The Warm Welcome, Courtesy and Humour that is Goa!
by Adam Stone
One Beautiful Goa Sunset!
It was during the time I was living at Russelsheim, Frankfurt, Germany that I decided I would celebrate the onset of the New Year in Goa.
I had never been there earlier though I had made some trips to India. I was plain lucky to get a confirmed reservation; all hotels/resorts were packed much ahead of November 15, when I finalized my plan. I headed straight for Goa after landing in Mumbai. Before my wife and I could take a breath and locate the pick up transport, a barrage of kisses landed on all parts of my face!
I don?t remember having had so much soft female attention anytime earlier. They all were chanting ?Happy New Year? though it was still full one week too early. But for the presence of my wife, I would perhaps have joined the group and given up the transport! Who wouldn?t? I had always known that in India a kiss is seldom exchanged so freely; that too in public.
We literally muscled our way to the huge bus ? a decent air-conditioned Volvo. It was only when we settled in our seats that I realized that most of those soft pushes and touches came from people who were as alien to the ambiance as we both were. I guess they must have got there earlier and settled enough by then to enjoy the festive mood all around! At the resort, it took an hour and half for our ?garlanding ceremony? to get over before we were shown our rooms. We both indeed felt very special as though we were just married! At the resort, very few Indians were staying and it was hugs and kisses galore.
We had our fill and thought we would make our inaugural visit to the nearby beach, the famous Calangute. It was here that the incident which raises our spirits even after three years it happened. I was feeling thirsty having walked the way in bright sunlight. Turning to a shack that looked to be an outlet for chilled drinks, I saw a man dressed in smart jeans and tea shirt with a jute hat covering most part of his face. I requested him for a drink to which he replied in heavy local accent, ?Shop is closed?.
I literally narrated how desperately I needed a drink to ward off possible dehydration! He lightly kicked a pole supposed to be respected as a mark of his recess and waved at me to pick a bottle or bottles of my choice, open it with an opener hanging in a corner and carry a set of table-chair too outside the shack, if I wanted. Again in his inimitable accent, he asked me to not forget replacing the pole in its horizontal position.
Despite my repeated requests, he didn?t accept any payment. I sat with my wife on the set of royal chairs and started sipping the drink. After about an hour or so, I saw the man changing to Bermudas proudly adjusting the pendant of his heavy gold chain on his hairy chest and hat taking the place where it ought to have been!
From his formal attire, he went casual when his shop really opened! Now, he asked an assistant of his to come to us and collect the payment. I was pretty comfortable by now. So handing over currency, I went to thank the guy.
In the moment of my first real feel of the trip within less than half a day, I said he could have taken the payment earlier. His reply made his business ethics clear. He said, ?Sir, I don?t make transactions in non-business hours, understand?. This at once brought forth all the humour, courtesy and welcome Goans are known to shower the tourists with.