Feisty@Fifty by Sudha Menon #5: Girls just want to have some fun!

Girls just want to have some fun. I’ve heard that a million times but somewhere in between chasing a cherished career, raising my only daughter and trying to be everything to everyone in the last three decades, I lost the plot and forgot to have fun. I let deadlines, diapers and dal chawal take precedence over date nights with the Significant Other or hanging out  with friends. Without my ever-knowing how it came to be, my population of friends dwindled down to a handful of them who, thankfully, stayed with me despite my consistent failure to nurture those relationships.

Last week, for the first time in years, I realised what it is to be footloose and fancy free in a world where all things fun is largely associated with youth, partying into the wee hours and burning up the wallet.  It began with a Whatsapp message from a dear friend: “Tickets bookd for Goa, girls. Let’s have some fun.” That was two months ago and deep down, I never thought it would work out. Which woman gets to plan her life that far into the future? What about the million things to do that land on our laps every week? What about my work? And the home?

And so, no one was more surprised than me when I landed up at the airport, all blow-dried, waxed, threaded, polished and buzzing in anticipation of four glorious days with my gang of smart, insanely adventurous girlfriends who share an irrepressible zest for life.

It was raining in Goa when we landed but that did not dampen our spirits in the least bit as we tucked into a hearty meal at Joet’s on Bogmalo beach, the choppy sea and wind-swept beach providing a dramatic backdrop to our adventure just begun. And as is wont to happen frequently when women get together around a shared meal, the conversation veered towards diets, the reason one or the other of us are frequently on diets and the wonders of working out the body and working on the mind. None of this, incidentally, stopped any of us – not even me who found my Aloo Gobi was made in a gravy of coconut milk and Cashew Paste – from tucking in generously.  They could make my Aloo Gobi in Feni for all I cared. We were in Goa to make merry and that is exactly what we did.

If fun had a price tag to it, ours would be tagged priceless. In the two-bedroom apartment that was our home for the next three days, we shed our frantic paces to adopt a gentler, more feminine rhythm, chatting late into the night, digging into chocolate cake, sipping wine or green tea and exchanging notes on the things that concern every woman – the wellbeing of our family, the health of our parents, the fear that we are not able to give them more time in their twilight years and that they might not be around when we finally get the time to be with them. We talked about love, loss, identity and menopausal mood swings, listened to old Hindi songs and we sat mesmerised as one of us recited a heart-breakingly beautiful poem by Gulzar. Early one morning, I led an impromptu writing workshop for the gang and was blown away by the diversity of our experiences . On two consecutive nights, we celebrated birthdays with roses, cake and much laughter and feasted on the leftovers for breakfast.

If my inability to fall asleep at night is a nightmare back home, it became a blessing in Goa as I lay in bed watching the magnificence of the sea and its changing moods over the course of the night. I soaked up the silence and watched the surf waltz up the deserted stretch of beach, relentlessly, unfailingly and retreat, spent and tamed. I watched as the fishermen emerged from their huts, took out their boats and headed into the mysterious grey of the sea and did not realise when I fell into blissful slumber.

Daytime we became gypsies, driving around the countryside, marvelling at the rivers swollen with bountiful monsoon, gasping at the endless vistas of emerald green paddy fields and chatting over endless cups of coffee, insipid tea and decadent dessert in quaint cafes. Late one afternoon we drove to installation artist, Dr Subodh Kerkar’s Museum of Goa, a gem of a find tucked away in a nondescript industrial estate in Bardez and were awed by the beauty of his collection of contemporary art. The icing on the cake was when the artist generously led us on a heritage walk in the village, regaling us with stories of life in Goa and the history of the splendid old Goan homes that dot the landscape.

Later that evening, still floating on the high from our museum visit, we headed to Kavala, that happening hang out of music lovers who converge there every weekend for great music, a dance floor and delicious food and drinks to add to the charm. I admit I played spoilsport by refusing to join the gang on the dance floor but I was also the biggest fan of their ability to dance with abandon and captured every moment on camera as they burnt up the dance floor.

I never realised when the frown lines around my eyes relaxed and the tight knots of tension around the shoulders disappeared. I never realised when the deep grooves around my mouth was replaced  by happy laugh lines nor did I notice when I became a young woman all over again, excited to get into short dresses, wear lipstick and reclaim the magic of my youth.

Maybe it was from being surrounded by women who laughed effortlessly, hugged each other readily and egged each other on as we shed our inhibitions and carefully cultivated facades. Maybe it was because we talked without fear of judgement about the parts of our lives that most women would not talk about, even in their own heads. Maybe it was because somehow, in this age of hyper-competition, we had forged a bond of our friendship based on shared experiences of being unapologetically female in a man’s world.

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men”, one of the girl gang said at some point during our trip. We have resolved to not join the unfortunate legion of the aforementioned. We have decided to let down our hair and be ourselves more often. This is going to be one unending party.

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon is an Author, a Writing Coach and a Speaker on Gender and Diversity.

You can reach her on sudhamenon2006@gmail.com or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
Sudha Menon