A woman’s stories of living and cycling in Goa, India
After years of exchanging letters, a mysterious stranger finally persuaded me to “Come to Goa.” I flew to India in 2008, stayed in his house in Goa for six months, and wrote more than 60 stories of travel, magic, cycling, and family roots…
My name is Ulrike Bemvinda Rodrigues and I joke that I’m a typical Canadian—my mother is from Austria, my father is a Goan whose family emigrated from Portuguese-occupied India to British-occupied Burma (now Myanmar). They met and married in England, I was born in Germany, and we moved to Canada when I was six.
Bemvinda is my middle name, my grandmother’s name and a way of saying “welcome” in Portuguese. I didn’t know that when I read the word “bemvindo” at the top of a menu a few years ago—I thought it meant “all you can eat” or “dinner special.”
Until just a few years ago, I also didn’t know that Goa—the place my father’s family comes from—was a Portuguese state in India until 1961. It never occurred to me that my last name, Rodrigues, isn’t a traditional Indian name. Or that being raised Roman Catholic isn’t a traditional Indian religion.
I never, ever wanted to go to India. But Aloysius D’Souza changed that. He’s the “mysterious stranger.” He lives in Bombay (Mumbai) and is my father’s cousin. He’s the one who, after seven years of writing back and forth, finally persuaded me to “Come to Goa—the land of your ancestors.”
About Girl Gone Goa
I did go to Goa. I arrived in Bombay and then shifted to Aloysius’s house near the capital city of Panjim. For six months between October 2008 and April 2009 I explored Goa not as a tourist—but as a “person of Indian Origin,” borne of the “diaspora.” These terms I learned sipping Feni and Kingfisher beers with Uncle Aloysius.
This travelogue is about discovering family, history, and everyday life in contemporary Goa. I meet neighbours, relatives, expats and visitors. I stumble, learn, and describe what Goa reveals to me. G.O.D. makes a few appearances too.
UPDATE: I returned to Goa in 2014 to edit Aloysius D’Souza’s now-published book Homeward Bound, a memoir of our family’s migration to, and escape from, Rangoon, Burma. It’s available on Amazon.
More stories and travelogues
I write about two-wheeled and independent travel because more girls and women need to hear that it is okay to be curious and adventurous.
- Exploring western Canada by train and folding bicycle
- Motor-biking backroads in British Columbia on a 100cc motorbike
- Ignorance and bliss pedaling the Dordogne region of France
- Solo cycle-camping on the Canal des Deux Mers in south France
- The journey of suicide