After about 36 hours of flying from San Francisco, to Washington DC, to Zurich, over the Alps, Turkey, Iran (we we avoided Iraq) and Pakistan, I arrived in Mumbai. Somehow in the hot, smoggy mass of people, rickshaws and cars outside the terminal I managed to rendezvous with Frank Anan, the Partner at my company who made this adventure a reality. I’ll be working in Goa for 6 months with our co-sourced software development team at Persistent Systems.
Our taxi driver Vijay, pulled over on the way to our hotel in Juhu because Frank spotted a paan vendor. Vijay confirmed this was a popular place, so Frank ordered a couple. I had been warned against eating Indian street food (especially the kind that wasn’t steaming hot), but I guess I was about to throw caution to the wind within an hour of setting food in the country. The paan we ordered were not the traditional betelnut or tobacco variety, but instead was the sweet kind with so many things in it that I can’t remember wrapped in a betel leaf (cocunut, honey and coriander to name a few) . I stuffed it into my cheek as instructed…it wasn’t bad. Tasted like potpourri.
After putting our things in our hotel room at the Best Western Emerald, we went out for a walk and ended up taking a rickshaw back to Juhu beach where there was a vegetarian restaurant open late. I ordered my food spicy and was pleased that I could handle it…must be the years of Mexican food. Frank and I wandered around a collection of stalls by the beach and ordered a fresh squeezed pomegranate juice which was delicious.
After a mediocre night’s sleep, I awoke fairly early and decided to go for a run on Juhu beach. I was pleasantly surprised to find many people walking and running on the beach. I headed south on the firm sand and was even contemplating taking a dip until I saw a guy squatting and taking a crap in the gentle surf. I decided to just keep running instead, which was a good call because as I passed a rocky jetty, there was marsh and a slum on my left and at least 50 people popping a squat on the beach and relieving themselves of their curry-laden cargo on my right. Once I noticed that I was in the communal slum latrine, I did an about-face and headed back toward the hotel, dodging land mines and trying not to breathe through my nose.
After a quick 1 hour Jet Airways flight, we were in Goa, where another driver named Vijay picked us up and took us to our home for the next 2 weeks, the Sun n Sand Hotel in Panjim (also frequently called Panaji). Panjim is a bustling little city with a lot of Portuguese charm. I took a photo of the sunrise over Panjim from my room the next day.