Goexit: Exodus rush from Goa to beat Brexit deadline
Goans on Portuguese Passport will soon Brexit from an opportunity that has benefitted Goans for over four decades. Café travels through the villages of Salcete to meet Goans on Portuguese passports, who are packing their bags in desperation to enter the UK, in the hope that they can “remain” in Britain as UK leaves Europe
Goans, both who are already in the UK and those who are preparing to leave Goa for Britain before Britain leaves Europe, are bracing up for Brexit in many myriad ways. But one thing is for certain. Goexit* has certainly increased, *(i.e. Goans exiting Goa to reach the shores of UK) before uncertainty becomes permanent over Britain’s future.
In the villages of Goa, Brexit and Goexit are both being awaited and prepared for in many ways
Early visits to meet ailing parents 40-year old Jude D’Silva, was in Goa for Christmas but made sure he visited his ailing parents in Goa mid-March only because he’s not certain if the borders will seal post Brexit. “My parents are ailing, and I make an annual trip to Goa to visit them. I have migrated with my wife and kids on my Portuguese passport and live in Hounslow but we fear that as and when Brexit happens and the borders maybe sealed and there may be issues with the settled and non-settled EU citizens in UK and may not get enough time to buy tickets at a good deal and exit UK, hence we decided to come ahead of schedule and visit our parents and relatives,” stated Jude. Similar to Jude, Goans in the UK usually time their Goa visits with weddings of loved one’s, death anniversary of family members, sometimes visits are times with church feasts, school summer vacations in the UK post June or just about with Christmas or Easter, though ticket prices soar during Christmas.
Brexit not yet sealed but Goan sorpotel surely is “In the UK, only packed foods are allowed and hence when Goans take their local delights like mango pickle, sorpotel, Goan vinegar, coconut oil, feni or be it prawn molho, vindalho and reachado masala, they need to seal it properly. There a many sealing enterprises in Chinchinim, Majorda, Colva, Betalbatim and the rush at these units has increased with unseasonal travel of Goans going to UK during February and March,” explains to us Terezinha Torcato who takes a lot of orders for pickles and preserves from Goans travelling to UK, the Gulf or those going on board the ship. She explains to us how most of her customers going to work on the ship and gulf have dwindled in the last five years and most of these people have moved to the UK and now their orders have doubled since they all moved to the UK with their families. “So it’s not only that my customers I met in November and December, have come back to for pickle and masala orders and the sealing units are also booming with business but a large number of Goans who were holding on to their Portuguese passport or have completed their registration process in Portugal have fled before Brexit and hence, my orders have increased,” stated Terezinha. “Goans have always been migrating for employment since this land has little to offer to people be it Goans then going to British India and working in Mumbai or South India and then later to Karachi, Cabo Verde, later the Gulf region with the oil and gas boom and now obviously UK because of their Portuguese passports,’ explains Raphael Viegas, Curtorim’s well known historian. Similar to Terezinha’s booming business, is the D’Silva’s family of Betalbatim who make fried fish pickles, salted tongue, pork sorpotel, guava cheese, pork sausage, fish preserves and seal oil and vinegar with professional packing and lamination of their products. The D’Silva’s have even a courier service to deliver packed food to Goans in UK, Italy and France. “With increasing Goans in London, Goan food delights are actually a business venture there and nowadays Goans travelling to the UK, not just take packed and sealed Goan cuisine for self-consumption but to sell. These sales happen at Church after Sunday mass at Hounslow, parts of Croydon and Birmingham. Sometimes the tube stations of the London underground have fliers of Goan masalas and that’s now a business venture, explains Anita who we meet at D’Silva’s Food Packing. She’s taking 10 kgs of sorpotel in packs of 500 grams to resell to friends and family in the UK.
Tuition dropouts as class kids leave for UK While Amelia Dias, who is well known for her mathematics tuitions in Nuvem, comes up with a surprising statistics that shocks us. “I usually give tuitions for class 09 and 10 and expect a child to stay enrolled with me for both the years, so that I can help them in their preparation to class 09. Shockingly 9 students have confirmed that they will not be continuing for tuitions next year as they have all migrated with their parents to UK ahead of the Brexit deadline.”
School drop outs too… Similarly there is a school in Salcete which confirms that they have lost almost twelve of their students to migration into UK, which is a trend in most government aided schools in Salcete
School bus operators been hit by Goexit “Earlier mostly residents of Salcete lived across the 30 villages which are up to 18 kms away from Margao city and their children studied in schools in Margao. With the fathers in Gulf or on the ship and with bad bus connectivity, there was a boom for private school buses and vans and hence, I invested in four such buses and two Innova’s and was doing good business picking and dropping students from Colva, Benaulim, Carmona, Varca, Mobor, Navelim, Velim, Raia, Curtorim, Macazana and even from Quepem, to Margao and back home but I have a lost a large number of my clientele to UK migration ahead of Brexit. I never lost so much business even when the government started Bal Rath’s or with the new trend of increasing women drivers wherein the children are dropped by the mother’s but since 2017 after Brexit became a reality, I kept losing business and the homes where I picked children are either closed down or have old grandparents living all alone which the next generation having fled to the UK,’ stated Amresh Dessai from Colva. Amresh who ran into loses in his taxi business with dwindling tourist had shifted to dropping school children but he says, that too has low numbers.
Mobile morgues at home as families wait for members from UK to attend funerals While Amresh shares his plight with us at a tea stall near Maria Hall, Benaulim, his friend Jovi Fernandes, shows us the Herald, the obituary section wherein it’s a trend for Goans to advertise the death of their loved ones and announce the funeral rites date and venue. Jovi explains, “Since names are very common in Goa, one way to distinguish people is by their names of the relatives and where they’re place or working. He points out how earlier the obituary advertisements had Goans working within Goa or in other parts of India but he shows six different advertisements where it’s the death of senior citizen and their three siblings and equal number of grandchildren are all shown as in UK. You see which means almost nine to eleven members of each family are in the UK, which delays the funeral and hence this trend of a mobile morgue at homes.’ Jovi, Raphael, Terezinha, the D’Silva’s, Amelia and many others in Salcete only discuss closed, homes, family members and neighbors in UK, deserted neighborhood’s and a bigger Goan community of their village in UK than in Goa.
Packed shows of Konkani movies in UK; Goan tiatrists are a hit too on UK stages “We recently went to UK and screened our Konkani movie Nirmon which is an adaptation of the same Konkani classic. And with increasing Goans over there, and Goan associations, it’s the love of Konkani and the nostalgia for their homeland and hence Goans there collect funds, sell tickets to Goans door to door and organize these shows. We had two screenings of our film in UK and later in Australia and Canada,” explains Goan filmmaker Nilesh Nevalkar. Similarly, Goan tiatrists have also migrated to UK and have been regularly producing stage acts and videos from there. There’s definitely a movement though one cannot quantify it. I think when article 50 was moved to withdraw from the EU, people feared and existing passport holders rushed and migrated then the numbers slowed down since Brexit has been in a deadlock but more and more people want to have their registrations and Portuguese passport with them ready to leave if an opportunity props up. Now that the article 50 is in abeyance, Goans will look at this new window to leave depending on opportunities, explains noted lawyer and owner of Gomindes & Co, Zezito Gomindes, who’s renowned for helping people complete their Portuguese Passport formalities. . But as Café travelled across Salcette, the buzz of people on the move, waiting to pack and bags and leave Goa, was very prevalent. And they are making sure that their pickles, sausages and sorpotels travel with them, signed and sealed. At least these things are certain even though the Brexit deal isn’t.
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