Goa and beaches
According to a PTI report
business of shacks on the beaches of Goa witnessed a slump this season
owing to economic downturn and the Mumbai terror attacks, which hit the
tourist inflow."In comparison to last season, we can say that the business
was down by almost 15 per cent," said Cruz Cardoz, President, Goa Shacks
Owners Welfare Society. According to him the season that went by had global
recession and Mumbai attack, slashing the tourist inflow
Goa and beaches are synonyms.
But at the height of summer, in April-May, while the beaches are fine for
short spans of time, say early in the
morning or late in the
evening, the thing to do is to go para-gliding. And during the rest of
the day, visit temples, which are cool inside, or go to the National Park
at Bondla, which also has a zoo.
Please remember not to
make comparisons with zoos anywhere else. People come to Goa for the beaches
and not the zoo and the only reason we stumbled upon it was because the
sun on the beaches was too much for us. I had dreaded the Goa trip, thinking
that most of the time would have to spent in a cool, air-conditioned and
darkened room. But when we hit the beach at Calangute, near Panaji, at
10 one bright and hot morning, which is practically dawn by local standards,
the boys were just setting up shop with their paragliding, banana and water
scooter rides, we knew it had to be paragliding.
At Calangute, paragliding
is done from a boat. The reason for this clarification was that a few days
later, at Colva, further south, we saw paragliders taking off from the
beach and landing there, too. As I said, we got there early and were accosted
in the car park where we did not haggle over the rate which was quoted:
it cost us Rs 500 per head for the four-five minutes of pure joy, soaring
through the air free as a bird and almost got to the stage of saying, “Look,
ma! No hands!” I gave in to the temptation of letting go my hold on the
harness wires and for just that brief second, thought I was a bird, soaring
above the water.
An aside: my unqualified
admiration for the Goa tourism department, which has managed to ensure
that in this coastal state, where beaches are what draw people, it has
enforced safety measures. So, you cannot go for any ride without life jackets.
And you cannot swim where you want to: demarcated zones only, with Baywatch
style watchers keeping a sharp lookout for any law breakers. What was impressive
that even on the completely deserted beach of Valsolem, there was a jeep
parked at the edge of the sea, with a man in it who kept an eye on us as
we romped in the waves.
||Back to the speed boat
from where we were to be launched for our paragliding experience. Over
the life jacket you wear a harness which attaches you to the large, multi-coloured
parachute. Of the three men on the boat, one concentrates on the boat,
another helps you into position for take off while the third takes pictures
of and for you, besides helping winch you in. Take off involves sitting
with your legs stretched out, the air fills the parachute and you’re airborne!
Oh, that glorious feeling of being up and above everything! It’s heady
and you want it to go on.
A few rounds, you get
a panoramic, bird’s eye view of everything: people, landmarks, the sea
itself... and then they winch you back onto the speed boat. I would have
preferred if we’d been detached from the boat, to land in the water but
there must be administrative reasons for not allowing this. But think of
the fun that would be: to land thump! into the water, go down and then
come up, with a mouthful of salty water!!! Might even get to see dolphins