Tickled & Pickled by Goa – When Old is truly Gold!

By now, you must have known how much food drives me to go that extra distance. If O Coqueiro was an experience the next day got even better.

The next day we headed to the extreme south, say a good 90+ kms, all the way to Palolem. Again another recommendation by my friend Antara and reiterated hard by another gem of a friend Pankaj.

We started early as in Goan early 9 am time. At one point we kept on driving and the GPS could no longer use it’s wise technology, we headed towards isolation and  wondered if we were going away from Goa! Yup that’s how silly and technology dependent we have become.

So we used the old age GPS technology practiced for centuries, asking people! Finally we did reach our destination around 11.45 am.

The sun blazing at us, we saw a huge beach, each with one shack after the other promising cool beer, food, music and generally lazing atmosphere. I was wondering and hoping it should not be commercial like Baga after enjoying the solitude of Ashvem the previous day.

I shoved the sceptic in me deep inside and started walking.

Yes there were lots of shacks, there were people but there was something different from the irritating Baga and Calangute beach. People minded their own business. People were actually chilling. There was solitude in it’s own way and yes I could see the sea, clear sea for miles and miles and the beach was clean and that’s all I wanted.

I took my friend Pankaj’s advice and kept walking until we almost reached the end of the shacks. He mentioned that the beginning of the shacks were all students hitting there and staying there too. But as you reach towards the end, you do find more spacious shacks and we did too.

As we walked in, we were thankful that there was no loud EDM whatyoucallit music, just plain retro rock & roll and Mick Jagger quietly bellowing songs! And yes Call me silly but I got my own board games 🙂

Board games as in My own snakes & ladder game with an ethnic touch. A cloth, old dice with the background of Ramayana in it.

Watching the sun, the waters and music and me singing with Mick Jagger’s Wild Horses with my out of tune voice, it was surreal.

When it came to food, what can I say? Even with a place as simple as this gave us a fish fry that was skinless, boneless and with lots of fusion Masala. Well you can’t win them all, so we ate it. We were happy and thankful for the quality if not the authenticity. One can’t be too snooty about it.

Sunset walks are something I absolutely relish. Walking in solitude and breathing every moment of it. It’s a tradition for me. And I realized where it came from..

My mom was hydrophobic yet she loved the sea, she loved watching it but was extremely fearful to step even a little bit inside the water . Yet she prodded me, encouraged me to swim and go deeper

She would clap in happiness when she would watch me swim. And right after that we would hold hands and walk at sunset leaving my father alone with his book.

She would talk about the sea. How I should always respect it, never taunt ‘her’. Never pollute her. It took her one second to show her rage and that’s all it took to wipe us out.

And sub consciously since then, the moment I would get the first glimpse of the sea, I would make a silent prayer inside, thanking her with humility,for allowing me to swim with her, play with the waves..

Finally in the evening as we  made our way out from Palolem, we  were feeling a void for not having eaten the typical Goan fare. So we thought of Martin’s Corner.

Yup Martin’s Corner has been on my mind for ages and since we would always stay in North Goa, the thought of driving 40 kms just for food seemed daunting ! Oh well, younger days and no patience then 🙂

So this time we drove right towards Martin’s Corner.

Set up by a gentleman named Martin in the late 80’s this is an institution by itself and you will mostly see only locals, Goans. You notice very few tourists as you see a table greeting another table, a camaraderie , polite good evenings, a wave here and there as they seat themselves.

An old charming atmosphere, very casual ambiance runs at Martin’s Corner. You can see it in the colourful shirts worn by the service staff and yes Mario Miranda’s illustrations are everywhere.

For those who are not aware of Mario Miranda (Judgemental Gasp from me! How can you not??!) He was a leading cartoonist from Goa and so much more than that. He was a regular cartoonist for the Times of India and other leading newspapers in Bombay(Yes I prefer this name than the current one so sue me!)

.To me, he was an icon. A girl all of 12 years got introduced to his work as she bought a book of illustrations of his travels and she was hooked cooked and booked!

Mario Miranda was someone I followed till his demise. His work  I can say truly influenced me when he caricatured so artfully the daily life, politics, relationships and travels. The other one of course was R K Laxman but that’s another topic altogether.

Come to my cafe Truffles and you will see him and his work in bits and pieces. The pages of the first book I bought is nicely framed and on display inside the cafe. His murals which we tried our best to emulate is all over the cafe. On walls, inside and outside.

Even our food menu was nicely designed by a friend Jack taking bits and pieces of Mario’s work and to this I must give total credit to my friend who got the essence of the man and our place in one go 🙂

Next time you are in Goa keep Martin’s Corner as a must visit in your list and if you have more time, visit Mario Miranda’s art gallery in North Goa.

That night at Martin’s Corner was very special to us. To finally be there and to just savor it all in just felt too good to be true. It was a Karaoke night and it was refreshing to see the locals belting Old English Songs and if you are thinking only older people, nope there were young teenagers who were singing Elvis, The Beatles and even Cliff Richard!

We ordered a Fish Fry out of the menu and this time what we got was amazing at this place! No masala, no chilli, just a simple fish fry with salt. Heavenly! So next time wherever you go, if you want an authentic Fish Fry, just say ‘Tawa Fish Fry’. Chances are you won’t find it in the menu but you know the magic words now.

The next one was of course the staple Goan Fish Curry. What can I say? The fresh mix of coconut and spices, big Seer Fish pieces with the smell of the sea that can stir up the coastal blood in me!

I remember us sitting there for at least 3 hours and just not wanting to move ourselves away from this place. Srini automatically said, next time this is something we must do no matter how far away we stay from this place. Just come to Martin’s Corner!

I say Amen to that! 🙂

 

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