Monday, 22 October 2018

Goan Back To My Roots - Further Adventures In India



It's that time of year again, spending hours reading travel forums & guidebooks and endlessly trawling the internet for cheap flights. Our plan for next year is to start our adventures in North India where the weather is significantly cooler and, unlike our trip to Gujarat in January, I'm sorting out my travel wardrobe now - no last minute fast fashion purchases this time around.


I had an Afghan dress as a child and loved it to bits. I've looked at them in India but the modern, mass produced versions don't come close to the hand-embroidered, block printed, heavy cotton originals. Besides, viscose creases like a bastard and the last thing I want when I'm travelling is to look like a bag of rags. When I spotted this vintage beauty on my friend Fran of Goodbye, Norma Jean's stall at Leamington Spa on Saturday I knew it was going to come home with me. Of course, there's no way I'm saving this for January, I went out in it today and was overwhelmed with compliments.  


Talking of India, when I was looking for photographs of those fast fashion purchases I'd owned up to last week, I realised I'd although I'd posted tales of our adventures in Gujarat and Mumbai, I'd never written about the time we spent in our beloved Goa so here goes.


After flying from Bhuj in Gujarat to Mumbai and then on to Goa, we caught a taxi to Benaulim, which we've been visiting for around a decade and, as our usual place was fully booked, checked into some rooms elsewhere in the village. We'd been to the award-winning ethnographic museum, Goa Citra, a few years previously and decided that a return visit was long overdue. It's a three mile walk from the centre of Benaulim along palm shaded winding country lanes where, in the traditional Goan way, everyone comes out of their houses to say hello.


Owner Victor Hugo Gomes, is passionate about preserving Goan culture and has spent years rescuing old farming tools, local pottery, ancient carts, palanquins and musical instruments from all over the state. There's over 4000 artifacts in the museum, an ethically sourced gift shop and an organic farm on site. The 400 rupee entrance fee (just over £4) includes an engaging thirty minute guided tour. Unusually for an Indian museum, there is no additional charge for cameras. 








These artifacts were rescued from a Portuguese-era Catholic seminary. I think Victor is a bit like Jon & I and can't stand to see old things get thrown away.


You may remember these traditional oyster shell shutters from my post The Palace In The Jungle (HERE).


The well provides the water for Goa Chitra's organic farm.




After a week in Benaulim it was time for us to revisit Agonda in Goa's Deep South. The state taxi drivers were on strike on the day we planned to go so the owner of the house where we were staying kindly offered to drive us there. So we didn't get mistaken for paying passengers and thus invoking the wrath of any picketers, we were accompanied by the owner's elderly uncle from Mumbai and two of the owner's children, stopping along the way to collect both his sister's wedding cake and the weeks' groceries.


We've been visiting Agonda since 2004 when it was little more than a fishing village with a couple of hut encampments. Back then electricity was in such short supply that it went off at 9pm and everyone went to bed. These days it's a fully fledged tourist destination with upmarket coco huts and chi-chi restaurants thronging the shore but it still has a wonderfully laid-back feel and its hard to beat as a place to unwind. Shakir, the chap who we used to rent a basic beach hut from back in the old days, still insists that the Kingfishers are on the house whenever we pop into his now super deluxe 5 star resort for a sunset beer. 


These days we stay at Our Friend's Place - the loveliest place in Agonda.


 This beautiful horse is always seen strolling along the beach at sunset. He's so majestic he often reduces people to tears.








 After a week in Agonda we headed back up to Benaulim for the rest of our trip.


 After almost twenty years I'm still transfixed by the Goan sunset.


We always carry a bag of dog biscuits with us on our early morning beach walks so that we can feed any pi dogs we encounter. The Goa Animal Welfare Trust (GAWT) does sterling work looking after all the state's strays from cats and dogs to horses and cows - and even has a charity shop in neighbouring Colva. Although we're not keen on Colva itself we always make an effort to visit, dropping off a donation (cash if we haven't got any surplus clothes, books or toiletries) and more often than not we find a few bits and pieces to buy.





Just down the road from Benaulim lies Goa's second largest city, Margao. I think we're the only Westerners who ever go into the Hotel Prasad , every time we visit the kitchen staff come out watch us eat our pao bhaji, anxiously anticipating each mouthful.


We love getting lost in the labyrinthine New Market and then venturing up to Cotton Cottage, a wonderful shop selling block printed, hand loomed, organic cotton ready-made clothing. Here customers are greeted at the door, looked up and down, told their correct size Madam, you are  Small....Sir, you are Medium and directed to the correct areas in the store. We never leave empty handed - Jon loves their long sleeved, granddad shirts and me their wraparound maxi skirts.


Like train travel in India, bus fares are charged by the kilometre so a trip to Margao is 5 rupees. The bus driver usually blasts out filmi music but this year we were treated to Ride by Twenty One Pilots (they're huge in India). I love the song already but now I'll always think of a bumpy Indian bus ride when I hear it.


I just wanna stay in the sun where I belong....


Wearing our Cotton Cottage purchases for dinner at Johncy's, our favourite beach side restaurant in the world and I'm not just saying that because half the waiters are my friends on Facebook! A few days previously I'd encountered a lady crocheting these tops by the roadside in Benaulim and I bought two.


Food, glorious food! I never get fed up with Goan and South Indian cuisine - nothing like the heavy, oil-rich North Indian curries we get in curry houses at home. Here they're chilli hot and palm vinegar sharp with loads and loads of locally grown vegetables, just the way I like them.


One of my favourite South Indian dishes, Uttapam, a fermented rice pancake, usually eaten for breakfast. This one is flavoured with chillies, tomatoes and onions.



Oh, Goa, we can't wait to see you again!

WEARING: Vintage Afghan dress (Goodbye, Norma Jean) with Gujarati tribal necklace and 1960s Go-Go boots
Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

49 comments:

  1. there's a pattern company (I think they're still around) called Folkwear that has a pattern for that dress. There is lots and lots of hand work that goes into them




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    1. I've got that pattern - it's so beautiful I'm scared to use it!

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  2. I wanna go to Goa! (But sadly, our peak tourist season here in Nepal is Oct-March,just when it's nice in Goa)
    Gorgeous dress, when are you coming to Nepal?
    xox

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    1. Thanks, Bibi! We used to go to India twice a year and always visit Goa in April - hotter than hell but lovely as most of the Western tourists had gone home.
      We will get to Nepal one day, I promise! Our Delhi flights are booked now - hooray! xxx

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  3. Your vintage Afghan dress is quite a find, it's utterly fabulous. And of course, there was no way you were going to save it for India! I loved reading the Goa installment of your travelogue and looking at all those gorgeous photo really made my otherwise quite miserable day. Can't believe you'll be planning for your next trip soon! How time flies! xxx

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    1. I'm so glad the Goan sunshine helped brighten up your day! We finally booked our flights yesterday, now I can cope with the Winter which apparently will be with us by the weekend....arghhhh! xxx

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  4. Beautiful dress and photos! You must be almost ready to book your tickets again

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    1. Thanks, CC! The flights are all sorted now - the countdown begins! xxx

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  5. Such wonderful photos, Vix. The museum looks fascinating and thank goodness for people who can't throw old things away!

    I loved your Afghan dress and as for the crochet top you can do your own now.

    I've never seen so many animals on a beach either!

    Good luck finding cheap flights and what a lovely trip you have to look forward to.

    Have a lovely week,
    xxxxx

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    1. Thanks, Vronni! I was going to make a crocheted halter top for my last trip to India but the instructions defeated me, maybe I'll try again.
      You certainly do share the beach with all manner of life in Goa! xxx

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  6. That is a gorgeous dress - so much work involved in it. I love seeing your travel pics, Vix. I'm so NOT a traveler (I find it incredibly stressful and anxiety-ridden), so I love living it all vicariously through others. That horse on the beach - it's like a painting!

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    1. Thanks, Sheila - I'm thrilled to own it!
      I can understand why travel doesn't appeal, it can be very stressful. A friend once described India as being slapped around the face and then being taken out for dinner - it's exhausting, frustrating but ultimately so rewarding. xxx

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  7. Oh that dress was a sweet find! Too funny that you literally took it off her back! Vintage collectors...we're a special bunch!

    I'd love to try some of that fresher version of Indian food. The ones I've had have always been so fatty.

    Love the photo of the horse on the beach.

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. You soon distinguish the true vintage lovers as opposed to those selling it to make money - we're the ones who can't wait to set up so they can rummage through the other stalls!
      South Indian food would blow your mind - it's so light, fresh-tasting and tasty. xxx

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  8. Who knew that go go boots would go go so well with afghan dress! I can feel the heavy cotton on my legs. Ahhh!
    Lovely photos and stories as usual. Have fun doing your research and knowing Goa is just around the corner! Woo hoo!
    Xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. Talk about East meets West! The dress feels so good on, I'm glad I didn't compromise with a flimsy modern viscose version, all style over substance. xxx

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  9. Beautiful dress! And that necklace.
    The museum must really be impressive in person if it is this interesting in photos.
    Have fun researching your trip, and I'll look forward to hearing all about it.

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    1. Thank you - I'm already excited about shopping opportunities on our next trip!
      You'd have loved that museum, the vintage kitchenalia would blow your mind. xxx

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  11. I just love your photos and stories of India Vix.....and that dress is so gorgeous.
    Hugs-x-

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  12. what a wonderful dress, the embroidery, the colors and the fabric are stunning! and you look absolutely fabulous wearing it, it was obviously made for you!
    Love all the pictures of your holiday in Goa, I really enjoy to have a look at the food, the people, the little details which caught your eye. Thanks for sharing this with us!
    besos

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    1. I've hung it up in the bedroom wall so i can keep admiring the handiwork!
      I'm in India-obsessed mode right night, gazing at old photos and reading anything relevant I can get my paws on. xxx

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  13. A dream of a dress! Goa looks sensational, I love your mini guides. You have enough adventures to write an Indian subcontinent travel book now!! Xx

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    1. Thanks so much!
      I've finally booked my flights for the next trip - expect to be bombarded with info next February! xxx

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  14. your afghan dress is a total stunner!!!!
    and thank you for all the sunny pics of goa - we are in the midst of an autumn storm......
    xxxxx

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    1. Thank you! Those Autumn storms are very violent. I need to start clearing up the garden after ours - stay safe! xxx

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  15. Seeing that venerable white horse on the beach is emotional even in a photo, what a beautiful horse. I so enjoy reading your travelogues, the photos are always so amazing too. Thank you.
    I love your Afghan dress, it's a real find. xxx

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    1. That horse is wonderful, he reminds me of those framed prints popular in the 1970s! xxx

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  16. WOW!! You look dang good! Do an updated beauty/fitness/diet post! I'd love to read what you've been doing.

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    1. Thanks! Not a lot's changed - same veggie diet, 30 minute a day exercise routine, no snacking between meals and eating in moderation. xxx

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  17. I've never understood the attitude that having enjoyed a vacation spot once, one need never visit it again. Your continuum of visits to Goa, witnessing the changes and becoming familiar with the locals, make the place "yours". Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I think that's the bucket list mentality - ticking stuff off and showing off that you've "done" a country when you haven't even scratched the surface - it drives me mad! xxx

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  18. Aaaah I want to go! That looks so heavenly.

    It's fantastic that Victor is rescuing so many things. I bet he has some treasures there!

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    1. It's so good, it really is. Apparently his next project is a fishing museum, he's been out collecting all kinds of paraphernalia from shed and outbuildings around the state. I'm hoping it'll be open ready for our next trip. xxx

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  19. Your vintage Afghan dress is a beauty and so are you! It was great reading more about your travels in Goa. I don't plan to do any travelling anytime soon, so it's great to be able to travel online.

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    1. Thanks, Ivana! I've found some brilliant travel blogs while I've been doing my pre-trip research, I love reading other people's take on places. xxx

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  20. Love your dress. I believe that it is an Afghan Kuchi dress - I had a very similar one in the late 70s that I loved and wore heaps (much to the amusement of my friends who were wearing more punk style clothes!) I remember saving up for it from the local ethnic-style dress shop. Wish I still had it 😐

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    1. Hello Kiwiangela! I wish I'd still got all my Mum and Grandma's hippy stuff, too.
      It's Afghan rather than Kuchi. We were in Kutch in Gujarat at the beginning of the year and the styles are slightly different. xxx

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    2. Sorry I didn't explain (nor spell) correctly. I was referring to Kochis or Kuchis (from the Persian word koch; meaning "migration")who are Afghan nomads primarily from the Ghilji tribal confederacy, not the very similarly named tribe from Gujarat.
      The dress I had in the 70s (at age 16 or 17) was a copy of their Afghan tribal dress and yours is so very similar.

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    3. Thanks for clarifying that - you've introduced me to a new word! xxx

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  21. I always want to say so much as I read and then I forget it all when I get to the comments!
    Firstly, I absolutely adore your afghan dress. I saw an amazing Afghan coat in our local charity shop recently which my mum almost bought for me but then I got the guilts about buying yet more coats!
    Your trips to Goa make me long to go there- I love that the people you meet really care about you and remember you!!x

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    1. I do that, too - I love reading the comments on other people's blog and then forget I haven't commented myself!
      I'd kill for a proper Afghan - Dad threw my Mum's away after she died and the price of them is prohibitive. If your Mum ever spots another I'd happily pay for it (and the postage).
      Goa is wonderful, I still get excited about visiting 20 years on. xxx

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  22. and yes, I love the idea of the South INdian food- it's the cloying sauces and meats that put me off!

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    1. Yes, the stuff we get here is often so heavy and greasy. I'll have to post a couple of south Indian recipes on my blog - they really are delicious. xxx

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  23. That is such a beautiful Afghani dress. The couple that own a thrift store in my neighbourhood are from Afghanistan and they have some Afghani dresses and textiles displayed on the walls of the store. Not for sale, unfortunately.

    Seeing that handsome white horse on the beach at sunset would be an utterly magical experience. Thanks for posting more photos from your travels!

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    1. That's frustrating - displaying those beautiful textiles and not letting you buy them!
      that horse really is a sight to behold, he appears at the same time every evening, just before sunset. xxx

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  24. Your dress is fantastic, no wonder you get compliments! Your love of India shines through this post - such beautiful photography, especially of the nature and animals (loved the horse photo!). The museum looks very interesting. Southern food is very hard to fine in Seattle as well, I think I only tried it once. But I love Northern and Eastern Indian cuisine, it all depends on a chef, I think - if it's done with skills and love, it's glorious. <3

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Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have a blog I'll pop over and return the favour.

Lots of love, Vix