My Goan experiment (Guest Column)
After shooting for a couple of web shows simultaneously in Mumbai in August last year, I realised there was a brief period where I was leaving home by 7.30 a.m. to make it in time for a 9 a.m. shift, and was typically driving back home by 11 p.m. During this four-week period, I lost 6 kgs (because I just couldnt get myself to eat dinner once I got back home), and was pushed to finally make the move to Goa.
Of course this wasn't a ‘move' in the literal sense, since I retained my base in Mumbai for whenever work calls. But I was pretty clear that Mumbai for me would be just that - work. Home would be elsewhere. Hello Goa!
Why Goa? For starters, I've spent enough time here since 2010, to know that it works for me - I like that it forces me to slow down, that it's still green compared to other places, and that it offers me a great balance between a quiet village life on the one hand, and a vibrant city life on the other. Yes, there are days during the season when more often than not, I find myself on Mandrem beach and know the occupant of every second beach bed (from my days in Delhi or Mumbai), but for the most part, I love the absolute anonymity that Goa offers me. Having said that, my portrayal of a Goan cop in a few web shows has made me a celebrity among the local traffic police, and on more than one occasion resulted in selfie sessions.
Quite obviously, I love the food in Goa and also that it attracts these amazing practitioners of alternative healing and medicine from all over the world. I go to bed and wake up a lot earlier in Goa, than I did in Mumbai. It doesn't hurt though that I earn in Mumbai rupees, which travels a lot further in Mapusa market as compared to Pali Naka. And of course, Goa has miles of amazing back roads, which are a motorcyclists dream. Every place is a blissful 15-20-minute bike ride away, and if you follow me on the gram (@instasattu - yes, a shameless plug), you'd discover I'm obsessed with bikes. No other place gives me this…yet.
As I write this piece, it's exactly one year to the date on which I got myself a place in Siolim. I have to admit this move was made entirely possible due to the explosion of web content in India. The last three years have witnessed a surge in the digital space - hundreds of channels making thousands of shows for digital consumption - which require actors. Traditional Hindi cinema can be equated to a cricket test match, but the web world is the equivalent of a T20. You finish shooting one show, and if you want, you may find yourself on the sets of your next project the very next day.
But that's not what I want for myself, I like to take time off between projects and spend a lot of ‘down' time in Goa - riding my bikes and quite often, doing absolutely nothing.
Goa was always meant to be an experiment and I'd like to believe that it has been a successful one. I had some definite ideas about how I wanted to go about it and there have been very few surprises, thankfully. For instance, I didn't want to deal with maintaining a Portuguese bungalow and rented a smaller place, which I could lock and not worry about. It feels great to not feel like a tourist in Goa.
I've had a lot of people ask me about my experiment and have the following pointers -- spend a significant period of time here during the monsoon before you decide to finally make the move. If you are not entirely happy being on your own and need constant company, then Goa is probably not for you. I'd recommend getting used to taking late night flights in and out as they allow you to get a full days' work and you beat the traffic at both ends. Eat most of your meals at home and hire a local cook, if you don't know how. Buy fresh vegetables/fruit daily - it forces you to get out of the house and soak up some sun. Most important, there should be at least one item on your daily ‘to do' list, as cabin fever is real.
Everyone has a different way of looking at things, but my ‘survive your first year in Goa' hand book has served me well. I am trying to get my sister to see if it works for her too - she, along with husband and 11-year-old daughter, moved here from Los Angeles (where she has lived for the past two decades) just a month ago. Perhaps I was the catalyst that triggered their move, or may be, the ‘Goa' life is a very real option for people ready to experience a different, fulfilling lifestyle.
That said, I enter into my second year as a tenant in Goa fully aware that this move has made me appreciate my Mumbai stints more. I now have the luxury to visit my other home and also leave - within a span of a 45-minute long flight. So Goa, for me, has been a fantastic idea so far. All the very best for your move here.IANS