There’s a lot more to Goa than meets the eyes!

One could get used to this.

The warmth, the smiles, the happy willingness to share stories.

Walking barefoot on the beach, the waves lapping at my feet. Sitting at a beach-side shack, staring into the endless horizon. Driving through lush green fields, the wind in my hair, a cool breeze negating the effects of an otherwise strong sun. A white-washed church exuding peace, surrounded by verdant green. Narrow, winding, tree-lined lanes with Portuguese villas on both sides. Hilly roads snaking around bends to delightfully reveal the sea a few feet away.

Goa brings to mind a lot of images.

However, what I experienced on this trip went far beyond the natural beauty of previous visits. On a mission to find the most popular local eateries in Goa, I found myself traveling all across the state in search of old bakeries, popular hangout joints and famous food destinations. At every outlet that I covered, I sat down to have a chat with the owner. That’s when I discovered the deep warmth with which Goans welcome strangers into their space. The delight with which they share their journeys, their joys and their challenges. The easy, happy-go-lucky air that defines their attitude towards life. And their desire to lead a good life, with ample time for the things they love – family, friends, merry-making, celebrations.

Goans are a God-fearing set of people, with deep faith and a belief that they must help and be generous with what they get. Rare was a joint that let me go without sampling their food or gifting me a little something to carry away, despite my requests and polite protests. Some business owners advised me to use a competitor product because that served my needs better. All shop owners pointed to others around their place who I should cover as well, even if they served the same food.

A shack owner, with a 6 month work cycle, probably explained it well. “Money is important, but there’s no end to greed. Beyond a point money does not bring peace of mind. And with everyone running behind money, we forget that joy comes from meeting and spending time with friends and family. So earn enough to lead a comfortable life but don’t make money the goal.”

That just about summarizes my biggest takeaway from the Goan way of living.

Money is just a medium to survive, the bigger idea is to LIVE.

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