Calangute’s locals thrive but have disowned beach, tourism, tourists,
NESHWIN ALMEIDA finds out
Just a few days back, social media was flooded with images of sex workers soliciting customers at the Calangute junction just besides the football ground, a busy street for all those heading to the beach and to all the nightclubs around Calangute, Baga and Arpora.
Herald made one such trip to the beach at 6pm and met a few locals along the way. It’s all shocking when GTDC itself starts overcharging you in Goa and you are caught by a self-realization bug that you’re at the hub of Goan tourism, none other than Calangute beach!
Not to forget GTDC charges Rs 100 to park your vehicle besides Calangute beach and the price is fixed for a 12-hour period. The price caters to all the Indian tourists who come in their Trax, Bolero and Tempo Travellers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka.
“For us, off season would have been just five tourists on the beach. But that’s past and Calnagute is bustling with Indian tourists all through the monsoon. There’s no off season at Calangute for almost a decade now,” explains Karan who relocated to Calangute from Punjab almost 8 years back and took a travel agency just along the beach on lease to make it his own business. Earlier, the travel agency was run by a local lad who decided to shut shop and lease it while he lives away from Calangute’s din. Karan admits that he sells boating and island tours to tourists at Calangute beach because after the guest come to Calangute they prefer to leave the noisy and filthy beach aside and explore Goa in the hinterlands while Indian tourists look forward Calangute’s nightlife.
Karan’s neighbours to man Sainath who works at wine shops besides him in a once Portuguese architecture home which still has the tiled roof but the front walls are ripped open and refurbished into a wine shop.
“The cheap booze factor and the thrill to drink on the beach is what makes wine stores along the beach a hit in Calangute though, drinking on the beach is not allowed in Goa and is a crime but then the reality is something else...,” stated Sainath while he's busy making deals to sell Old Monk bottles to people walking towards Calangute beach.
Elisa DeSouza who lives in Sea Breeze, a pretty home just 100 yards from the beach explains to us how she has demarcated her property and divided it to set a commercial building besides her home to open a massive shopping complex for beachwear, swimming suits and bikinis. And she’s leased out the entire premises to a Rajasthani family.
“It’s over eight years that I have not gone to the beach at Calngute despite I live besides Calangute beach but I haven’t gone there. And every local in Calangute has disowned the beach. It’s nothing but filth. The type of tourists the type of business and the increasing prostitution has forced us to glass out our homes and balconies completely and screen ourselves from the illegalities of the Indians doing business here in Calangute,” stated Elisa.
Similarly, Jhonny Dsouza is one of the 200 spectators sitting on his bike watching a local football game besides the Calangute Junction on a Thursday evening. Jhonny explains that locals are much focused on their football in Calangute while the women will meet at a local bakery and chat but they prefer to stay away from all the shops, saloons that double up as massage parlors and supermarkets which have tourists buying only booze and cigarettes in long queues. While except a few taxi drivers and college youth venture to Calangute nightclubs, the locals prefer to keep their doors and windows completely locked up at night to avoid the noise of music and traffic besides drunken tourists making loud chatter and cursing along the streets.
“Calangute was once about the beach, the fishermen and the fresh fish, the poder and the coconut trees, ladainhas and few English tourists sitting quietly at the beach shack staring at the waves and saying nothing but now Calangute is a filthy with India tourists who come here even during the season to only ogle at Russian tourists and take pictures slyly.
Dilip Naik who left Calangute years back after selling off his plot for a hotel constructions explains that he finds it hard to bring his teenage children to Calangute and the beach because they often have questions about massage parlors and the massive hoardings of massages for only Rs 500 and banners that say call us over for a massage and sometimes escort services like goaqueens.com and their posters and cards placed on the cars.
But while all this is said and done its these same locals who have built extra illegal rooms and let out their premises to allow the tourism of Calangute to thrive while they cash in on it but don’t partake in it.