There I was – alone, on a deserted sandy, pristinely clean beach, with a gorgeous surf-laden sea in front, a gentle breeze that carried the salty tang of the tumultuous waves, a cloudy grey sky sparing me the harsh rays of the late afternoon sun, and infinite calm that surrounded me from every side. Was it a dream? Not a chance!
I was soaking in the tranquil ambience of the recently opened Azaya Beach Resort in Benaulim, South Goa. And it offered the perfect answer of a weekend break from my gruelling schedule of meeting deadlines on a daily basis, and thankfully inaccessible to pesky callers who constantly disturb my train of thought while I write and edit.
I was welcomed by Rajesh Gupta, GM Azaya, along with Sreyashi and Kiran from the resort who made me feel completely at home from the very first minute. What they told me was elixir for my soul: there was no itinerary to follow or ‘fun activities’ created to fill up every hour of my stay. I could do whatever I liked. Or, nothing at all. It was entirely ‘Me Time’!
I was shown to my spacious modern room that had all the trappings of a five star resort including mini bar stocked with replenishing delights, giant flat TV, even a bathtub in a corner of the room. To my immense surprise and delight, I was led outside to my very own private plunge pool! I was smitten. So, for the next two days I chose to spend as much time as possible lounging on a deck chair on the beach, watching the mesmerizing monsoon moods of the waves or splashing around in ‘my very own’ pool in perfect privacy.
However, when in a five star resort, can you overlook the wide array of cuisines on offer? I was treated to sumptuous fare for every meal of my stay. The first evening we enjoyed the ‘pub’ like ambience of the Lynx bar with its terrace where I checked out Wasabi Prawns, Bhuna Gosht Lamb Tarts, Chicken Satay and other delectable items. Dinner followed with an authentic North Indian flavor. Head chef Swatantra Gautam explained, that the ‘Nalli Botti Khorma’ made with local ingredients “for fullest taste”, had taken many hours to cook for the meat to be so succulent and tender, while the flavoursome ‘Daal Dera Ismail Khan’ had been simmering for 48 hours to give that mellow buttery texture. Exotic breads like stuffed Jaitoon Lahsun Naan, Pudina Lachcha Paratha accompanied the main dishes. A delicious Tiramisu brought the meal to a perfect sweet end.
I awoke the next morning to the harmony of twittering. Mind you, these were actual twitters, meaning bird song, and not the nuisance that we humans have carved into our existence of communicating! After a hot cappuccino to awaken me properly, I stepped outside my room where the pool awaited, into its invitingly blue waters. Surrounded by lush foliage, it was the perfect surrounding with not a soul in sight, just the cloudy sky above and the amiable chirping of tiny birds. Being monsoon season, the weather was welcomingly pleasant. Goa can be uncomfortably humid from April till June.
There were several options for breakfast: typical American with bacon, sausage, ham, and eggs done whichever way you preferred, or South Indian with dosa, idly, sambar, chutney or North Indian that had puri/ parathas with sabzi, and more. Tempted by stuffed parathas, I chose the gobi version, relishing it with a large dollop of butter, accompanied with yoghurt and pickle.
Next I headed for the beach for relaxing on a deckchair, and began reading a Wodehouse novel. Soon enough I began to chuckle, knowing well that I could even chortle to my heart’s content and not draw anyone’s attention. Well, I was the only one on the beach, not counting the wary security guard standing a discreet 50 yards away, keeping a watchful eye on me, in case I suddenly made a dash for the waves. Swimming is not allowed during the monsoon because the sea becomes dangerously unpredictable. The resort has water-sports on the beach like speedboats and paragliding in summer with special dining options right there.
Soon it was time for our Goanese lunch. Chef Swatantra had prepared it with much planning and care. It included Goanese red rice, Chicken Xacuti, Bhindi in coconut and kokum, Goan Fish curry, Prawn Balchao, and Lobster in traditional spicy masala. The Crème Brulee wrapped up a very filling meal.
A long solitary walk on the beach took care of the ‘digesting’ part and stepping into ankle-deep waters of the Arabian Sea was absolute joy. Indeed, sometimes it becomes essential to cut oneself off from human interaction and soak in the pleasure of complete solitude. (Yes, a security guard stood there, ever watchful).
The afternoon sped so fast and with twilight I had to return to my room to freshen up for the special Barbeque dinner planned for the final night. Sitting next to the main pool of the resort where it was being hosted, I felt a surge of inner calm and energy.
My flight home was the next afternoon. As I stepped into the aircraft, my old world of meeting deadlines, writing and editing, and facing the non-stop battering of annoying interruptions hit me full blast. But strangely I didn’t balk at the thought of the looming frenetic pace in store. I smiled to myself. I had been fully recharged. At Azaya. But then you will probably have guessed it by now.