I am happy to note that the Great Eastern Shipping Company is planning to reopen the sea route to Goa. There is no better way of travelling to Goa.
I have fond memories of my first visit to Goa, which was by one of thelast of the Scindia ships. Two minor Scindia officials came to the ferry wharf to see me off. I was an important person then, being a reporter with The Times Of India. They took me on board, showed me into a cabin with three or four other paasengers, and waved bon voyage as the boat slowly moved out of the harbour.
I think there were two cabins on board, we were first class, the rest of the passengers were in the hold, a large number of them, with guitars and children, they were second class.
Outside the cabin were cane chairs. As I sat in one of them and watched the Bombay skyline gently disappearing, the other passengers joined me. I recall only two of them: A Goan from the US, going home, and a police officer from Pune) at that time it was Poona), travelling to one of the in-between ports for a murder investigation. The Goan arranged with a steward for a bottle of feni and offered me a drink. It was my first feni. I did not like it then, I do not like it now, though with pineapple juice it is tolerable.
The ship was old, I think it was its second last voyage to Goa. It groaned and craked as it sailed down the Konkan coastline, a blur of land and hills. Somewhere there a man had been killed, the police officer was going to investigate. He was a forensic expert.
Lunch was in a small wood-panel room with framed photograhps of the shipâ€™s company on the walls. And lunch was brown soup and boiled cabbage and fish curry and rice and bread pudding and coffee. The butler who served it was as old as the ship.
Downstairs, in the hold, the canteen was serving thalis and bhajias and glasses of tea. There was much laughter.
In the evening, we anchored outside a port. Passenger, including the officer, climbed down the side of the ship, get into little row boats, and disappered in the dark. In the gathering gloom, I could see the outlines of a Maratha fort. Some of the passengers would be taking State Transport buses and proceeding further.
There was another port in the middle of the night. I have only a vague feeling about it, the shipâ€™s engines having stopped throbbing, voices from the boats below.
But I have an absolute recall of the morning. The ship sailing into the creeek, land on both sides, the Aguada prison on a hill, a lighthouse compettiung with the early sun. We entered the port outwide the Palace. There were Goans on the wharf, come to receive their more prosperous relations from Bombay. That was then. Now the more prosperous relations come from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and they are greeted at Dabolim airport.