Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The deadline to kill a river.

My hair still has knots from the sea breeze. And my shoes have sand in them. How can the pile of rubble that claims to be my life in Delhi compare.
Drama aside, I have just returned from Goa. I love Delhi, don't get me wrong. But everytime, you leave Delhi and Bombay, and especially when you go to a place like Goa, there is a palpable softness - to life and to people. This time I experienced a vastly different Goa than before. My previous trips, to contextualise this consisted of general alcoholic debauchery and consequently I have very hazy memories of them. To digress and indulge a realisation I just had, the older I grow the more sensible and staid my trips become. From absolute debauched to quiet and romantic and finally more reflective. 

This time, we were away from the beaches in Fontanhas, a quiet and colourful ex Portugese colony in Goa. It was filled with lovely yellow and blue houses, white chapels, converted art galleries, the works. The thing is none of these were overly commoditized unlike in Pondicherry were the one small (mostly) street is over Frenched. The Alliance Francaise has a menu only in French. This made me a bit nauseous especially when teamed with all the emotionally exhausting memories, spaces of life I'd rather not go back to. 

In the case of Goa, the blessed green land where laissez faire is legitimate however, my memories (or the gaps in memories)  are always sparkling. I love the intense red (yummy red earth) of the laterite, the grey splash of the sea, and the green that spreads like a disease in the monsoon. Like my friend Ablong says, you can't leave anything out of the fridge in Goa for more than five minutes- it would catch moss/fungus. 

And then there are the mountains sold to DLF. Virgin mountains become the choicest brides to strip for open cast mines. And fields have been bookmarked to build malls. Yes, glass walled malls in Goa can only be conceived of by people with aesthetic cancer. Miners have stationed their private yachts on the Mandovi river. SESA Goa and DLF can have a big party but I truly had a heart sinky feeling. 

This was made worse by my brother's Goan friend A who while driving through Goa would casually point out to a whole range of hills and say 'Oh, these are sold to DLF' etc. But knowledgeable as he was, each green range became a vision of 
a Select City Walk future. That is my biggest fear about new India. It is spreading like a monster, buying off Environmental Impact Assessment Reports on the way and can take you by surprise. In places where no one  has heard off EIAs, the picture is even worse. On a recent trip to Anoopshahr, UP where I lived over a year ago, I used to take boat rides on the Ganges. The river there is a far cry from Varanasi's fecal possibilities. Was actually. In just over a year, construction projects have started on the bank. Ancient temples have new brick additions. (Aesthetic cancer reappears). 

And it takes only a year to destroy a river. 


Aditya said...

The Govt has sold itself, like in the case of the tourism lobby. The environmentalists could not get the government to scrap a ship off the coast that is stranded for 11 years and poised real, imminent mini environmental danger. So you can understand there's only so much the environmentalists can do anything about the environment in Goa.

Noey said...

I'm glad that tourists are finally paying heed to the monstrous mounds of junk, threatening to tarnish my gorgeous homeland forever. I should quit Delhi and rally against the Mine Digging Cunts. Oh, I'm Noel by the way. A really delightful read. :D

Y? said...

Hey Noel, would like to speak to you for a story I am doing? If you'd like to know more, email me at allpipedreams@gmail.com?