Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 – A fine vintage for black comedy

As comedy goes you couldn’t have asked for more in the year that has just gone by like the wind. The beginning of 2009 saw Goa decked out like a fortress with sandbagged bunkers that would have made 26/11 terrorist Kasab giggle like a schoolgirl. Last year like Cinderella you had to stop dancing to loud music at midnight else you would turn into a jailbird.

The battle raged on between those trying to save Goa from being parceled out to builders and those determined to parcel Goa out to builders. People like Vishwajeet Rane and Anil Salgaocar came out openly against protecting forests as against cutting them down for “development” of Sattari in Rane’s case and mining in Salgaoncar’s case.

The SEZ decision was rolled back and instead of taking compensation from the SEZ developers who sank illegal borewells and cut into hill slopes, the Government of Goa bent over backwards to instead pay the developers for losses incurred. This despite many complaints of fraud with documentary evidence filed at various police stations.

The Supreme Court directed Cidade de Goa hotel to remove all structures on the Vaiguinim beach and to open it to the public, but the government of Goa rushed in to save the hotel which has offered them food and shelter when they were in the throes of toppling the previous Parrikar government. The government came out with the Land Acquisition Ordinance which saved Cidade and even the Oppostion Leader Manohar Parrikar said the Ordinance was “a small matter” compared with the land scams and the casinos. Fomento must be everyone’s “preferred trading partner”.

We learned yet again that we Goans are patsies. The petrol pumps warned of a shortage of fuel when they heard that the Centre was going to reduce the price of petrol by Rs 5 per litre and of course we all rushed to fill our tanks and then felt like fools when the price went down two days later. But our aam aadmi government raised the taxes, so while the Centre lowered the rate by Rs 5, the state government made sure the rate was lowered in Goa by Re 1. Yay, our loss was minimal. We just paid one rupee extra. Who’re the fools now, huh? Huh?

’09 was not a very good year for Mickky Pacheco with all his domestic crises with his wife Sara and his spat at a casino. His Enemy No. 1 Churchill Alemao got involved too and even called Mickky a “multigamist”. But Mickky soldiered on and ended the year celebrating his birthday proclaiming undying love for Churchill and donating two mobile refrigerated coffins to the people of Goa.

Margao Municipal Council tried to discipline its office staff into working in the office by introducing the biometric finger scan, but the staff showed their boss who was boss and said bas, no biometric-shiometric scan. They went to the CM who is an MMC house tax payer and said we don’t want it and he said awrightee then. No biometric-shiometric.

There’s the whole casino comedy being played out in the courts on the streets and now even in the football fields with casinos holding tournaments. Nothing has changed. They are still unseaworthy and still clogging the Mandovi River.

Panaji got a new lady mayor who does even less work than the previous male one. The capital city’s garden looked like it could not get more ugly and the new mayor went and did just that. Now the garden has been reduced to a pile of mud and looks like it could be used as a landfill. This while a rash of retaining walls continued all over the city and Miramar and Caranzalem got all gussied up. The garden being the main garden of the capital city has the potential to milk the taxpayer till the cows come home. The longer you wait, the higher will be the asking price and the higher will be the commission.

Petrol was found seeping into two wells in Bogmalo and the Goa state pollution control board was “baffled”. Illegal mining has contaminated the water at Selaulim reservoir. Their reject flows into feeder tributaries to the reservoir, increasing the silt and showing a dangerous increase in iron of 70 parts to a million parts of water. The water will become officially “toxic” when it reaches 100 parts to a million parts of water. South Goa can start a new breed of Iron Men.

Goa University stole the spotlight with the marks scandal, the sexual harassment saga, engineering students fasting unto death demanding ATKT for a fourth attempt to pass a semester and a B-grading from the NAAC. This was the cruelest cut of all since three Goan colleges got A ratings.

The police force may have disappointed us with their investigative abilities, but they did not let us down in comedy. The incidents came tumbling out almost on a daily basis from August ’09 with a cop flinging a bundle of money into a bush and fleeing in one direction while the Interceptor he was originally in fled elsewhere away from the Anti Corruption Bureau. Then the casino chase and it just got funnier after that with gaffe after gaffe, until recently a lady cop mistakenly swallowed poison and ended up in hospital getting her stomach pumped.

There was so much black comedy, this space is not enough. The serial Dupatta Murderer, The rape of The Russian and the comments made by our elected representatives have become the stuff of legends. Ravi Naik, Home Minister urged women not to wear dupattas. Digambar Kamat, Chief Minister said tourist should know how to behave and Shantaram Naik, Rajya Sabha MP said by their behaviour these girls invited trouble and that if the girl has been going around with the rapist for several days, then the cops should look at it differently. Wish we could go back to a couple of months earlier Sardinha spoke of building a bull-fighting stadium in South Goa. Or when Parrikar called L K Advani a rancid pickle.

And finally a tribal protest that caused a four-hour gridlock on both sides of the Mandovi bridge last week and protestors dancing happily in the residual spray since the cops could not control the hose.

2009. Ah. It was a fine vintage year for black comedy. Why? Because nothing can ever top the No 1 awards the state has received.

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