Goa – a little travel journal
Goa has been disappointing this time. We are here in the busiest week of the year so in all rights we should have expected this. Goa has also become a very popular holiday destination not only for locals from around India, but also it seems for people from Britain, Russia and Germany. As soon as we arrived and dumped our bags we headed out to one of the beach shacks to indulge my memory of eating crispy fried prawns with a cold glass of beer. The beer was cold, and good. But the food was pretty awful. Not helped by us feeling like we had landed in the set for an episode of Little Britain. I came to Goa determined to look for an appartment to purchase near the beach – a bit of an indulgent connection to my past and a hopeful excuse to visit more often. But we have been so disappointed with the changes we have seen here that I feel no inclination at all to buy anything here or to hurry back. I don’t mean to slam Goa totally as it is still a lovely place. It is just that my childhood memories and expectations are totally different from what it has become. The changes are immense, even in the last two years since I last visited. But Goa certainly appeals to a lot of people judging by the crowd and booked out flights, hotels, etc. I think for local Indians it offers open space, relaxation and an opportunity to dress casually and show more flesh than would be acceptable in their home towns. For British people the direct flights from The UK to Goa offers convenience and a very cheap beach holiday destination. Much like Spain used to be I guess and I feel like we are at the costa del sol just at the start of that wave of propery development and tourist colonization. The food inevitably changes as the locals attempt to cater for the tourists tastes and everything becomes a cliched experience. To be fair the changes are not all caused by the tourists. Hordes of young men have left Goa to work in the middle east and have brought back relatively large sums of money. Our old village is groaning from a whole host of new, oversized houses built by the wives and families left behind. The rice fields lay uncultivated because there is no one willing to work in them – why would you when a job as a driver or in a restaurant in Abu Dhabi can earn you so much more money and set up your family for life?! Inevitable social problems follow this ofcourse which is the other side of that coin. We are no better either as we have all left India. Our house is falling down and our fields lie barren and unkept. I don’t know what the solution is or how Goa will fare through all these changes.
I wrote all that at the start of our week in Goa. I am pleased to report though that things did improve for the last few days. After the madness of new years eve hordes of people left. It seems that people from all over India and the rest of the world come to Goa for NYE. Things got quieter and calmer and we had a much nicer time. Even the locals seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. Vendors who were frenzied and pushy before NYE started to smile and offer their services in a much calmer manner. There were still packs of wild dogs roaming the beach which was not pleasant – although they looked much less crazy and dangerous than those we encountered in Pune and Mumbai. And there were still plently of obese tourists in bikinis and g-strings flaunting their hairy butts and fleshy bodies. But we had some nice walks on the beach and some nice meals at what became our favourite beach shack. And we had a sensational meal thanks to a recommendation from a fellow food blogger. But more on that later!