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Delhi - Goa - Delhi

I've had friends tell me I'm nuts to walk from a job and profile in
Delhi and traipse to Goa and lessness. Then I've had them say they would
kill to do it. Funny, I've felt similar ambivalence.


I stood knee deep in surf a few days back, taking a conference call on
my mobile phone. I jabbered, glancing at nearby bikinis and faraway
fishing boats. Nine to five. Five to nine. Whatever.

When I power up my notebook a little after dawn, to work undisturbed for
a few hours and to check mail, I also check to see if the young fish
hawk in the gulmohur tree across our house is well. Would the
crow-couple chase it off again? Or would the kingfisher, woodpecker and
hawk bond in irritation and trash the crows? Hell, I’d pay to watch.

Work is good these days. I’ve had friends tell me I’m nuts to walk from
a job and profile in Delhi and traipse to Goa and lessness. Then I’ve
had them say they would kill to do it. Funny, I’ve felt similar

After 25 years in the NCR, 14 months ago I put my family on a plane and
drove from our condominium in Gurgaon to a hillside place in Panjim
overlooking the Mandovi River. We had checked out for the foreseeable
future: A decade, I figured. Visits? Once a year, kicking and screaming.

Fat chance, as my seven year-old has learnt to say. I’ve been back five
times this past year. In April, it was with family to visit old friends,
watering holes, and to reacquaint my daughter with malls. It was a
relief too, from Goa’s culinary triumvirate: with masala, rawa masala,
or garlic-butter. But we were glad to leave after a week, deafened by
noise, stunned with rudeness, and appalled by the increased crush of
traffic. We did the right thing.

September and October was a blur. Three solo visits for book promos,
arguing with my accountant, absorbing "Jew are so lucky-ya", and to run—
walk—the Half Marathon. I couldn’t wait to leave. But my daughter
scolded me for frequenting the city of her birth and mallship. My wife
dreamily tracked seasons in her mind—"Is there a nip in the air?" and
when I nodded, "What the f*** are we going to do with all these woollies
in Goa?"

Heck, I told them, who wants to leave Goa? Then I stepped in it. Telling
them of flowers on the roundabouts, the exhibitions at the Habitat
Centre, soothing Lodi Gar- den, the bustle of Khan Market, and the
biryani. God, the biryani.

I was back a couple of weeks ago to attend a conference. A CEO shook the
hand of a Congress tsar, both looking past each other; within seconds,
they were with other plastic smiles and dead eyes. Everybody is
everybody’s best friend. How I hated that—hate that. I turned to the
affable investment banker on my left. "Leaving already?" he queried.
"Can’t stay away from Goa, eh?" Yes, I replied. Time to slip the jacket
and tie; wear Bermudas and tee. Dammit, yes.

Last night, my wife and I stood sipping wine at a breeze-basted seafront
restaurant at the foot of Aguada Hill, live jazz in the background,
watching the necklace of light along the miles of beach all the way to
the headland at Baga. "Delhi in March?" I suggested. "The evenings will
still be lovely."

What can I tell you? We’re happy schizoids, content to commute. 

This article originally appeared in Delhi City Limits, December 15, 2005

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