This September during my visit to Goa, I realized that many things had changed. The streets had more vehicles, the monsoon breeze was warmer, small local restaurants served only two families at lunch time, while the shacks on the beach were packed with vacationers. The physical execution of the word ‘susegaad’ (relaxed, laid-back attitude) was nowhere to be seen until I came across a hotel’s name in Calangute. Goa was busy; it was different. I needed to know if it was just a personal observation, so I spoke to a few locals during my eight-day long stay in North Goa.
Bonabelle Rodrigues, a businesswoman and a mother-of-two said, “When my sister and I were younger, my mother would take us to the beach and we’d spend hours playing in the water. Now, as Calangute is developing, I rarely take my kids to the shore. The beach is always littered and crowded. It isn’t inviting anymore.”
North Goa is undergoing a metamorphosis. However, a popular old wive’s tale kept Anjuna’s locals away from this change. For years, the ‘curse’ was narrated from one generation to the next. I was told that in Anjuna, building a first floor invites sicknesses, and the moment it is built, the whole building falls apart. For years, this has kept people from building even one floor, as even the sarpanch believes in this superstition. They believe they have seen it happen; they believe families have perished due to the perceived effects of the curse. However, now, many first floor hotels will grab your attention during a bike ride alongside Anjuna’s village, Bamanwado. Have they broken the curse? Maybe.
My neighbor in Anjuna, a homemaker, saw a positive side to it like most parents do. She said, “Transport has become efficient and there are more buses on the roads. My daughter takes the bus to Mapusa at 7 a.m. She doesn’t have to wait for a long time like I did in 1982 for the Kadamba Bus, which was the only operating transport vehicle at that time. Even colleges are increasing in number. The new North Goa is definitely benefitting this generation.”
Hotels have been increasing rapidly in Baga, Kandolim and Calangute, all prime locations in North Goa. The demand during early summers and late winters soar but otherwise it is quiet feasible. Paul Fernandes, a 53-year-old restaurant owner says, “Competition has increased and many private companies have started their own ventures here. Locals have to stay here because of the business. At times we are helpless.”
Maria Carvalo, a fishmonger I met at Mapusa said, “This new North Goa makes me pay double the fare for a bus ticket from Baga Beach to Mapusa – Rs. 20 for every visit to the market. If I don’t earn anything today, I won’t go home.”
After speaking to these few locals, I decided to get some opinions of fellow city dwellers on this issue to see if they thought the same. Many appreciated this new, developing Goa, saying it has become a safer place because of the current rate of development such as the streetlights which were not there earlier. I agreed.
Zara Kureshi, a 25-year-old accountant says, “Commuting has become easier with private and on-hire vehicles. The nightlife in Goa is far better than in Mumbai, the music is better, and the vibe is entirely different. Restaurants are open all night so there’s no problem dining out at any time.”
Kimberley Soares, a SYBSC student adds to this and says, “I like the Goa that I just visited. There are more hotels to choose from and also different cuisines to suit everyone’s taste. Five years ago, good food was difficult to find, but now with most restaurant menus online, I can easily find a nearby Chinese joint.”
I was right. Goa has changed, but whether this change being good or bad is a matter of perception.
Andrea Rodrigues is a handpicked product of the Bayside Pathfinder where we empower the young and the young at heart with the power of storytelling. To become a part of our extended family of unique contributors, call up Prem Madnani at +91 9892913788 or email him on [email protected].