Saturday, November 12, 2016

Goa, Heritage Yet Happening!

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”… Alan Keightle


It’s on streets of Goa I recalled this quote by Alan who is author of a book like, In to Every Life a Little Zen Must Fall” as what this city makes to the tourists visiting here no other quote could describe it better way! I love to wander by feet in not only Goa but any city I am visiting as it makes you actually feel the city by being part of it! I never liked the concept of taking ride in some open too bus & move on the roads which most tourists do as that makes them able to see more of the city. But by me what I feel from the city is more important than the just quantum of what I see & no better way than to be on roads & inhale the fragrance of the city in your lungs, yes then you see what the city is in reality!

‘’Come look at my Shop, here everyone can be what he wants”, says a billboard at a shop in Goa, displaying Goan attitude towards life in perfect way! Like Pune, Goans shop keepers too are famous for their boards but the major difference is, here at Goa shops the boards reflects Goan cheerful attitude towards the life & witty too, where as Pune shopkeeper’s boards are famous for their curtness & typical serious attitude towards business! I had been to Goa number of times & every time the city makes me love it more, this trip also wasn’t exception. All my earlier trips I have stayed in South Goa & this time deliberately I booked myself in North Goa which is happening as per my veteran Goa lover friends & even my sons & nephews’ also recommended it! Here, one will ask what the term happening means? Well it differs from person to person but when its describing Goa, mostly it’s the vibrant beaches where people are drinking, dancing & that too in colorful apparels or skimpiest of clothes & these are people from all age groups as well from not just India but all over the world. The streets here are narrow, aligned with shops selling everything right from florescent bikinis to leather goods to fashion accessories. Here every third shop out of four is a liquor shop & every fifth joint is some Goan specialty cuisine serving restaurant, needless to say with a bar! And all these shops are full with bargaining tourists & so are the bar counters. Here the beaches come alive as the orange sun sets in the sea, the famous shacks i.e. food & drink joints aligned right on the beach starts playing popular Bollywood/Hollywood songs, beer starts flowing on every table & the feet starts dancing;  this is called as happening! In the contrast the South Goa has calm & quite beaches with white sand but less habituated & for miles of stretches on roads you won’t find much shopping or restaurants, that’s what meant less happening!

I always wonder what it makes people go wild in Goa forgetting their age, gender or position, it’s here people get dressed in funkiest way which they wouldn’t even imagine back in their home town. Even women from the so called respected or let’s say orthodox communities dare to go bare here; I think that’s what makes Goa very special! We all need some outlet for our hidden desires which in our daily routine we keep suppressed but it’s very much alive & kicking inside. And it’s all those hidden desire which may include wearing red colored shorts & move around bare chest without worrying about bulging belly or caring for what people will say & Goa allows each of us to do what we desire to do! Here  I have seen people wearing weirdest looking outfits & getting themselves clicked proudly, rather happily will be more appropriate word for the expression those faces carry. There is something in the air of Goa which makes to the tourists to behave in such way. In no other city in our country I have experienced people especially tourists behaving so natural to their own self, carefree is the only term I can think of to describe this behavior! This must be main reason for Goa becoming dearest destination for the foreigners especially westerners as when they have best of the beaches in Florida, California, Greece or France, yet Goa remains on top as a freak out holiday destination where you can let your hair down & just party! Here the westerners must be feeling much at home as nobody cares what you are wearing & how you are dancing unless & until you don’t bump physically on others & even that can be forgiven here with a smile! In a way its West of East, you can call it! And to add the fizz, Goa offers minimum rate for the booze in country, as already when converted to USD or Euro India is very affordable for the foreigners & on top of it in Goa liquor is nearly two third cheaper than any of the States! On one side many States are taking pride in banning sale of alcohol & look at Goa, it’s like having flooded by every sort of Beer, Wine, Whisky or Rum & yet it has retained its cultural values. Imagine any city in any of the State starts giving permission to liquor shops so liberally; there will be processions against the Govt saying its killing our culture & younger generations, destroying families with booze! But at the same time Goa is free from the biggest curse this country has i.e. chewing pan or tobacco selling thelas i.e. stalls! This has helped a lot in keeping city free of spitting or else the whole city would have got colored in tobacco spitting by the millions of tourists! Surprisingly in Goa you never feel insecure even with so much alcohol flowing around, which is supposed to be main cause of crime, making people especially men to behave like animal!

May be alcohol is part of the culture of Goans so they know to drink responsibly from their childhood & then to fight seems to be last thing on their agenda. This makes Goa one of the least crime cities in country. And if you are a keen observer then you will surely notice while roaming on the roads of the city that height of compound walls of the homes is hardly three feet! Those walls are not built for security but they are just to define the boundary of the property. In a way these walls tells us welcoming nature of Goans as if they are saying “here we don’t believe in keeping visitors away but welcome them whole heartedly & with colors!” As the best thing I like about Goa is the way bright colors like Red, Yellow & Violet are abundantly used here for decorating exteriors of the homes! These colors no modern day architect will dare to use in any of our so called Metros like Mumbai or Bangalore but then that’s why Goa is special! One more fact is these colors looks more beautiful on the backdrop of greenery & white sand which Goa has in ample. At the same time one more important aspect making Goa get cozy feel is most of the Goan homes are ground storied or two storied & not sky-scrappers which cut us off from the earth!

One more thing is Garbage management of the city, as knowing habits of we the Indians, by now the city should have got flooded with every sort of thrash right from beer cans to pizza boxes. But with very effective garbage collecting & disposal system in place, you find Goan streets pretty clean all the time. And yes there are no hoardings or cutouts or banners of any political figure or party or the so called social workers in Goa. This allows visitors to enjoy charm of the nature around than looking at ugliest faces in the hoardings which we are so used to in our Smart City! If Goa can achieve it why we the so called Smart City couldn’t make it on hording front, is what the question did cheeped in my mind!

One main lacuna Goa has is poor public transport, as any city will buckle with so much number of visitors along with their vehicles & the narrow streets; traffic is major concern in last few years in Goa. But in comparison to other popular tourist destination across the world Goa don’t have any public transport system in place, high time the govt should look in it. The only possible threat Goa possess is rampant buildings encroaching on greens. With the popularity it has gained, everyone wants to have a piece of land here & we all know what happens with such greed! The steps should be taken right from today to curb this greed & plan the city accordingly as the greens, the white sand & blue water of sea are the backbone of Goan heritage & they need to be conserved at any cost.

Looking at what Goa has achieved, few things for our dear Maharashtra State needs to learn & adopt, provided we want to! Goa is world’s tourist destination & major flow is from Mumbai or Pune side & condition of both highways is horrible especially Pune Goa; for ages work is going on & the moment we enter in Karnatak State road conditions improves drastically! Road widening work between Pune to Satara is seems to cross  first “Five Years Plan” & heading for next such plan but no one is bothered except the commuters & govt is busy in just collecting toll! Our State Tourism Dept i.e. MTDC must have their presence at prominent locations in Goa where the tourists visiting Goa can get information of better beaches in our State. Also MTDC must open outlets in the form of eating joints & stay arrangements on regular intervals on both the highways leading to Goa, which will be great publicity as well, facility to the tourists! I must also mention the police force in Goa, whose presence can be seen on roads but only as service provider to the tourists & not causing any nuisance to them. MTDC can think of conducting training program for the local police at our tourists spots to teach them how to handle tourists load as well how to behave with them!

Lastly on one of my walks I stumbled up on gallery of Mario Miranda, famous cartoonist from Goa. It’s a place made in honor of Mario, displaying most of his paintings, books & many items featuring his work. I myself am die-hard fan of Mario as he has seen & shown us true colors of Goa which gets reflected in his hundreds of paintings. Those who claims they have seen whole of Goa should visit Mario’s gallery to understand how little they have seen Goa as Goa is not a place to see but it’s a place to feel & that’s what Mario’s works teaches us! This city makes every visitor feel young again making him or her forgetting their all worries back at home & it’s our duty towards Goa to keep its charm & happening mode always on. As then only true Goa will be always in our heart even when we head back to our gray ocean, with a promise to come back again very soon! 

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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