We woke up to Raksha’s voice coming through the window, “Girls… girls!!! It’s 4:40!!!” We quickly threw on our clothes and grabbed a bite before our 5 am departure to the airport. As seven of us boarded the bus in the dark, our three-week stay in India felt like a dream. While we were going through the past three weeks they felt infinite, as if we would never reach the end, but here we were and it felt surreal. We waited at the gate for our flight only to discover that there was an hour delay. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep but that feeling that this would never end returned and that hour felt like five. I’ve never been on a domestic flight that stops in different cities along the way. The route the plane was scheduled for was Mumbai then Delhi then Srinagar. Because of the delay we were now an hour behind schedule and anxiety overcame me. Our connecting flight out of Delhi was departing an hour after we landed… what if we didn’t make it?? Sitting on the plane after our first stop in Mumbai we waited to take off for the second time and that never ending feeling returned again. After finally landing in Delhi we said some quick goodbyes, then Rachel and I had to run around the entire airport to catch our next flight to London. We were unable to transfer through so we had to collect our luggage, go all the way back to departures, check in to get our next boarding pass, go through security again and then run to the gate. The gate was of course at the very end of the terminal. Out of breath and red in the face we just made it for final boarding. It felt like we would be living in transit forever and this airplane would be my new home but after another nine long hours we were finally in London. Sitting in my friends apartment in London looking back on these past three weeks, it feels strange that we were in India for what feels like forever but in a weeks time when I leave to return home to Toronto, this trip will probably feel like forever ago… But I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it was an experience we will never forget.
With a day packed full of activities, sleeping in was not an option. Our day began early in the morning with an introduction to the Dean of the Faculty of Design Gayle Nicoll and her husband John who joined us for the day. After an hour-long bus ride to North Goa we arrived at Aguada Fortress, aguada meaning ‘watering place’ in Portuguese. We were reminded upon arrival to the fort that when visiting tourist destinations we become the main the main attraction, families and little children asking us (sometimes begging) that we take a photo with them. On a hot Saturday morning most of our replies were “No photos please.”
Goa is unique because of its Portuguese influence and our next destination displayed Indo-Portuguese architecture that can only be seen in this state. This Architecture Museum is located within an exclusively designed geometric household. Its winding spiral staircase and circular windows were able to captivate the group for a while but hunger crept up on us. We all decided to have seafood and Raksha recommended Ritz Classic, a restaurant famous for their Goan cuisine. Because of the popularity of this place, the only way to accommodate all their incoming guests was to have them wait by a table that was still eating. After standing awkwardly watching people eat we were finally seated and eventually rushed out again. After lunch we visited the Ruins of St. Augustine. The Portuguese government ordered its demolition after it was abandoned due to the expulsion of the religious orders from Goa. Artifacts from this church were either lost or sold and dispersed within other churches in Goa and the bell from the tower was actually taken to the Aguada Fortress first but now resides in the Lady Immaculate Church in Panaji. Our final stop was at a functioning church called Basilica of Bom Jesus. There was a wedding service going on but we were still able to explore one side of the church and even saw the preserved body of Saint Xavier. After a slow day of sightseeing a few of us decided to walk to the beach. With the sand between our toes, the sky painted orange and grilled corn with masala and lime in hand we watched the sunset fall into the Arabian Sea.