29 May 2022  |   06:23am IST

Goan is happy living his life in relative peace

Seema Mustafa

Goans are not happy with Delhi wallahs seeking to make a home in their beautiful land. And with reason. As it is only when you move away from the capital of India that you realise how crude, aggressive, rude we have become over the years. How intolerant, and how impatient. And in calm Goa people abhor these qualities — as indeed they should — and are feeling the stress of noise and nastiness that we from Delhi carry with us. It is part of the baggage we carry wherever we travel - be it Thailand or Goa, triggering reactions that we do not even care to recognise.

In every visit to Goa I find myself re-learning the tehzeeb (culture) that once Lucknow and even Delhi were famous for. For instance, you do not fire off a WhatsApp message to anyone without greeting him for the day. And you get to know this when the response to your rudely worded message starts with a ‘good morning…’ and ends with thanks and byes. This is standard communication with a corporate honcho, or the electrician, or the store owner — a quiet dignity that makes itself felt.

Everyone speaks politely. Smiles and hellos are a tradition in Goa. Foul and arrogant faces that we bring in from Delhi have no place in this gentle land, where no one raises their voice; where road rage is non-existent although the drivers are rash; where everyone waits patiently in the shops to be attended to; where there are organised lines in the banks as people wait for service; where there is no jostling and pushing and yelling for the spoils.

Idyllic? Of course honest Goans will point to all the exceptions, shake their heads and tell you how it has all changed, but all they need to do is spend an hour in Delhi or for that matter any north Indian town to know how well off they are. Of course there is apprehension that this large influx from Delhi and other such north Indian cities will further corrode Goa, but then Goans themselves are selling their property to big builders from the north and looking at Portugal as their destination.

A friend had an interesting story to tell. She had looked at places constructed by Delhi builders, and then threw her lot in by a freak of coincidence with a developer from Goa. And the journey she says has been amazing, as though she was late with her payments there was never a nasty reminder; and along the way when she spoke longingly of a patch of grass she got a message telling her that it had been added to her home as a “gift”. She still cannot get over this generosity and warmth and regales everyone who visits her with stories of Goan warmth.

Goans take their time, and their culture is not to rush. North Indians like to describe this as laziness, but it is not. It is part of who they are, and are happy and content to be. But in these times this has started interfering with their ability to work. As more and more north Indians discover Goa, the Goans whose culture includes siestas and a slow start to the day, find the competition unbearable. As a local Goan said, “the non Goan labour is cheap, besides they work long hours, whereas we work equally hard but also value our own time.” 

There is little public transport and a ‘taxi mafia’ that ensures that Goa Miles, the local version of Uber, is not able to run. During the winter season these taxis charge a bomb and remain pretty much in control through the remaining part of the year as well. A taxi driver justifying this said, “this is the only job you people have left for us, where we can work according to our time, and charge accordingly. Fortunately the politicians also recognise this.”

He is right, and there is some resentment about the outsider influx as it tries to impinge on the Goans daily life. A local Goan party that contested the Assembly elections promised the voters official siesta time if it was elected to power - one of the promises in its manifesto linked to the larger Goa for Goans theme.

Indians discovered Goa during the Covid years, and unable to fly to destinations abroad travelled to Goa for their holidays. Thousands have bought holiday homes, but interestingly many have also re-sold these realising that Goa was more than a winter gala. And living here required its own adjustments, as did the weather with four months of heavy rains. Goans smirk at possible settlers with a “well stay here through the monsoons and if you survive then talk to us.” 

But for those who substitute north Indian sweltering summers for heavy rains, and work to adapt and understand the people instead of dissing the differences, Goa is a little paradise. 

Of course rumblings are there, nastiness makes itself felt, but for the moment the Goan is happy living her life in relative peace. And happier when she hears of Delhi-ites giving up the Goa experiment and returning to their north Indian homes without further ado.