We felt it only proper to celebrate New Years on the beach, so we left Panaji for Arambol, one of the northern most beaches in the State. Goa is the stuff of legends, with the hippies first discovering its pleasures in the 60s and the ravers reinventing it as “Disco Valley” in the 80s and 90s. Some of that legend has turned to dust, with hotels catering to packaged tourists buying up the prime real estate and the government imposing a ban on loud music after 10 pm. But, it still seems to draw in the crowds around the holidays and Arambol, at least, still retains much of the relaxed vibe that attracted new agers long ago.
We rented a simple bungalow near the cliffs and spent our days wandering the beach with the resident cows. Every five feet we came across aging hippies building sand castles with their naked flower children, dreaded college drop outs practicing poi, yogis doing handstands or loners listening to Ipods and dancing with themselves in the surf. And then there were the groups of young Indian guys, dressed in jeans and loafers, who were clearly using their lunch break to scope out western women in bikinis. It was humanity its quirkiest and it provided near constant entertainment.
We took a small break from the time warp to join the 21st century for the Sunburn Electronic Music Festival on Calangute beach, followed by the BLive party at the Sinquerim helipad later that night. Even though Carl Cox was the headliner, the crowds consisted of many more Indians than vacationing Brits. It was fascinating to watch the juxtaposition of traditional and emerging culture, with some of the young Indians clearly feeling excited, but also a little awkward to be taking part in something so far removed from their everyday lives for the holiday weekend.
On New Year’s Eve we had a great dinner and then hit a few hilarious dance parties along the beach front. At midnight, we went for a dip in the ocean, taking in the fireworks shows on both ends of what seemed to be an endless stretch of sand. It was pretty epic, if I do say so myself.