Monday, December 6, 2010

The Church of St Cajetan

The Church of St. Cajetan lies in the shadow of the other churches at Old Goa. Most people would visit Old Goa for the Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral, however St. Cajetan’s has something wonderful and breath-taking to offer you.

The church completed in 1661 is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. Its name however finds its origins after the founder of the Order of Theatines. St. Cajetan’s almost looks replicates the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome. The exterior of the church boasts a Corinthian style of architecturewhile the interior features a blend of mosaic-Corinthian architectures. The magnificent façade facing west features towering Corinthian columns supporting a central pediment above which the twin belfry towers arise.

Inside the church, do make a note of the three altars on either side of the main altar. To the left you will find altars dedicated to the Holy Family, Our Lady of Piety and St. Clare, while the altars to the right are dedicated to St. John, St. Cajetan and St. Agnes.

To an art lover this church is where you can get lost in the myriad display of frescos. Off late there’s been a lot of renovation work going on inside the church to its architecture and frescos, so be prepared for a section of the church to be cut off to public viewing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Cross at the Quiterio's

No Catholic household in Goa is complete without a cross. You will find crosses engraved on homes or a structure erected in front of houses. Each one is different in design yet built for one purpose – protect the family that resides there.

My home has a cross engraved on the compound wall. But the cross that binds us all as a family is the one that stands in my Grandma’s compound. This is the cross is the protector of the entire Quiterio clan. Prayers to pass in exams, fulfillment of dreams and protection as we venture far and wide in the world have all been offered here and it still does.
The Cross at the Quiterio's
I remember times when as little kids my cousin and I used to help my Grandma scrape the old paint off the cross and volunteer to paint it in preparation for the cross feast. There were also times when all of us cousins used to wait closest to the cross hoping to catch the wax that dripped forth, each one wanting to building a bigger wax ball than the other. As the centre of the household it also came to be the favoured place to click family pictures.
My brother & cousin as kids in front of the cross
Though much as has changed now – we are all adults, grandma’s house is surrounded by a concrete wall – the cross still remains the same, in the spot it was erected on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fabulous Stays

Found some wonderful places to unwind in Goa. They not like your typical hotel/resorts which make them even more exciting! So here go my finds.

I so loved this place. It’s called Coco Shambhala. Well I have not been here yet, but Cocoshambhala looks heavenly. Almost out of this world to be in Goa. But I will one day soon go there and certify for a fact that it is how it has been photographed.

Coco Shambhala as noted on the website are exclusive luxury vacation villas. Situated just behind Coco Beach at Nerul in Goa, it boasts of wonderful retreat designed to offer the perfect escape.  Do visit and let me know how your stay unfolded.

The other place that I loved was Lotus Resorts  at Aronda, it's actually on the Goa-Maharashtra border. But, well it just seemed…simple! The perfect pause to a hectic life. I am going here in January, driving up from Goa. I hope it lives up to its promise of backwaters, blue skies and pristine waters.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Candolim in the Rains

When I am down in Goa, there’s one place I make a pilgrimage to. I head to Candolim beach and sit right opposite the ship, River Princess, which got dragged ashore years back. Till today no one can seem to move it. Why I don’t know. It’s not like I don’t care that it’s spoiling the shoreline but after these years I have come to love it.
The River Princes, in its spot!
Every vacation home, my cousin Unaine and I head to our favourite spot. It’s something we do. Hopping onto our bikes we head to shores. We avoid the main stretch of the beach and settle down opposite the ship. We do nothing; we just sit there and stare at the sea or watch the stretch of the beach or watch the ship or the Indian tourist who are so excited to see the sea, such bunch of morons!
Shacks shut down during the monsoon
That's us. Unaine & Me capturing the moment
Most of the time that we have visited this place was during the monsoons. It’s just more beautiful when it rains. A small bylane from the Calangute-Candolim road will get you here.
The pathway that opens out to the beach
Ask the locals how to get there. There are a couple of beachside shacks, but these are closed during the monsoons. It doesn’t matter to me. I love it when there are no tourists interrupting your moment.  After spending a good hour or two, we usually hope back onto our bikes and make our way to the Calangute Grounds to grab some munchies. These include roasted sweet corn and Bhel Puri.
At the Bhel Puri stall
En route expect to find yourself caught up in a little traffic. More than often there will be a local football match going on. And everyone wants to know what’s happening. It’s exciting, do stop and watch too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Gothic Beauty in Goa

The Mae De Deus Church situated at Saligoa in North Goa is one of the most distinctive pieces of architecture one can find in the state. Simply because its the only church in Goa that has a strong influence of Gothic architecture. 
The Saligoa Church as its commonly called has always been a source of fascination for my brother and myself. It falls on our way home and every time we would see it in a new perspective. Every sunrise, cloud formation, sunset or the illumination at night, puts this church in a new light. It soon came to be our most favourite subject of photography. These pictures were clicked one late night when we armed ourselves with a tripod and camera and took off from home on bike to click this beauty. 
It’s without doubt one of the most beautiful churches in Goa. During the day, the church towers the surrounding landscape of fields in pearly white. 
Built in 1873, the Mae De Deus Church has the statue of the Virgin Mary in the centre while large jutting cones form the rest of the architecture. Though the church has become a tourist destination, one should not forget that it is a place of worship with daily mass held in the mornings and most evenings. Do make sure you are properly dressed while visiting a church or any place of worship. 
The church on the inside is beautifully decorated with chandeliers and wooden pews. The facade has the Virgin Mary venerated at the altar. Every year on the feast of 'Mae de Deus', the Saligoa Sporting Club have their traditional dance called the 'Foxes' Nite.' It’s held at a ground next to the Church.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The local thing to do – Watch a game of Football

Forget about hitting the beach or visiting the churches and temples. You have not experienced the Goan way of life till you have watched and yell your heart out at a local football game.

You can spot them at any corner. Vast open fields become the ideal playground. What you need to look for is a crowd. Spot one that’s causing a slight traffic jam and you have a game in action.

From parra game

Local games obviously star the local talent. Emotions run high, so make sure you don’t say something you could be sorry of later.  These games follow the same league structure in football. And mind you people take their football very seriously in Goa. Should the local team be playing, the entire village is bound to be there supporting the young boys and men.

From parra game

Adrenaline is at an all time high with each player trying to outdo the other. You can be guaranteed of super action and controversial decisions. Playing for your local team makes you nothing short of a hero. Almost all the men in my family have played for PVC Parra, starting with my dad and uncle to my cousin who was the mid-fielder and my brother who was the goal keeper. Yeah so we have some superstars in my family.

So yes go watch a football game in Goa. It’s something you won’t regret doing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A few days to...

my favorite festival in India - Ganesh Chaturthi  

Preparations begin months in advance, sometimes a whole year goes in designing the idol for the upcoming year. But rest can be assured of creativity hitting greater heights every single year. 

This time on I have my friend Mangesh Bhadye on board, sharing his pictures as he captures the festivals in its true element. See more of Mangesh's work on his blog.  

In a few days it will be time for the festivities, till then check out these pictures which will give you an insight into what goes into the preparations.
An artisan coating the Ganesh idol with plaster of Paris
The idol of Lord Ganesh under construction
Work in progress
Showering blessings on all

Lord Ganesh, the God of wisdom and prosperity

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Three Most Popular Places to Dine in Goa

While nothing beats my Mama’s cooking, if you are looking for places to dine, these are my top three favourites. 

Martin’s Corner, Betalbatim
I must confess. As a Goan, this was only the second time I’ve been here. The first time was years back when I was in college and now. I was down from Mumbai and we planned a family outing to the South of Goa. Betalbatim was our destination and the evening was spent at, obviously, Martin’s Corner.
Well even as locals we had some difficulty finding the place but you can just ask anyone for directions. Very important, if you intend getting a table here, do call for reservations. The place is perpetually full.   
The food at Martin’s is simply amazing. A little on the expensive side, but delicious. We dug into Calamari, Stuffed Lobster, Chicken Cafreal and Steak.  While the place offers, others cuisines too, my advice is to stick to Goan food. The Goan cuisine here is at its best, you can also do savour dishes such as the Goan Fish Curry, Prawn Balchao, Xec Xec (a goan crab preparation), Vindaloo, etc.
Martin’s Corner has beautiful ambience. Subdued lighting with a live band give the place a cozy almost at home feel.  This place is extremely popular, so don’t be surprised to see a celebrity here. They say it’s Sachin Tendulkar’s favourite dining place in Goa.
For more details visit the website.
Martin's Corner
Binwaddo, Betalbatim
Salcete - Goa
For reservations call:
(0832) 2880061, 2880413, 6481518

Britto’s, Baga
For a dining experience in North Goa, you should visit Britto’s.  By Baga beach, it’s a place you must eat at, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Britto’s serves almost all types of cuisine – Goan, Indian, Continental. The service is excellent and the pricing of food is reasonable. Make sure you get a table on the beach or overlooking the beach to complete your experience.
The reason I like this place is because of the variety in cuisines and the huge portions of food. Do visit Britto’s at night. They keep a single burning candle on your table, giving the entire a place a dreamy feel.
Santa Vaddo, Baga
For reservations call:
(0832) 2276291, 2277331
Souza Lobo, Calangute
Souza Lobo  is a nice place by the sea. Situated on the sands of Calangute beach, it offers a magical evening to those looking to unwind at the beach as well as munch on Goan delicacies.

The place is rather airy and has a rustic charm to it. At Souza Lobo’s we dug into fish fingers, Masala Fried Calimaris and Crab Xec Xec. The crab I must say was to die for!
Like all well know Goan restaurants, this place too has a live band, though on this particular night it was just too loud.  The rest of the evening was lost in staring at the black sea and enjoying the breeze with the sumptuous food.
Do check their website
For reservations call:
(0832) 2281234 / 2276463

Monday, August 16, 2010

Doing Nothing at Poovar Island Resort

Poovar is ideal for getting away from civilization and simply unwinding with the waves as they lap the cottage front.

Well there isn’t much to do here anyway. One day was spent at the beach, another day at the Ayurveda Centre and the next on board a romantic boat ride in the backwaters. Most of the evenings we hit the pool, followed by dinner at the restaurant.

The Ayurveda Centre is a must go visit. Here you can rejuvenate your body and mind with the various massages in store. Reasonably priced, we came out feeling wonderful with our beings.

I would give this place 5/5 on location, hospitality and food. And it’s where we decided we will celebrate our 10th anniversary. Oh, did I mention this trip was our honeymoon, and a wonderful one it was.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Poovar Island Resort. Heaven on Earth!

Poovar Island Resort, so it says on their site, is truly out-of-the-world. I was the first time ever I was going to Kerela and was super excited about it. But I was even more excited about staying on these floating cottages. Like all my trips, the Internet becomes my best friend – checking reviews, viewing pictures of the place and finding info on how to get there. Sadly at that time the resort had a very sad looking website. Some of the reviews were not good, but following my heart we decided to go there. The we this time was my husband and I.

From Poovar Floating Cottages

A long train journey, then a rickshaw ride brought us to the entrance of Resort. We see water, but where are the floating cottages. Then we realize we have to go around the island to reach there. We wait for a boat to take us there.

From Poovar Floating Cottages

Our ride arrives and it takes about 10 minutes to reach the waterfront. From a distance we can see them. I simply cannot control my excitement. They look exotic! Luxurious! Sinful!

We get off at the small dock and the porters take our bags to our cottage. The formalities follow at the lobby, and I love everything about this place. The traditional welcome drink, a huge pot with flowers in the lobby and the swimming pool with a bar. This place has everything!

Couldn’t wait to get to our cottage we hurried away to Cottage 301. My jaw drops. A beautiful room on water, with one side of the wall overlooking the beach. Well you can close the blinds, but right now its open to admire the view. With the waves floating by, you can feel the cottages sway.

From Poovar Floating Cottages

From Poovar Floating Cottages

The floating cottages are all air-conditioned with plasma TVs, a mini bar, a tea/coffee maker, telephones and an attached see-through shower cubicle. What’s amazing is a sit-out balcony overlooking the backwaters.

Poovar Island Resort also offers you Deluxe Floating Cottages and Land Cottages. In my opinion it would be idiotic to stay in a land cottage when you come here. The floating cottages are an experience of their own.

The place also boasts of a lovely restaurant, an Ayurveda Centre and a recreational area and seight-seeing trips.

I am so glad we stuck to this place. I can see the next few days going to be the best ones ever!

To see how to get to Poovar Island Resort, check this link.

For more information on this awesome place, do check the website And if you are thinking of going, I’d say don’t think, just GO!

You can also discover more about the fascinating great backwaters by following this link -

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lonavala. Khandala #fail!

The weekend was supposed to provide the perfect break from the hustle and bustle a metropolitan city like Mumbai can engulf you in. My brother was in town and so we decided to drive down to Lonavala and chill out there for the next two days. Unfortunately for us, the rest of Mumbai also thought about the same.

So here we are in Lonavala, caught in a terrible traffic jam. If I wanted a traffic jam, I would have spent the day in Mumbai! That’s the  #fail moment no.1.

#Fail no 2 follows soon.  The places of interest – lake, Kava caves, some monkey feeding point and views of the valley below are all such big letdowns. I went with low expectations and came back with even lower opinions of these places.

#Fail no 3. Accommodation in these places suck. Hotels were crappy that we packed our bags and made our way back by evening. Even a 3 star was freaking expensive. I wasn’t going to pay 5K for a night and that too for a room that wasn’t well maintained.

Lonavala was crappy and so was Khandala. By mid afternoon my brother’s friend joined us from Pune. The lunch was sumptuous – Chicken Tandoori, Butter Chicken and Rotis. We checked out a couple of other places to stay, not worth a mention, and then decided to head back.

The only thing that was worth this trip was the drive out of the city and being able to put some much needed miles on my new car. On my drive back, I couldn’t help but think about the Lonavala years back when we had come here on our school summer break… so beautiful and untouched. Now it’s simply commercialized! 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When Jo goes to Boot Camp!

I just love it when my job takes me places. I love to travel and get super excited at any given opportunity to do so. So come Friday and we get to travel to the outskirts of Mumbai for the Toyota Fortuner Boot Camp. I have always been a fan of Toyota since I was a little girl and my uncle used to work for them. I’ve heard it all from a young age how Toyota cars are awesome with great engines and superior technology. Now was a chance to actually witness it all.

We had to left Mumbai city by 9.30am, just as everyone was getting to work (ha ha losers). Hitting Pune-Mumbai expressway we were lashed with a heavy downpour. But that aint stopping us. An hour and half later we were there. The Boot Camp was held just off the Khalapur toll booth, off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

From boot camp

Spotting some signs to the camp we drove to the track. The event saw an introductory session of the Toyota Fortuner to the media… Oops! That’s us. It was real weird being considered as “media” them press types. I could wait for this to end and the raw action to begin. Grr... I had to remind myself that we were also here on work. I had to blog officially when all I wanted to do was jump around in the mud.

From boot camp

The Boot Camp saw the Toyota Fortuner’s going all out on a 3-km obstacle course.  We clicked some pictures of others in action before it was time to test the track ourselves.  Options to have an instructor drive you through it or drive yourself. Uh for us, all of us wanted to drive. Even I. But these boys I tell you! I might be just over 5feet but for the record I can see well above the wheel and my feet reach the pedals :P

The drive gets started in the Toyota Fortuner with Mihir behind the wheel. Well even sitting in the backseat one could feel the true power behind this machine. We went through a big puddle, where in you almost sunk to the bottom and the slush drowning you. Tackling steep ascents and incline, to driving the car at angles you feel it will topple, you just cannot help but feel amazed with the capabilities of the 4WD. It was my first ever experience in a 4WD being driven through an amazing and challenging track and I must say I was all WOW about it.

From boot camp

Oh and I did get to also experience a Toyota Land Cruiser. Man oh man, what a car! You just sink into the leather and there’s nothing the car doesn’t have. I was almost tempted to sell everything I own and live in this car. The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado too was on display. Again I must it is an awesome machine.

Not too soon, the proud owners of the Toyota Fortuner's came rolling in and it was really wonderful to see the anticipation on their faces of putting their 4WDs through what it is meant to do.

From boot camp

Do check this pics to see how our day unfolded.

All good things come to an end. And it was time for us to pack up and head back to Mumbai.

Hey also do check the Toyota Fortuner Blog for more updates.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In and Around Parra

The original blog post can be found on The Lovell Dsouza Crapsite. It has been republished with due permissions. The reason I felt the need to republish this is because it captures the true essence of our homeplace - Goa. 
So here's my brother Lovell documenting "Back Home" 
So I’m back home, in good ‘ol Goa. Sitting at the same table my Sis and I grew up eating at. The same table at which I studied for myriad exams that I flunked :P
Old Hall
The old table. The old hall. The massive windows. The damp roof tiles. The generations of relatives sealed in frames, hanging from the walls looking down upon me and thinking “Shame on him. Didn’t make the family name proud.” Hey wait a min, I did. May be they took that back.
Meet Tommy [the female family feline]. Some say she’s 25+ years old. I’ll keep her at 23, coz from photographic evidence she existed when my sis was a kid, before I was born. I stick my foot out for the usual feline meets master greeting. She rubs her head against my foot. I’m still king of the pride. Tommy acknowledges that. Until my sis drops by and steals me off my throne. How can that kitty leave me and run to my sis!!! Duh!! Whatever pussy cat. Big deal!!
Metal T-shirts
The black t-shirts have turned into makeshift doormats. I’m wondering how could my mom degrade the metal collection!! Aahh.. but I guess thats ok. Even the great Slayer t-shirt was not spared. That one has been torn into bits. The Nirvana collection has survived the onslaught. They lie folded in the cupboard.
The metal cassette collection has survived. The pirated CD’s survived too. The rains kick in. I listen to Alice In Chains for a change. Grunge kicks in. Finding a signal for Airtel in the house is a challenge in itself. The signal boosting ironing board does not help anymore. Last resort is defined by leaving the phone at the window risking it getting robbed.
I walk out. I see fields. I smell fresh air. I see birds. Coconut trees transform the simple village road into an aisle. Feels like a red carpet has been laid out for me. Well all over the place tell me I never have to worry bout taps running dry. Home it is. It’s not necessarily the beaches that everyone thinks about when you mention Goa.
Baga Creek
I head out to the Baga creek. I spot the Cross where Ryan [Babushin] and I used to hang out discussing crap. I recognize the spot where Donn, Russell [Yoyo] and I used to come fishing and manage only to catch crabs. The total number of crabs caught till date tallies to 1. I pass by the ground where our U-19 team used to train. The same ground where I learned to dive and catch a football in mid air. The same ground where I once left a lousy goal and our team lost.
Lan Lords
I meet my good old friend Srijay aka Byclops aka Peekachooooo. We head of to Lan Lords. We thought the place was shut down. We find it open. Once owned by the fearsome Homo Sapien Maleous clan, now left to rot with some school boys. The gaming place is dying a slow death. Never-the-less we frag against some bots. Get ripped initially. We rip them back after a while. Srij still got the superfast killer reflexes. I still kick bot with moi mag. The clan needs a reunion.
Srijay at Vrundavan Restaurant
Srij and I drop by Vrundavan. The evening restaurant where a lot of things were always discussed. Most visited by Lesley and me. Often accompanied by Evelyn, Srijay, Suneet and Prashanti. We attack the regular. Chillies, bhel, shev puri, tea and coffee are consumed. We call Les just to let him know we are re-living the moment and he is missing out on a lot of stuff, only to get a barrage of abuses in return. Good ‘ol days. Les, the abuser. Abuses everyone and everything.
We head back home. I’m home…

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Parra, and the Goan way of Life!

Parra is a village in Goa and not a tourist destination. But it portrays the village way of life in any typical village in Goa. Uh, may be not, though our side of the village is pretty modern in itself.

Parra is located next to Saligao, and in between Arpora and Mapusa. Mapusa being the closest town.

An early morning scene in Parra. The sun's just rising.
Roads leading home. 
My best favourite part of Parra is the fields and the walk up to the hill. A short walk from my house will take you to the most beautiful, relaxing and utterly astounding place on the whole planet. I call it the Watering Hole. I used to sit for hours on end at this place watching the water go by or the farmers in the fields.

Tilled roof homes in Parra
Most of the village is now navigable by road. The road that leads to the hill. 
Walking up to the watering hole
The fields in Parra
More fields around my place
Fields adjacent to the watering hole
Me at the watering hole :)
A local fishing at watering hole
There’s nothing much to do in any village in Goa, other than sit back in relax. An afternoon siesta (term for a  short afternoon nap) after a perfect meal of fish, curry and rice, pretty much makes up an ideal day.

Well Parra is known for quite somethings. We have two famous open-air dance halls here. Emerald Lawns, I got married here, and Alva-Mar. Both are less than a kilometer apart and host some of the most happening events in Goa.

Come the summer (March - May) and Parra hosts a famous ball called the ‘Melon Nite.’ It’s called Melon Nite as Parra is famous for the watermelons grown in the local fields.

What you also must not miss is the fun and festivities around the festival of ‘San Joao’ which falls on the 24th of June every year. Celebrating the feast of St. John the Baptist, almost  everyone takes part in festivities which involve jumping in all the wells in the village, accompanied with food and drinks.

San Joao in Parra
Villagers having fun in the well
Local kids with the traditional headgear
A lady too decides to jump in the well
some be over-adventurous
No one is left. Everyone is blessed with water. 

Most of the photographs have been clicked by my brother, Lovell. Do drop him a note if you like his photography or would like to buy some prints.