As everyone is aware, I like walking and morning walks are a favorite part of my day, where ever I am. Of course, Goa is always a favorite destination for various reasons, and I have written earlier of these visits.
On this trip, one morning I headed out for Dona Paula, a ‘must visit’ location for every tourist, which lies close to where I always stay on these visits. I had not visited Dona Paula in over 30 years, and as on many such re-visits, the nostalgia is tinged with a sense of loss at the way these sites are being maintained.
Dona Paula, was a village named after a mid-17th Portugese woman whose family owned much of he land around this area. The village was named after her, probably because she is reputed to have done much to help the locals. The village itself has not existed for some time and I don’t remember if there was much of it there on my first visit in 1973. But it has now been completely sacrificed to the wonderful Goan God ‘Tourism’. The rocky promontory with the pavilion on top is as I remember it, as is the statue by Baroness Yrse Von Leistne. However, then the access to the water was not all barricaded as it is now. Of course, this is a safety measure, as it had become a favored spot for suicides, not the least because of the fame the spot achieved nationally due to the film ‘Ek Duje keliye’. The Bollywood connections are always on display!
The whole approach area has all been paved and the wharf has an ugly flea market – which fortunately was showing very little activity at that time of the morning. I can just imagine, how it must look, in the busy daytime hours – the evidence of the crowds of the previous evening was all around. The popular sites will feel the pressure of the large volumes, and the variety of tourists that reach these sites will need to have the food stalls and the attractions that will cater to the people. But does not the development of ‘tourism’ require putting in place measures to cope with these facts – I did not see a single trash can and till 8am no one to clean up the place. More signage, maybe announcements, more active and continuous cleaning – we just don’t seem to care enough!
Doan Puala also has the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), probably the best located research center in India and the Governor’s house. As I walked back, I took a ‘tender coconut’ break – hot and humid, liquids were called for and no shop was open to buy a bottle of water. Mr Ramanna was just setting up shop and for Rs 30 I had my liquids and a chat. From Hubli district of Karnataka, he has been in Goa for 2 years, and earns Rs 7000/ for working from 8am to 8pm on all 7 days of the week. This is also a new phenomenon – earlier, one seldom came across non-Goans. Today almost all the labor, be it domestic or others are from outside the state – predominantly from the adjacent districts of Karnataka but also from as far away as Bihar and Orissa. There is so much internal migration within the country, that it is a pity that we have no formal dialog on this issue or efforts at local assimilation. We allow the local sores to fester and grow leading to unpleasant encounters – as in the case of recent incidents in Kerala.
But, Goa thus far continues to be a calm state with its own unique sound and smells -the cycle horn of the ‘poder’ (pav maker) promising delivery of freshly baked bread, the smell of fish being fried in coconut oil…… where things are all changing, but enough stays the same (the afternoon siesta, for one) for it to call me back again and again!