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Author: Kirti Tarang

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“I wish Joey was here”, I let out a longing sigh, as I stretched dreamily on a sun bed. This happened last year; and the year before that; and before that. This yearning for having Joey, my dog, with me in Goa, had become a prominent feature of my ‘Bring New Year in Goa’ tradition since past 6 years.

So, this time I decided, “Que Sera Sera. I am taking Joey along.” This meant that I wouldn’t be able to stay at Papilon in Pallolem, or trip at Sunburn or do the unmentionable crazy Goan stuff; since none of these is a dog friendly activity.

“Then why are you going to Goa?”, I was asked.

“I just want to.” I would reply.

However, I found the right answer to this question, when I came back from the trip, “Because I rediscovered Goa. Came closer to Goans & learnt the Susagade (content) way of life.”

Here is ‘How’:

1. By Listening to the waves at Patnem Beach

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Patnem is 15 minutes further down south from Pallolem. I call it Bonsai Pallolem, because of its arresting resemblance with the crescent shaped beach. It is now what Pallolem used to be- clean, serene, tranquil, rejuvenating with friendly yet non-intrusive, sparse crowd.

This beach is my best discovery of the trip. I was apprehensive about getting a shack with sea-view that accommodates dogs too.

Luckily, I found a place called Mickey’s Naughty Point. Mickey, the owner was remarkably welcoming of Joey. The beach huts were in budget, tidy & comfortable. My favorite part was the hammock tied in the thicket of trees that filtered the sun rays, ensuring that they’re balm & not harsh not harsh on my body.

After playful beach mornings; I loved my afternoon siesta brought by lullaby of waves, as I swayed in a hammock, one hand distance from my drink; while Joey attempted to camouflage in the golden sand. For the first time in six years, I dreamed away guiltless, because Joey was privy to the blissfulness of the moment.

2. Make imaginary enemies at the sea

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Joey is a water baby, but this was his first time with the waves. He didn’t get them. He was playing in water, when a wave came pushed him to the shore. Second time, he was ready with his ambush, when the wave came, he bit it! Again he was at the shore, coughing the salty sea water out. He ran to the thicket, drank some water from his bowl to clean the pallet & he was back.

They say four-legged canines are natural swimmers, but Joey never learnt to ride a wave. So, I taught him how to jump them. This became a game for him; jumping the waves, as he marched into the sea. Some people have imaginary friends, Joey had waves, his imaginary enemies at the sea.

3. Play Frisbee till it breaks

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Joey never learnt full fetch. He’ll run & fetch Frisbee, bring it back to you but will never give it to you. You’ve to win it fair & square in a game of tug of war.

So we played this game called ‘Beech ka Bander’ (The monkey in the middle). Joey’ll be in the middle of the two players, he can either catch it mid-air or snatch it when we drop. So, each time he got a chance to lay his jaws on it, he gave his heart & soul to the ‘tug of war’ of winning the Frisbee back.

RIP Frisbee!

4. Build a castle together

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Dogs love digging. The passion with which Joey dug sand at the beach, I was sure that he was digging a tunnel to connect this place with our home in Bombay. It was a shame to let all the hard-work go waste. Hence, the castle.

Joey & I worked as a team to create something together, nice change from our usual destructive selves!

Heads up: When you’re done with your work, the dog WILL come & pee on it to claim the castle.

5. Mix with locals & make friends

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Best thing about traveling is meeting new people. This time I met a French man, who teaches Tai Chi, plays guitar & recites Rumi in the moonlight! Then there was British man who almost set a hotel on fire while trying to fly his mother’s ashes in a Chinese lantern. I must mention my warm air bnb hosts at Calangute, who tried to teach me gardening. Also, the lovely Amaral’s family in Aldona.

We spent our New Year’s evening with them. Roberto told us the tales of his 500 years old Portuguese home; starting from the legends of his grand father who was a doctor with the British Army in WWII, spanning through the time when the house was used as a mini fort,( they’ve left over firing holes as evidence) ending at present day and how they still drink water from their own well. Mineral water companies have approached them several times, but Roberto refuses to monetize family well. The water was ‘Oh-so-sweet’ & so were the brownies that Raquel, his wife had baked with the help of her elder son, while younger one was wiping water near the dinning table, which their dog Doughnut had spilled. Such a blessed home! I however, couldn’t take my eyes off Roberto’s mom. She was sitting on a chair overlooking the kitchen garden, embroidering, while her feet rested on a stool- she was the quintessential heroine of the classics that I have grown up reading.  I wanted to touch & see if a lady of such grace, wits, warmth & beauty is for real! I didn’t. I didn’t want to be kicked out before I finished my brownie.

Since I was having such a nice time with fellow travels & locals, it was only fair that I let Joey do the same.

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Nine of the ten stray dogs might be ferocious & territorial, but there will be one who’s friendly. Joey found  that one at Patnem. They spent morning playing hide and seek at the rocks; of course, under my supervision. By the time, we left Patnem, Joey was a member of a doggie- gang. I called them ‘Bichoo’ gang.

In Calangute, our air bnb hosts had pups. They were doggie version of minions (Despicable Me) & Joey’s side-kicks.

6. Drive Electric Boat at Mayem Lake 

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I can never understand boating at tourist & touts infested lakes. Mayem experience is different. Not just because I got to drive cool electric boats (It felt like Go-karting in the sea); but also because this lake is tucked away in an inconspicuous village near Aldona, screened with back waters. The silence, the lush, migratory birds & dense forest is trippy. When I drove the electric boat against the current of the waves, heads on towards the forest, it had a psychedelic effect. You must experience it to know what I mean.

Do it before the lake gets commercialized & crowded. Do it before the lady who sits at the counter, changes her mind & says, “Dogs are not allowed on the electric boat”, given that there’s no rule book on this saying yes or no.

7. Eat everything

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I love eating sea food in Goa. I am a firm believer of, ‘through native food, one can taste the culture of a place’. So, whatever I had, I ordered a non-oil, non-salt, non-spicy version of it for Joey.

8. Do Doga

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Doggy + Yoga = Doga

Quiz: Find Joey in the picture

8. Watch Sun-set in a traditional Goan home

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View from the patio of the home of my Air bnb host.

Pssst! If you’re not on Airbnb, register using my Air bnb credit & you’ll get rupees 1552  off on your first booking.

Tell me about the off-beaten tracks that you’ve discovered while flashpacking with your dog.

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