By Rachna Singh Chopra
A lone purpose sought a lone me, and we met, in Goa. The rendezvous was set near the sea, by the side of the gurgling waves. Travelling atop the waves of the world, a timely blessing helped me decide that the intoxication I wished to drown in was the intoxication of my own Self.
A lone purpose sought a lone me, and we met, in Goa. The rendezvous was set near the sea, by the side of the gurgling waves. Travelling atop the waves of the world, a timely blessing helped me decide that the intoxication I wished to drown in was the intoxication of my own Self. And that the ideal setting to do so would be by the seaside! I like the ocean, for one sees no end to it! It gives a glimpse into infinity. Also, where the sea is, there is calm, there is rest. There is mystery.
A sure sense of freedom and calm were felt with my very first step on the soil of this quaint place of red roofs, narrow streets and charming villages. Tucked snugly between the Arabian Sea to the west and the Western Ghats on the east, Goa appeared like a scene plucked out of a storybook. Bottle green hills, cashew groves, swaying coconut palms along a clear road that had but a mere sprinkling of traffic!
Liberated after about 450 years of oppressive Portuguese rule in as late as 1961, Goa has emerged with a distinctive individuality of its colonial heritage, glistening sands, sun-drenched beaches, fresh seafood, rave parties, beachside shopping and midnight bonfires.
Out of the heady mix of churches and temples, that form part of the tourist circuit, I entered none. I smiled along the array of old Catholic Churches, at Christ and the Lady of Miracles; and Saint Francis of Assisi and the hilltop shrines of Shiva and Durga. Knowing ever more that the temple I wished to enter lowering my head, dwells in my own breast. The secret truly alluring to me lay sunken within me.
I was pillion-riding on a motorbike, and told the driver to take me to the southern coast, Colva beach, where the sea is calm, the beaches relatively empty and life moves on quietly.
Gliding past curio shops, food and drink stalls, low-budget hotels, past fishermen spreading their nets out, I walked along the beach, stopping to collect colourful shells and some long lost memories. How divine it is to do the usual and the mundane with keenness. It is attention alone that makes objects, people and situations adorable, and worthy of being experienced.
Gazing at the blue waters, it became evident that the sea had pulled me to give a benediction to me, a gift to impart unto my spirit. I had been called. A miracle awaited me. Some secrets desired to be revealed to my listening ears.
Just as the desire to be alone by the seaside hit the shores of my mind, I saw folks there preparing to leave. The vast vacant eyes of the sea peering at me from afar, beckoned me. Footing the bill for my prawn platter at a nearby seafood joint, I plucked out my shoes and dashed onto the glorious sand in the dark.
As I surrounded myself with its roars, I saw the whole parable of samsara enact atop its waves. There was love on the beach, there was play, there was music and grub, and mirth, and silent salty tears perhaps; and ships that had left the harbour, and those that were still anchored, safe. In the sound of the sea was contained all sound. In its roar was contained the primeval sound, pranava. Its expanse seemed symbolic of life itself and more! In it I glimpsed death and what lay beyond. Almost anything could erupt from its waves, unexpected. Darkness and shadows, the sun’s reflection, the moon’s glow. Just anything! And not one of its moods gets repeated!
Soon the sea began to whisper to me: “Just flow.” The way is simple and joyous, if you just melt your mind in your heart. When you move in trust, you hit the mark. A deep calm infected my spirit. Suddenly, I escaped the matrix. Seeing the waves gush forth in my direction, I saw that the sea reflected my own inner depth. Finding its twin counterpart within me, it hastened towards me, joyous to discover a greater depth and vastness than its own! I experienced that all, yes, all of it, I contain and more, and I swelled with fullness in response. The Greater Sea in me twitched, stirred, roared; arisen from its slumber!
The journey completed. Yet faces emerge in the fragments of memory that remain. Sunil, who gave me a ride till Colvan; Frazer, the Goan tour operator who dropped me till Panaji; Balereo, the cab driver who drove me till the railway station. Captains Cabin, the thatched restaurant that served me Goan fish curry and chips. It was easy to get hooked on to Goa’s smooth, effortless existence. But I have learnt to move on, from the sea…
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GETTING THERE AND AROUND: Take the Rajdhani or Goa Express till Madgaon. Visit Portuguese churches, imposing monuments of old Goa, Sri Mangesh temple, Shantadurga shrine, and the more than 500 years old Bhagvati temple around south Goa; before embarking onto the Calangute-Baga-Anjuna belt in north Goa. It’s easy to rent a motorcycle or scooter. Buses ply too.