I take a break from Empire to visit the Kali temple. In the Hindu pantheon, Kali is associated with death and destruction. I probably wasn't supposed to be allowed into the temple precincts, but I had paid a local to be my guide and we walk right in. Hindus are vegetarians and revere life, right? So you don't expect to see animal sacrifice. Thus, I am taken aback to see a headless goat furiously kicking while blood spurts from its neck. Standing over it is a priest holding the severed head aloft. This gruesome spectacle lasts for what seems like several minutes. As the tourist bureau likes to say, India is a land of surprises. I have four more days until my flight back home from Bombay. I could make it to the hill station of Darjeeling, but that would involve continuous travel without respite. Checking online, I decide that Goa will be next and last. I buy a ticket for Thursday morning.
Unlike the sorry excuse for an international terminal, the domestic terminal at the felicitously-named Dum-Dum Airport (yeah, they recently changed the name, but who doesn’t like the old name better?) is modern. The lounge, operated by Oberoi, offers decent cornflakes (for a change). Ah, to be a big Sahib (actually, in Bengali it’s Babu) again, if just for a short while.
Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 until 1961, when it was forcibly absorbed by India in the greatest (and onliest) victory of the Indian Navy. By far the tiniest state in India, there is no single place called “Goa” (anymore); when people say they are going to Goa they mean one of the dozens of small seafront towns.
Goa was discovered by hippies in the 1960’s and 1970’s, attracted by the miles of white sand beaches fringed by coconut palms. They are largely been evicted and replaced by middle class Indians and Europeans who flock to second homes, guesthouses and resorts.