BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
As one slows down to manoeuvre one’s vehicle along a pothole-filled road on the outskirts of Anjuna, the croaking of frogs can be heard.
It’s 8 pm and raindrops feel like heavy hailstones. The croaking diminishes as rain peters into a drizzle and one’s sight catches the glare of streetlights and buffaloes trying to find their way home.
The tourist season is over, or at least most foreign tourists have returned to their home country.
Anjuna and Vagator, though alive amidst the rains with the occasional audible music playing in a few restaurants, appear to be purging themselves of the effects of the season gone by along with the Indian tourists still hanging out.
“This place is beautiful in the rains. I like the sound of the rain falling on the roofs and mixing with the music being played. A few drinks along with some snacks, and then I walk back to my room for an intimate snooze all alone,” confesses Priya, as she sits alone in a restaurant.
Most restaurants are empty, and in just a few, customers can be seen having a drink, chatting or having a bite.
Apart from animals on the street, a few Rent-A-Cab cars can be seen moving around – some stopping when the rain got heavy – and a handful of Indian tourists can be seen window shopping on the main thoroughfare.
“July has always been quiet. We normally get customers during the weekends, but the last weekend and the coming one look like a quiet one. It has been raining pretty badly, and we expect things to normalise by August 15,” believes businessman M Mendonca.
“It has been a nice fortnight with absolutely no loud noise. It feels different now because our ears were pounded with that blaring music being played right through the night and nothing can be heard now. I wish it was like this all the time,” wishes Sofia Fernandes, as she grabs some vegetable.
“Loud music on some occasions is understandable, but not every day. That is killing,” she says before winking and carefully driving back home.
“I normally have a lot of people who work at back-ends that come over for the weekend and go. That is the normal flow during the monsoon. They appear late, but do not wait for long because lights are a problem here. The electricity cannot be trusted here, and our customers prefer to be in their rooms,” admits Daya, who appears happy being away from the hectic routine of the season.
More women can be seen on the street or walking towards restaurants than men. With the rain playing unpredictable, walking on waterlogged streets is a problem in these two favourite villages of international and national tourists.
“Goa is my home. I have been living here for more than a year and have no fears of moving around as most people know me and I know them. If you are good, they are good to you, and I have never felt exploited. It is not possible to go to the beach, but when it rains, the beach comes to you,” says Tirina, sarcastically.
Driving two-wheelers in certain parts of the village appears tricky with the presence of potholes – some too deep. In places where lighting is scarce, the presence of black cows appears intimidating and around bars, the chance of being splashed with dirty rainwater by drunken drivers is a possibility.
Against the risks, the coolness of the night, the audible Hindi techno music and the smell of tandoori chicken wafting from a few kitchens make the trip to Vagator and Anjuna an experience of going through a Goan village made vibrant by the money flowing from the rest of India.