Nothing special here. You may skip reading this one.
6:43. I slept at 2. Woke up around 15 mins ago. Not sure what all to write but a few things on the top of my head.
Its been a few days that I am in Mumbai. I ideally want life to fall into a routine of wake up -> Starbucks -> Work -> Eat -> Sleep. But it would not happen. I need to run way too many errands for way too little time that I am here for. And I want to meet quite a few people (friends, mentors, strangers etc.). This meeting with strangers has helped me find work over the years. And I need to continue to do this if I want to make my ends meet. You know, tough times call for tough decisions.
So, morning pages.
Yesterday was a long long day. I worked non-stop from 8 AM on. Till about 6. And then from 8 till 1030. Well, work was a combination of writing, editing, powerpoint-int, giving gyaan, seeking gyaan, and whatnot. After living the thug-life over the weekend, yesterday was good. Just that, when I came back home to the dump I am living in, I was incredibly sad at that. Plus, yesterday was one of those days when I did not want to come back to an empty house. No, I don’t want an object per se that wants to wait for me. But someone that I could be myself with. And allow that person to be herself. And be her home. And all that. I guess you get the drift. And no, am not crying about working hard.
Oh, I have to put this on paper. Since I was working like mad yesterday, I had way much coffee and I did not eat anything till about 5:30. The last meal was at 1 AM the previous night. So, without planning for it, I ended up eating once a day and fasting for about 16 hours. Yay for that. Let’s see if I can do the same today. I have as much packed a day as I had yesterday. Time shall tell!
Yesterday a friend asked me for tips on how to live a life of a freelancer and I realized I had no clue. What I did know is that I could find places and opportunities where I could point her to. While searching for things, I found this Twitter thread by Chuck Gopal (I love everything he does) and I think if you are thinking about going freelance, this is worth its weight in gold! Do see it.
This also made me realize that I need to act on that large idea of mine where I want to make Goa a hub for knowledge workers where they can live and work remotely from. The guide to living and working from Goa was the first step. As the next step, I want to aggregate resources, pool businesses, and invite people to work from Goa. After that I have to create an on-ground infrastructure to make this happen. I mean you may read a post and you may land in Goa. But what after that? So there’s a lot of work. Need to get going with this. #note2self
Finally, as I end this, here’s a good thing that happened. Today, I start editing / proofreading yet another book. Yay! For someone else. This is the second book I am working on. And I am getting paid for it. And this is fiction (the first one that I am still working on is biographical). I love this feeling of helping others. And this allows me to learn from what they are writing! I mean what else could I ask for in life? The only trouble is that am way too particular about things and I will probably take more time than I estimated. And I need to be able to deliver enough value that more people are keen on engaging me!
So that, I think this is about for the day! Time to get going with the day. Like I said, I have a long one!
No, nothing on #book2 today either. I think I have lost the plot with the daily notes. It sucks to not chase what fans my fire 🙁
PS: The rasa, the juice, the joy, the pleasure on these morning pages is disappearing. This has started to feel like a chore now that I do mindlessly. The amount of writing I get done is reducing by the day. I mean it requires me to think about things on the top of my head. And then write. And edit. And then publish. And all that. Of course, my writing muscle remains active. But then what? To what end? Can I make this better in some way?
So, I need a new strategy for these morning pages. Sigh. Funny the kind of questions that I trouble myself with! Chalo, over and out.
Your ultimate guide to remote working from Goa or even work-from-home while in Goa. Insider’s dope, tips, and opinions. Do not miss if you are considering WFH / Remote Work from Goa.
Version control: V0.1, last updated on 20 April 2021
So, if you are my generation and have seen your share of Bollywood, you would know of Dil Chahta Hai. Or if you are from the one after mine, you would know Dear Zindagi. Both these are probably at the top of the pile of those films that have drilled the romanticized idea of the small coastline of Goa in our heads. Mention Goa and you start thinking to dream of a better life.
The images that come to your head could carry from the Vegas of India cliche (complete with its “what happens in Goa stays in Goa”) to that of a sleepy town littered with parties (and the characters and shenanigans of these characters at the parties) to lip-smacking seafood (Recheado anyone?) to dilapidated castles on top of hillocks (some of these are now hotels) to tourists teeming with frenzy as if they’re gonna die after this trip (not just from India but from places as far as Israel, Russia, and the UK) to, of course, beer cheaper than water!
At least these were the ones that came to my head. Blame it on a million trips that I have made to Goa over the years. My trips primarily were to give all my money to those poker players and rake to casinos floating in the Mandovi.
So anyhow, thanks to the lockdown and WFH getting acceptable, moved to Goa in early Dec 2020, to live and work from here, and see what else the state has to offer. I had a million doubts and a thousand questions and a hundred apprehensions before I moved to Goa. But I took the plunge. Literally.
What I saw was predictable, interesting, surprising, refreshing and more. And thus the prompt to write this guide.
So, here we are. In this Ultimate Guide to Remote Working from Goa, I will talk about what it takes to move to goa and work from here. Plus with the aftermath of COVID-19, remote jobs are increasingly becoming acceptable and people wanting to live and work out of Goa will need reliable, honest, first-hand information. This is that nifty handbook for those people. And for digital nomads and road-warriors and others that may want to work out of Goa.
Oh, standard disclaimers apply. See a list toward the bottom of the post.
There’s a lot to talk about Goa if I want to do an honest and comprehensive job of helping you decide. Lemme start with these three. In each, I will try to ask a question and the answer to that question will probably help you decide where you want to be once you decide that you want to work in Goa.
1A. The North vs South Divide
Simply speaking, think of Goa as a straight line (it is NOT but just think of it like that for the time being). See this image.
Assume that Panaji (aka Panjim) is the midpoint. Panjim is the capital city and like every other state capital, it is like any other – traffic, highrises (not really as high as the ones we have in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai), fast internet (really!), ample public transport, etc. But if you choose to live in / around Panjim, you might as well live in Mumbai. Or Bangalore for that matter.
? Hat-tip – Read the section on Internet below.
North Goa (Candolim, Calangute, Anjuna, Morjim, Mandrem, and beyond) is where most tourists (Indian, foreign, etc) hang out. With-in the North, I’d advise you to stay away from Candolim, Calangute, or Baga.
But places like Anjuna and Vagator are very very livable. In fact, if you want to meet and network with interesting people, you have to check these two out. You’d also get access to the sea.
?To me, one of these two is the perfect place to live if you are in Goa to work. But this could be my bias as well.
Oh, most Indian tourists do not venture beyond Anjuna. If you go further north, you’d only find foreigners (and Indians that are more foreigners in their heads than the actual foreigners are). So that could be a good place to be if you want to be in the North and yet stay at a secluded place.
If you are ok living in the interiors with a limited sea view, you will like it at Porvorim, Saligao, Parra, Assagao, Siolim, etc. These are not north per se but for our simplistic map, these could be. And within these, I love Porvorim (a city and yet not a city) and Assagao (essentially a forest on a hill).
South Goa is where we have all the secluded, spaced out, sparse and clean beaches in Goa. This is also where the peace of mind is. Food also, in general, is better in the South, if you ask me. And because these are secluded and spaced out, you typically have holidaymakers here (and not the tourists that seek action of water-sports, dance clubs, etc). If I were to choose a place to be on a holiday, I’d pick South Goa. If you want to work in Goa, I would NOT recommend South Goa. But if you have to live and work in the South, I’d recommend looking at places like Palolem, Utorda, and Majorda. There’s some semblance of life there.
Oh, there’s also what I call the North-East Goa (though locals don’t call it that). Which is essentially Mapusa, Moira, Aldona, and thereabouts. This part is fast emerging as the hub of creative kinds. More on this later.
❓ So, the first decision you need to make is, what part of Goa do you want to live in. Panjim? North? South? North-East? I would recommend North.
1B. Natives, Locals and Migrants
If you are going to spend some time in Goa, you need to be able to understand people here. No, a section of a blogpost can never ever do justice but here’s an attempt.
Natives of Goa are people that were born in Goa, grew up in Goa, live in Goa, have ancestral roots in Goa, have houses in Goa, and plan to be here. Most of these would be in professions from fishing to politics to even heavy industries. These are the ones that of course have the claim over Goa as a place. Everyone else is a guest. And thus needs to conduct themselves as guests. You are a guest as well even if you are moving here lock, stock, and barrel.
Locals of Goa are the ones that have some Goan connection (parents from Goa, close relatives in Goa, married to Goans, etc) and are now living in Goa. In my limited experience, these are the people that have created flourishing businesses here and thus give employment to natives, locals and migrants.
Migrants in Goa are people like me. No connection to Goa. Hail from other places. Now living in Goa. Most work in businesses ran by natives or locals. Some are entrepreneurs that have set up businesses. Some are freelancers. Most are creative, freelancing, solopreneurs – musicians, dancers, yoga teachers, chefs, writers, photographers, etc.
As you start living here, you need to understand who’s who and then conduct accordingly. The natives typically do not like migrants coming in. They blame the outsiders for spoiling nature and the culture. They blame the outsiders for leaving too much mess on the beaches and causing other such nuisance. To be honest, they are probably right. But then, free market. They can’t stop the influx. The migrants (like us need) to understand that as mere “outsiders” we can’t really do much without support from natives / locals. And sooner we start respecting the locals and natives, the better it is. For everyone.
1C. The Good and The Bad
While the entire guide is about good and bad, I want to save time for you by making this nifty list. Each of these would be expanded eventually.
The Good part of working from Goa…
Goa is home to so much creative talent and prowess that it boggles my mind that we are not the world-leader in creativity! Plus this creative crowd is always in flux and is moving around (within and out of Goa). This means that there is no dearth of interesting people that you can jam and network with. This to me in itself is a big big draw to Goa.
Goa is probably as cosmopolitan as it gets. Really. Just that it’s a tad different than the cosmopolitan-ness that people from big cities are used to. You may not see a lot of fancy clothes but you would definitely see some really eclectic opinion that would make you take note.
Goa offers some of the best food that you’d have anywhere in the country. No, I am not a foodie at all. So, can’t comment on that.
The Bad part of working from Goa…
Nothing is reliable here. Internet, people, electricity, roads, weather, stray dogs. Even people who write long posts on coworking in Goa 😉
If you are hoping to create a business here, unless you have a few crores, you would find it tough. If you have ready work from elsewhere that you want to deliver while you live in Goa, you can consider moving. But if you are hoping to setup something from scratch, it would be tough.
More details as we go along!
1D. What I will NOT talk about in this guide…
I will NOT talk about anything that tourists may want from Goa.
Things like best places to party, best venues to do sundowners, cheap shopping locations, tips on watersports, touristy places, Instagrammable locations, etc. I will NOT talk about the history of Goa, the weather of Goa, the culture of Goa, and so on and so forth. There’s enough and more on it.
2. So, why work from Goa?
This is the smallest part of the write-up and in this tiny, biased part, I will try and convince you to come work from here 😀
If my experience of the last 2 months is anything to go by, if your work allows you to work from remote locations, you MUST not miss the opportunity of working out of Goa! Heck, if I were the activist kinds, I would have met the government here in Goa and try to create a program inspired by the mayor of Miami!
I mean, imagine waking up a few miles away from the Arabian Sea and the winds from the sea and squeaks from the seabirds as your alarm clocks. Imagine the quaint vibe, apparently delicious seafood (which I have no clue about – I am a vegetarian eggetarian), and very very affordable options to wine and dine. Now, top it up with scenic exuberance and rich culture that Goa anyway has. And if you need the final push, imagine an opportunity to jam and network with all the eclectic, creative, free souls that call Goa home!
Why would you not work from here? Life is anyway short and if your work allows you to live and work out of Goa, please do make the move. Even if it’s for a bit. Here are more details for you…
3. The Pros and Cons of working from Goa
Of course, every place has its share of good and bad. While I can fill in reams of pages on the good parts, there are numerous downsides as well. The decision is a personal one but if for you the advantages of working out of goa outweigh the negatives, come join me 🙂
Here we go on the good and the bad, in detail.
3A. Some good things about working out of Goa!
Personally, I have found that living in Goa allows me to be more creative and free. You know how Hemingway said, write drunk and edit sober? Goa is allowing me to do that! I am drunk on the talent of others. And I am sobered by my limitations as an individual. Wow! Poetic! Here’s a “rational” and sober list.
⏩ Goa is probably one of the most vibrant places in the country with a lovely confluence of cultures. There is a diverse community of creative people from almost any discipline that you may imagine. You can whip up the frenzy and some crazy ideas with them. And yet Goa offers you endless opportunities for a slow, lackadaisical, laidback, and serene life. In one line, I’d say Goa exudes a heightened sense of quietude, even with all its cultural exuberance. There’s something for almost everyone.
⏩ If you are a music aficionado, apart from a thriving live-gig scene from across the genres (I can’t even count how many restaurants and bars offer Hindi and English covers), Goa probably has the best EDM and Hip Hop scene in India. Lately even Folk is taking the small state by storm. Plus there are so many traveling artists. If music is your thing, do check out Gypsy Gigs by a friend and mentor, Nupura.
⏩ If you consider yourself a connoisseur of architecture and history, after your work, you may go visit all the grand cathedrals, worn-out churches, and crumbling forts that Goa is adorned with. The architecture here is a melange of rich Indian tradition and strong European cultural influences. I’d say history is every day, a living, breathing part of Goa. Even a regular Goan house has so much to offer that you’d be left amazed. Do share some pics 🙂
⏩ If you love to eat, you’d have a ball. Think of a kind of cuisine and you’d find it here. You have a plethora of options that throw all the right jargon. Organic, vegan, paleo, keto, hand-pulled, machine-made, free-range, cruelty-free, not tested on animals, safe for babies, fished with love and I don’t know what else.
If you like to cook, local markets offer a wide assortment of fresh catch and some of the most stunning fruits and veggies. There are farmer’s markets where home chefs, locals, and small business owners sell their produce. These can give any such market anywhere in the world a run for their money. Goa is anyway known for its chilies (Aldona), Bananas (Moira), Watermelons, of course, Cashews. Plus coconut is as “local” to Goa as it is to anywhere else. You would find a wide range of coconut curries, hand-pressed oil, and even sweets here. I am told fish pickles are really to die for. Then there are numerous bakeries, each proud of their Pois and Puis. The local staple of Ras-omelet-poi (chicken gravy without pieces, omelet, and local bread) is as flavourful as it sounds. The samosas and the egg-puffs I have had here have been the best ever. I just had two samosas from this kiosk outside Las Viegas at Saligao. You have to try him out.
No, do not even hang out around the tourist traps that claim to offer culinary delights to the celebrities and rich kids that come to Goa on vacation. Ok, maybe once or twice for those Instagram pictures to make your colleagues jealous. But not more than that, please. No Thalassa. No Antares. No Sinq. No Cabana. No Martin’s Corner. Please. PLEASE. P L E A S E!!
⏩ Of course, if you are the touristy kind and like to do the things that tourists do, there are flea markets (I could not spot those this year though) at Anjuna and Arpora. There is the Dudhsagar waterfall. There are spice farms. There are river cruises on Madovi and even on the Sal. There are sanctuaries and wild-life reserves and water-sports (Scuba, Snorkelling, Surfing, and more) and paragliding and surfing and whatnot. No, I am not the right person to talk about these as I stay away from them as much as I can.
⏩ As I end this part, here’s a thing that I love about Goa. People. They are the friendliest that I have ever seen anywhere in the world. If you stay for a while, you can make friends with local establishments and claim a few spots that comfort you enough that you start calling them home. I found mine at NickyM’s and they make the best burgers ever. Do try them out.
Wow! That’s a lot of good! The point remains, Goa is amazing if you want to work from here.
3B. What makes working out of Goa a terrible idea?
While most of what you experience here will keep you hooked, a few things might become an issue…
⏩ To begin with, something as basic as uninterrupted electricity is a challenge here. Power cuts are quite commonplace in and around Goa. While for the most parts (at least in the Northern, touristy parts of Goa), they last a mere few minutes, power cuts could take up hours to recover. I am told the situation goes grimmer during the monsoons. As if irony gods were listening to me, while writing this, the power went and came back a few times.
? Hat-tip – Wherever you decide to live, do ensure that they have a power generator or an inverter for backup.
⏩ Internet is a pain in the ass. Mobile Internet is a bigger pain. I have a Vodafone and a Jio connection and yet I couldn’t get see that magical word that starts with 44G for the uninitiated. It goes down the drain when on the weekends tourists throng into Goa. Even the broadband at various co-working places tends to be tardy. More on co-working places in Goa in a bit.
I am told that you need to have two connections if your work requires heavy use of the Internet.
Since I published this, a few people have reached out to me with their experiences. Here are some…
From a reader on Facebook…
asdad Ok..so i am a software engineer and need fast internet 24×7. So, i selected panjim. Internet speed is 250mbps, which is more than what i used to get in bangalore. Also, panjim have miramar beach and dona paula. You are not away from beach. You should add this point…if internet is must, then panjim n dona paula are safest option.
Even bsnl broadband is very reliable here
Via a comment on Facebook.
From another reader on Facebook…
you wrote that the internet is not reliable for video calls. i’ve been on different forums on reddit, facebook where some people say they get good internet and do webinars, and others say it is very unreliable, as you said. for example, an acquaintance living in socorro said he does webinars and has no problem. he has an ethernet express connection. some people on the reddit group for goa have good experience with G Wave in south goa. so going by all these reports, my impression was that internet should be ok, particularly with ethernet express in north goa, hinterland villages like socorro or aldona or such places, which is where i thought i will shift to. do you think one should count your experience as one among the others, or is what you write based on a wider survey of different connections and different people’s experiences, etcetera?
Via a comment on Facebook.
Lemme respond to this one.
For this piece, I spoke to more than 20 people before writing this. I have got mixed feedback on the Internet. While it may work once you get it installed at your place (I would still not count on it), but when you are out on the road it will be a problem for sure! So that.
Update. 20 April 2021. I am told by people that have moved to Goa in recent times that the Internet troubles for them seem to be waning off. Higher demand from about 50-thousand odd “migrants” has made the Internet companies up their game. Phone connectivity remains a challenge though.
I haven’t been able to talk to any of those film companies that are in Goa to understand how they operate. Once I do, will update. Also, this sounds like such a simple problem to solve, and yet no one’s been able to figure this out!
? Hat-tip – Do NOT move to Goa unless you know where you are going to get your internet from.
⏩ Then, commonplace, mundane things such as getting your computer (or even your ceiling) fan fixed are a hassle in Goa. Goa simply does not have enough handymen that do such specialized work. And the ones that are here, you need to court those like you court a romantic partner. No, you can’t bribe them with extra money. Easier is to become a handyman by yourself with such things.
Maybe a business opportunity? And lemme give you an example. I had to get a new charger for my laptop (a MacBook Air) and I just couldn’t find a shop around me that would have one. I had to order it on Amazon and wait for like 5 days before it came in.
⏩ I am told monsoons are bad for people who are not from here. The sea goes berserk, almost all the shacks (and restaurants) close down till around the end-August, the rains do not stop for days and wild-life (insects, bugs, frogs, crickets, enthu tourists et al) becomes a regular fixture. Most things that keep you engaged after work tend to shut down and the place leaves you with very little to do. No, I have NOT experienced these first hand – I have only come to Goa as a tourist during monsoons and have not lived here.
Oh, power becomes even more erratic. Plus, apparently, there’s a big snake menace in Goa in the monsoons.
? Hat-tip – If you plan to be here around monsoons, get a raincoat. And a snake stick. Please.
⏩ I must mention that Goa has a big mosquito menace and stray dog problem. There are way too many of these all across the state. The strays are not neutered and thus the population. I hate this the most about living in Goa. Of course, most people like to pet dogs and feed them and take care of them and all that. But not my scene. It sucks.
Here’s a “collection” of dogs in Goa.
? Hat-tip – Invest in mosquito repellant sprays, incense sticks. And if not that, get ready to burn coconut shells or lemongrass sticks. And please carry a stick or something to shoo the stray dogs away.
⏩ As I end this, I have to say that unless you are a regular in the party circuit or you enjoy loud, upbeat music at all times, Goa might come off as intrusive after a while. Especially if you are in North Goa – it’s perpetually teeming with high-spirited tourists and party-goers at all hours. You’d find it hard to find a spot that you can take some quiet time off at. Even without the tourist season, every café and beach shack blare loud music tirelessly on their speakers all the time. At 7 AM, at the afternoon when the sun makes it unbearable to be in Goa, at 9 PM and even at 2 AM as the last of the tourists stumble back to their homes.
Ok that was a long list. Phew!
4. What all do you need to think about before you move here?
I call this The Move To Goa Decision Matrix. Lol!
There are quite a few important decisions you have to make if you are planning to work out of Goa for the long term. Here are some questions that you need to find answers to…
4A. North Goa v/s South Goa
I touched upon this briefly in the introduction but one of the first things to decide is the part of Goa you want to live and work from. North. South. North East. Panjim. To be honest, the choice is yours and a lot of it depends on the kind of person you are.
If you are into a high-spirited life and you like other people around you, you ought to be in North Goa. I recommend North Goa. Really.
Within the North, you need to decide if you want to be around the water or away from it. Plus you would need to identify the part within North that has other people of your ilk. It is imperative. So much so that I will say it again. And make this bold.
In the South, while the beaches are nice and clean and secluded and all that, for someone that wants to work and chill after work, south is NOT the place. I know I will get hate emails on this.
Panjim is a lot cause. It’s a city. Rather live in Bangalore. Mumbai. Why would anyone live in Panjim? Really?
4B. Work from Home or Co-working Spaces?
I am the kinds that needs to step out of the house to work. Even when I am in Mumbai, I need to go to a Starbucks to work, if not a co-working space.
So in Goa, even though I have access to a fairly comfortable house (thanks to Rajesh Sir), I had to have a co-working space to work out of in Goa. And that’s the first thing I did once I moved here.
Similarly, you need to ask yourself if you are the kind to get work done from home. Or you need the ambiance and vibrance of a public place like a co-working space. Or even a cafe for that matter.
In fact, the cafe guys in Goa, in general, are very very kind and nice. They don’t bother you much, but the chairs are not comfortable. My back’s already arched like a bow!
More on co-working later in the piece.
4C. Does your work require video calls?
If your work requires a lot of video calls, PLEASE do know that the Internet is NOT reliable here. You WILL find yourself in a precarious position quite often. It gets embarrassing after a while. My team now knows that if they have planned for a video call, in all probability, I would be behind a grainy connection.
No, not even the co-working spaces I’ve been to offer a reliable connection (except the Design Centre at Porvorim and Clay on most days). Plus, at the co-working spaces, there are hardly any “telephone booths” where I could lock myself in a quiet chamber to take these video calls. I found the Delhi / Mumbai co-working etiquette missing here in Goa.
Update. 20 April 2021. Repeat. Internet seems to be getting better.
4D. What kind of work do you do?
I am a freelance writer (and editor), a marketing consultant, a podcast producer (and host), and an events producer. Most of my work is management, coordination, and working in isolation. Most of my data is on the cloud (and data gets synced when I get internet).
So, if you are like me, you’d probably get by. So, if you are a coder, designer, writer, photographer, etc. you would largely be ok. However, if you need constant, uninterrupted connection, you will be stuck. So if you are in support, extensive team management, or more, you’d find it tough.
So yes, in one line, remote work is possible in Goa but only for a select set of professions. I mean if Lucky Ali can live in Goa and release a damn new video on the Internet, who else would face the challenge?
Oh, and if you need gyaan on getting things done, Notes For Growth may be your answer.
4E. Some approximate numbers about expenses in Goa (aka Money)
In my limited experience, living in Goa is cheaper compared to living in Mumbai and Delhi. From what I know of friends and their expenses in Bangalore, Chennai, and Pune, Goa is comparable. I don’t know about Kolkatta and other metros.
In Goa, the best part is that you could be price or a pauper, you can find something that would suit your budget. You can get accommodation at Rs. 400 per night (at hostels) to Rs. 4 lakhs per night (at presidential suites) and everything in between. Of course, these two numbers don’t add any value.
So for comparison and context, you can rent a “good” 2 BHK house in Goa for about 20K a month in most of the areas where you’d want to live. I know people that pay 30K for a villa with a yard and three floors. And I know someone that pays 18K for a villa bang in the middle of the forest. And someone that pays 21K for a fully-furnished swanky 1BHK. And someone that pays 1.5 lakhs a month for a 3-bedroom. So that.
In terms of food, you can eat well for about 80 bucks per meal (at those Udipi joints), and then if you want to pay more, you are free to go to those fancy places, that are aplenty in Goa. My meals are at NickyM‘s and each meal is about 200. In case you go there, say that you are Saurabh’s friend and they would extend a 10% discount. Promise.
I did not pay an electricity bill. But I am told it’s about 500 bucks. I did not have an internet line at home but if you were to get it installed, you’d pay a one-time installation fee (most times this can be waived if you are taking a long-term connection) and your monthly bill would be in the 1500 ballpark. This would be enough to do video calls and stream Netflix. But reliability would remain a question.
Here’s a quick table.
Rent for a “decent” 2BHK House
A “regular” meal
Petrol per liter (as on 5 Feb 2021)
Utilities (electricity, help, water etc)
A quick comparison on cost of living
*Update. 20 April 2021. This seems to have jumped all the way to 50K in the recent months even though we are staring at the fag-end of the “season”
If I’ve missed something, do ask me your questions and I’d try to respond to the best of my knowledge.
5. A guide to ‘living in Goa’ as you work from here
So in case you do decide to work from here, you need to start thinking about living here. And life here is kind of different from any other place I have lived at (Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai). Here are some thoughts. Divided into sections.
You have tons of options. So many that it’s impossible to capture those all. Here’s my attempt.
Hostels. Goa is probably the place in India that started the hostel experience revolution. From dorms to private rooms to entire apartments to gigantic villas to even forts. You can have your pick.
BnB. There are tons of people that have spare bedrooms and they let these out for long-term (and short-term) rentals. I am planning to do this myself! You can get to live with some interesting people here. How to find them? Well that’s a question even I don’t have an answer to. May be create a matchmaking service for people like that?
Co-Living. A better hostel, a lesser hotel. A communal living experience. You know, how you have in hostels in colleges? That. You create a community of doers and tinkerers and all that. Entry is via some gatekeeper (CAT score!) and each person has to behave and each person is responsible. I am thinking about this. Like a residency for creative people. Admission via gatekeeping. For people who are serious and not just flirting with the idea of moving to Goa. That. Let’s see.
PS: I am told Nomad Gao (not a typo) is a good option for people that like co-living. Though I haven’t been there.
Rental Houses. Simple. You know, like you’d rent out at other cities in India.
5B. Getting Around
No. You do NOT want to get a car here. You need a two-wheeler. A scooty. You can rent for a month-long lease at 4K kinds (negotiate hard). I pay 6K a month because I got it at a time when there were a lot of tourists.
? Hat-tip – PLEASE keep a litre of petrol in the boot of your scooty. Petrol Pumps are kinda sparse. And no, don’t buy from those road-side kiosks that sell petrol in upcycled bottles. They sell a mix of piss and water and turpentine oil that couldn’t keep a fire going for its life.
Some people prefer small cars (Tata Nano or Maruti Alto) but I still recommend a Scooty.
There are bike taxis (called pilots) that you can use. You can identify these with their yellow mudguards. But they have designated spots as pitstops and you can only hail them from there. Unless you are lucky and you can flag someone. Plus there is no rate card per se. so, it comes down to what you can negotiate with them.
If you do need a car, you can rent via GoaMiles (though local taxi operators hate this. They say it dents their earning. I say it makes them more accountable. One of those never easy to settle debates).
Or you could use local taxi guys. They are all over the place. Especially around popular tourist areas, famous restaurants, and other hotspots. You would spend a little more but you would be far more peaceful.
5C. Spending money
You need to use GPay a lot. Even though you may try to explain that Paytm, BHIM, and other apps also use UPI, people will insist on GPay. To a point that they would tether you to their wi-fi networks.
No, the credit cards don’t work. The ones that accept will do so reluctantly. And will charge you a 2% markup. Unless you are at a 5-star (in that case, you don’t need to read this guide!) or an establishment ran by someone who thinks longer than making money from tourists in just one season.
5D. After Work
After you are done with work, you have like a million things to do here. You can explore the wilderness, meet other creative kinds, other folks that are trying to find themselves hers. You can connect and network with the ones from your ilk. There are classes on everything from scuba to yoga to dance to cooking to marital arts to even brewing wine!
My favorite thing to do is go stare at the sea. Like this one.
? The best thing you can do? Find a co-living, co-working commune. I really want to create one. Does anyone want to partner up?
6. The ultimate comparison and guide of co-working spaces in Goa
This is something that most people seem to ask for. Lemme make a list of a few places and how I look at those. Some disclaimers…
This will only include the places that I have personally been to.
There are a few that I have heard a lot about but I haven’t been to. I have included them but have refrained from giving a comment.
Plus there are some places that are not really co-working spaces but offer what you need for work. Including those here as well.
Before I dig in, the good part of almost all co-working spaces here is that there is good power backup. The bad part is that the Internet is not the best. Even with their leased lines. Oh, most of these offer a great vibe, have a brilliant community, and create so many opportunities to meet new people! So, when I look at a place to work from, I look at the following…
Ambiance (Have they put any love in putting the co-working space together?)
Internet (How fast, reliable is the internet connection?)
AC (I need AC if I have to even breathe. Even if I were in Antarctica, I’d ask for one!)
Seating (I need a comfortable chair and a table at the right height).
What kind of people does the place attract? Hippies? Creative kinds? People whiling time and merely wanting to hang out? Etc.
Money is money.
FnB (Can I order food? Coffee? How good it?)
Access and accessibility (How far are they from civilization?)
So, here is a list with the pros and cons of various coworking spaces in Goa. I tried to embed the table here but I could not. 🙁
But if you are lazy, easy reference is…
Design Centre (Porvorim – map) for undoubtedly the Best Internet in Goa. They charge 400 bucks for a day pass and 6000 for a month-long plan.
Clay (Anjuna – maps) for the best community and the vibe. They charge 500 bucks for a day pass and 10000 for a month-long plan.
NickyM’s (Baga-Calangute – maps) for the best hospitality. This is more of a cafe. So there’s no commitment per se. But you’d want to keep the tab going. No?
Royal Enfield Garage Cafe (Baga – maps) for the best view. However, this is also more of a cafe than a co-working place.
There are more that I have tried and worked out of. Here’s a long list. I’d leave you with a few shots from Clay (which is gorgeous, if you ask me).
And one from Royal Enfield Garage Cafe.
Do let me know what coworking do you go to. And what you find interesting there. I will add to the list.
7. Making the move…
So, now you know the goods and the bads of Goa. You know your work can happen from here. You know of the co-working spaces. What next?
Let’s say you are ready to make the move. Now, how do you do it?
So, in easy steps…
Come here for a month. To start with. It would help if you have a local contact. I am happy to be the contact, in case.
Carry two different mobile phone connections. It’s a pain to get a Jio mobile phone connection here. The others (Vodafone, Airtel, etc) work when they feel like.
Live at a touristy hot-spot so that everything that you may need is easily available. You may not like it. People may smirk at you. But please do this.
Inform your work colleagues that your access and availability would be limited.
Take a month-long acco (insist that it has a ready Internet connection – it would be tough to get it installed for just a month), preferably close to a co-working space (in case you need better connection, ambiance, etc)
Talk to others that do your kind of work (code, films, writing, etc) and identify a location that offers you access to others of your ilk. This will be important to get you to start feeling at home.
Get a house for yourself. Insist on basic furnishing (unless you are rich) and get paperwork FOR sure. You would need it for things like mobile phone connections, Internet, etc.
Get immersed with the locals and natives where you take your house. Even if you are an introvert. This will help you become a local and not just remain a tourist. This is the most common mistake migrants make when they move to Goa. They don’t mingle with the local community. You HAVE to. Especially in Goa.
That’s it I guess.
8. Miscellaneous info about working from Goa
This part has things that I could not fit in other places. While these may be minor, some people may want to know more about these before they make the move to Goa.
8A. Staying fit while in Goa
A lot of people I know are as anal about their health as they are about work or money or other things. In Goa, there are plenty of options for that. From long walks to running on the beach to yoga classes to even fancy gyms (aka fitness studios) to massage parlors to swimming to dance, you have it all here.
The best bet would be walk / jog on the beach. But do keep a stick handy for them strays.
8B. Safety in Goa
Beaches are more or less safe at almost all hours. Actually, Goa in general is safe when it comes to petty crime. I have been routinely leaving my helmet perched on the scooty and it is yet to go missing!
No that does not mean you let your guard down. Just keep your eyes and ears open and you’d be ok.
The cops are friendly, the locals keep to themselves, the shack owners may want to fleece you with overpriced food but they want the beaches to be safe. They’ve understood that it’s in their long-term interest to offer safety.
Of course there would be a few unscrupulous elements but that’s everywhere in the world. My rule of thumb is, give respect and you shall get it!
8C. Finding work in Goa
Let’s say you move here. And for some unfortunate reason, you cant continue with your work. What do you do? If you are like me that don’t have any sellable skills (writing, designing, singing, photography-ing, hustling et al), how do you find meaningful work?
Well, they say that Goa is like a village. Everyone knows everything about everyone else. And I have seen that in action! Numerous times. So much so that I am cursing myself for not knowing how to make connections at these villages. I suck at networking 🙁 You will need to find your place in this village to get work!
The best way to get work in Goa is through closed networks.
Some Facebook groups are very active and people from the community share all sorts of opportunities. I recommend Offbeat Goa. Do check it out. I know someone that knows the lady that started it. I have met her just once, that too for like 0.2 seconds and thus I don’t have a personal opinion per se. But If gossip is to be believed, she’s an incredible woman. #note2self: need to make friends with her.
In terms of the kind of businesses, there are film companies (famously, Anand Gandhi’s Memesys Lab), event agencies (C4E Goa :D), design companies, social media agencies, production labels, alco-bev companies, and more. And of course, there are traditional businesses like mining, shipping, trading, etc. And FMCG, auto, finance, etc. Of course restaurants, bars, shacks, etc. So, there are jobs for sure! Quite a few.
But then there are more takers than that. You’d have to work hard to land one. Really.
Plus salaries are a fraction of what you’d expect in places like Mumbai. So that.
Oh, a word of caution. If you have decided to move here for good and you can’t find the kind of work that you really want, please be a tad flexible. I’ve met writers that have become bartenders, guitarists that have become travel bloggers, event managers that are now chefs, and so on and so forth. You get the drift.
PS: I am considering if things don’t work out, I will probably run a cafe here. I hope I get enough to support all the bachchas that I have 🙂
8D. Medical Care
This is something that I found lacking here. Even though Goa has a few medical institutions like GMC and Manipal, I found even the first-aid kinda lagging. But again, luckily I haven’t had the need to go visit a doctor.
But if you have any medical conditions or young children or old parents, I will not recommend the move.
8E. Going back from Goa
In case things don’t work out and you have to move out from Goa, I am sorry that it did not work out. Here’s what you must do. In bullet points…
Take back cheap alcohol. Of course, there is a limit to a number of bottles you can carry back 😀
PLEASE do tell me why you’re going back. It will help me update this page.
So this it is. For the Ultimate Guide to Living in and Remote Working from Goa. Hope this was helpful and told you things that you already did not know.
9. In the end…
This comprehensive guide is from my experience of working remote from Goa for 2 months. I work as a brand planner and marketer and gross generalizations are my bread and butter and I could be biased. So, read with a pinch of salt.
Plus, the way I look at things could be different from the way you look at em. So that!
For context, I am 38, M. Single, and no kids. So please be advised.
I am lucky that I know a few people that know Goa really well. Special mention to Nupura and Rajesh Sir. Both these are super-connectors and have helped me meet more people. These connections helped me get around fast and understand nuances better. Further, Rajesh Sir and VISCOMM allowed me to live at their home while I looked for more permanent accommodation. And Nupura chaperoned me around in the first few days and showing me around the “village”
NickyM‘s for the free Internet and the warmest hospitality I have experienced in all my travels across the world.
Riyanka for helping me with a draft of this one. She is among the best writers I know of. Do reach out to her if you need someone.
And everyone else that made me feel at home in Goa. And every one that did otherwise.
Oh, if you come to Goa, say hi! If you need something fixed for you while you are here, lemme know. I know someone that probably knows someone 😉
And if this guide helps you make a decision, do let me know. I am very active on Twitter. And do tell me how to make this better!
Over and out.
P.S.: One more thing. Do point out any mistakes – factual or otherwise in the piece so that I can make this better.
Got late in waking up. Too blank. Too much. Did now know what to write. You may want to skip this one.
9:13. Woke up a minute ago. Super late. I had literally passed out. Damn age is catching up.
I am in that blank daze state where I don’t know what to write. I can talk about how I spent yesterday – which was nothing to write home about – too many power cuts too often for too long, too many calls that I had to attend but could not, too many things to do that I could not.
Since its 9ish and a Monday, the world has woken up and I am required to make a living, I am breaking the rule (probably for the first time since I started these morning pages). But theek hai. Exceptions are ok. I am writing this as I juggle calls, emails, dark thoughts about life, glasses of water, the househelp cleaning and making a ruckus, the alert from my mobile phone about data that is getting exhausted, and all that. Also, since it’s Monday, Nicky’s is shut and I will have to go to Felix, Clay, or Royal Enfield. Probably, Felix, it’s still free till Feb.
Fuck the minds blank and I don’t know what to write. Lemme write in staccatos.
A friend told me that her 21 resolution is to get abs. No, she doesn’t really have flab per se. But she probably wants those washboard ones. I like the idea of tangible goals. If I could get anything done with my fitness, I’d love to gun for that as well! I love when people take up these self-development projects!
The word staccato itself is interesting to think about, come to think of it. I’ve read it numerous times in the context of gun-fire. I think in Jack Reacher books, if not John Grisham ones. Oh, how I crave to create a Jack Reacher! I do have a Rujuta but I don’t have a second book to talk about it. In fact, yesterday at Nicky’s one of the patrons picked #tnks and we had a short chat about writing, books, and more. Books are those social objects that we can chat over. Just that they are disappearing fast. I think the creators are moving to create content for screens and thus readers are unable to find great things to read. And vice versa. Readers are moving to the screen and hence creators are not incentivized to write books. Wish something could break this and create more books. No, for a change, I am not excited about this problem to actually try and solve 🙂 Guess this is my coming of age!
Dont know what else to write. Time to write the piece on #book2.
The #freewriting piece for #book2 today is inspired by a real-life incident that I saw unfold yesterday. Here we go…
The thing with Goa is that apart from the ones that own parcels of land, everyone is an outsider. You could own a flat, a shop, an establishment or whatever. But you are an outsider. And like all outsiders, you either stay within your limits. Or you get bashed up. The scene’s played multiple times over at multiple places in multiple avatars. The local Goan would do what he deems fit. The temporary tourist would do what he deems fit. An argument will follow. Most times it would end in the intervening and breaking the fight up. But once in a while, it would reach a proportion where one of the two would get aggressive and things would take a turn for the worse. This is what happened at Caravan Serai that night.
Chintan was perched on his stool, lost in his pages. Udita was hovering around as she kept an eye on the staff and the patrons. Mrs. Gomes was somewhere in the kitchen. And then one loud, young man pushed Darpan, a staff member so hard that he crash landed into another table and knocked another patron off. Udita yelled at no one in particular, “what the fuck!”
They say when you are really angry, you use cuss words from your mother tongue. Udita had no mother tongue. She did not know what it was. Awadhi? Marathi? Konkani? English? Whatever it was. She still cussed in English. That felt the most natural to her.
She had rushed to the table and was trying to understand what had transpired. Other members of the staff were crowding around. Some guests were also hoping to catch a sight of the action. All they could see in the melee was Udita and another young woman talking animatedly. The other woman was clearly with the patron that had started the ruckus.
From his corner, Chintan could see that Udita was trying to reason with them and when she folded her hand to apologize to the guests, Chintan knew that she was way out of her way. Udita that he had come to known would’ve probably tackled this differently. Guess this is what coming of age is? Since Mrs. Gomes had started to rely more on Udita to manage work at Caravan Serai, she had shown surprising maturity.
The young couple continued to yell at the staff. This was not the Caravan Serai that the patrons frequented. Mrs. Gomes was at the scene now and was profusely apologising to the guests. Raunak stood right next to her and like any well-trained second-in-command knew that he lets his benefactor be the alpha. Mrs Gomes on the other hand was being anything but alpha as she tried to calm the nerves down.
And they did. From the time Mrs. Gomes came in, it took less than a minute for the situation to disperse and the cheerful calm to come back to Caravan Serai. Mrs Gomes clapped thunderously with her frail hands and spoke out loud, “ok then, ladies and gents, that was some fun! The next round of the drinks in on the house. Let’s have a great time”. And like on the queue, Josh started to belt out the Piano Man, on well, his guitar!
Over and out. Need to get up early from tomorrow on!
One of those days when I have nothing special to report. Read. Or skip.
A funny thing happened. I woke up without an alarm, even though I slept late and I think I slept well, even though I have a lot on my mind. Don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. May be I am getting used to the idea of waking up around 6? After all, I have been consistent with it last two days. Lol. Consistent. 2 days.
Anyhow, so yesterday I got myself a new laptop (I had ordered it last week and took some 10 days to get delivered). It’s the new Apple M1 Air, which, if experts are to be believed, is the best damn laptop that Apple has made in years.
Got something this expensive after I think 4 or 5 years or so (and this too from the points that I have accumulated. I am in no place to make capital expenses). However, surprisingly, I am not excited about it at all. The older me loved gadgets like I love life. I’d fiddle with gadgets for hours, read up, do some geeky things. I would configure things, try to optimize things and I don’t know what all but no, not with this one. After I logged into the Apple account, I haven’t even touched it. I am still on the old Air and typing away to glory.
I think I am getting close to being a robot.
A good thing and a bad thing. I am so detached from it that I did not even carry the box along with me (if you know Apple fans, they like to retain boxes, covers, stickers, packaging material and don’t know what all).
The other interesting thing that happened yesterday was that I worked out of this new place called The Design Centre at Porvorim (they don’t have a website – this page is closest that it comes to seeing information about them). I think byfar they have the best Internet connection among all the places I have been to. Maybe because they run an architectural firm from there? I should totally go there more often. Just that they do not have an AC.
In fact, it’s lovely in terms of where it is. In the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees and vegetation and nature. I am not sure if I will be inspired more to work but the location is definitely inspiring. That’s the thing. Every place I goto in Goa, because it is Goa, it is done really nicely. Here are a couple of photos (very badly composed / shot etc)…
Of course, Indian Cricket Tam won at the Gabba after some 30 years. No, I don’t follow cricket anymore and I am not qualified to talk about. But I will talk about two things here.
A, I love the idea of brilliance that professional sports bring out. In fact I’ve always wanted to use a competitive game, a sport as a hiring tool. It shows character like nothing else. You get to know who’s a sore winner, a graceful loser, a person that tries hard, a player that plays for the team (and not for self), the one that doesn’t give up.
B, I am waiting for all the brilliant stories, op-eds, write-ups, and other such things that will come out in the next few days about the grit and the determination and teams. It is inspiring to read about people that work hard and do great things. And even more inspiring to read from writers that can capture the stories so well! Each piece makes me aware of my limitations – as a person and as a writer. And each time I reminded, I am inspired! To do more. To become better. To write better. To leave everyone around me better. If you are reading this, do point me to some interesting pieces I can read about. Here’s one such piece from the IPL that I LOVED about Rahul Tewatia.
Ok. So other things that I am thinking about?
Yeah. Societal appreciation of what you’ve done!
People don’t care what you’ve done (most people don’t go deep into what you’ve done, or how you’ve done). The only thing they care about is if you’ve done something. Certificates, tags, recommendations work. No one cares about the process. Remember the difference between a writer and a blogger? That! It is getting reinforced.
I’ve never craved for it to be honest but I do like the idea of getting doors to open for me when I am trying things. I have figured a way to do it. And I have done that for a lot of people now. But when it comes to myself, I haven’t been able to. I now
I also realized my limitation with making new friends / connections. I realized that I need a few conversations to get started with people. And once that happens I am ok. People generally like me. I generally like people. That works out well. But the trouble is, I am super awkward when it comes to social constructs – you know, at parties, at events, at public gatherings. I am so old that I am literally dead but I am unable to find a way to break through it! And unless I find a way out of this, I will probably remain a blogger and will never be a writer!
Guess that’s it. Nothing else to report. Ennui has set in. I am still not using Roam, Asana, and other such tools. Been away from them since I came to Goa – I think not having reliable internet is to blame. I’ve been talking to people and the only solution is to get two leased lines at the place you live. The one I am at right now is temporary. Come February, I will decide. Another 10 or so days to go. Let’s see. I am leaning towards a permanent move to Goa. Let’s see how it goes.
On to #freewriting for #book2. It’s 7:39. Will write till 8. Or so.
“When is enough enough?” Siddh Paul flung a question.
In attendance were the current group of 8 pupils. Each year, Siddh would identify 8 men to add to the ever-expanding family. Always family. Always 8. Always men. No backup. No exceptions. He couldn’t make exceptions even if he wanted to. It was coded in their book. The book was the last word on everything you ever did. The book said each year 8 new members had to be identified and then trained and then made to take the oath of allegiance to the family. No, the family did not believe in the bonds of the blood.
Ok, not happening. 7:57. Lemme change track and give another 15 mins. Till 8:15. Leaving the para above to demonstrate the struggle 😉
Attempt 2 at #freewriting.
The father-son duo were a force to reckon with. The two of them commanded respect and reverence. From all corners of the tiny state they called home.
Siddh for his discourses about religion, his openness to embrace and understand both Hinduism and Christianity. For his acceptance of others that did not see the world from his lens. For his neverending well of compassion and kindness that he continued to pour out from. For his indifference towards the ones that touted him as a farce, a fraud. For the righteousness that was unexpected from someone like him. Someone that comes from the lineage, affluence, and old money. And for his detachment to the very things that make humans, human. Including his family and his only son, Ankit.
Ankit, for his ruthlessness with business, the stronghold he had with the politicians and local panchayat members across the state. For all the Goans he had given employment to in his various businesses, many that no one but Ankit only knew about. Some journalists estimated that he had more than 2000 people working for him. Most of these were insignificant. Mere hands that Ankit used to get things done. Easily replaceable, dispensable, and made redundant. What these journalists couldn’t see was that he also had scores of people of power that ran the complex web that Ankit ran.
Nothing special to report in this one. This is more like a journal of how I spent my yesterday. You can skip reading this.
Had a pretty ok yesterday. Compared to the day before. Worked some. Wrote some. Tried a new coworking space in Goa (Felix). No, the internet did not work well. Neither did the phone. So it is as good as Clay, just that Felix is free for the whole of Jan. So I can save some money. Will go again today and report. Oh, while working, a friend told me to play music from video games. He had a convincing argument – video games are designed to help me level up (difficulty, experience, immersion) but for some reason, it did not work for me. I’ll try again today before giving up. Nikhil is an advocate of electronic music. However, I did listen to (and enjoyed) this lo-fi version of a track that talks about how friends need to come to Goa once a week at least. Fuck I really want to write, make films.
Anyhow, I also managed to do OMAD! Yay! Realised that when I am busy and I don’t have options, I don’t eat a lot. When I work from Nicky’s place, I am in a cafe that makes amazing food. And thus I eat like a pig. When am Clay, the kitchen shuts at 5ish. And I don’t eat a lot. At Felix, the kitchen is non-operational and surprisingly, even if I was hungry, I did not feel like eating. So that helped. And yes, once I was back, I promptly had Maggi (lol) and some 20 kinds of chips.
Then, I sent an SoG after a while. Read it here. Need to move from Mailchimp. I also sent a Letter to Bade Log (Bade Log is some 10-12 people are senior and I know they care for me). In both, among other things, I talk about Living in Public. These morning pages is an attempt in that direction!
Finally, as I was waking up, I even had a dream. This one was funny. It had my parents, M&m, and me on some sort of a video call. No, my folks haven’t ever met M&m but it was funny to see them in one frame. Guess this is the acceptance my brain needed that M&m are an integral part of me? After all, when dreaming, we reinforce things that our subconscious is thinking of.
So that was yesterday.
Today, am going to try something daring. I will move my blog from blogger to this domain. There are some 2000 posts. Let’s see if I crash this one. I have Abhinav, Advait, and Arpit on standby ;P. You’d know tomorrow morning 🙂
There is nothing large that is clouding my head to be honest. Except work 😀
Not sure what else to report on. Except I liked how I spent my day yesterday. I just need to add some friends and family during the day and I can continue to live like that. Of course, I need to identify something meaningful that I can spend my time on. May be writing it is? It gives me joy and it allows me to reach more people. I need to merely figure out how to get better at it!
Onto #book2 #freewriting piece for the day.There is no mood per se today, unlike yesterday. So, let’s see what comes up. It’s 7:41 and I have a 27% battery. I will write till 8 (or till the battery runs out).
You know how it is when you are traveling on a train in India? The night has fallen and the scenery is rushing past you? In distance, maybe in some other coupe, someone is playing some really old, corny music that wafts to your ears. You know that you know the track but you can’t keep your finger over it. It irks you but it also comforts you. Everything about the journey is discomforting. The thunderous speed with which the train moves. The bright lights in the middle of nowhere that rush past you before you could figure what they were shining on. The slow dance the metal box is in as it moves forward. Tired eyes of strangers, over-friendly travelers that try hard to break the monotony with small talk. Wait, they are passengers. Not travelers. The only thing that comforts you is that faint music coming from that other coupe that crane your ears to latch onto.
To Sita, it seemed all the more strange. Her experience with popular Bollywood music was very limited. She was raised in a strict community where even the women were expected to learn how to fight. And no, not fight to save in case of an emergency but fight to go on the offensive and be at the frontline. Fight to become an assassin. Yes, they were told that all their training that they literally spilled their blood for may never be used. While they were ready to kill and get killed at the drop of a hat, they were told that they like almost everyone in their community, would die of old age. The unlucky ones that did die early on were the ones that were called to literally throw away their lives when they turned 18. What a waste. You train since you are 4. You spend 14 years learning how to wield weapons in a strict community. And as you turn 18, you need to fight a group of 4 other assassins that have been tasked to kill you. These 4 could be your parents, best friends, even your own wife. They don’t show no mercy when they attack you. And on your 18th birthday, you need to keep yourself alive in a melee that lasts an entire day. That’s your rite of passage. That’s your license to live from here on. Only to hope that you’d come useful in that unknown war that not even the seniors in the community knew when it was coming.
Sita knew she was the best of the lot. Maybe that’s why she was chosen to be sent on this journey. By herself. When you were called, you had to make the journey by yourself. Nah, they were not scared of those petty wayside robbers. They were more scared of the ways of the world outside the boundaries of their commune. Out there, the world moved too fast and it had no honor and no respect for traditions.
Unlike other kids, Sita had shown literally no emotion ever. Even when she bled for the first time, she was bereft of any fear or confusion. She did not even ask a question. She reported it matter-of-factly to her brother, who was 2 years older. The brother was aghast and did not know how to respond. When she skinned her first goat, her face was as stoic as that of a priest deep in meditation. On her 18th birthday, it was the other 4 that tapped out. It had never happened and no one knew what punishment to give to those 4. One of those was her own father. The community had probably found its future leader in Sita. And if not the leader, then the warrior that will lead them into the war. Whenever that war happened. Whenever she would be required to make that journey. The journey she was on. The journey where she sensed familiarity with those popular tracks. The journey that would not take her where she intended to reach!
Ok, I enjoyed writing this. The time is 8:13. And the battery is 9%. Did not realize when 8 AM came and went. Flow, baby! While reviewing, realized that it has come out nice. Need to work on sentence formation and grammar.
Over and out for the day.
See you guys tomorrow.
Also, I send this link to some people on WhatsApp as a daily update. In case you want to get this as well, lemme know.