It was raining buckets and my umbrella was no match for it. Nothing like a good cup of coffee and some conversation at the next table. I chose as my victims four serious looking guys whose names turned out to be Ramesh, Manohar, Nandu and Rajan.
As I listened to their conversation over coffee, it became clear, that , they were very knowledgeable about Goa’s geology. This is what I remember of their discussion.
Ramesh: The Chinese steel industry has really played hell into us. I just don’t understand their insatiable demand for low-grade iron-ore. Every man and his dog is into some mining-related activity in our hinterland. No more agriculture, horticulture, pisiculture ... Plunder is the name of the game. Ramesh looked so dejected, depressed and despondent.
Manohar: There is nothing to be surprised about. As an I.I.T. metallurgist I can assure you these guys have bowled us over with a china-man googly. It is not just steel they are producing. They get millions of tons of slag from their blast-furnaces during the smelting operation. This slag has a very high crushing-strength. These guys use the slag as road-base for their huge transport infrastructure creation. They don’t need to plunder their hills for earthworks in their roads and rail-roads.
So we will let them carry-away our ‘reject’ dumps. Good riddance. Then he looked around and preened as if he expected applause and a standing ovation.
Nandu looked at Manohar like he had just crawled-out from under a rock and said, “Manohar Bab, when you are ignorant about a subject its better to keep quiet and let people think you are ignorant. Rather than speak some nonsense and leave more doubt in people’s mind.”
“I have found gold in the stone quarries of Pernem, the fields of Bardez, the hills of Sattari, on the beaches of Salcette, in the forests of Sanguem and even in the deep sewerage trenches being dug in Taleigao. You can forget this nonsense about steel and road-base.”
Rajan had a near-angelic look on his face. Like a Keralite enigma wrapped in a Goan riddle. He said, “I am no geologist, metallurgist or environmentalist. I am not on any list. As a reporter I have always been a keen Goan observer. I always knew instinctively that there is Gold in Them Thar Hills.”
My coffee had gone cold but I had heard-out the Coffee-House Intellectuals of Goa. I can now die a wiser man.