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Stress free Goa? Naah!
Arati Menon Carroll |
February 07, 2006
A recent trip to Goa left me with a plaguing reflection: When it comes to the conduct of kids on holiday, what is kosher and what is not?
Let me present the incriminating circumstances. I am striking a languid pose by the pool of my hotel (more on that later) in sunny Goa, sipping at my 'special,' contemplating a plunge, when I spot a rather aggressive child having a go at another, and then another, with a blunt instrument of some sort, for what seemed like an extended period of time.
When the father of a bawling girl brought the injustice to attention of the aggressor's mother, her reaction was: "Things like this happen on holiday, teach your child to hit back".
I choked on my straw.
Now the sight of naked children cavorting in and around a pool has always unnerved me. It's like wearing white at Wimbledon. There is no exception to pool-appropriate attire, even if you're a child.
One day (on the same holiday) an unclothed child and his parents made their way to the water. Minutes later, the child had climbed out, was standing on the edge and aiming an interminable spray onto his mother and the pool.
His father unhurriedly nudged him towards the nearest bush, but it was too late to stop severe damage to the allure of the pool.
The mother maintained her sangfroid.
Suffice it to say my holiday was just not the same anymore. It must also be mentioned (although I understand that this is almost definitely an exception) that the only people who seemed to react negatively to this display of smuttiness were people unaccompanied by toddlers.
The others continued their laps around the sullied pool.
This take-it-easy parenting style is great for parents who don't want the stress that accompanies rule-breaking when on holiday, and unleashing kids on holiday can be great for building their self-assurance and the process of discovery, but how literally does one take 'chill-out in Goa' when it comes to one's children? Is the solution child-free zones like in some parts of Lanzarote? Or to just have kids of your own and develop empathy?
In fact, is holiday decorum on a general decline along with service in Goa? My 'mini-boutique' hotel took an hour and a half to oblige meal orders, never served water with it, was depleted of an electricity and water source every few hours and didn't censure the family whose French bulldog followed its owners into the pool (all in all, the pool was just not a good place to be) Am I wrong to protest poor service in a land where sosegad (easy going bordering on lazy) is a way of life? Is it discourteous to ask for courtesy in Goa?
Before you send me letters of commiseration, there were highpoints to the vacation... of the culinary kind. There are some of us who flock to Goa to follow the freshest gourmet trails over (what one veteran Goa tripper sordidly calls "the hippie, hepatitis and acid trail"). My recommendation for the season is La Terrasse in little Baga that dishes up a Marseilles seaport fare. The refined black and white aesthetic is a refreshing change from the standard kitsch. And partners Eric and Thierry (one dons a black robe, the other an apposite white) are impeccable hosts. The music of Jeanne Morreau and Edith Piaf is just as elevating as the gradient of the hillock it's on. Nice.