25 Nov 2018 | 06:50am IST
Building and growing roots
An African proverb reads, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.” Most often, we are wary about how we, with limited means can wield influence of any kind. Showing us the way is Vijaya Josephine Pais who through her efforts in curating seemingly simple events like the Good Karma Garage Sale, New Earth Gathering and her online portal Offbeat Goa, gives us reason to believe that doing good is possible. Deepa George finds out that intent is what matters
oving from Mumbai to Goa brings with it many epiphanies that gently unravel as one begins life here. Vijaya Josephine Pais who moved to Goa, six years ago, leaving behind a hectic pace along with her ‘city’ mentality, chose to live the life she truly believed in. She avers, “Most of us just take from Goa without giving her anything in return. It is important that people know the true side of Goa and not just the marketed version of it.” She is now on the move to get everyone - locals and tourists alike to experience, appreciate and involve themselves in nurturing Goa rather than just use it for their selfish reasons.
Shares Vijaya, “When I moved here, the pace and the awareness of wanting to live a ‘healthier’ life made me organically involve myself in activities and meet people who affected me positively.” This led her to work with holistic health therapist, Darryl D’souza and with him create The Earth Keeper’s Market that sells local and organic produce and now continues to be managed by Darryl. Says Vijaya, “Working with Darryl made me realise the immense potential of a sustainable way of living and the fact that this needed to be encouraged and promoted so that more people realised it’s value.”
From those beginnings, she then went on to start her own social media page that was called, Offseason Goa in 2014 which was recently re-christened to Offbeat Goa since it detailed all the interesting and alternative things to do in Goa throughout the year. With a following of more than 12,000 members, she manages this online community and keeps the beat on the special happenings of Goa. She emphatically states, “I wanted to promote the Goa I love and not it’s popular perception. My Goa has some interesting people doing super interesting work. From responsible tourism operators to environmental & heritage experiences to workshops on alternative healing, volunteering opportunities with the many amazing NGOs that this state has to the alternative music scene and co-working spaces - I wanted to be the medium to connect people to all of this.” She wisely states, “The only way to hold on to the magic of Goa is by actively getting involved in preserving the things that we love and helping sort out issues that we don’t.” A glimpse into her online community is like peeking through many windows with people looking for services as basic as a lunch tiffin to experiences like a Sufi workshop to openings and launches of new restaurants, art galleries or stores. It’s the instant fix for all kinds of seekers.
Through blog posts that feature those who collect e-waste and other garbage to urging people to ‘Get Involved’, Vijaya actively uses social media to connect to a younger, tech savvy generation. She is also toying with the idea of holding a ‘plogging’ meet in Goa - to the uninitiated that’s making people pick up litter while jogging!
Given her earlier tryst, Vijaya has also introduced another healthy, holistic community market, The New Earth Gathering that is held at Shala 142 in Assagao, once a month - a confluence of healers, therapists and people who sell natural and pesticide free vegetables, biodegradable products, homemade wine and other earth friendly and some handmade products. She is happy to bring together and grow this happy tribe. She insists, “I am thrilled that a lot of local Goans are visiting this market and not just your transient, unconventional lot.”
Practical, easy to implement ideas seem to be Vijaya’s forte and she jumps into it wholeheartedly, making it a reality. One of her latest additions is the Good Karma Garage Sale, which is held at House No. 248 in Sangolda. Perceptive about the excessive consumerism that pervades our lives, she explains, “We just buy more and more and it all ends up in landfills. We need to promote and encourage a reuse and recycle culture which isn’t big in India. Our idea was to break this and get people to be open to it.” We encourage the sale of gently used or unused products and clothes - all sold at a super bargain price between Rs. 50 - 200. She excitedly adds, “We’ve also had designer wear and home decor donated in the past. I am very careful about what is sold and insist on good quality so people take to this concept.” The proceeds from this sale go to different charities across Goa and to old age homes and orphanages. She has in the past teamed with registered NGOs like Goa Outreach and HOME (Haven of Miracles Enclave). She avers, “Many charities need funds and people don’t even know about them. Not all of them are savvy with promoting themselves. This is my way of bringing these causes to the fore.”
If these community initiatives weren’t enough to set the wheel of good karma chugging, Vijaya also collaborates with her brother Ranjit Pais on his music based venture, Eternal Sound Project - Homebound which is a fabulous concept of a live music experience held in select Goan homes for select people. “It’s meant for those who crave good live music and who have an appreciation for magical Goan Portuguese homes. It is an intimate gathering of music lovers and is not commercialized. You need to be invited or be part of the subscription. We do not promote it on social media either. This is a curation of some amazing musicians not just from Goa but around the world,” she elaborates.
Bohemian, alternative, free-spirited are some of the words that come to mind but along with all these adjectives, Vijaya shows us that practicality, resilience and most importantly intent paves the way in effecting change, however small. Kudos to her for just trying.
The Good Karma Garage Sale is on today from 11a.m to 4p.m at House No. 248, Sangolda