On our first Tuesday in Goa, Sheena and I decided to take a bus trip into Margao, or Madgaon as it is sometimes known, the second largest town in Goa, and the commercial capital. The local language spoken in Margao, and Goa, is Konkani, although the dialect is different here from in North Goa. Most people also speak Hindi, and, fortunately, English.
The bus ride cost us 20 rupees each – about 20p. It probably took an hour to get to there, so it was really good value. There are no bus stops, you just wait by the side of the road and stick our your hand when the appropriate bus approaches. All the buses are privately owned in India, there is no public transport. The bus ride itself was an experience. The “air conditioning” was open windows, and there was a sign at the front of the bus that said, “No smoking, no alcohol, no spitting.” There were also signs saying that the right hand side of the bus was for women, although no-one seemed to take any notice of that.
Margao was described to me as a slightly tired, grand old lady. It is the main travel hub in that part of Goa – if you want to travel by public transport to the capital, Panjim, or one of the other major towns, Vasco da Gama, you go via Margao. It houses Goa’s busiest (and biggest) railway station. For me, it was a very typical Asian town – broken pavements, dust, lots of people, lots of noise, and heat.
One of the main tourist sights in Margao is the covered market (Closed Market as it is called locally). This type of market is still common in India, although they are becoming less so because of the fire risks. Nonetheless, this one was bustling. There was just about everything you could have wished for here: from shoes to mops, flowers to food but it was very hot and very crowded, with it’s labyrinth-like paths branching off at intervals. It would be very easy to get lost there. Quite scary, I should imagine.
Sheena and I met an Indian lady whose name was Sarah, she told us she came from Rajasthan. We got chatting to her, and I think it took her all of five minutes before she pulled a silver bracelet out from her sari and asked if we’d like to buy it. We told her we’d come to look for her stall, but we wanted something to drink first, so she very kindly showed us to a nearby bar.
We did try to find her when we went back to the covered market. We met another lady on the way, asked if she knew Sarah (which brought forth some sort of expletives about Rajasthanis). She followed us all the way round the market! We never did find Sarah’s stall, which is no surprise to me now I’ve been there. I wouldn’t have found my feet had they not been attached to me.
There are other tourist attractions in Margao – there are a number of churches and temples, but perhaps more importantly, the town square, which houses a pretty amazing library with books in Hindi, English, Konkani and Portuguese! There is also the town hall which is really very European (or do I mean English?), opposite which are the Municipal Gardens, laid out very much like typical municipal gardens in the UK.
After a couple of hours, the heat had taken its toll on us so we returned to Cavelossim, by bus again, which was even more interesting since the conductor got off before our journey was complete! Somehow, we passed the test and alighted exactly where we wanted to!
Next week, I will tell you about our next outing.
© Susan Shirley