VISITING GOA IS, today, considered the very symbol of romanticism. Goa is not only the ‘honeymoon destination’ but also the one for those who want to renew the thrill of being married.
News from Goa is mostly either about health of Manohar Parrikar or about flesh trade by women coming from Uzbekistan, Russia or one of the countries around them.
Years ago, it was about hippies coming there in large numbers and sunbathing, often nude, on the beaches – to the chagrin of the locals. Protests over the nudism were frequently in news.
The Rajbhavan of Goa has very picturesque surroundings and every visitor should see it.
When I went to Goa decades ago, Nakul Sain, Congress leader Ambika Soni’s father, was the Lt. Governor of Goa (then a union territory). He asked me what was the most striking thing about Goa.
I said it was that the people were very conservative and not ‘mod’ – unlike the image of Mumbai Goans.
He told me the reason: When the Portuguese invasion came villagers en bloc became Catholic just changing surnames, with the village inner power structure unchanged. Joshis became D’Costas, Chavans became Fonsecas and so on.
Customs remained the same. So was the region’s culture.
A Catholic bride wore green bangles and went to the famous Mangesh temple from the Cathedral after marriage – or so I was told then. In Mangesh temple, a modern brick and mortar structure, there is a protocol: locals stand first in a row (they stand in two rows not yo block a view of the sanctum and light from a mirror is reflected from outside on the idol at aarati time).
And that local may be a Catholic. Hindus visited the superb Cathedrals too. Hindu-Christian rivalry came much later when Congress resorted to caste politics
Konkani is spoken by all locals, with Christians writing it in Roman script and others in Devnagari (Marathi). So there is a Konkani daily newspaper in Roman and another in Marathi script.
Only when you are in Goa do you realise Konkani has a good literature and cultural heritage. I was invited there to a Konkani poets’ seminar of on the impact Telugu poet Sri Sri on Konkani poetry.
The invite came when I went to a “Sankranti celebration” by a Telugu organisation and found a very poor veedhinatakam or nautanki (poor, amateurish, show) being performed.
The man sitting next to me (who later invited me to the seminar) responding to my sarcastic comment on it, said they were all labourers who were building a bridge on Mandovi river at Panaji . (The bridge, in Panaji or Panjim, collapsed later.)
The organisation lent them the stage as they were homesick, being away for a long time.
He told me they all come from one or two villages of Medak district (Telangana) and are called Palamur (original name of the place) labour, a form of bonded labour where a lump sum is paid in advance and the entire joint family (except one brother who stays back to look after the house or land) goes to work.
All major Indian projects including Bhakra Nangal and Koyna were built by them as they are specialists in earth work, I was told.
I thought it (overnight conversion and Palamur labour) was good information. Now it would be called “unnecessary trash” and not as interesting as Taimur Khan’s diaper changes widely covered by our TV channels.
It was the pre-Google era. Now it would be considered “rubbish”.