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Published: March 24th 2012
The Om Sized beach
The improvised, but completely worthy halt at Tarkarli yesterday meant I had a long 300 km drive to Gokarn to finish today. I drove on the last leg of the ‘Sagari Mahamarg’ to meet the NH-17 somewhere near Sawantwadi. The road, a major part of it untraceable on maps, keeps on changing from wide smooth patches of tarmac to narrow potholed by-lanes to beautiful, shining new bridges across the creeks. Although it never really runs parallel to sea, landscapes are amazing and changing. It’s isolated and pleasure to drive on (at-least till you have a flat tyre or a break-down. I didn’t have any). Back on NH-17, the heat and traffic made the driving miserable. My lunch stop was a hotel in Madgaon, and I was glad to make it just in time before its lunch break. Yes, hotels here have lunch breaks and I knew that since I stayed here for about 6 months when working with Tata Motors.
It’s Goa! Goa was just a drive-through in my plans; I have been here a thousand times. The rest of the ride to Gokarn was forgettable if not boring. The exception was Karwar town. Here the road sliced through a small rocky hillock and then turned along the beautiful Karwar beach flocked with small fishing boats. A nice ghat section after Karwar with its smooth, butter-like roads was the icing. After going on for hours, I almost missed the small board that said take right to Gokarn. Well, at-least that is what I thought it said since it had black moss all over it with a faint hint suggesting someone might have written Gokarn beneath it. After confirming, I took the bumpy, bone-shuddering 10 km ride to Gokarn. Even my telescopic front suspension was unable to relieve me of the shocks and eye-hand co-ordination was working over-time to miss the potholes.
Gokarn has two parts: the beach side thronged by back-packers and nirvana seekers and the dusty town side thronged by pilgrims. I headed straightaway to Om Beach for the LP-praised Namaste Guest House. It was quite late in the evening and it was a weekend. They didn’t have a room. There are few guesthouses along the beach but without a road access. I wasn’t comfortable parking my bike on the road all night and hence I drove back to the town. As luck would have it, a laughter club would have arranged an all state laughter met in Gokarna and had booked almost all the hotels. Now it was almost dark. I had no intention of driving back 10 km to beach and hence I started rummaging through all the run-down hotels. One owner, condescendingly agreed to accommodate me in his store room for 300 bucks! I kept on searching and suddenly I saw board, “Kolhapur Mitra Mandal, Ithe rahanyachi soy hoil
’: Friends’ circle from Kolhapur, Accommodation available! I rushed in to meet the final barrier between me and the bed, the bhataji (priest). He wasn’t very happy about me travelling alone. He highly suspected that I had come here to kill myself. I don’t what’s the deal with temple towns and suicide. Even in Ganapatipule, I had the same problem. I tried to convince him and finally I called my mom. The priest talked to my parents, confirmed that I was in a very sound state of mind and while he was at it also berated them to let me travel on my own and finally satisfied with his investigation allowed me to stay in his hallway. He also gave me a key to a hundred year old locker to keep my belongings taking a thousand bucks as refundable deposit. It was his grand-fathers’ locker and had a great sentimental value to him. Thousand bucks deposit was a deterrent for me to lose keys. With all the hotels booked, bhataji is being kept busy, with endless sessions of bargaining and background checks. The last straw is a group of 50 fisher men and women! Now it’s a fish market. They are very sweet though and offer me nice hot tea (which is also very sweet). I will now try to get some much needed sleep.
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