Last week I was told by my boss that I have to attend a Sales and Marketing Convention orgnised by the company.... in Goa! I have never visited Goa, though I have been dying to go for ages, so this news had me staring at him, dumbfounded with happiness, shaking his hand, barely listening to him giving out other details of the convention... I WAS FINALLY GOING TO GOA! That too company paid travel and hotel stay! A Free Trip! Can something be better than this?
Well to tell you the truth, a lot has been better than this.
I was so excited last Thursday, packing my stuff, taking clothes and accessories 'one requires at the beach!' I told my family, and they were so happy for me. Told my best friends, and they were jealous! Bragged about it to Rohit also, who had gone for a similar business convention to Goa last year only, without me ofcourse. I was on the top of the world, and I was all gung-ho when I reached the station that night.
And that is when it started. I came to know that we were boarding an unscheduled train to Goa. Which means no water or food or facilities provided during the journey, which itself is unpredictable, as unscheduled trains have no fixed timings, since other trains are given priority at signals. We boarded, not sure when we will reach Goa.
We woke up early Friday morning when some vendors came in selling breakfast. We managed to eat something in the morning, after being hungry all night, barely surviving on the few bottles of water and packets of chips we managed to buy from some station. We arrived in Goa 2 hours late, and in the scorching heat, made our way to the hotel in a thankfully AC bus. When we reached the hotel, more disappointment was to follow.
The hotel was recently taken over, the staff was on strike. The rooms were unkempt and stuffy and smelly, the AC did not work in our room, the plumbing was disastrous, there was no water provided, and forget about the toiletries and snacks freebies. An unresponsive room service, and PATHETIC FOOD, ruined our afternoon. Tired from the long journey and unrelenting heat, we slept till evening, when we went out and roamed around on a boring and empty beach in one corner of south Goa, which might as well have been any beach in Mumbai... you would not know the difference. It just did not FEEL like Goa.
After a terrible dinner that night, we woke up early Saturday morning to a worst breakfast, and managed to start the convention by 9 am. While the presentations and activities planned were interesting and gave lots of learning, the experience was a disaster. 200 people crammed in a hall, where the ACs were not working, and for 8 hours, we sat there, breaking only for an unexciting lunch, in the sweltering heat with not even cold water available to drink. We could not be gladder when the convention ended, halfway through people had lost all interest thanks to the insufferable environment.
That evening was the only silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud, when the hotel had prepared some entertainment. We were all given sea shell necklaces and straw hats, a face painter and a music band provided some entertainment. We retired late after a forgettable dinner, and Sunday afternoon, we were chucked out without being given lunch. Hungry and hot, we reached the railway station only to realise the train has been delayed. We finally had food in the railway station restaurant, which actually served worse food than the hotel, which I did not think was possible. After forcing ourselves to eat to stay alive, we sat in the sweltering heat for 5 hours before the train arrived, and again ran around every stop, trying to buy dinner.
None of us could be happier when we reached home on Monday afternoon, tired and hot and hungry. It was one of the worst trips ever, be it the travel arrangements, the hotel facilities or the weather. I appreciate my colleagues from HR, they tried hard to make the trip work, but frankly none of us were sad to end the disastrous trip.
And thus, since i did not experience the fun, the sun, the sands, the festivities, the awesome hotels, the food, the firangis, the feni, the ferry rides, the booze, the markets, the water sports etc., just like everything they did in Dil Chahta Hai, I still consider myself as someone who has NEVER been to Goa. Better think this way, than have the worst trip be the memory of my first trip to Magical Goa! I hope I get to go to Goa soon, and have a completely different and truly memorable experience!