Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The thought of Goa always comes accompanied with stubborn clichés. The sea, the laidbackness, the raves, freedom, colour, the joie de vivre of people determined to let go and just be.

In the Arpora Saturday night market, I was caught up in all that when I suddenly hear some screams. A group of bouncers scream’ KILL HIM, bastard, kill him’. A small scrawny dark man was being dragged violently on the ground and taken outside the gates where he would presumably be ‘taken care of’. Everybody around just stopped and watched. I heard snatches of conversation in a sort of hodgepodge of new accents.

‘Yeah I heard these sort of fights are common this part of the world’ and everything else to that effect.

That scene disturbed me. It tainted the energetic sort of rhapsody of the place. He might have been a pickpocket but it scared me how people could have so much violence in them. That’s not the only thing however which scared me.
My friend kept pointing to people and remarking how they were so out of place in the scene. People like punju aunties, men in dhotis watching in amazement at the foreign trance like rendition of Sanskrit slokhas, Goan locals.
I noticed too how they stood out amidst the typical goan tourist crowd that dominated the place. Who are we to say however that they are out of place?

N was telling me about the ‘Malleshwaram type’ of Hindus who are scandalized by women in sleeveless tops. The Hindu community in Goa is not so prominently represented on these tourist brochures where the now much commercialized carnival, Christmas and the churches are important mentions. I wonder if in this entire attempt to market Goa to foreigners much of the Goan culture is unrepresented.

People sell things from all over the world in the flea market. I found this beautiful dress made of an old sari in a shop owned by a foreigner, I think an English woman. She said it cost one thousand three hundred bucks and I politely remarked that it was expensive.
She started one whole bitchy ramble ignoring our existence with another white woman.
‘Dude this is designer stuff that could fetch twenty times more in the Europe. I am sick of Indians complaining about the prices. It is SILK... And etc’ Fuck the bloody euro. To me it’s just a very sexy dress made out of old cheap silk saris that is not worth more than a hundred bucks.
My point is that how is it justified for foreigners to come to sell things only their kind can afford and sort of be blinkered to local sensibilities in every way . I wonder also if my argument is justified because in today’s world of blending cultural identities, who are we to say Goa belongs only to the locals? Is the software engineer from Delhi living in Bangalore less bangalorean than a Kannada teacher?
People from all over the world have made goa their home, permanent or temporary. How important is it for them to be accessible to the locals? Can they live within their seemingly impenetrable bubble of sand, sea, wealth and their essentially western lifestyle?
Terribly hungry, V and I decide to buy this tiny piece of strawberry cake which looked delicious. When I asked the local guy working in a firang stall, he said it was two hundred rupees for a piece and burst out laughing immediately as I did too. The prices were just bizarre.
Another thing which comes to mind is the exploitation of the relatively lax laws in India. The other Goa , an article is here.
(To be continued)
Here is an article on Mcleodganj on a similar topic that I wrote.


Ruchika said...

U know.. I never thought of Goa in that way... I think we were too bloody pre-occupied dancing and getting drunk! And yes, it was also off-season when we went! Interesting observation... Damn, I need to make another trip to Goa now to see it for myself!!


Y? said...

yea i felt that too!!i can't even remember things in sequence because i was high throughout~! Goa off season is lovely in its own way quieter , less crowded and the booze is deleciously cheap! but you must go sometime in december!
I think ill never get enough of the place . wish i could go there for longer and experience the real(?) goa too...the portugeseness, the churches, the quieter beaches

Dhrupad said...

the flip side.. slightly more real.. the cultural marinade, an identity crisis, its what keeps the dream ticking... inherent violence is regretable but inevitable too.
was there in earlier this month. u'r rite, its more tranquil without losing flavour.
p.s. 20 rupee beers!!! its an inexpensive dream.

tangled said...

Hmmm. Now I want to go to Goa.

Some curiosity abounds. Is this who I think it is?