Those who run Goa’s beach business are heading ‘home’
As the shacks are winding up and the tourist season is drawing to a close, there are hordes heading ‘home’. To Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal and the rest of India. What about Goans? There are a few but the exodus of manpower from Goa is testimony to a sad but practical truth- Goans are not running Goa’s tourism anymore?
Goa, ahh yes, the chilled-out atmosphere, the beaches that dot the state and yes, the multi-national crowds. For the average Indian, Goa is the state of the other. Food that is so different from what is found in the rest of the country and a social milieu that has a hint of the foreign. Tourists flocking to the beaches have the comfort of the shacks that dot the landscape. They number in the several hundreds and are present all over the state.
The shacks offer cuisines in different styles and are very popular with tourists with some tourists making it a point to visit the same shack whenever they visit Goa. Manned by staff from the north and the north east, they have added colour to the entire experience. The season commences in late October or November first week and ends by March or April. In a lucky year it may extend to May. Post that of course the Goan monsoon holds centre stage. This begs the question as in what does the staff and the owners of the shacks do in the off season. Cruz Cardoso Shack Owner and President of the Goa Shack Owners smiled while he contemplated the question. He said “I intend to go to Valankanni to pray and thank God for my good fortune. The season was good in Dec, Jan and Feb and then it just collapsed. There is no one in my shack and Calangute is empty. I am planning to shut down early and let go of the staff”. The staff he said came from nearby Belgaum and from North East. Many would return to their fields at home be part of the operations to plant seeds. Others would go home and be part of some small business their family or friends ran. In the month of October, they usually wind up operations at home and return to Goa. Getting away from it all for a period of time seems to be the template that is usually followed. Cyril Silveria of Pedros Place in Calangute intends to shut shop very soon because of the absence of any worthwhile business. After five months of back breaking work Cyril was candid in saying he just wanted some rest. However, for him the economics did not work out. He had planned to fly to Dubai and just chill but the cost of tickets was a shock to his system. He said “That’s life I suppose and then there is the small matter of the education of my kids. I just cannot drop everything and take off. I now intend to take a break by travelling within India”. His staff he says will leave on June 2nd and return when the season is set to start in November. He said his staff were with him for several years and they came from Kolkatta, Karnataka and Nepal. In the south Babloo kumar the Manager of the Lounge on Colva beach smiled and said he was looking forward to leaving for home. His colleagues he said would go and work on their fields in Jharkhand and other states. Work he said was hectic at first but it just petered out after Feb due to the absence of tourists. Business, he said had been average at best, a sentiment that was shared by the manager at Oceania shack who was looking forward to a break in the hills in the north east from next month. His staff, generally from Kolkatta and Belgaum, were counting the days when the shack would shut down for the season. Homesickness was a general complaint many of the staff spoke about. The need to earn money and the availability of jobs in Goa meant many left loved ones behind to earn an honest day’s salary. The reasons may be wide and varied but then there are is this one. This is a reason for staying back. Nandkishore from Morjim has decided to shut operations this year because of the absence of business but will stay put in Goa. He said “I have been a resident of Goa for decades and I prefer to stay here because I have gotten so used to the food. My body does not accept any other cuisine. I am sure you did not expect this hear this one right. I am a Goemkar now. I cannot survive anywhere else”. Aha yes, that Goan twist.
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