When you think of Goa, you immediately think of the sun, sand, parties, beaches, foreigners and food. But there’s a side to Goa that you won’t see in brochures and travel magazines – an old, almost ancient Goa – a place where time stands still.
As you approach your destination, you notice a row of quaint little houses, all lined up next to each other. Some are beautifully painted with a blooming garden; some are almost in ruins with grass growing as high as the walls; others in between. These people are far away from the Goa you know and have come to love – Goa is not their weekend getaway, their annual office holiday or even their honeymoon destination. For them, Goa is home – where they were brought up, went to school, fell in love, got married, had kids – you know the rest.
You are guided directly to a house – one of those which are in between – and you notice an old lady coming to greet you. Her family has joined her to welcome you too. As you enter the house, you notice that it has stone flooring and dull-coloured walls – an almost cold feeling. But it’s the people who make you feel warm. Despite being a distant far off relative, they welcome you into their house.
As they start talking, you realize that they don’t live together – it’s only the little old lady who lives in this big house. Her family, like many other Goan families have scattered around the globe. That’s another thing about Goa; at least one person from each family will either be currently staying in the Gulf, or used to stay there. It’s a common thread passing through each and every house, which seems to strengthen their bond.
You get baffled as they start talking about their neighbours – what they’re doing, how their family is doing, and other such seemingly unimportant updates. With the details they have, you’d think they were long lost family. In Goa, who knows, they probably are!
One common misconception about people in Goa is that they are very open-minded. Au contraire, their minds are set further back than some of our grandparents. Sure they are exposed to influx of foreigners entering and leaving their state on a daily basis, but they are still very rooted in their values. They still want their family to marry Catholics, preferably a Goan one! They are still not accustomed to the “technology age” – and it’s not only the elders, even the adults are blissfully unaware. They believe that they turned out fine without technology, and it’s just an unnecessary lifestyle change.
What also needs to be mentioned is that people in Goa are very laid back. Try getting anything done after 7 pm and you will be worshipped. The roads are practically empty (not that you will ever get stuck in traffic in Goa). The locals are all at home, gorging on their dinner, while the tourists are at the restaurants and beaches, testing out the delicious food and fun that Goa has to offer.
Be rest assured that I’m not complaining about the place or the people. I love Goa and though I live in Bombay, am from there myself. None of these things could ever stop me from holidaying in Goa, and I doubt anything else can either. Viva Goa!