Where West Meets East

Goa is India’s smallest and youngest state. It was not annexed by the country until 15 years after Independence, having been a Portuguese colony from the 16th century up until 1961. It has an abundance of old churches, world heritage sites, and beautiful beaches. More importantly, Goa is widely known as the party capital of India.

Before we had even departed on our trip there this weekend, rumors made their way to us of sprawling coastlines, moonlight beach parties, and floating casinos. When we asked our teacher if Goa was as awesome as everyone made it out to be, he just shrugged his shoulders and grinningly responded, “It’s the place most like America.”

In a country where religion dominates most facets of life and social conventions are conservative to put it lightly, Goa is a diamond in the rough for the philistine college student. Here we met young adults from all over the country (and indeed the world) who had converged for the same reason as us: they had an extended weekend and wanted nothing more but to kick back and enjoy themselves on the beach.

Goa coastline

Goa coastline at night


For 5 days we did our best to forget about our studies in Delhi and enjoy the time off. By day we hit the beaches and went sight seeing, and by night, without going into any gruesome detail, we did things that college students would do in a place like Goa.

It was an amazing trip, but the whole while those words of my teacher stuck in the back of my head – this did not feel like India. It was mainly European in architecture, Catholic in religion, and people here even played soccer instead of cricket. At times I forgot where I was.

A church in Goa

Then on our final evening a friend and I were kicking a soccer ball around on the beach when a few locals came up and asked to join. 3-on-3 quickly turned to 7-on-7, and soon enough we found ourselves in the middle of a full-fledged pickup game. We used bottles as goal posts, and periodically moved them further up the beach when the tide swept in close enough to knock one down.

After nearly two hours of action, my feet could hold me up no longer. I respectfully bowed out, took a few steps into the ocean, and promptly sank into a back float as the game raged on behind me. The sun was starting to set now, and a light rain was splashing down gently between waves. I stared out over Arabian Sea into the pink horizon, steadily rocking with the waves and finally remembered where I was, remembered that I was 10,000 miles from home, and remembered that tomorrow I would be returning to the chaos of everyday life in Delhi.

The parties and casinos were fun – at the end of the weekend I ended 100 rupees up, which is the equivalent of $2 American.  But if anything, I will remember Goa as a unique place where Western and Eastern cultures seem to transfuse, where everyone can cut loose and revel in the sameness of it all.