A week back I was in Goa letting the cold waves lap my feet and soaking up the warmth that the sun and sand together exuded, trapping me in a space of ultimate calmness. Breaking the reverie of my thoughts sporadically was my son’s shrieking voice as he jumped happily over a wave playing a self-invented game that involved beating the wave by asking it to “go back” and him winning it. I love taking pictures and especially my son’s, and so intermittently I’d try to capture his enthusiasm for the beach, the sunset, and the beauty of this place where land meets water. This was a much-desired change of scene that we needed from zoom meetings, working from home (trying to work from home in my case), and the minor debacles that erupted because on some days we were over-tired parents of a hyperactive child trying to make through the day. My son’s fourth birthday allowed us to take this little break and indulge in some time at a place that was relaxing and enjoyable together. Although it does surprise me that this was my second trip to this place this year and yet how different the experiences were. Where last time it was more about enjoying the place in amazing company, this time around it was about unwinding in a resort life occasionally wandering about in lanes to discover a new place to eat. What remained the same though was my exploration of yet another book café.
Artjuna is a lifestyle café in the area of Anjuna that is a sprawling space emitting a vibe of serene cheer. The buzz in there is mostly from the conversations that I am sure is accompanied by great food and coffee. With a very rustic and ambient look of cane chairs and big fans sprouting their heads from the walls is this place that caters to the needs of every person visiting. Lovely artwork greets you in the alley the moment you enter the café. What drew me in was a small nook that had a small treehouse, a swing, and a slide (my mommy mind thinking – ahh, looks like my son will be a little busy and leave me in peace for a while!) and of course the section that housed the books! Under the sweltering heat- a mode Goa decided to switch on- I placed an order for iced coffee and made my way towards checking out the bookshelves.
The books were mostly of a different language. I even spotted a Khalid Hosseini book- The Thousand splendid suns- which was in a language other than English. The shelves that had the English books were quite less, and upon talking to a friend from my bookish community, the one who suggested Artjuna in the first place told me the method in which the books end up coming here. There is usually a book exchange that takes place and tourists visiting have an option to exchange their books from the ones present on the shelves. The reason for a fewer number of books in English this time would be because of fewer tourists traveling and hence a dip in the exchange. I didn’t carry any books for the exchange but I know what to do when I am here the next time. And in case you are wondering if this is a place worth visiting twice, I feel very ecstatic to report that it is.
As I said, it is a lifestyle café- books, food, coffee, shops, and artifacts to browse and buy. As an avid reader, my first attention hopped on towards the books, but as I sat there observing people and the place, I realized it is a place to everyone’s delight. A food connoisseur will marvel at the smoothies and savories they offer. I see myself spending a good few hours chatting to a girlfriend, or writing, or just doing some holiday reading on my next visit.
I worded my love for book cafés in my last blog post-Goa a new revelation; which was also the first time I made this exploration and decided to continue doing this at every place I visited. Goa, for now, has made me a very happy soul by presenting me with two book café’s that are distinct in their very own style- a Portuguese villa turned into an extensive library and a vintage-looking charming space buzzing with people- they are a haven for a book lover or even for folks who like spending time with themselves or company.
What more does one need on a good holiday- scrumptious food, a satisfying cuppa, soul time to do things they love. For my son, it was splashing in the waves and running around in the gardens, for my husband it was inhaling the quietness of his time on the beach, and for me being surrounded by the comfort of the written word, stories, dusty spines, and yellow pages. I might not have understood the title on the book cover but finding a peacock feather in one of the books made me smile. I couldn’t help think of the person who’d have put it there. And in moments like these, language doesn’t matter, what matters is stories were written, and some traveled across the border to find a place in these shelves; something that elicits the sentiments and ease of being at home when you are miles away.
Visiting these café’s is also my feeble attempt to make my son more aware of the places that house books apart from our home. It is my try at building memories for him, so he can reminisce the place later in his life and recall the memory of looking at shelves with me. When you are a reader, you always dream of raising a reader.