A Random Anecdote: My First Indian New Year’s Eve
I had no idea what to expect. When I received the very amazing news that I would be interning at Infosys in Bangalore this summer, I didn’t have much time to process it. At the time, I was working at an e-commerce platform, finishing my Junior year at College and dealing with dispensable activities like eating, sleeping and socializing. I think this is why I only realized I was moving to India for two months while staring at the clouds, flying 30.000 feet above ground in a 747.
I usually do these kind of entries in old-fashioned-paper-journals, but as a millennial I think it is my duty to blog about stuff that nobody, besides maybe an older version of me, would care about.
I came here with a friend. My best friend from college actually. We are both studying Industrial Engineering at Buenos Aires, and thought of this internship as a great adventure. We arrived at Bangalore on the 29th, after a 20-hour-flight. On that very same day we decided that we wanted to spend the New Year’s Eve in a special place and booked the first bus to Panjim, Goa, supposedly the partying capital of India. Someone at the company told us that we were crazy (apart from sleep deprived) and that we should blog about our experience. Well… here we are.
We booked a sleeper bus, which is literally a bus with beds instead of seats. The trip was supposed to be 12 hours long, but it took us a little longer because our bus broke 30km south of Panjim. We took a cab with a local that was going to the Sunburn Festival to “enjoy” some David Guetta music. I think I almost had a heart attack in that cab. Indians are insane drivers. They would somehow fit 4 cars and a billion motorcycles in a two-way street. And they honk a lot. Seriously, A LOT. Anyways, we arrived at Candolim beach at around 2 PM, and took us maybe an hour to find a good place to sleep. A small, cheap, room at a local guest house. We enjoyed the rest of the day just chilling at Candolim, talking to people, enjoying the amazing Indian cuisine etc. Goa is big on Russian tourism: hotels and hostels have Russian speaking receptionists, and some of the restaurants even have menus in Hindi and Russian.
The following day we woke up early and walked to Anjuna Beach, northern Goa. It was definitively longer than expected (around 3 hours long), but it gave an amazing insight on the Goan life, local economy and general landscape besides the main touristic spots.
Anjuna was a lot quieter than Candolim (it had as many Russians though). We enjoy ourselves by the Arabian Sea all afternoon and took a cab back home.
At night we spent the New Year’s Eve at Baga Beach, around 4km northern Candolim. We tried to grab a rickshaw to get to Baga but couldn’t. At least not for a reasonable price (tourists in general are fresh meet for some Indian opportunists). We decided to walk from there, going through town. I don’t think I have ever seen so many people going to the same place. It looked like an Indian exodus. Bikes were literally touching our feet to get through. Once the stress of getting there was passed we had a very peaceful New Year celebration. We sat to have dinner in front of the ocean and enjoyed a glass of cold beer (well, many of them). After the toasts, the fireworks and some dancing, we walked our way back to Candolim.
During this walk we saw the saddest part of the Indian culture. Children begging, dressed up in Santa Claus costumes. Everyone throwing plastic glasses and bottles in the sand, only to have someone pick it up and put it in a bag, to sell it later trying to make a living.
We went to bed very thoughtful that night. Thinking specially on the children and talking about how we haven’t seen any playing in the sand, but begging tourists for money or trying to sell bracelets dressed up in traditional clothes. I just hope this country doesn’t numb us from these kind of sceneries as it has, apparently, done with most of its population.
We spent our last day in Goa at Arambol, around 20km north from Candolim. In my opinion it was the most beautiful beach of all that we had visited so far. There I had my first real bargaining experience trying to buy a pair of sleepers (which I still bought overpriced I think). The place wasn’t crowded at all and the weather was perfect.
This was the last chapter of our escapade. On the following day we headed back to Panjim, were we tried to book a bus back to Bangalore. Of course all the buses were full. On our 5th attempt at a local travel agency, they were “kind enough” to make room for us (after making 3 or 4 very suspicious calls in hindi). Apparently the guy cancelled two already sold tickets and sold them to us. He probably took a juicy commission out of it. Still it was very cheap and made our way back home for a Sunday chill out.
I should probably head to bed now since tomorrow is our first day of work. So far India is a country that I have loved and hated so many times I have lost count. It is definitively a must see for those who, like me, are always sick with a raging wanderlust.