Saturday, June 6, 2015

Goa! Beach, Booze & a Lot More!

"Goa is like a fridge, because everyone just chills here!”..... Graffiti written on a wall of a Goan Bar.

Well the words speak about the city which is famous for its attitude "Susegat" which we can translate as relaxed or rather laid back attitude would be correct way to describe it.  Apart from my rule that every holiday has to be in some forest only two cities are exception one is Singapore & other Goa! Though in last eight years I had been to Singapore quite a few times yet Goa too is always welcome & I had been here two years back but that time I had spent most of the time in the resort.  Though Indian summer which actually is best time to visit forests & I won’t say worst time to visit Goa as there can’t be any worst time for this city, yet being a coastal city summers are hot & very humid.
And then there is a good joke which I received on my cell which I will share here...
Scenario 1: Two guys are fighting & a third guy comes along, sees them and walks on...
That's MUMBAI...
Scenario 2: Two guys are fighting & a third guy comes along and tries to make peace... The first two get together and beat him up...
That's DELHI.
Scenario 3: Two guys fighting and third guy comes nearby house and says "don't fight in front of my place, go somewhere else."
That's PUNE...
Scenario 4: Two guys are fighting. A crowd gathers to watch... A guy comes along and quietly opens a tea stall there
Scenario 5: Two guys are fighting. Both of them take time out & call their friends on their mobiles...  Now 50 guys are fighting...
You are in PUNJAB.
Scenario 6: Two guys fighting. Third guy comes and shoots both of them...
You are in WASSEYPUR...
Last Scenario: Two guys fighting third guy comes along with a carton of beer... All sit together drink beer and abuse each other and go home as friends.
You are definitely in GOA..."
How perfectly the joke describes the Goa & Goan people! Here every body like to chill & relax , that’s first thing & then rest all like work, development, success etc etc all other Metro city or Corporate worldly things follows. It’s always said that a city is known by its residents & their attitude towards the life & that’s why Goa has got the "Susegat" tag, of which the residents are proud of!

I remembered visiting Goa some 7-8 years back. The city wakes up late, starts working late & sleeps late though the shops may open late than their regular time but closing is always early, exception liquor shops! The small road keeps on winding through Coconut trees & lots of greens making you feel lost in that vast greenery with bright colored houses tucked in all sorts of greenery. And at every turn there used to be a local bar i.e. wine shop with some wooden benches in front of it, serving the thirsty tourists. Special thing is this time I made it to Goa by road, which was a long due item on my agenda as one of the most scenic road it is to Goa from Pune. Though one lesson I learnt & that is while planning any road trip get exact information of roads & the distances to the destination we are planning to travel; as nearly five routes leads to Goa from Pune & listening without verification I chose a route via Belgaum which was nearly three hours late & corrected the mistake while journey back taking the Amboli ghat which is the shortest route to Goa, completing my travel in just eight & half hours that too at leisure pace, matching to my Goa mood! Another good outcome of road trip was I learned how to use Goggle maps on my cell & its amazing is all I can say!
A famous question to every person returning from Goa is how much I drank & time spent & beach! Well this time as I was having my own vehicle & new acquired knowledge of GPS mapping I wandered on streets of Goa for all the time which I had at hands. And I realized Goa is not just booze & beaches but a lot more than that! Agreed Goa’s tourism moves around these two factors as the alcohol rates are nearly forty percent cheaper than what we have in our State & from any place beach is hardly an hours’ drive, these two factors makes Goa a hot tourist destination but what I see this time is what the city offers more than just booze & beach!

The serene roads & the green fields & the white churches or chapels they call stood like a child’s painting on the green background; what you don’t notice is the no horn honking vehicles on the roads & the roads are without any bumps! A ride which we are not used in Pune or any city in our dear Maharashtra but surprisingly at Goa the quality of roads is much much better rather best! Agreed they are small in widths as there isn’t much traffic at most of the places except the down towns yet to maintain the roads in a zone where rains are very heavy is creditable & I think the tourists mainly the foreign tourists must be loving it! Another aspect is availability of two wheeler vehicles as well cycles on rent, it makes exploring Goa a real fun. I wonder why this concept isn’t being promoted in other cities may be in Pune to ride any vehicle is a punishment so seems non profitable as well unsafe also! Another important aspect is though I was totally relaying on Goggle’s mapping technology & which was near perfection yet the signages about roads & places were to the mark. At every turn or main junction you can find way boards covering major features in the locality making it easy for any outsider. Then the public toilets, in best possible way they are maintained & are charged a nominal or Rs 2 per use! Lack of good public toilets at regular interval on roads is one biggest lacuna of Pune & any of the major cities of the country. Public toilets are a very much important aspect for citizens & much more for the visitors of the city. If we want to attract the tourists the public hygiene is a very important aspect & Goa rulers have not only understood it but acted on it!
One most important thing which we realize much later while moving on Goan roads is the cleanliness around! No where you will see the garbage hips & empty bottles or food waste packets laying all along the roads especially when consumption of booze is so high & you will find all sort of eating joints at every hundred feet; yet Goa rulers have been surprisingly successful to control garbage or at least manage it properly. Every hundred meters you will see the boards by local governing body about making people aware for not to throw their garage in open & heavy fines which will follow if caught doing so! As any tourist place in our country isn’t got away with the garbage curse especially with our habits of eat & throw! Full marks to Goa people too who does respond Its said that this is off season for Goa but it’s for foreign tourists who can’t take the scorching heat of May, for Indian tourists its hardly any problem & hotels too cut down their rates to attract Indian tourists their tariffs, so it’s a added boon! This way Goa now a day’s always remains a happening place all year long!

Though Goa’s economy does depend a lot on tourists but at the same time very few people know that Goa is famous for few other things too & mainly they are Shipping Industry, Mining as well now a day’s its becoming educational hub too! And there are lots of jobs as well business opportunities here which also are a main reason for hotel industry’s existence here. One more thing, in recent times Goa has become hottest destination for new riches of the country as marriage destination, the latest in thing! The clean beaches backdrop with every luxury being made available to the guests & a Goa trip along, what more the guests would ask for to attend the wedding! For foreign tourists mainly from the western world Goa was famous but for all wrong reasons including drugs but in recent past Goa rulers have wiped out that image & no more Goa is drug center. All sorts of alcohol are far cheaper here but then that’s the case with any tourist center across the world. Along with beaches there is lot of sightseeing, right from wild life which includes birding too Churches & Temples which tells us about the rich heritage of the culture which runs through Goa’s veins.

As the joke says Goan people are basically peace loving & that’s one more reason why its dearest place to the tourists. I am not sure but the crime rate is much low & you can feel the peace in surrounding. There are marriages with processions but never once I found the typical DJ dancing on streets with loud speakers here. Neither there were fire crackers at any hour of the time! It’s said that if you want to know the culture of a society then see the way they celebrate & on this front Goans stood far ahead even than we so called cultural Punekars! Even in the rush hours of morning there wasn’t any honking of neither horns nor any Formula 1 race amongst the drivers to reach at the destination. All this shows culture of the citizen & that’s why every tourist wants to visit this paradise again & again, even by tolerating the hot & humid summer! One most significant thing I observed was no cutouts of so called leaders anywhere on the roads, may it be down town or suburbs or highways & this is amazing to achieve & the drive has to come from top boss! First there is no permission to hoarding of political or social parties & second very heavy fines are applied if found so & third & most important these fines are charged & recovered by the parties who dares to erect any hoarding without permission. On the background of our State where right from our capitol Mumbai too smallest of the village, one common thing is cutouts of our so called leaders may he be known just in his galli i.e. lane! This makes the tourist enjoy the Goa sereneness without any damage in form of those ugly faces popping at you from the banners & cutouts! I think this one thing makes Goa unique in all of the tourism places in our country!

The only major lacuna I found in Goa is poor public transport as with so many popular places to hang out there has to be a connecting bus service at least as that will make tourists very easy to explore the Goa. Also the south Goa & north Goa can be linked by Metro as lot of traffic is in between these two parts of Goa; though both have their own hot spots for tourists yet the cultures are different. South Goa is more laid back & quite while north Goa is happening & buzzed with younger crowd! Sure the Goa bosses must be knowing it & are working on it as even in city like Dubai, the Metro came just few years back but it has increased numbers of tourists also along!

A lot can be learned from Goa rulers by our States bosses especially the tourism department. Leave apart entire State let’s take a already popular city like Mumbai or Pune & develop it on tourism front & all we have to do is just copy the good things our tiny neighbor has done & implement it with dedication! Right from portable ATM’s i.e. Currency machines on vans to toilets arrangement too road signage’s, even if we carry these small things then also it will make a big difference for the visitors. Agreed we can’t have the sands, the coconut trees & the sea to every city but we can at least cultivate the Goan attitude of peace & cleanliness in every citizen may he be of any city & that’s what we should carry back from Goa & not just booze bottles! Then I will say we have not just visited Goa but we have lived Goa & understood the heart of it!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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