I came here for the first time to this very land of red soil just over a decade and half ago. Things were different back then, I was Computer Graphics student getting high on photorealistic car renderings, had no idea of what Goa was, except that it was suddenly a destination since a bollywood movie came out where three thick of friends go on a roadtrip to this land of beaches, beers and expat babes. Now that I visualize myself during that trip twelve years ago, I managed to stay fairly sober all through the trip, observing nuances of the place, constantly watching the wallet for a few notes and what leisure could it buy me, while a few around rolled a sneaky joint in their room, tapped to Black Eyed Peas at Tito's and some on a spending spree to buy hippie clothes which they would only wear on their next beach trip.
Ten years later, things have changed, changed immensely. After a decade in the CG industry and a thousands of 3D elements later, I switched and now run my own food photography & artwork design consultancy services and Goa right now is at variance, in it's mid-life crisis looking to figure out it's identity among Sunburn-goers and shacks proudly serving atrocious Butter Chicken and flaming red Schezwan Rice. At present, wealthy tourists especially from up north of this country arrive here in their loudest avatar donning fedoras, reflective aviators, flourescent kicks and drive around in a leased four by four bursting Honey Singh at high decibels. Sigh! what a shame. Though this behaviour and trend is largely seen only in a few places of North Goa especially Calangute, Baga, Candolim and to some extent in Anjuna & Vagator. These tourists would never venture down south since it's purely unglamourized, devoid of any hipster habits and it's not what you wanna post on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. You want to be called the cool cat of the lot, the one who goes to a shack posing with a pint of Kings Beer, you want to be the one who garners the precious likes and favourites by tagging a few unfortunate nine to fiver. Sigh! what douchebags.
If you see only what you want to see, you'll never see the other parts of Goa, the world of locals from Panaji, calmness of Nachinola, spice plantation in Ponda, port side activity at Vasco et al. Imagine a single day in Calangute, Baga or Anjuna minus its tourists, it would be a ghost town with a few stray animals.
Doing fifteen some trips in ten years has build a slight concern for its unprecedented glamourization, imagine the state of the locals who witness this day in and day out. Keeping that as the basis of the episode, we the crew of two set out to meet people, the real people of Goa who have lived there many a years.
A fourteen hours gruesome drive, two tea stops and one Kolhapur thali meal later, we arrived at Porvorim. Since we arrived almost close to dinner time, it was best to dump our gear and luggage and dive straight into Panaji for some Surmai Curry, Lemon Rice, Prawns fry and Solkadi at Ritz. The queue here at anytime is unforgiving and extends beyond it's floor limit. Come here for it's dainty Fish thali-Rice, Fish Curry, Rava fry Surmai, Crab Masala, Sukkat, portion of daily vegetable and Sol Kadhi to sink it all down, all this for 175 bucks. Just arrive before the obvious lunch hours to save yourself some frustration of the long queue.
Day one breakfast table was set at Bodega, Altinho. It's been recent year's discovery and been one of the best and a reliable one too. Cafeteria like food with a few choices in full scale lunch dish, the place charms you with some great vibes of sunshine, falling leaves and working Wi-Fi. The last one, Yes, it means a lot. Plan for the rest of the day was just to do a quick recce of all our shooting spots and make a plan of action for each day for the rest of the week. Packing a few Beef & Seafood cutlet inside Poi, a few Ginger Ale, Heineken and some packets of Capri Sun (Yes, I love those silver packets of processed so-called juices) we actually managed to make a plan in the next few hours before we stepped out again for the next mandatory meal. It was this very night we encountered the spooky looking middle of nowhere 'Mafia Cocktail Bar' in Pilerne area. Shady as a bar can get, this place is an actual house where it's rear side patio is converted into a few table and chair arrangement lit by a three watts green bulb and a whole lotta doped the shit out kinda wall graffitis and paintings. Just to make your visit more exciting, I will not describe it anymore. I should let you know though, the prices are from the past.
Day Two kicked off with breakfast in the wilderness of Baba Au Rhum in Anjuna. What should be a hippie's spot is actually frequented by couples and families. This would be my third visit to B.A.R and each time the breakfast has been upto the mark. Omelette, Salads, Croissant, Baguettes, Juices, everything is spot-on though the service tends to be bit partial to the lighter skinned tourists. Afternoon was scheduled for a shoot with 'Vasco Silveira' at his three and a half decade old Portuguese restaurant 'Horse Shoe' at Panaji Causeway. The shoot started with his traditional recipes of the famed Goan Feijoada and then the Vegetable Caldin. The freshly grinded masala, aroma of the beans and meat stew perfumed the kitchen soon enough and shortly a quick interview over lunch was shot. Just around sunset we were back to base, dumping footage onto hard drive, formatting, refreshing ourselves for the dinner at the next door hutment called 'Sanil'. Arogant owner apart, the food is way too homely and addictive. This trip was all about Fish Thalis and this was no exception. Fried surmai, gobi bhaji, homestyle clams, chonak curry & rice with a cup of sol kadhi, one cannot ask for a better meal than this at night. Exploring the unknown roads past dinner is somewhat of a habit and this one turned out to be a thrilling one with our car's front left tyre going flat in the middle of Moira area, close to midnight. The jack in the trunk broke in the process of replacing the deflated tyre and then a good samaritan got us help by arranging another jack. Few push, pull and kicks to the spanner later, we were back on my way back to Povorim. A silent prayer, a chinese spare tyre and cruising speed of 15 kmph were all making the return trip to Porvorim, one to remember. The night didnt't go well either, a weird stare into the ceiling up until 5 a.m was followed by a few hours of sleep on the couch.
It would be a shame not to make a trip up north to Arambol, sit by one of the few shacks, munch on fried prawns, calamari and lemon rice with fish curry. The third day intiated with a quick trip to Anjuna to shoot some usual touristy things in the market and by the beach. Unknownly a huge chunk of the time and energy was spent here walking around and getting the required shots. At this point reaching Arambol was looking like a mammoth task, though we did make it to Pernem to our favouite little unpretentious snack-shop that makes one of the best tasting Milkshakes. At 35-40 bucks a glass, the milkshakes are quality thick concoctions. You will get Banana shake through the year, though what must not be missed is the Avacado shake during winters and the Mango shake in summers. Trust me, you gotta try them. As expected, two glasses of shakes later, both of us were on the verge of a deep slumber. Thus Arambol this time around remained only as a plan on the paper.
The next two days were going to be packed with lined up interviews and so it was. Day four was spent at Bodega with the owner Vandana, talks of Bodega, in general the food of Goa and the current situation of tourism. Few hours later the shoot was done, as much as possible social feed through free Wi-Fi was consumed and thus-Happy Faces. The evening shoot was scheduled with 'Antonio Nazareth' at this heritage home like restaurant called 'Andron' located in Nachinola village. This one was special since 'Antonio', the owner of Andron was the samaritan who helped us out like an angel when our tyre went flat. Andron comes across as a typical Goan house and indeed serves some forgotten dishes like Roasted Ox Tongue, Ard-Mas, Pork Assad along with the unforgettable Chicken Cafreal, Beef Steak, Vindaloo and lots more. Their food comes across as one of the most finger licking one due to one single fact, the different masalas used across the menu are all freshly hand ground. Some great conversion with Antonio over a beautiful spread in a somewhat far off location was a great end to our day.
South Goa so far was untouched. Thus early in the day we scheduled the shoot with G.E.A.R.S, a biking community of youngsters from across the state who share one thing in common-Passion to ride bikes, ride responsibly and without any discrimination of the bike class. It's always refreshing to get a new angle on the story of Goa. One thing was right up clear, there's a strong brotherhood among all it's members and very evident among the few members with whom we interacted and shot. Each one a proud Goan, backing the other, looking after, and vexed with the tourism situation and the growing commercialization through festivals of various nature. The conversational shoot went on for an hour and half thus bringing us almost to the end of this shoot. Almost.
There was one last ritual left, we had to run back to grab our lunch, freshen up, pack some Beef Cutlet in a Poi and reach Candolim ground to secure the best view of a third division football match- Holiday Sports Club Arpora vs Anjuna Gymkhana. This is where you see what they all love and are passionate about, Football and any of any class, local, third division, first division or even the newest brand 'F.C. Goa' from ISL. Ninety minutes later and almost at the edge of sunset, whistle blows, Holiday S.C. Arpora wins by 3 goals to 2 by Anjuna.
All this is just the beginning of how the episode comes together. A massive 160 gigabyte of high definition footage from all seven days of shoot and almost two months later, we put together the below video. Hope you guys will appreciate the hard work, understand the point of view that we wanted to put across and spread the word. Deu borem korum!