A week before the much-anticipated Goafest 2009, almost everyone at Happy spent long hours preparing for a trip unlike any other: Sharat shopped for sun screen lotions and three-quarters, Bhavna got a new hair cut, Rishi bought a pair of Aviators and Jayan ate apples instead of beef fry. Not to mention a couple of chest and bikini waxes. The entire team was itching to be at Goa.
An urgent election campaign requirement that surfaced at the eleventh hour ensured the whole team couldn’t travel together after all. So the Happy team decided to split up, with one-half attending only Day Two of the Goafest. But that didn’t quite bust the bus trip. With our uproarious leader Jayan in charge, we were all guaranteed a good time. Few minutes down the road, the bus filled with the very familiar smell of good ol monk; and Pradeep christened us with new names exclusively for the trip. Sanaa became Shanta; Sharat – Deepu; Jayan – Vasu; Rishi – Shibu; Bhavna – Pinky; and Pradeep – Sebastian. Couple of bottles, a very bad Bollywood flick, and a thousand bad jokes later, we stopped for dinner where Sanaa had to pay to pee, Jayan giggled over chicken curry and double omelettes, and Pradeep and Sharat became best friends with the mallu (but of course) waiter, Asif. Back in the bus, Jayan continued to comment after the bad dialogues from the hindi movie being played, in between shouting out our trip names to make sure none of us slept off (All of us secretly thanked Pradeep for having these pseudo names that saved us from embarrassment). Finally, after Jayan got warnings from the bus conductor, we all got some sleep.
More than the Villa, it was the swimming pool facing the villas that appealed to us. As much as we wanted to dive in immediately, we decided to head to the fest directly and register. After a whole lot of drama – thanks to Rishi locking himself out of his own room and having to wait for the house owner to help him reunite with his luggage – in an hour, we were all at the fest sipping our beers, and just randomly looking around for familiar faces. Jayan went mad with excitement meeting his old friends; Rishi couldn’t stop himself from clicking away; Pradeep pulled his ol invisible trick and snuck behind a coconut tree with a bottle of chilled beer; Sanaa got introduced to way too many people and Bhavna went insane trying to get cigarettes.
After a quick dekko of the ‘ad village’, we walked in to the display rooms to see all the work, and there we realised that Happy had two nominations – Packaging Design (Lee Skinny Jeans) and Print Craft: Illustration (Nirvana Show Reels). After celebrating our nominations with beer and lunch, we headed out for the first seminar by Jean Marie Dru, Chairman of TBWA Worldwide. Bhavna couldn’t pay enough attention ‘cause she was too excited about meeting Sir John Hegarty at The Leela for a drink after the seminar (Thanks to an SMS contest by Campaign India). After an hour of witnessing some really cool work – Adidas, Pepsi, Pedigree, Absolut and Apple, we all headed to The Leela. As Sharat stood there admiring the golf carts and begging the security to give him a ride, Bhavna headed out with the other contest winners for her drink with Sir John Hegarty. Next thing you know, Rishi’s at it again, making super models out of Jayan and Pradeep. As John Hegarty learnt about Happy the idea shop, inside a cozy Leela suit, the rest of us fought mosquitoes and heavy eyelids.
Back in the villa, we were all in the pool, making plans for the night. Jayan swam like a corkscrew. Sanaa taught Rishi how to float and Sharat refused to get out of the kiddy pool. Bhavna set out for the fest for the media party with her girls. The rest of us headed to Colva Beach for a night full of exquisite seafood, King’s beer, and imaginary islands. Pradeep chased crabs, Sharat argued about the position of clouds, and Rishi did such a good job clearing the prawns off the table that we seriously considered replacing the maid at Happy.
Ram and Vimal show up, and heads directly to the pool. As the boys got wet, Sanaa whipped those eggs like she’s been doing it her whole life. The next hour went by in a buzz. Showers. Toast. Juice. The hunt for the missing delegate pass. Arguments with cabbies. And we all just about managed to make it to the Sir John Hegarty seminar. A wonderful knowledge and learning seminar on why this was the best time to be in advertising. Soon after, we all headed to the bar, preparing ourselves for the rain dance. The waterworks began and suddenly all the men deserted the bar and had their eyes glued to the bikini-clad white chicks getting wet all by themselves. It didn’t take too long before everyone hit the dance floor and the temperature rose by a 100 degrees. Rishi kicked himself for not having a camera with better zoom lens. Ram got down and dirty with everyone else on the floor. And Jayan got forced onto the rain dance floor by some of his buddies. The rest of us had lunch.
Meanwhile, up in the sky, Kartik, Praveen and Rajesh were snoring away on their way to Goa, getting some rest for the 14 hours of madness ahead. And then Campaign India delivered more good news. Another SMS contest won by Jayan and Sanaa – to meet Dan Wieden and get a copy of the W+K brand book. Jayan was as excited a teenager in an adult video store. And Sanaa wasn’t quite sure how to react, as always. Soon after the Dan Wieden seminar, the Campaign India editor escorted the 10 contest winners to the Goa Festiva restaurant for a drink and a chat. And in just half an hour, the rest of the Happy team were buzzing like the bees during mating season.
The team headed back to the villa to freshen up for the Abbys. Sporting Happy tees and blue jeans, the team set out for the Abbys in style and good spirit. We bagged bronzes for both nominations – Lee Skinny Jeans in Packaging Design and Nirvana Show Reel in Print Craft: Illustration. Everything is a blur after that. Dinner. Beach. Free alcohol. Confusions. Dancing. More Alcohol. More Arguments. Two cabs. Two destinations. And a whole lot of drama. Rishi wanted to dance. Sanaa didn’t care. Rajesh didn’t understand why people were talking instead of dancing. Pradeep and Sharat wanted to sit by the beach and have more arguments about the position of clouds. Bhavna wanted to go to Baga. Jayan wanted to go home to get rest before his early morning flight. Praveen wanted turtles and Kartik wanted us to stick together. Meanwhile, Ram, who had been dancing since the rain dance in the afternoon, decided to take rest for he too was on that early flight to Bangalore. Whatever arguments and misunderstandings, this is what happened after: Bhavna cursed her bladder every 5 minutes during a one and half hour drive to Baga. Rishi got scarred for life at Mambos after watching a white chick flash a random guy on the dance floor. As Bhavna partied away till 8 am, the rest of the boys slept on the beach. Pradeep went jogging on the beach early morning as Rajesh semi-consciously motivated him. And Vimal counted the number of fishing boats like his life depended on it. Rishi stared at the sunrise, still shaking his head in disbelief about what he saw at Mambos.
Monday Morning, Happy
The team walked in with knowing smiles, an obvious tan, and a nasty hang over. Some complained of a body ache. While others just couldn’t stop smiling away recollecting all the madness that was Goa.
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