Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Goa

I received a call the other day from a friend of one of my closest friends who migrated to Canada decades ago.

Now you will need a little background about my friend. She was very happy with life in Canada and seemed to be more Canadian than Canadians themselves. She had everything: a beautiful three-storeyed mansion with a Home & Gardens cover type home and garden, she ran a thriving business with her husband, nurtured her children and even got a wild deer in her garden to accept some food from her hand. And then one day her children told her that they did not intend to settle down in Canada, but were thinking of moving either to Europe or to India.

Her friend who telephoned me was pretty much a clone of my friend and she was really troubled. She wanted to know details of this “Know Goa” exercise for Non-Resident Goan youth that her children were talking about.

“I’m a little worried,” she said.
“What’s to worry?” I said.
“Well, my children seem to think this is a good idea. They want to come to Goa,” she said.
“Travel is always good,” I said.
“Yes, but I am so scared that they will fall in love with Goa and then not want to come back to Canada,” she said.
“I don’t think they will fall in love with Goa,” I said.
“What are you talking about,” she said, “The beautiful rivers, I loved the Mandovi River, the beaches, the hills, the towns and villages; there’s so much beauty in Goa.”
“Think of Goa as a beautiful painting that has been lying in the gutter for years,” I said.
“I remember coming home ten years ago, and I can tell you,” she said, “I didn’t want to come back to Canada.”
“Goa ten years ago is still very different from Goa today,” I said.
“It must be even better,” she said, “because suddenly everyone is promoting Goa like nobody’s business. We even have Goa Days where everyone makes xacuti and bebinca and sings Konkani songs.”
“So, are you not afraid that your children will fall for the taste of Goa?” I said.
“No fear of that,” she said, “The celebrations of Goa are pretty blah. What I am afraid of is my children coming to Goa itself and also being taken on a tour of India. What chance will Canada have then? We are too old and set in our ways to migrate again. And I don’t want to lose my children like our mutual friend.”

“There’s no need for you to worry,” I said. “They will be taken to the beaches where they will see garbage strewn all over, and sunbeds taking over the open beach areas. They will ride on roads that have speedbreakers and potholes and traffic that follows no rules. The beautiful fields you talk about are growing villas and buildings. The hills are getting chopped for more villas and those in the hinterland are dug out for mining. The river Mandovi has more boats in it than water, including five casino boats. The old village houses have given way to weird box-type bungalows. They will visit Old Goa which is a World Heritage Site and will see construction debris piled up along the route. They will visit the Goa University and see people throwing bags of garbage out of their cars on to the sides of the road. They will attend the St Francis Xavier Feast and see non-Goan goods sold in stalls, they will visit a mock gram sabha and then get curious about seeing a real one and realize that Goa as you knew it is on the fast lane to hell. Then they will go to Delhi and read all about rape, murder, child abuse and corruption and they will be warned not to stroll around alone especially in the evenings. Are you still worried,” I asked.

“You have taken a load off my mind,” she said. “This “Know Goa” caper is the best way to keep them in Canada. They cannot go back to Goa if there’s “No Goa”.”

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