Friday, January 30, 2009

Go Goa: At last

Well, this one has been pending since a long time. I mean, both the trip and the write up on the same. Ever since we formed a gang of ours in Bangalore and settled down well, the Goa trip is on the cards and every time we do lot of planning and then eventually drop the whole thing because of one reason or the other. I guess, destiny had chosen Jan 2009 for us to bless Goa and so it be.

We 5 set off for Goa on Jan 16, not before another glitch of one of us dropping out at the last moment and we finding a replacement for him. We three , me , mohan and his bro(the replacement!) set off from Chennai by Vasco express on Jan 16th , the Friday to be joined by Rajeshwaran and Deepak from Bangalore on the same train but in a different compartment 5 bogies away from ours. Well, the journey mostly went without any big events and problems except for the last wing of the journey i.e., after the station called Castle Rock. This is when the train cuts through the western Ghats to descend to the beaches of Goa. This one hour or so of the journey makes the whole slow train journey worthy. We got amazing view all famous Dhoodh Sagar falls and many tunnels. The way the track is built here makes one thank Indian Railways for all the hard work which would have gone in , in bringing this up. Finally after much confusions about whether to get down at Margaon or Vasco, we got down at Margaon. Our hotel booked at Calungate was equidistant from both of these places. And we took the public bus all the way till Calungate which is definitely a good bargain against the fares the taxis charge there. And we checked into our cool and cosy Alfa guest house in Calungate. Once we got hold of our honda activas, we set off to Aguda fort which was closing in another hour.

Aguda fort is a old 17th century fort with some scenic view of the sea from the top and some nice spots for memorable snaps. We followed the herd and did the same.

Our next destination after a lavish lunch was Anjuna beach. For some reason, this place did not live upto its expectations for me. The reason might be that it is a rocky beach and we cannot go down and touch the water and also may be the point that we reached here late in night to find nothing but some drunkards lazing off there. But I believe this would have been definitely a pleasing site during day time. There was also one single way to get to the sea which was clear during the night hours.

Once done with this, we went back to our rooms, put our bikes to rest and decided to have a stroll around, which ended up being an extra long stroll and without our knowledge we reached the beach next to Calungate beach, Bagha beach. Goa beaches look amazing in night. The waves are still very low and calm during night hours and hence the beauty of the beach is not at all diluted in the night. For some reason, there was no light on the beaches except the lights the hotels had. After having a stroll back and dinner we went and retired to our room.

Next day was a big day in our trip. Our only complete day and the first thing in the morning we hit a beach called Vagator beach. Now, this beach is by far the best beach I have ever seen. Very small , hardly 200 metres in length, this has nature in its pure nascent form. Due to ground level being not even, bathing was prohibited in this beach. May be because we hit this very early in the morning, we did not find much crowd here but the abound beauty of nature was enough for us to keep us engaged. It is here that we realized the bliss sometimes being alone can bring.

Next, we went to our own Calungate beach. Now this is a hustling bustling business beach. You have various restaurants at the beach and all sort of water sporting events and for calmer ones, you can have a cool bath in the sea here. The waves were just lovely and calm. Among the various sporting events we tried dolphin watch,water scooter and paragliding. The 3 minutes of paragliding were the moments of this trip.

By the time we were done with all the activities of Calungate beach it was well past lunch time . We went to our rooms freshened ourselves and then headed to Panaji. First we booked for our mandovi river cruise and then headed towards old Goa to visit the famous churches. We managed to visit just St.Francis Xavier's church in the time we had. The beautiful drive to the church was along the Mandovi river . Then, we headed to Miramar beach to catch up sunset there before our river cruise. And for this we had to drive through almost the whole of Panaji. Miramar beach is just another ordinary beach but the sunset we saw here and the pics we took made the trip memorable. The next stop was the Mandovi river cruise. Frankly I expected it to be a cruise where they would show us some memorable places but it was just a party. It was a celebration of the goan spirit and we celebrated it in our own way. Once down with the 1 hour crew, we drove back to Calungate and then that was the end of this long eventful day.

Next day was when we had to start. So we preferred a simple walk to the Calungate beach in wee hours of the morning before finally starting off from Goa and this is how our long planned, late executed mission "Go Goa" culminated. The moments that stood out for me : Moments in vagator beach and paragliding moments. And finally, Goa is only as good as the company you go with. Have a rocking time!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Few Good Men: One of the few good films

I am urged to review a movie after a really long time. Some movies linger in your memories for a long time after the movie is over merely by the performances and the strong characterization done in it. One such movie I saw recently is "A few good men". I know it is a very old movie and reviewing it now seems absurd to many but I was trying to grab a copy of it since a long time and somehow i managed to miss all its screenings on HBO till yesterday when I got hold of its DVD. At a running length of 2 hour and 15 minutes it is a bit longer than the normal English movies but it carries the intensity and the sincerity of the story throughout the movie mainly due to the amazing background score. The story is set in US Naval Base in Guatenamo Bay,Cuba and deals with the sensitive and controversial topic of "code red". The movie unfolds itself in layers and as each layer gets unfolded to you, you tend to believe there is more in this story. And tell you what, the expectations come true. For example, when you think its all over and hence forward it is going to be honky dory, comes the latest sting in the tail where the true honour of being in US Marine services is realised. Some scenes have great power held in them. For example, the all famous "You cannot handle the truth scene" and the scene where the accused are finally acquitted but stripped off their Marine post and the reactions thereforth. Also, worth mentioning is the last scene in the movie when after the whole proceedings is over and Tom Cruise is all alone in the court room and he looks at the court room. It is then that you realize that he has got a whole new meaning to the court room at that moment. The only disappointment for me was the character fo Demi Moore which went on a downhill after raising huge expectations of being a brilliant lawyer. Watch it, for the performances of Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise.