No that is not the sad squawk of a dying bird, but one of the famed drinks in Goa, made from the distilled and fermented extracts of the cashew fruit. In a clear glass, it looks cloudy, quite similar to coconut milk, but is easily identifiable by its characteristic strong smell!
It was Holi and I was all alone.
The sea called to me, and I left home for the shores of Ashwem beach. Walking along the sandy coast, I heard loud music thumping from close by.
What was happening?
It was the Soma Project, a relaxed beachside resort and restaurant I had visited earlier. They play great electronic and trance music. I entered the Soma Project from the sea side, and was immediately greeted by a raucous bunch of guys. They were the staff, bartenders and waiters, who ran the place. They had arranged for the Uraak to be brought locally and were now enjoying the same. I was invited to partake.
So of course, I did.
Practical tip: It is generally advised not to buy Uraak from the highways while on the road. The product may be contaminated with other liquids and can be dangerous. Drink only with trusted people as far as possible.
I sat down with Hitesh, the marketing manager and André, the Russian. A big friendly happy go lucky fellow, it was André’s last day in India and he was wondering what all this commotion was about.
We had a few glasses of Uraak, then proceeded to dance on the floor, encouraged by the shouts of Hitesh, Rocky and others. Maria and a few other guests at the resort joined in the celebrations. We had a wonderful time dancing to trance songs interspersed with some Bollywood numbers!
All this Uraak was for free. Since it was Holi, they just wanted everybody to be happy and have fun.
I finally walked out after saying goodbye to André, Maria, Rocky and others.
I went to another restaurant called the Baba Huts to have some more food and rest while the Uraak wore off. After a scrumptious Chicken Sizzler and Cheese Toast, I settled down with a hot Ginger Lemon tea.
It was nice to see the sunshine on the sea, turning the water to gold. I spoke to a few people from the UK sitting in the restaurant, a girl named Scarlet and 2 other guys, Tom and Phil. Sipping my tea, I got know that they were in Goa on vacation. Scarlet actually worked for an Indian family based in the UK as governess for their children, and was on a break because of school holidays. Tom and the others were around my age (25-26) and just here to chill. It is quite nice to meet with other travelers and share stories. You always get to hear something new, and learn how others think from a different perspective.
The bill at Baba Huts came to Rs. 410 (around US$), which is pretty decent considering the quality and quantity of the dishes served. I recommend the place for a relaxed afternoon of swimming and soaking the sun, especially convenient if you are based in North Goa. You can easily move to Morjim, Mandrem and Arambol from the Ashwem beach.
Happy belated Holi to you all!
Have you ever celebrated Holi in India? What did you like best about it? What’s your craziest Holi story?
Share your stories in the comments below :)!