Pizza from Dominos and as we moved towards the beach to watch the sunset, I decided to tick off the wish of standing on a moving bike from my bucket list. Just as I stood upon the bike, we got stopped by the traffic police and was reminded of the section and laws I was breaking. After multiple failed attempts by Shrey, who thought what would have worked in the end would be me slyly telling him it’s my birthday. Funnily enough, it worked and we resumed our ride to Anjuna Beach. Lying over at some secluded upper shack place on the beach and witnessing the sunset, taking in all the serenity, I don’t think I could have asked for anything better. I think it was that moment, that day, that sunset, when I realized the peace it offered me, the peace so high that I fell into a sound sleep then and there. Sunset in front of the eyes, the sound of the waves in my ears, a light breeze in the hair, and an ideal company beside, the ‘sukoon’ (as I like to call it) was such, that I knew I wanted nothing more at that moment.

The time was already 8 in the night, and I had a place to be at, I realized then. While leaving though, I saw this tattoo parlor, not knowing what exactly I wanted to get inked on my body, I entered and sat down. Temporarily got myself inked ‘Banjaaran’, still don’t know if I can call myself that permanently. Leaving from Anjuna on a beautiful note, I was all set for the party and the leftover shoot. I had an amazing time at the shack party and finally ended the shoot. Wanting to spend the last few minutes of my birthday with myself, I left the party to walk on the beach and gaze at the magic, the stars. As I looked at them, the last few minutes of my birthday also came to an end.

While the birthday had ended, the night had just started. I dined in with a few old and few new friends and ended up meeting two beautiful souls who were going to become a part of my journey for the coming days. We all left Baga beach around 3 am and went to the Vagator beach. Sitting on the steps that led down to the beach, (the only area the night waves had not yet touched) we gazed at the stars and enjoyed the rhythm of the waves. It was 5 in the morning, I think, when we finally left and met a stranded stranger on our way back. His scooty had run out of petrol and he had no place to be. We gave him a ride, helped him out with petrol, and losing our way 5-6 times, laughing hard, finally reached back to Piggy Hostel. Yes, yet again I ended up crashing at ‘not my hotel’ and in the morning reached back there to bid goodbye to the collaborating company, all set to see where my journey would now lead me. I had no prior bookings at that moment, and no idea where to go, and so I decided to go to Piggy hostel for the day while taking my suitcase on the Scooty with me. A crazy decision I know, but then that’s me I guess, all set for the new experiences, let’s see now what happens next.

To know that, look out for the next part of my blog ‘Living life from one high to another: Trip to Goa, the start of 2021: Part 2’