Looking back to the simplicity of life, I miss it. I miss those days when I could just walk out of the house at any given hour and I knew I would return safe. I miss those days when we could just lie on the road and stare at the stars without bothering about speeding cars or traffic past midnight. I miss the clean beaches, the warm friendliness of people around me. I miss the way the roads were, how clean and unlittered the place was. Everyone lived in perfect harmony. No one questioned your religion. Growing up we only figured out friends’ religions by their last names and it never bothered us in the least. On the playground we were one happy family. Festival times were the most fun because we celebrated everything be it Ganesh Chaturti, Diwali, Id or Christmas. We went over to friends’ houses and enjoyed festivities alongside their families.
I miss those days when we could hang out with whoever we wanted without the fear of our drinks and food being drugged, without the fear of date rapes. I miss the days when people lived simple lives and did not seek to destroy families and relationships because avarice won them over. I miss those days when technology had not entered and complicated things. The joys of being out of the house and no getting pestered by constant calls.
I miss the clean beaches, the clean streets, the safety, handwritten letters, postcards, birthday cards, Christmas cards, the excitement of running to check the mail and the joy of seeing your name on an envelope. Someone across the globe remembered to wish you. The days when we would gather in friends’ houses and watch movies together because there was no cable TV. The bunch of us watching “The goonies” and “Karate kid” (which are still in my list of favourite movies) over and over til we got the dialogues. I miss those days when “entertainment” was sneaking off to the beach, swimming and collecting pebbles.
I miss the days when not every home had a telephone and one had to go to the neighbour’s house to make/ receive calls. When neighbours gathered together to watch TV, the Asian games, cricket matches, the weekly feature film. Days when we could just land up at a friend’s place and have a sumptuous meal with them. Food was always better in my friends’ homes. I miss those days when we would take a picnic lunch to the banyan tree and spend the entire day out in the sun. I miss those days running around without a care in the world because we lived in the most peaceful place filled with the simple things of life. I miss those days when owning a cycle was the coolest thing you did. You were king if you could pop a wheelie! The excitement when you got a skid right without falling down.
I miss those days when petty thefts made the headlines of our otherwise boring dailies. I miss how everyone would leave their homes and gather around if there was a problem or death in the neighbourhood. How we lived in harmony without malice or pettiness. All we read now are rapes and murders, thefts make it to the unimportant news bits if at all they are mentioned.
Toddy tappers! What are those? Who sees them anymore? Coconut pluckers are so few and far between. Our bakers would come around on cycles with a big basket at the back, some bakers still do that. The baker who comes around to my area rides a non-geared two wheeler. Even our postman comes around on a motorbike. When did all this change?
I look at Goa now and I see most of our people have acquired Portuguese Passports and left in search of greener pastures selling their ancestral lands to anyone with the highest bid. Selling a piece of our precious heritage. It is a free world, no doubt, but look at how it’s changed. Goa is no longer safe. No longer that unknown haven people would flock to. The little corner of the world that was popular with the hippies back in the 70s and early to mid 80s.
What happened to the Goa we knew? Greed took over. People left. Outsiders moved in. Crime increased. Murders, riots, we were never in this kind of place. Everyone lived in harmony. People respected each other. Now? Now you can’t leave the house without the fear of getting attacked. The traffic is chaotic, the roads (if you can call it “roads”, I prefer to call it potholes with a little road thrown in for fun!) are horrendous. The riders and drivers are nightmares the way road rules are broken. Nobody cares! Lives are lost on the treacherous roads every single day but who’s counting? Everything negative seeped into our pure lands leaving barely nothing to call our own.
What happened to this peaceful place? The beaches are littered, the seas have garbage floating with the waves, the pavements are littered, there’s garbage everywhere. What happened to those pristine beaches? What happened to the cleanliness? Every time I have gone to the beach I have seen broken bottles, empty plates, plastic bags. We took pride in Green Goa. Our greenery has been replaced by grotesque buildings. Greed has turned our beautiful Goa into an unwanted concrete jungle. Goa was never like this.
Foreigners claiming that Goa is not safe! That is a real low blow. Not safe and Goa all in one sentence. We would pride ourselves of being a hospitable and friendly race. Some of us have even welcomed complete strangers into our homes and given them a hearty Goan meal. What happened to that Goa? When did things go wrong? How did we earn ourselves such negativity? Who is the cause? What is the cause?
I saw this picture and my heart broke. I grew up in clean, green, peaceful Goa and I continue living in hellish Goa. It’s heart breaking when we can’t feel safe on our turf, leave alone how foreign tourists will feel. Reading the list: –
“Do not go out alone,” (A guy cannot go out alone? Wow! When did this change?)
“Do not argue with the locals” (Really? Are we Goans so capable of doing someone in? Are we capable of such heinous things?),
“Do not trust “people” or police” (Yes, a lot of us locals do not trust the police! Can’t argue here. Sorry! No trusting locals!!!! That’s a mighty big blow right there. Peace loving, warm, friendly, hospitable Goans not trustable. That’s a big pill to swallow or perhaps I am drowning in a sea of Naivety. This saddens me. When did we change? Is it us or is the influx of other communities living on our land and giving us a bad name?)
“Do not run out of money”. (This is good advice. No one would want to run out of money while on holiday.)
“Do not buy drugs.” (Another piece of good advice.)
I was quite shaken up reading this. Flashbacks raced through my mind of what Goa was and I can’t fathom where it all disappeared. Change is inevitable but this drastic where an entire race changes the essence of themselves? How possible is that?
Our land has been not only being raped but it’s being tortured and murdered before our eyes. Our hills have been cut through for railway lines. Surely there was another route that could have been planned out instead of destroying the beauty of our interiors. Our once-upon-a-time-pristine beaches are strewn with garbage and one has to walk barefoot cautiously. Open water swimming sessions is such bliss, especially when you see plastic bags floating besides you. Our roads…. oh the wonderful roads we pay taxes for every year… I’m at a loss of words at this point. Road taxes for potholes! No longer can I brag to friends outside Goa about how clean Goa is, how lovely our roads are, how we never have a single flooded street during monsoons.
If you grew up in Goa in the 70s, 80s and 90s you will know what I am talking about. The days when the Flea market was a flea market. Hippies would gather in the area and try to sell their guitars, cassette players, records, and whatever they could sell to make enough money for a flight ticket home. No one batted an eyelid at a foreign tourist sunbathing “clotheslessly”. No crowds gathered around to gawk at a fair maiden clad in a bikini. Now? It’s shamefully quite a different scene. One fair skinned sunbather and there’s a crowd trying to get her in a selfie which is being strategically taken in front of her.
The recent events in this tiny dot on the map has left my head reeling. This is definitely not the Goa I grew up in.
What kind of Goa will we be leaving for the next few generations? Will there be traces of our heritage and culture? What are we leaving behind? The Goa I once knew as a child and the Goa I live in right now doesn’t feel like the same place any more. I had a very interesting talk with a group of boys/ men ranging from the ages of 16-31+. It was refreshing to see their levels of awareness and their drive to see a change happen.
I want to be the change, I want to see change, I want to see Goa how it used to be but I can’t do this on my own!