NESHWIN ALMEIDA; café@herald-goa.com
MARGAO: From March 2020 lockdown till date we’ve continuously followed the news updates especially about the Goan seafarers stranded on offshore cruise liners. We’ve seen all kinds of protests from their family members, anxious moments of when they will get home. Sometimes even people getting irked of the Goan seafarers coming home, worrying that they may be carriers of the Covid-19 disease.
But from May 2020, they have been coming home and continuous updates of their homecoming, quarantine, and happy moments as they join their families. But with global tourism being hit and thousands of them back home, what is uncertain is when they will go back or what next for these boys from the hospitality sector. It’s not just the seafarers but a lot of Goans in the Gulf region, parts of UK, EU and Australia also lost their livelihood and returned home to cut their overseas cost. But when will they go back or for that matter what’s next for them as they dig into their savings for daily survival?
“My neighbor Fraizer Ozorio Fernandes couldn’t rejoin his duty on board the ship in 2018 and I myself had just returned back from the ship and started a small farmhouse and homestay namely Nature’s Hideaway at Chinchinim, so I requested him to use his skills of being a bar tender on the ship at a small party at my venue back then and since that day there was no looking back for Fraizer Ozorio Fernandes,” explains Gerson Gomes, owner of Nature’s Hideaway at Durga-Chinchinim.
Gerson quit his job on the ship a few years before that and established a small venue for parties and homestays and he explains to us that one night of assistance meant that Fraizer Ozorio Fernandes then went as a professional bartender to many such parties across Goa and starred hotels then started renting glasses and crockery and is today full time associated in organising weddings and parties.
“ It’s really simple if we could something like this and serve Goan’s their needs at weddings, birthdays and parties then why do I need to go back on the ship, far away from home. First bar tenders would be sourced from Mumbai and Bangalore to Goa for destination weddings while our boys do the same thing on cruise liners, so obviously, I have a huge scope in my homeland,” explains Fraizer Ozorio Fernandes.
Fraizer Ozorio Fernandes tells us how he has established himself in the world of organising events and now with the COVID 19 restrictions and the government allowing just 50 people and celebrations, he and Gerson have decided to piece together a new concept.
“Our friend Darcy is a photographer on a cruise liner, While chef Sanjay from Cuncolim was a head chef on a P&O cruise who are all in Goa with no employment, we decided to join hands and help people organize their parties and social gatherings. I did a few 21st birthday parties these days but obviously, we are super extra careful on how we work,” explains Fraizer Ozorio Fernandes.
Gerson tells us how they have started a concept called 12OZ Bar events ‘Bhivpachi Kaich Garaz Nah’ which is a package of food, drinks, cocktails services, car rental, one-night stay, venue, and music entertainment for people who want to still, go ahead with their weddings.
Gerson (50) with 27 years of experience on P&O cruises and Fraizer Ozorio Fernandes (36) with an 8-year experience on a cruise liner both have roped in their friends who have been repatriated from abroad and hence they have managed to keep their rates so low and have even kept a margin to give orphanages in Goa since they believe it’s the time to help others.
“It’s a huge worry about when we will go back to work. So many factors from when the pandemic will stop taking a toll on people lives, when will it ever be safe to resume tourism activities and when will cruise liners resume. But even there, the number of customers will be very few plus initially the customers who come onboard will be those who will avail of their credit shells and previous cancellations, so cruise liners will cut cost, salaries, staff which makes our return very difficult, so a concept like this is welcome,” explains Derwin Souza, from Margao who recently returned from his job on a P&O and is happy to be home but nervous about his future.
While Gerson explains that the government did its bit in bringing people and we can’t keep expecting the government to do things. As the SOPs improve and events will permit to have more people and as the curfew timings relax, we should move forward and help each other establish and especially help seafarers and Goans in the gulf find jobs here itself. Gerson feels there is always hope in pandemic and wants to be safe and certain to help the seafarers community to put their skill of food, beverage, housekeeping, photography, videography, personal relations and other sectors to use in Goa itself.