Monday, September 28, 2009

Bevinda Collaço's 6 Things to remember when going Goa

A little common sense and courtesy is all we ask for. Oh yes, our tiny state is blessed with all that is fine and good hills, dales, forests, rivers, fields, beautiful beaches, lovely people, PCOs and broadband. Okay, if you insist, it’s a gift from God. Kerala claims to be God’s own abode, but everyone knows when God needs a holiday He comes to Goa.


We understand that there are other beautiful places with similar features all over the Konkan coast; all over the country; all over the world. We understand that Goa is cheap, gives you great value for money and that you can get your eyes, teeth and several other body parts fixed for a fraction of the amount it would cost you in your place of origin. We understand that you have looked forward to this holiday for a long time, that you have planned it down to the last detail. That you will be talking about this perfect holiday till the cows come home. We understand all that, but we need you to remember certain things.


1.Take memories, but don’t leave litter!

We need you first to respect this beauty that you come to revel in, so when you buy overpriced bottles of mineral water, canned juices, wafers, ice creams and snacks, remember to carry a bag to stow away all your empty containers. The beach, roads, gutters are not the place for it. Put it all in a bag and deposit it in the bin at your hotel.


When you buy paan from any of the vendors, remember our money has gone into the painting of our lovely heritage buildings all over the state and spitting red paan saliva on them does not merely distress us, it makes us mad as hell. If you must eat paan, then carry a small tin or container or portable spittoon, spit into that and empty it out in your hotel bathroom.


2. Hang out, but don’t let it all hang out!

When you come here all shiny-eyed and bushy tailed ready for the holiday of your life, it’s okay to let your hair hang down, but don’t let all your body parts hang out also. It does not only embarrass us, it puts our girls in danger when the creepy crawlies who cannot lay their hands on you decide to get their jollies by molesting our girls. Again, bras and badly fitting shorts crawling into every crevice and fold of fat, exhibiting angry red, wrinkled, freckled skin is enough to put a normal person off their feed for a week. Do yourself a favour; look at yourself in a full length mirror before setting off, wearing beachwear in the city. When you visit our churches and temples, a little decorum to clothing and behaviour is of the essence.


3. Enjoy the beach, but live to swim another day!

When you come here from other parts of India, especially the landlocked areas, remember the sea is deceptive. It contains all sorts of threats that can snuff out your life in the most implacable way possible. The rip tide slides in from anywhere in any depth of water and will drag you far out to sea and drown you. When the lifeguards tell you not to swim in certain areas, listen to them. They are curt with you when they come out with their second and third warnings because they know that when you are being sucked down into a watery grave, they will have to risk their lives and limbs to come out to save you. And their lives are not worthless as you may think. They have families depending on them returning home whole after their day’s work is done.


4. Drink, but don’t sleep with the fishes!

There’s so much booze available in Goa and you sip and stagger like there’s no tomorrow. Do that by all means, but don’t harm others, or put yourself in harm’s way. If you cannot hold your liquor, cease and desist, have a mocktail instead. It costs a little less and looks more impressive. And for heaven’s sake, do not drink alcohol and swim, it’s as dangerous as drinking and driving.


5. You love us? …We love us more :P

We know our people are naïve, warm and welcoming. That our girls have a serene Polynesian kind of beauty, but like you they are just trying to get on with their lives. They are not prostitutes either professional or free-lance. Don’t ogle them; don’t fondle them; they don’t like it. Neither do the common folk. Also leave our little children alone.

When Goans get angry they will punish you.

6. Visit but please don’t stay

Enjoy your holiday then return to your home state or country. Don’t visit real estate agents and try to buy land here. We have very little of it and we need it for ourselves. Also, there’s no guarantee that you won’t lose your life’s savings. Come back again and again. Goa will welcome you in her warm embrace every time. Just don’t abuse that welcome. We have a way of life here, we are desperately trying to save. It is this way of life that makes Goa so special. Help us to protect it. And Goa.


The original version of this article appeared in the Herald on 27th September 2009 as Open letter for visitors to Goa.


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