Monday, November 2, 2009

People we love to hate

One of the biggest myths in Goa is that Goans are warm and friendly. As long as I can remember Goans have always treated with suspicion if not outright hatred those they felt threatened by. First it was the Mangaloreans, Damanese and "Diuchars". Mangaloreans were originally from Goa and had fled southwards during the Inquisition. They were goodlooking and so intelligent, they bordered on the cunning. This the less calculating Goan did not like or trust. The Damanese were beautiful, but this was looked down upon by the supercilious Goans of Goa.

Later the Hippies fell foul of the picky Goan. He did not like their lack of either clothing or inhibitions. A foreigner was immediately labeled an “eeepie”. If you came in from anywhere in India regardless of city or state, you were a “Bomoicar”.

After that it was the turn of the Keralite to become the Goan’s favourite whipping-boy. Goans were too fond of the phrase: If you see a Mallu and a snake, kill the Mallu. Let the snake live. Keralites came flocking to Goa after Liberation to take up jobs as clerks, engineers, etc in government service. Snakes helped the Goan stay fat and healthy since they killed rats that would eat the paddy and other foodstuffs, but Keralites were taking local jobs; and lording it over bewildered locals.

The resentment and distrust was heaped in equally largesse on the Kannadigas, Tamilians and Andhraites. The reason was the same. Jobs were going to them. Goans were getting nothing.

Now it is the turn of the North Indians. They are pouring in, riding roughshod over all objections. Equally hated are the builders, miners and industrialists, perceived as taking away precious land from the natives. Never mind that the same natives are selling off their land to the highest bidder.

But there was one demographic which has been the bane of the original resident Goan for a very long time. The returned NRG or Non-Resident Goan. They manage to pull out your last nerve and jump on it with hobnailed boots. They lose no opportunity to speak in glowing accents of how wonderful it is “back home” in their country of adoption. How modern, how clean, how beautiful, the country they had made their home. They are supercilious towards all things Goan, the food, the culture, the place the people.

They speak of the high standards of living they are now used to and throw money around like there was no tomorrow. Wastage becomes something to aspire to. One young mother’s favourite past time would be to talk of the frequent power cuts and how she had to throw out two kilos of tiger prawns, because she felt they may have gone bad after an electrical outage of 2 hours.

One legal luminary who was first employed as a bagger of groceries when she migrated, walked around the city with her spouse, their faces wrinkled in distaste. Quote he memorably, “We are not used to such squalor. If you want us to return to Goa we have to be offered a better standard of living.”

They come here to celebrate events as inane as a matriarch’s birthday and instead of just having a party to celebrate the day, they import a white-man celebration with fake musings from family members and even a line-dance like they do “back home”. Prominent is the video camera team filming every dreary moment of it.

But by far the most telling comment was made by someone who was amused over receiving an invitation to attend a friend’s daughter’s wedding in the United States. She would never in this lifetime afford a trip to the USA. She told her friend that coming to the US was out of the question. Why, persisted the friend. Give yourself a treat, come! I can’t afford it, said the Goan. What nonsense, said the NRI.

Then the Goan had a brainwave. “Why don’t you call X since he lives in Canada and he can easily come to the US for your daughter’s wedding.”

“Oh no,” said the NRI, “See, it’s like this, my daughter’s marrying an Italian and his family has carefully calculated the number of people who will be attending. I cannot call X and his family, since it will upset the numbers and my daughter’s in-laws. They’re Italian you know….?

“So why bother to send me an invitation when you know I cannot come?” demanded the Goan.

“So that you could pray for the good health and happiness of the happy couple,” said the NRI.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very true account of things and nothing exaggerated here. I'm from the capital city of the country and got posted here for a central govt. job . Much to my disillusionment the behavior of goans is appalling towards anyone from rest of the country.Delhi is faaaaar more developed than goa will be in along long time and yet such misplaced attitude!
I expected it to be better than other cities in India. It's no different in terms of behavior, in fact worse :/