Saturday, November 29, 2008

A salute to innocents who lost their lives in the mumbai terror carnage

A tearful farewell to heroes who lost their precious life in the Mumbai Terror Attacks. May their soul rest in peace and May God give the most needed support to their family to bear this irreparable loss. This is only a provisional and partial list. The final death toll could be much higher.

  • Boris do Rego, 23, Junior Sous-chef, Taj Hotel, s/o Urbano de Rego alias Chef Rego, Divar Goa
  • Afsar Ali, 21, , brother of Azar Sheikh Burwan, Murshidabad, WB, Luggage Handler at CST Rail Terminus
  • Mourad Amarsy, 49, French national , husband ofLoumia Hiridjee
  • Malayesh Banerjee, Engineer, IIT Kharagpur, was to be married next week
  • Anand Bhatt, Solicitor
  • Sunil Parekh - Businessman
  • Ralph Burkei, 51, Germany. Co-owner, C.A.M.P. TV, ex-vice-president of the TSV 1860 München football team and ex-president of the VfB Leipzig
  • Meera Chatterjee, 60, went from Singur, WB to see her son Ardhendu
  • Monica Chaudhary, sister/o Ashish, actor
  • Shaunak Chemburkar, 50, Lobby Attendent, Taj Hotel
  • Bentzion Chroman, US + Israel
  • Antonio di Lorenzo, 63, Livorno, Tuscan, Italy
  • Uma Garg, wife of Vinod, Exexcutive Director Ispat Industries
  • Manish Goel, brother of Manoj Goel
  • Kazi Hidayatullah, 24, Waiter, Leopold Café, only son. Was to be married on 15.12.08
  • Loumia Hiridjee, 47, founder of women's fashion brand Princesse Tam Tam, France, wife of Mourad Amarsy
  • Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, USA. Rabbi Mumbai Chabad-Lubavitch centre at Nariman House, h/o Rivkah, f/o Moshe, 2
  • Rivkah Holtzberg, 28, Isreal. W/o Gavriel Noach. M/o Moshe, 2. D/o Yehudit & Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg
  • Kaizad Kamdin, Chef at the Taj Hotel
  • Ashok Kamte, 54, Additional Commissioner of Police (East)
  • Neeti Kang, 38, wife of Karambir Kang, GM, Taj Hotel
  • Samar Kang, 6, son of Karambir Kang, GM, Taj Hotel
  • Uday Kang, 12, son of Karambir Kang, GM, Taj Hotel
  • Ashok Kapoor, Chairman, Yes Bank
  • Hemant Karkare, Anti-terrosist Squad Chief
  • Andreas Dionysiou Liveras, 73, Cypriot-born businessman , Luxury Yacht owner UK
  • Douglas Markell, 71, Former Woollahra councillor, Australia
  • Zahin Mateen, Chef from the Taj Hotel
  • Michael Moss, Physician, Julius Richardson hospital, Montreal, Canada
  • Roopinder Randhawa, Teacher B D Somani School
  • Hasibur Rehman, Dalkhola, N-Dinajpur, WB, Luggage Handler at CST Rail Terminus
  • Vijay Salaskar, Inspector & renowned encounter specialist, Mumbai Police
  • Alan Scherr, USA, father of Naomi (also killed), h/o Kia
  • Naomi Scherr, USA, daughter of Alan (also killed) & Kia Scherr
  • Pankaj Shah, Developer
  • Brett Gilbert Taylor, 49, co-owner of Blacktown Timber, St Marys, North Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia
  • Leibish Teitlebaum, USA, lived in Mea Shearim, Israel
  • Hisashi Tsuda, 38, businessman from Mitsui Marubeni Liquefied Gas Company based in Tokyo, Japan
  • Sandeep Unnikrishnan, 31, Major, Team Commander National Security Guard. Only child of parents, Bangalore
  • Lo Hoei Yen, 28, attorney, Singapore. Identified by her husband
  • Sabina Sehgal Saikia - food critic, wife of Santanu Saikia and sister of Nikhil found dead after operations at Taj.

My deepest sympathies to the bereaved families and my profound gratitude and a big thank you to the valiant Indian army, brave policemen and the daring NSG commandos. Long Live India! Long Live India!

Xittuk Goencar

Goa mourns the death of Chef Boris Rego in Mumbai Terror bloodbath.

Even as I write this, Mumbai has just recovered from the terror bloodbath let loose on our country by terrorists, reportedly from across the border. It is over 60 odd hours since terrrorists from across theCST station terror attack border have brazenly entered the city reportedly through the sea route, shooting and maiming people at will and accounting the lives of a roughly estimated 170 innocent Indian and foreign citizens while injuring over 350 people including NSG ( national security guard) commandos, policemen and most ironically the chief of the Anti-terrorist squad in Mumbai Mr. Hemant Karkare.

After the random shooting in the city the terrorists took over the reins of two luxury hTaj mumbai terror attackotels, The Taj and the Oberoi Trident , packed with guests and diners, and also a residential building occupied by the Jewish community rendering this places in virtual war zones. After keeping the inmates of all the three structures as their hostages, it required the brave efforts of policemen, fire fighters and NSG commandos in the army who put their lives on the line to secure the three places and have today sanitized them to be completely rid of the terrorists.

However the toll taken by these 20 or 40 odd terrorists ( the number is still being debated as of now) who entered the city has been heavy indeed. While killing, injuring and maimiterrorists set Taj mumbai on fireng people specifically from India, US, UK and Israel they have managed to shake up the whole world to take notice of their merciless and dastardly act. The Taj hotel, a heritage bulding has also been damaged heavily and the loss due to this damage will weigh heavily on the ordinary mumbaikar whose love for the Taj and its edifice is beyond caste, creed or religion. The Taj has been a symbol of love, pride and extreme nostalgia for millions of mumbaikars and Indians. Anger is therefore spewing in the hearts and minds of all Indians as to how a operation of this magnitude could be inflicted upon innocent people with such great precision and duration.

Goa has had its painful share in this tragedy with a strapping young lad of only 23 ytaj mumbai and Oberoi trident terror attacksears of age falling victim to the bullets of these mercenaries. Boris Do Rego , a chef with the Taj Mumbai apparently made contact with his family in Goa, over his mobile throughout the ordeal but failed to save himself while reassuring his family of hope. In his dying breath he is reported to have called up his family in Divar, Goa to talk to them his final words in his dying moments, even as his voice over the phone faded away into the world of the dead innocents.

The anguish and pain of the Rego family must be immense and unbearable since the attack was so sudden and took away the life of young Boris at such a tender age and whose father Chef Urbano De Rego had always cherished the dream of his Son Boris, to be able to take over all culinary skills from him and continue his legacy . This dream has been shattered and shattered are the dreams of nearly 200 people( and their near and dear ones ) who are estimated to have been dead from these sinister attacks besides nearly 400 who are reportedly injured, some of them critically.

Brave NSG comNSG commandos in actionmandos, Mumbai police and the Army have in the meanwhile helped us save the country’s prestige and honour while laying down their lives. The nation salutes Hemant karkare, Vijay saluskar, Ashok Kamte, major Unnikrishnan , Hawaldar Chander and other policemen who laid down their lives for the sake of all of us.

Meanwhile, Goa mourns the death of its beloved son Boris Do Rego whose funeral is schedFuneral of Boris Do Regouled today the 29th Of November 2008 at Nossa Senhora De Piedade Church, Divar, at 3.45 pm. May the eternal father in heaven have mercy on his soul and grant him eternal peace. May his family derive strength from the power of the Lord’s word and be able to bear this irreparable loss. A tearful farewell indeed! Goodbye Boris.

Xittuk Goencar

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Spotlight on Goan churches - Rachol Seminary

Goa and its beautiful structures are spanned across the entire state. The focus of this post is on the Rachol Seminary in South Goa in Salcete taluka. This seminary has a very historic lineage and has transcendedRachol seminary Goa from different religions which include muslim , hindu and Christianity.

If one travels from Margao, Goa’s commercial city, a seven kilometer stretch passing through fatorda and Raia will finally land you at the rachol Seminary. On the way you are bound to enjoy the serene and vast expanse of fields and meadows at Raia as the road leads you to the Rachol seminary.

The Rachol seminary was incidentally a muslim fortress. The Portuguese are known to have first converted it into a church and then transformed part of it into a prison. The Rachol seminary is known to have been built somewhere in between 1570-1580 AD and was an edifice which acquired respect as a centre for studying theology . There is a church inside the seminary which is dedicated to the Jesuit saint Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuit order, a dedication which is maintained till date.

It is recorded that the University of Arts, Science and Technology was established at the rachol seminary by the Capuchins. And in the year 1759, it is said that Archbishop da Silveira declared Rachol as a diocesan Seminary with the title ‘The Good Sheperd’, Bom Pastor.

Records show that the seminary was the house of the the first version of the printing press which was the centre to produce Christian religious literatures. While this press set up by Father Thomas Stevens produced over 16 books ,the most prominent of them was the translation of the gospels to the Indian language. This institution is known to have played an active role in propagating Christianity in Goa since its inception when it used to house a hospital and even a school for the poor along with the college to train the priests. Currently the Seminary has lot of students here not only from Goa but also from various parts of India.

The Rachol seRachol seminary doorminary is known for its very unique architecture.. There is a statue of Saint Constantine, the first Roman Emperor who got converted to Christianity. It is a carved statue made very articulately. Also one cannot help marveling at the the wonderfully carved and gilded main altarpiece. Till recently the seminary used to house the Museum of Christian Art that displayed the church artifacts collected from all corners of Goa. However the same has now been shifted to Panjim.

The central courtyard of the Rachol Seminary has a huge water tank and is surrounded by pillared walkways. The inside aisles are very wide the seminary and has a very tall height and looks imposing on the inside. The hall of the seminary exhibits some paintings of the Goan high clergy and some Portuguese statesmen.

The Rachol seminary is worth a visit.

Xittuk Goencar

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where are the springs in the summer?

It must be my good fortune to have been born in Goa in the late part of the last century . I say this because Goa is witnessing a rapid change in its demography, its people and its fast diminishing cultural traditions. There are numerous things about Goa that I experienced as a child that I now find being hurtled to pages of history thanks to the unorganized urbanization of Goa which due to the benevolence of our state legislators is being given topmost priority over Goa’s degradation. All in the name of development.

One of the things I sorely miss in Goa are the springs in summertime. Indeed where are the goan springs in the summer?. In my childhood, come summer and my family was ready to visit the various beaches and the fresh water springs all over Goa to freshen us up and give that much needed soothing effect of the summer. These springs have now become a rare species for Goans. Most of them have either dried up, merely trickling or mysteriously converted into private properties.

Springs are a natures pure gift to mankind and we the people of Goa, had been given this gift in large measure. Springs have been a source of medicinal value to goans for centuries and have known to cure people of problems with vision, skin ailments, etc which coGoan springnventional medicines had failed to cure. Springs abounded in Goa and there were once over a thousand springs all over Goa. Now I wonder if there are even a hundred.

Even if they exist, the water gushing from them is a pittance and the ambience around the spring is one cluttered with all kinds of garbage littered by people from all over the country and the world, who visit these few remaining places in Goa as if they are visiting their native village taps.The plastic waste , tetrapacks , broken bottles and even defecation in these areas seem to be the parting gifts of our domestic tourists who bring their native civic sense into our once clean surroundings with careless impunity.

Springs actually originate from seepages of water in strong gushes oozing from ground surfaces or water bearing rocks from the hills. They are prevalent wherever the water table and the ground level is on par.The rainwater seeps through the hills and rocks bearing aquifers. Whatever passes through limestone is non potable and that passing through sandstone is potable.

Large scale development and unabated mining activites including landlords diverting the waters to their farm lands, resort and hotels etc have ruined the cause by destroying its source and have deprived the villages and the farmer community from their water needs. Revolts by locals against the mining lobby against such large scale degradation of the Goan environment has been met with stiff opposition and most people are sought to be silenced with monetary offers.

Such a lack of respect for nature could finally end up in the drying of all our springs and all these tourism related places would then be relegated to garbage dumpyards. It is sad that some springs and the surrounding areas around them have been entrusted to private hoteliers in the name of tourism and employment. The villagers of these areas should fight at their gram sabha meetings to revert them back to the use of the common man.

The whole problem it seems is commercialization of our natural resources at all levels without any consideration of the effects it can have on the environment and the natural landscape of goa which may soon result in the drying up of all springs in Goa.

We need to save our Goan springs on a war footing. Much time has been lost and we need to identify the culprits at all levels who contribute to the degradation and also ensure a balanced environmentally sustainable approach is made to save whatever is left of the Goan spring.

Xittuk Goencar

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Great Goan Robberies

We elect members to the Goan legislative assembly as our representatives since a whole mass of people are unable to voice themselves as good as a single representative should do. We expect this representative to work in the best interest of our ward, our village, our constituency and our state. He is voted for that purpose alone.

However our elected representatives in Goa are continuosly hoodwinking us blatantly after being elected to their seats. All the good work written in their manifestoeGoa politicss which they scream at various pre-election meetings are relegated to the dust bins and instead they are constantly fighting a battle to be in power and loot. Whoever gets caught in the web cast by a rare sting operation in Goa or other default operation is condemned for a few days and very soon it is business as usual. There is no change. No remorse. No shame.

Goa is in the vagabond hands of forty legislators who are broadly classified into two major parties besides a couple of fencesitters who play hard to get but are always on the winning side owing to their unique independence. Throughout the 5 years of these forty legislators’ elected rule one cannot be sure who is going to occupy the government or the opposition benches the next day.

All anti-defection laws find their graveyard in Goa, before meeting any such fate elsewhere in the country. The party switchovers have gone overboard recently and the lure of money is apparently so good that some legislators have resigned only to be re-elected by our benevolent goan citizens back to the looting square. Resignation to switch was incidentally a deterrent enforced in the anti-defection law in India to ensure a halt to defections. However our politicians in Goa have proved that when it comes to spinning money, nothing can come in their way. Probably because they consider the goan voter to be foolish and stupid.

In Goa, coups and backstabbing and jumping , bedsitting and all other compromising positions are not limited to caste creed or religion. Anybody is available anywhere and anytime. What dictates the switchover is the price. However, when these same legislators seek our votes they divide us into groups based on caste creed and religion. . And we hopelessly fall for this bait . In Goa generally hindu dominated areas vote for a hindu candidate while Christians stand by a candidate of their faith. The backward classes will go that extra mile to vote for their candidate leaving merit way behind.

The politicians’ pseudo love for caste creed and religion is for election pruposes only and then once elected it seems its their prerogative to switch and slide at will, with the valid reasons written and readied for by their thrilled scripture writers. When one hears the reasons of the switch one can see shameless guilt being camouflaged by the stink of the ransom taken.

Meanwhile issues such as the alarming garbage menace, the megaprojects, the draconian regional plan, the blatant SEZ’s , Goan properties being sold to all and sundry, The flourishing drug cartels , the price rises etc are issues which remain unresolved and unattended.There is no will to address these issues on a war footing.

Lay people in Goa are therefore made to come out on the streets to fight the battle which should have been fought by our elected legislators. However they are not bothered. Instead of framing rules for mega projects and enforcing strict regulations for an organized development of Goa our legislators are instead crying foul because of the wasted opportunity of making the quick buck which has gone awry due to these agitations.

Is Goa doomed to be in the hands of such petty people who have no concern for Goa and Goans? And then they say you the public is responsible to bring us to the seat of power. You are as much to blame goes their wanton banter. But tell me between a thief , a murderer, a smuggler or a swindler we have to choose one don’t we?

One would say, we need ourselves to go there in the seat of power to set the fearless tone and walk the talk. But again where is the money to fight an election? Our pockets are hollow and the Goan voter is too deep in the shell. Even if I reach him there, will he awaken to reality? Will he understand my sentiment of ejecting Goa out of the pit? Or has he become chronic to the bugle which sounds the same tone of religion caste and creed?

It is a vicious Goan circle indeed. And unless we change our sense of thinking and become smart voters we are bound to be conned by these petty people called politicians who live for today, casting on us the doom of tomorrow.

Xittuk Goencar

Monday, November 24, 2008

Goa – Fall in love naturally

Romance has been associated with Goa for long. Bollywood for one has chosen Goa as a preffered destination in India for romantic movies with regularity. The atmosphere in Goa itself instills a feeling of romance in even the not-so-romantic people. Goa and romance

The beach in Goa is one of the favourite destinations of to-be lovers and people who want a serene environ to sit and chat. The Goan coastline is normally dotted with couples of all ages and sizes at different levels of their relationship finding the locale to be in perfect harmony to their association.

The Goan ambience has therefore tempted many in India and over the world to choose Goa as a honeymoon destination. Honeymoons in Goa happen throughout the year and the monsoon season is quite a special time in Goa to celebrate a honeymoon as the surroundings are rich green and the villages are bustling with a freshness hard to describe.

Deeper in the goan hinterland there are also wonderful places for a quiet getaway. However the beach still remains a firm favourite as the prime spot to romance by the sea.

Here’s wishing every visitor to Goa a memorable honeymoon and a romantic time together.

Xittuk Goencar

Gram Sabha’s- The buzzword of the Goan fightback

Since the time the opposition to the regional plan took firm ground, a new forum seems to have awakened Goans much to their delight. Although Gram Sabhas were in existence in Goa since the panchayati Raj was, their utility was restricted to solving petty village quarrels such as encroachments and small injustices at the ward levels.

Moreover Gram sabhas , although have a specific time and frequency of meeting, were often scheduled at the whims and fancies of the Sarpanch of that particular village of Goa, with little or no protest from the villagers. Some Panchayats in Goa had a gram sabha only in name and the sabha actually did not even meet up leave alone disGoa gram sabha meetingcussed any issue. It was largely a manipulative exercise in many villages of Goa, as the discussions were inconsequential and were only a platform to seek embarrassment of rivals and had little or no bearing on the actions arising out of its convening.

To my disbelief I had painfully discovered another political gimmick the gram sabha was mired in. Gram sabhas were often a cruel joke played by the councilors , as their cronies filled the gram sabha meetings in full numbers to stifle all murmurs of protests and to silence the questions with foul verbatim. When I attended a couple of them in my village I observed familiar faces consistently supporting the cause of the cornered councilor without any valid reason. It was as if some of these people were paid to ensure that their masters, the councillors were bailed out from the predicament of their wicked actions being highlighted in the open.

However now the Gram sabhas in Goa are with a new armour. The frequency of the gram sabha, its date , time etc is being sought vociferously. The charm of the sarpanch and his boys is declining. The clout of the Panchayat Minister is waning and the new citizen is on the rise. Questioning, demanding, seeking to know. Suddenly the right of the citizen in the gram sabha is stinging the establishment like a slap following them in every scheduled meeting. The threat of the Gram sabha and the questionnaire awaiting the panchas, has begun to give them the necessary sleepess nights.

Unable to bear this onslaught the Panchayat bodies are burning midnight oil to find out how to scuttle the movement of the Goan who wants a fight through the gram sabha. Some of them including the minister of panchayats have gone on record saying that the citizens rights under the gram sabha are limited. They have however failed to specify the clauses under which such rights are denied to the citizen.

So finally the Goan villager has woken up to the reality of fighting a battle to save his village from the evil designs of a handful of villagers with vested interests and whose general intention is to make a quick buck when the going is good. At our expense and at the expense of the future of our children.

May they be condemned for shattering our confidence in them. May the gram sabhas live longer than they think. And may the fight translate into concrete actions. We owe it to ourselves.

Long live the Goan!

Xittuk Goencar

Goa’s “Romi”nce with Konkani

The challenges for Goa and Goans are continuosly emerging. One of them is the poser of the official language oGoan Romi Konkani scriptf Goa. For some time now, the debate in Goa for the official language within its own domain has caught sincere attention. It seems to be raising its head for another undesirable battle. This time the battle seems to be coming from within the realm of the Goan Konkani umbrella and fanning a flame on the outside to the patrons of languages of neighbouring states, who are waiting for the slightest opportunity to lay siege.

Insensitivity and to a certain extent malafide intention , on the part of the government of goa in the times of implementing the official language bill, seems to be the root cause of the entire impasse. Honestly the precision of meticulously referring to the use of only the Devnagri script in the official language act could have been well avoided. But it wasn’t.

Konkani for long has been Goa’s love and Goa and goans fought for the sake of Konkani . However fighting the cause were champions of two different scripts under the fullness of the one banner “Konkani”. In pursuit of the major goal of achieving their mission of catapulting Konkani to the level of the official language, the intricacy of the script it seems was left to conscience. The discussion on the use of the script it seems was not openly discussed. However conscience as one discovers now, wasn’t common enough and so we have two factions within the Konkani protagonists in Goa who find their own brand of Konkani as the preferred choice.

It cannot be denied that Romi Konkani is being widely spoken in Goa mainly within the Catholic community. Goan theatre if there is any, is only propagated through the Romi Konkani. And while there is little publication of the script, the Vavreadeancho Ixtt, Gulab magazine, Goencho Avaz etc are still in good circulation. So benefits for the enrichment of the language are therefore justified. However the opposition to the struggle to get equal recognition for Romi Konkani by its activists is only projecting the deep fissures in the Konkani lovers body.

One wishes that those who vouch for Devnagri see similar sentiments in the hearts of the Romi Konkani lovers and simply work together to bring about this little change in the official language act so that both scripts co-exist and grow. How does one Konkani script encroach on the other and where does the opposition find its place in this matter is a big question.

However if this debate within the Konkani language gets tougher, it could awaken the supporters of the Maharashtrian language Marathi, which is certainly not the language that even a quarter of the population uses in speech in Goa. and certainly is not welcome to be on par with the official language of Goa

So in effect there needs to be a consensus among the lovers of Konkani and if the Romi Konkani supporters are unable to get due recognition, the Romi Konkani lovers should encourage the promotion of the language through voluntary means , by popular contributions and provide the necessary impetus to the language to enable it to reach to a level when the government simply cannot ignore it any further. However a conflict within the Goan Konkani fold should be avoided by all means.

Also instead of imposing a medium of instruction of Konkani in primary schools the government and the protagonists of Konkani in Goa should show more character, practicality and foresight to understand that English takes precedence for medium of instruction over all other regional languages as it is the universal language and we need to be absolutely proficient in English if Goans want to make a mark academically both in India and in the world. Already the effects of a regional language medium are being felt when some of our Goan candidates fail to pass the interview for proper accent in some of the call centre companies.

However Konkani as a subject should be made compulsory at all levels of School education. This is the only way to ensure that Konkani as a language can find its place in amchem bhangarachem Goem.

Viva Konkani! Viva Goencar!

XIttuk Goencar

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Goa - the media’s latest spoon

Over the times I have observed that Goa is neveGoan mediar short of an issue. From the time of Liberation Goa has amply satisfied the media to grow to an extent that in a populace of over 15 lakh we have four English dailies with the latest one of them with a national presence, one Konkani Devnagari newspaper, a marathi publication, and a few weeklies. Add to that the growing local television channels ( without any standard though) and the news bulletins of aspiring TV journalists on cable TV and one wonders whether Goa has too much on its plate.

However one must say there is no dearth of news nowadays in Goa. National television in days gone by used to ignore Goa and its news was considered inconsequential, often not worth reporting at the national level. And so while we pulled our ears and widened our eyes in front of some tired looking Doordarshan news readers of yesteryears, we never heard Goan news popping out of their mouth barring the occasional shower of a goan holiday.

However now there seems to be news aplenty. Goa seems to be in the thick of things that drives television channels here almost on a weekly basis. While our politicians are always engaged in a rampaging circus to catch attention of the sleepiest joe’s, their children and their closest foes and their advocates seem to have joined the bandwagon.So mysterious foreigner murders, hefty drug trades, sleazy sex stories etc in Goa, have caught the imagination of people all over the world . The media has added the much wanted spice to what was earlier the mere Goan gossip wheel. Add to that Draconian regional megaprojects, under hand SEZ deals, stormy gram sabhas and essentially the vigilant Goan has been feeding the news reels with requisite masala to prove that the news quotient from Goa is indeed positioning itself in terms of value.

One only hopes that this media interest is indeed in the interest of Goa. One must however acknowledge that during the opposition to the regional plan 2011, the coverage given by a couple of news channels did help to exert that extra pressure on our” Babus” to roll back their nefarious plan.

Here’s hoping that the media is indeed proactive with the cause of Goa and Goans.

Xittuk Goencar

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Goan Beach – As safe as you want it to be

The Beach in Goa is the best place to relax after a hard days work because after working throughout the day the Goan Beach is the best place to unwind. You can afford to soak yourself on Goa Beachthe soft sand with a smile or relax in the waters on the Beach. The sea water in Goa is also known to have medicinal properties and people in Goa visit the beach since childhood times to avail the benefit of the Goan sea water.

There is a valid theory floated that the beach water has healed many of their different ailments. However one has to take proper care while swimming on Goan beaches as the beach can be a death trap as many have found out and never could relate the experience as death took them away.

Drowning on Goan beaches has been a frequent happening for the last so many years as tourists from various parts of India and the world have found painfully. And the problem is that such tragedies give Goa a bad name for no fault of the authorities.

There have therefore been many questions raised about the safety on Goan beaches.People from all over the world visit Goa throughout the year. However we have maximum casualties from Indian tourists visiting the beaches and not necessarily the foreign visitors.

The problem with the Indian tourists is that they refuse to pay heed to suggestions from the locals or the life guards to take proper care while heading for the beach. They seem to normally take the warnings for granted. Sometimes tourists especially from India, encounter the beach for the first time in their life and are too excited and that excitement makes them venture out happily in the deep sea only to find the strong water currents sweeping them. However by then it is too late. The jaws of death take over.

Life - guards are at reach on Goan beaches but every stretch of the beach may not have a ready life guard available as the Goa beach expanse is too long. So one has to take care of oneself to the best possible extent and follow the instructions put up at every beach and every tourist guideline in Goa. Fun on the Goan beach is fine. However care is utmostly necessary to avoid any tragedy.

Also sometimes tourists drink too much of alcohol in Goa and then venture out into the sea which is a suicidal thing to do as alcohol and the sea is a lethal combination of a foolish death. So one has to take extreme precaution that a pleasant holiday in Goa does not become a very bitter experience for self and the family and Goa remains as the most preferred destination for tourism in the world.

After all one comes to Goa to enjoy the beautiful sunny Goan beach, its crystal sand, the clean beach surroundings etc to unwind and not to wind up one’s life. Tourists should help themselves in paying heed to cautions and warnings about venturing on the Goan beach and the precautions one needs to take after venturing into the sea.

Hoping that henceforth every visitor to this part of the world follows the instructions and enjoys their stay in beautiful Goa without any tragedy. Wish everyone a Happy holiday in Goa.

Love You Goa!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pseudo fights, plain hallucination or colonial hangover?

I read with dismay , disgust and amusement the views expressed by a senior freedom fighter in a leading daily dated November 10, 2008. It amazes me how the sound of even the “P” of Portugal violently awakens some Goans from their otherwise succegaad slumber. The title of the article is completely misleading and an euphoria of hate is sought to be created out of nothing.

In the last 47 years after liberation,Goa has been facing a host of problems from the mushrooming of slums to the rise of concrete jungles. From regional plans to garbage problems. From political impropriety of musical chairs to foreign sponsored Goa property fairs. Russians buying land wholesale in Goa to foreign drug cartels flourishing in our backyards . Casinos slicing our rivers and hills torn apart for bungalows with a view. Lay people are made to fight their own battles against SEZ’s and government is sitting pretty after issuing licences. Yet one hears very little or no protests from some of our freedom fighters of yesteryears who do not comment leave alone question these issues. Such issues seem to be of no concern for them .While Goa is being continuosly hurtling towards a state where the Goan will be outnumbered soon, some of our freedom fighters are least concerned to voice their mere resentment. Their only concern till date seems to be about Goa’s freedom and despite liberation given to us by India, they still seem to have not got over their enthusiasm and their zeal for demanding freedom for free Goa.

It seems that some of our senior citizens are still fighting the Portuguese who left long ago. That fight, it seems, was and is, their only motivation for the benefit of Goa. The very mention of Portugal seems to send electric energy in some of them and all these other issues are seemingly miniscule to them compared to the threat they claim is posed by Portugal in this world in 2008. The other urgent issues of today can wait their attention. But the burning issue of Portugal is their torch. And they are worried that the flame is dying.They seem to think that they invented nationalism and love to associate “nationalism” with being “ anti-portuguese”. It is as if they have a patented right to speak about nationalism and how it should be practiced in today’s Goa.

The above writer scoffs at art and culture, dance and music, food and drinks and leisure is looked upon by him with contempt. Little does he know that the same art and culture is the hotbed of tourism for Goa? That the dance and music is something that draws the world’s tourist to Goa? That our blend of west and east in Goa is something that the tourist comes here for? That this advantage of Goa has beaten Kerala who despite having the better beaches and stunning backwaters has perennially failed to woo the tourists merely by geographical beauty? That the ambience of leisure in Goa is our strength in promoting tourism?

Why is this obsession against Portugal still so rampant in some senior citizens? Is this some kind of a colonial hangover that our senior citizens have failed to shrug off? Is this some kind of a toy they are playing for far too long? And are they feeling disgruntled that the rest of modern Goa is not playing to their gallery? Or is it a guilt of failure to achieve freedom on their own and not through the benevolence of the Indian army haunting them for unknown fulfillment?

It is disgraceful the way in which the writer seeks to accuse some Goans who he says take pride in linking themselves with Portugal. Is it a sin to link with Portugal? Is it forbidden by the constitution of India? Going by the writers views, no Indians today should probably link with England.. India was brutally ruled by the British for centuries. The Jallianwalla bagh massacre, among numerous barbaric times with the British are bitter moments against foreign rule for every Indian. India should be continuously at war with England given those bitter memories. Yet India and Indians moved ahead. The past wasn’t forgotten. Instead it is being given lesser importance in favour of a brighter future. Today India and Indians have a fabulous relationship with England. The English language has taken India to the world. Indians have been recognized as a outsourcing hub for BPO etc mainly due to our knowledge of English, an area where China is a distant second. We owe it to the British. Indians are members of parliament in England and Indian businessmen have flourished in England. India and England have grown together and memories of the colonial rule are relegated to only history books. Even the occasional bollywood anti-British movie fails to stir up any semblance of a hate campaign. The celebration of Independence day sees no contempt or anger spewed on England. Interestingly the queen of England still flaunts with the priceless Kohinoor snatched from India centuries ago. The Portuguese meanwhile had the courtesy to return the Goan gold taken by them back to Goans.

Back in Goa some of our freedom fighters sing a different tune. They wish to be at war with Portugal forever. Some of them will use any opportunity to spew venom. Portugal stings them like a bee. They are still fighting a battle.They still find Portugal a threat and they seem to dream about a usurpal of Goa as a reality. Is this hallucination at its best?

The writer mentions the bond between Goa and Portugal which he claims should be actually limited to strictly India and Portugal. This bond seems to give the writer sleepless nights and he seems to see that this relationship is on a weak foundation. The writer in his over enthusiasm to point out fallacies in the India-Portugal friendship , is willfully blind to understand the reason of the Goa-Portugal relationship . Portugal identifies with Goa. In India its culture is best showcased here. There can be a common sharing of views. The reciprocation is better. There is understanding of their language as well. And although Goa is a part of India it is common sense to associate with that part of India which a country can relate better with. It is convenience. Plain common sense.
And how does association with Goa change the scenario for India or Portugal? Portugal does have their embassy in New Delhi. Not in Goa. The consulate is just a facilitation office.How does such Goa-Portugal friendship pinch the writer? Is Goa an independent country? No. Does Goa issue visas for Portuguese citizens to visit the country? No. India does. So why should the writer feel threatened?

However since the writer is so bewildered at the Goa-Portugal friendship and finds it tough to digest it, he should also know that although we live in one India, Goa has separate laws governing our society. Some of these laws such as the common civil code are unique to Goa and Goa is the envy of India due to this law. Does that law make Goa a separate part of India? No. It is a fact of history which was inseparable even after liberation. And we have learnt to live with it.

The writer mentions about Portugal as a poor country and also wishes to feel threatened by Portugal . Can a country like India feel threatened by a poor country like Portugal? The writer tells the answer first and then poses the question. One wonders if the writer is posing a backward quiz.

In a desperate attempt to infuse life into his article, the writer mentions an incident which allegedly happened in the Portuguese consulate many years ago. Given his dislike for Portugal it is no wonder that he chose to observe every little move that happened. And much to his fortune as he claims there was no respect shown to the Indian national Anthem. Was the writer present at the function? If so why did the writer remain silent when the national anthem was disrespected? Why did he not register a vociferous protest and bring such disrespect to the notice of the Goans, the Portuguese and the country? Or was it a pseudo love for the national anthem only to be voiced backdoors and to be spoken of long after the incident is over, to score some brownie points? Whoever witnesses the abuse of the National anthem and remains silent should be ashamed and if unwilling of courage to counter the disrespect instantly, must learn to keep the silence forever for his own sake.

However it is ironical that there are people in our country who love to stand straight for the national anthem but who trample upon the constitution with regular impunity. They know that they need to be standing in rapt attention during the anthem playing but for the rest of their time they puncture and bleed the constitution and what the country holds dear. Our politicians are a fine example. What hypocrisy!

It is time that Goans wake up from pseudo fighters who rake up meaningless issues. They seem to be obsessed with spread of hatred . The latest target is the “semana de Cultura Portuguesa”. Such cultural exchanges should be encouraged all the more as they help us in numerous ways. Firstly we desperately need the knowledge of the Portuguese language.We have almost all our old property documents and other literature in civil records etc in the Portuguese language. Most of us do not know how to read them . Just like illiterates we need the help of translators who are declining like a rare species. How beneficial it would be if we all know the language? Our laws are lifted in many parts from the Portuguese law. How nice would it be if our lawyers, judges and common men know the language to understand these laws better?
Secondly, with such a platform, cuisine gets an exchange medium and Goa being a tourist place such exchange would only enrich our stature. Thirdly there is a mutual exchange on miscellaneous subjects such as dance forms, music etc etc which can only enrich our historical ambience and add to our knowledge.

Instead of influencing the public against Portugal, we should see what new challenges and dilemmas are posed on Goa. The world is changing. Nothing is constant. The Jews and the Germans were once sworn enemies. Now they share intelligence. The new enemies for the Jews are now the Arabs. All their intelligence is aimed to plan the fight against the Arabs. Not the Germans anymore. The US bombed Japan when it failed to mend its ways. Today Japan is not a threat to the US. Its an ally. North Korea is the new threat in that region.The USSR was enemy No 1 for the US. Today Russia is barely looked upon as a threat. The cold war is over. Instead the US has new enemies. New challenges. Islamic terrorism against US is the new threat. Vietnam is not an enemy of the US anymore. Venezuela is. They are focusing on the new threats. Not wasting their time and energies on old mannequins of history.

Our freedom fighters need to instill a fundamental change of mindset. They need to identify the new challenges facing Goa in modern times and voice their opposition to the decay of Goa. The new threats facing Goa are from many quarters. Foremostly from the Russians. This threat is for real. They got the money, the mafia, the drug cartel, the girls and now prime Goan property. A perfect recipe for Goa’s disaster. Half of Morjim belongs to them.And many other beachfronts in Goa too. Russian flags, Russian communist leaders’ statues, Russian language signs etc will greet you in morjim as all such merchandise is adorning the village. The locals are being outnumbered and outwitted. The money is too much for anybody to speak leave alone protest. If any Portuguese had to own half the property as these Russians own, there would have been a new satyagraha. New freedom fighters would emerge and the old ones would instigate them . But nobody has the courage or the mere will to question this proliferation of the Russians on Goan society. Instead some of our freedom fighters love to thrash out non- issues of their favourite whipping boy Portugal .
The Kashmiris are flooding the beach belts and their credentials are not even asked for leave alone checked. The Israelis, the Nigerians etc are forming alarming cartels which rule Goa in a geographical divide and any encroachment into each others domain is gang war. Are our freedom fighters even aware about this? Do they care? Instead of carrying the enormous burden of an alleged 45,000 Goans with Portuguese passports, our freedom fighters should be worried about the sword of democles hanging over our heads with thousands of Russian passport holders enjoying the sun sea and sand of Goa illegally and spreading poison among our youth at their whim and fancy.

Our senior leaders should have the wisdom to understand that Goans are seeking to work in Europe and improve their financial conditions by virtue of the opportunity of the Portuguese passport. Goa has the beauty, the charm and the nostalgia.The love for Goa can never die in the Goan. But it is in quest of a better living that Goans are using the opportunity . Such financial balance is not available in Goa. Instead of complaining about the goans who still have Indian passports our Freedom fighters should instead petition the government to allow special status for Goans and grant us dual Nationality by virtue of our historical unique transition.
The government of India has understood the dynamics of Goa being merged in India after liberation and there exist separate income tax laws for Goans since we have descended from a different law history.The common civil code is another example. The same is being continued. Surely the government would consider such a proposal because it would be in the interest of India as valuable foreign exchange would continuously flow. Also only true Goans would benefit the status. Not everybody who is residing in Goa. However the writer is more interested in toying with far-fetched hypothetical situations of a clash between India and Europe and has passed his own wishful judgement that Goans will be disloyal in case his dream comes true. What a waste of thought!

The writer is still living 50 years backwards in the pre-liberation era. Globalisation and liberalization is a reality that the writer mocks at. Internet, ecommerce, net banking, video conferencing etc must be a crackling joke to him. The writer instead prefers to stay in his shell and shout slogans and write anti-portuguese verbatim. Some like him are still expecting Portugal to usurp Goa once again. In fact it seems to be their wishful dream. And in pursuit of this hallucination they want all Goans to ride their bandwagon. However to the writer’s misfortune Goans know to think for themselves and cannot be fooled by such hate campaigns, hallucinations and false propaganda as such campaigns will take us nowhere.

Reminds me of the movie full of hallucinations called “Maine Gandhi ko nahin mara”.

Having said all of the above I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and salute every true freedom fighter who fought against the erstwhile Portuguese rule and never gave up untill India finally annexed Goa. However it is time to move on. Time to see freedom in a different light.

Will the real Goan freedom fighter please stand up? Will he show relevance to his fight for freedom in modern Goa? Or will he push himself for the pleasure and strange joy in re-living an old battle already won by India long ago?

Long live Goa . Long live India. Long live Portugal!

The BigGoan

Friday, November 14, 2008

Goa Tour - An insight into Goa, Goan beauty, Goan beaches, Goan food, Goa hotels and Goa tourism

Goa a cute little emerald of India is ideally located in about the middle of India's palm-dotted Western Coast. Goa is blessed with a very pleasant climate - hot days, warm nights and virtually no rain if you happen to visit Goa between October and March. Although the very rare occasional shower may surprise you.
Goan beach at night
However Goa in the rains has its own charm and the magic of the rainy season itself could make you fall in love with Goa for a different reason altogether.

Goa is the tiniest state in the Indian sub continent and was a Portuguese colony until 1961 when it was liberated from Portuguese rule by the Indian army. Referred to as "the Rome of the Orient" in days gone by, Goa's recorded history dates back to the 3rd century B.C.

A former Portuguese colony , Goa and goans are proud of their heritage and Hinduism and Christianity mingle beautifully in this land where temples and Churches reside in perfect harmony.Goa is delightfully picturesque and a complete tropical paradise, with serene golden beaches, gleaming white-washed and blue or yellow coloured houses and sweet amiable, folk . Goa is therefore a naturally preferred holiday destination of the International as well as the Indian tourist.

Goa has a warm blend of Indo-European architecture and cultural influences are a rare combination of east and west fusing wonderfully. The rich and beautiful heritage of Goa manifests in the brilliant expressions of Goan traditional folk arts, its dance, music, drama, literature, colorful pageants, cultural fests, wedding celebrations, feasts and festivals, majestic temples, imposing churches and heritage mosques.

Food is something you are going to love here. And curry fans will be in heaven with the deliciously-spiced tandoori and mouth watering seafood delicacies.

Goa is endowed with a verdant beach strip running a hundred miles of gorgeous, white beaches. If you decide to escape the beach you could go inland from the coast, and you encounter palm trees so dense you think you are in a jungle.

In the southern part of goa you will discover beaches to tan you up, warm waters for swimming and tempting water-side restaurants serving the most mouth-watering food.

In the North of Goa, Candolim and Calangute can capture your desire to stay put. Lively night life and a wide choice of shopping outlets, cafes and pubs.. The food in Goa is delicious and cheap but hygienic too.

Being a coastal state not surprisingly, Goa is famous for its exotic variety of seafood. Also International, vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine find their own place. Eat huge tiger prawns, tandoori kingfish , lobsters or succulent crab - all at a fraction of what you would pay anywhere in the world .Crabs, prawns, river fish, and chicken are used a lot and are tastier than lamb or pork, which both tend to be rather tough.For dessert, Bebinca takes the cake, besides a host of other local delicacies.

Colonial times can get a good glimpse if you move around Goa especially if you take a trip to Old Goa where you will see churches and cathedrals built hundreds of years ago by the Portuguese including the first chapel dedicated to St.Catherine which was built immediately after Vasco-da-Gama the Portuguese sailor who found Goa for the Portuguese.

For good bargains there are plenty of places but the colourful Anjuna market cannot be missed. Bedspreads and dresses can be found for as little as 4$.

Plenty of hotels, apartments and rooms can be found in Goa .There are a variety of hotels in Goa ranging from basic one room apartments to five-star luxury. But wherever you go, you won't feel hemmed in by high-rise hotel blocks and you can decide a place at a price you choose to pay depending upon the luxury you desire ranging from £50 to £800.

Also it's best not to leave your holiday too late. From the end of March, the rains come and the sea gets rougher. But you'll get a true taste of Goa whenever you go.

Like they say… Its Better in Goa

Love you Goa


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Noisy choosers of silence

Strange are the ways of politics and politicians in Goa. Their colours and their style is unique. It is a tribe that can be compared to no other. From best of friends they can turn to the best of enemies and return back to old friendship even before you wake up next day.

Our politicians in Goa already have the dubious distinction of being the finest hoppers in the country. In our schools of Goa, teachers are reluctant to quiz children about the names of our current leaders such as chief minister etc. because they dont know for how long he is going to be in the 'gaddi".

While the ruling government belonging to any party considers corruption as its birthright, the opposition party is no different. It is a meaningless and toothless opposition. Only for name sake. They oppose anything and everything that they find is helpful to corner a government. It may not be in the interest of the common man. But they will oppose policies, decisions, incidents etc just to create a noise so that their party name is alive. In Goa they are least concerned about the real issue. Neither is Goa of any value to them. Their only concern is how to gain mileage from any issue. And they also know how to maintain a stoic silence when it comes to burning issue. So make a noise when a molehill shows up and when a mountain shows up they dig a hole on some Goan beach and hibernate inside.

In recent times we have seen various issues from sez's to mega projects to rape cases and murders in Goa. But the opposition party is so cunningly choosy in making a comment. They choose the people who are against them to condemn and are face-taped when it comes to burning issues.The silence of some of their leaders over some real hot issues is a big joke. Some years back the foes who are now friends were being persecuted for little reason. But now with plenty of reason available our opposition party instead of criticising particular individuals ( which was normally the habit) has instead resorted to seeking the governments head. What hypocrisy!

And then they say that we the public are responsible for the state of affairs in Goa as we are the ones who elect them to office. But please tell me Mr Goa politician.... when we have a choice between one "chor", another "kirmidor' and a third "fator" we have to choose one , dont we. Goa needs able people and sooner lay common men with clean conscience should take up the cause of Goa by standing up to an election and riddling Goa of the mess that we are in.

Love You Goa!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hutments and shanties – An eyesore of Goa and a threat of an impending slum

It seems that the authorities have recently pulled down some illegal hutments in and around margao in Goa. This is probably a scratch on the mountain.
It is always a mystery to me as to how the government allows the proliferation of these hutments in the first place. Why the municipal authorites and the panchayats do not crack down on these illegal hutments for years until they pose a social problem?

Corruption it may seem to be the least worry here. But at the root of the problem is indeed corruption. Migrant labour first come to Goa and see vacant land all around. The owners of these properties may be abroad or these properties may be communidade land. It all starts with one hut or a couple of huts. Then some more join in. Soon they get electricity and a borewell is dug for them to drink water. Talathis come to their house to give them ration cards and hospitals offer them medical facilities. All they need now is a sale deed to transfer their shanty in their name. But they don’t need that. Everyone knows that the residents of these hutments cannot afford to pay bribes to stay there. So how do they manage to stay there despite being there illegally.

The answer to this it seems is the greed of the vote bank. The politician allows it to ensure that a new vote bank is created. And does not disturb it .

This greed causes a social unrest and invites people of all hues and colours illegally in a place which does not belong to them. In times later when the local residents complain strongly, the issue becoming unbearable by then, the hutment dwellers approach the politician citing their long duration of stay and the greedy MLA gives in to them and applies pressure to stop the demolitions.

In short due to the greed of one person, or due to the greed of 40 thieves in Goa we all have to suffer. If this proliferation of hutments is not curtailed immediately Goa is bound to see the mushrooming of slums all over and soon becoming another dharavi (Asia ‘s biggest slum in Mumbai).

We cannot afford this to happen. Our culture in Goa is to keep goa clean and tidy for so many years. People from other parts of India want to make Goa their home once they see clean Goa. But they fail to undertstand that when they live in Goa they need to imbibe local cultural values. They think they are in their home state and have no value of garbage disposal etc like their home state culture. they therefore create a social unrest and this needs to be addressed immediately

Slums from the lower class or insensitiveness of migrants from India . Both can spell goa’s doom and needs to be checked. Will the sleazy politician keep Goa above petty politics at least now?
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