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Mineral Waters

Mineral Waters
Nothing stirred at the Bougainvillea, not a leaf, nor a waiter. But Shatu, the resident dog, shook off a cloud of red dust, waddled across for the ritual Indian Airlines biscuit and quickly disappeared with it into a thicket of shiny crotons, as I parked my rented 800 under a knotted mango tree. The swirling waters of the wide Zuari, an unforgettable, glittering jewel of a sight at Chicalim near the airport, had also flown muddy-red with the manganese-rich Goan soil from the barges that carry Goa's prime export mineral to the Mormugao harbour, the wide mouth where the river merges with the Arabian Sea. I had stopped for a beer and could not resist a quick wade with rolled up trousers—now also aflame with manganese-markings.

"Koisha?" I asked Augustus, in pathetic Konkani, as the manager of the quiet bungalow-hotel in Anjuna village sauntered up rubbing his eyes. It was siesta, Goans take that seriously and so do I, whenever I'm in India's smallest but brightest gem of a state, located thousands of rupees and flight-miles away from Delhi. "Bora, bora," he murmured, stretching his yawn into a smile of welcome.

The Bougainvillea, also known as Grandpa's Inn, is not for ranters, ravers, trancers or tattooed motorheads with skewers in their cheeks and safety-pins through their lips. It's for tired old journos, phone-weary city slickers, and escapists who want nothing but nirvana through a good book and a quiet caju feni on the wide patio, when the sun goes down without so much as a farewell plop into the surging Arabian Sea.
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