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Goa Fashion


Remember that page-three pin up girl you saw in one of those finicky fashion magazines? Remember the sunny, golden beach with the deep blue sea a fitting backdrop to her haute couture bikini? And you said it was Spain. Well, it wasn’t. It was Goa! The place a lot of upbeat, international lensmen are turning to for their next fashion shoot.

I was recently involved with a fashion shoot for a big South African magazine that is a part of the Cosmopolitan stable. The crew who came here from South Africa were totally unfamiliar with India, its peoples, customs and values. It was a wide-eyed experience form the first moment for all of them.

The shooting she had planned was to include some of the best known of North India’s remarkable heritage with snappy shots on the beaches of Goa as a grand finale.

The final shots were to be taken down the coast in Goa. Upon arrival we were whisked away to Fort Aguada where a swift reconnaissance of the local beaches was done before setting up for a shot on nearby Bagga Beach. This is one of India’s finest and known to the locals as ‘Nature spoiled daughter’. We also drove a little further up the coast to Vagator Beach with its imposing fort lining the stumpy black hills that bank up at the back of the beach. It was decided to photograph the beach at Bagga with the late afternoon sun and Vagator with the rays of daybreak coming from behind the fortress walls.

The line of fishing boats at the water’s edge where the sea quietly lapped on the ebb tide was the set, with Goa’s waving palms as a stringy backdrop. Imraan set up his cassette player and the moody soundtrack from ‘Even Cowgirls get the Blues’ drifted across the beach. Saira in beachwear was an obvious attraction. The whole beach seemed to close in for a ‘Deco!’ The body beautiful began to writhe in time to the music helped by liberal doses of duty free champagne. Mesmerized onlookers began to mill around the boats trying to work out who was dong what and why. Lambros, the photographer, asked for more movement. After working out his framing, he set his Canon EOS into prestissimo and rattled off another four rolls as another one hit the dust. Before the sun went down it was decided to shoot another gar-ment. We all rushed to the water’s edge where the lady kicked off her shoes and waded into the surf calf deep. Lambros, with the sun behind his head, waded further rout so that Sairo could be seen splashing in front of the wide vista of fishing boats and palm trees. The gold of the low sun set off the flickering threads in the cloth of the garment as the breakers glinted bright orange in the sunset.

The evening saw us up to our elbows in seafood and feni one of the dozens of seaside restaurants that have proliferated here in the past 10 years. The fish is fresh from the sea and the kitchen, whereas the feni mixed with soda is known to kill all germs and a few more besides. It is a acquired taste as is the arrack found further south. Both have the sledgehammer effect to the back of the knees in the evening and the back of the head the following morning. Delicious!

A pre-dawn alarm call awaited us in the morning. We were all ready and moving by 5.30 a.m. Daybreak found us setting up on the rocks surrounding the Vagator Beach with the Chapora Fort in the hazy distance. Out to sea the clouds were dark and menacing. Fishermen came and went as early morning beachcombers walking their dogs passed by inquisitively as our make-up man dug out yet another disguise from his magic bag. A pack of beach dogs patrolling their territory bowled over a dog they didn’t recognize and would have given him a penance he ws not expecting had not the owner intervened with a flailing stick and a handful of hurled rocks.

Once again the trusty Canon was loaded and fired off like a Gatling gun with its flailing motor drive.

As we prepared to leave, early morning bathers started to invade the quiet of the beach, wondering what on earth we had been up to with a lady in evening clothes. Goa, though, has seen it all before, another blink and a new set of visitors fills the eyeglass. Back in South Africa the crew have enough memories from their short trip to make a string of travel stories come to life.