On our first trip together, we quickly discovered that travelling as a couple is not always rain and sunshine but a little empathy goes a long way.
Panaji or Panjim, we wondered aloud minutes after disembarking from the bus that had brought us to the capital of Goa from Margao. It was the beginning of August. Rain clouds flecked the horizon. The bus station was empty except for a few bus drivers and hawkers who were prepping for the day. In the next two days over delicious curries and cans of chilled beer, we would learn that Panjim (the last ‘im’ that also appears in names of other Goan towns like Betim, Siolim, Candolim, etc. indicates a nasal ending, so the ‘m’ is never heard) is the older Portuguese name and the official name is Panaji. Locals usually pronounce it as ‘Ponnjee.’(more…)
Minutes after we had stepped on Goan soil and inhaled the sea-salt laced air, Aninda’s resolve to be on a strict diet disappeared. Within an hour of reaching Panaji, we were scouring the streets to find places to eat in Panaji. What we didn’t know is Goa wakes up late and eateries do not open their doors before 9:30 am and as we loitered through Fontainhas, I fell in love with the impeccable charm of Panaji’s old Latin Quarter while he grew more restless to begin an affair with Goan food. In the course of two days, we overshot our food budget though we hadn’t even eaten at all the places we had planned to! Both of us like to try local dishes and we discovered that Goan cuisine occupies a very interesting intersection between traditional Hindu Saraswat cuisine and Portuguese Catholic cuisine. Toddy or coconut vinegar, coconut, kokum, red chillies, chouriços, cashews, and tamarind are important ingredients in Goan curries.