We were staying at Santiago Residency – a budget hotel at best. I usually ignore accommodation when I write about my travels, but this one deserved a special mention. The owners Mr. & Mrs. Kohli were extremely helpful in sorting our vehicles, suggesting places to visit, arranging our return tickets and everything else we needed help with. If you’re looking at making a short trip with a bunch of friends and don’t mind putting up in reasonable rooms, do give them a shot.
We spent much of the day in bed trying to recover from the grueling journey. It was well into the evening when we ventured out to the nearby Baga Beach. Baga, by the way, is the most commercialized beach along Goa’s 101 km long coastline. I have personally watched the progress/regress (depending upon the way you look at it) of this beach from being a beautiful, clean, white beach, to a tourist infested, dirtier and expensive place to live in. For those who have been to this beach before, there’s some good news. Sam’s shack – one of the most famous shacks on this particular beach is still in prime form. The alcohol has become a little expensive of course, but the Long Island Iced Tea and the rawa-fried king prawns are still top notch.
Being a Saturday, we decided to get back to the hotel change into our night clothes and visit a couple of clubs (this is where things were a little tricky, my non-alcoholic friends were actually keen about going clubbing and I knew things get dirty around these places – not things most sober people will enjoy). After contemplating on a place, we decided on Tito’s – the nearest and supposedly the most famous club around Goa. Take my word for it – the place sucks monkey balls. It was horrible to a different degree.
An entry charge of Rs. 1500 which was later increased to Rs. 2000 for stags and free entry for the ladies (of course). You enter the place and are hit by a plethora of grossly dressed uncles crawling all over the place. It was a virtual sausage fest with the odd girl sandwiched between five odd guys. There were uncles dressed in vests and pyjama shorts (I kid you not) – most of them conjuring move after move of extreme lewd dance steps directed at the lone white woman in the pub. The liquor was on-the-house and as expected, awful. Beer was warm, and whiskey was ugh well McDowells! I gave up after my second pint and decided to experience sober dancing. After 15 minutes of trying to protect my female friends from being run down by a bunch of oafs, we gave up, found a corner upstairs and stood watching. The lewdness around us continued.
Meanwhile, on one of my visits to the bar to get some soft drinks for my friends, I bumped into a pair of Americans; which is when my perception about western tourists underwent a drastic change. I have always thought of firangs, especially in Goa, as carefree hippies, who are seldom aware of the fact that they are often being taken for a ride by most of the locals, are usually too stuck up to have a conversation with an easterner and are here simply for the cheap alcohol and weed. I learned that most of these firangs are actually a lot easier to approach and open to a meaningful conversation with a stranger than many locals are. These men also seemed to be aware and informed about the fact that locals often take advantage of their perceived ignorance about the cost of goods in this part of the world but usually let us get away with it because they feel sorry for them (it actually made me cringe). The lone white girl I mentioned happened to be their friend, who for the sake of protecting their identities, I shall name as Mike and Phil. I asked them if they were aware of the crowd’s general attitude towards her and was surprised to find that they were bemused by it and not very concerned – in their opinion, we Indians were rarely so open about our sexuality in a sober state and their friend seemed to be enjoying the undivided attention from such a large audience.
I took my leave to visit the washroom, still reflecting upon my conversation and walked into a cubicle meant for women. In my defense the door was open when I entered and a guy walked out of it before me. On opening the door after I was done, I was greeted by a pair of 40 year old, visibly drunk aunties accusing me of being a molester and occupying the lavatory for 20 minutes. To my surprise, I was bailed out by my newly made friends, who testified to me being with them just moments ago and sounding completely sober. At this point, I decided to call it a day, gathered my friends, bid farewell to Mike & Phil and retired for the night.
A useful tip for future travelers; if you ever feel like clubbing in Goa, don’t let the extravagant marketing trick you – let Tito’s be your last alternative. Usually, I’d recommend Club Cabana – a huge, beautiful club perched on a hill top with a pool, 2-3 open area bars, great crowd and acres of open space. Without doubt Goa’s best club. Unfortunately, my landlord tells me they were temporarily shut down since they ran into some kind of licensing issues.