20+ years of bonding have made the time we spend with each other more special than ever. We cousins have an excellent track record of going on totally unplanned trips which usually turn out to be awesome. Vikku’s new car and the year-end called for a 2-3 day road trip. So it was the four of us – Nandan, Akshay (who joined us in Hubli coming all the way from Bengaluru), Vikku and me. Until about an hour before leaving Hubli we were thinking about the beaches near Gokarna, but upon Vikku’s dad’s suggestion, we chose the Polem Beach in Goa. Half sure we left Hubli in Vikku’s Ford Eco Sport by 4.30 PM on Dec 30th 2013. As I usually avoid driving, I took the back seat, while Akshay took over from Vikku after some distance. Watching the Sun go red and sky go dark we reached Karwar, packed our lunch and left to Polem beach which is around 30 kms from Karwar. The road to the beach falls just shy of the toll collection on NH-17 in South Goa. We took a left on a narrow road and reached the empty beach with only one shack at dinner time.
The shack owner was suspiciously overly kind while talking to us. We were glad that he kept the status of the beach public and allowed us to pitch the tents anywhere we chose. We chose a location near the entrance to the beach where a street light just made its reach. Being the only 4 in the entire beach, we wasted no time in pitching the two 2-person tents facing the sea. We laid the carpet close to water and started feasting on the food. The beach itself is like a raised platform lined with fishermen’s houses on one side and steeping towards the water on the other. The water constantly tries to conquer it making it almost impossible to play in the waters for a normal person. We retired to tents at around 2 AM but I barely slept for 2 hours. No sooner was it morning than crows began to feed on the remains of dinner. I would have been glad if they had stopped there, but they started calling their distant relatives by cawing and took away my sleep.
I came out of the tent in the morning to see the beach in its glory with frothy waters trying to reclaim the lost territory and fishermen back from their early morning hunt. Vikku and I started to jog from one end to other. On reaching the hill in the south, we climbed a bit and enjoyed seeing the splash of waters hitting the boulders. I guess this is an apt beach to hang around if you don’t like crowd and don’t want to get in the water. There is hardly any crowd other than few smiling fishermen. We packed our tents and left for Karwar to freshen up at our relative’s quarters. It was New Year eve and after subduing Vikku’s idea of going to some farmhouse, we planned to spend the last night of the year at a Goan beach. Unsure of which beach to go, we left for Goa late in the afternoon. I recommended going to Paloleum beach instead of driving all the way to North for Baga/Vagator and it was a good choice indeed.
The beach was unlike I had seen in recent years. Lined with shacks on one side and people enjoying various sports in the waters including surfing, kayaking with Sun just retiring for the day, it looked splendid. A guy there told that the price for Kayaking for 1 hour is Rs100 per person for which Nandan and I readily agreed. We wore jackets and rowed to our hearts content on a kayak for two. After a few initial thrilling splashes against the waves, we went on to Kayak on smooth waters gazing at the Sun and scenery. On the way back to the shore a wave hit us, toppling the Kayak and throwing us in the water before we could do anything. It was an experience in itself. We then had tasty prawns at one of the shacks and were all set to bid 2013 farewell.
As the picture-perfect evening was replaced by the liveliness of the night, the people started laying out the shacks with a lamp on every table. The whole atmosphere was metamorphosed into something completely different. The place swarmed with sellers of articles glowing with LEDs; each shack had unique music and was attractively lit to woo the customers. By the lights we could make out that the beach was semicircular in shape with a remote area in the far North. Other attractions included constant sightings of sky lanterns and tight rope walking. At few places lamps were placed inside small pits in sand making some design which looked gorgeous. Kids and in some place adults too were enjoyed building castles in sand. Every step offered a different scene – Foreigners and localites enjoying the food and night beach, the view of sky lanterns against the dark sky, and multi-colored fireworks. By around 11.45 PM the frequency of fireworks increased and the number of tiny light dots on the sky too. It was non-stop display of fireworks for almost half an hour and everyone was excited to welcome the New Year with a bang. With a beach in front, listening to the music amidst the fireworks and lamps, this was one of the best New Year nights I enjoyed. The fact that I had an awesome 2013 added to the happiness. The ambience was mesmerizing. Content, we left for Karwar after dinner(which tasted like gun powder after the fireworks) and then for Hubli in the afternoon of Jan 1, 2014.
Barring the initial few years, I always enjoyed my time with cousins and hopefully forever will. Whether we are at home or someplace away, we always try to liven up every moment either by playing multiplayer games or just by cracking PJs about each other. Believe it or not, we still enjoy playing hide and seek and few other childhood games. They have directly or indirectly made me a better person and I am very thankful to them. I am looking forward to our next impromptu trip.