THE STATE OF GOA

**************DEVACHEA NAVAN ANI GOEMCARANCHEA MANNANK******************* This blog is an attempt to delve into the traditions, heritage, culture, lore and ambience that spawned an enigma. A state of mind. And to perchance perform a perfunctory probe into the psyche of the Goemcar. ************************************************************************************************* GOEMCAR: Any person anywhere in the world - Goemcar rogtacho!

Monday, May 08, 2006

GOA, GOAN, GONE


Last week when I was there, Goa whizzed past me. Goa? Whizzing? How could Goa - languorous land of laidback socegado, ageless as the ebb and flow of the Mandovi and Zuari rivers, as the subtle alchemy of the rich,red earth which transmutes itself into the green gold of paddy fields and coconut groves - ever be made to whizz? I looked hard at Goa. The landscape - of crescent moon beaches and peppermint churches and tiny villages punctuated with the curled-up commas of sleeping dogs - was as serene and still as always. What was whizzing about were people. Not the local people, the Goans, who looked on this untoward activity with bemusement, but people from outside who were in a great rush - the great Goa land rush. The property market, booming all over India, has gone ballistic in Goa. Everyone seems to want a piece of the place. Buyers from Delhi and Mumbai and Mohali and Ahmedabad are pouring in on a frantic buying spree, an invading army bent on a second 'liberation' of Goa from the Goans. The motto seems to be: If it doesn't move, grab it quick - before someone else does. A holiday villa - or even a two-bedroom apartment - in Goa is the next thing you buy after you've bought your iPod. It's a question of peer pressure. Everyone's got one, so how can you be the only exception? Forget politics or globalisation or climate change. The major - indeed the only - topic of discussion in Goa is property prices. Dona Paula's going for between Rs 8,000 and Rs 18,000 a square metre, depending on the view. Or rather, Dona Paula's already gone for that price, and is totally sold out. So how about Porvorim, where you can still get something for roundabout 3,500 a metre? Everyone hares off to Porvorim, causing traffic jams and the prices to jump even higher. Someone mentions a rumour of a German selling a bungalow in Asagaon and there's a general stampede for Asagaon. But the German's bungalow has already been snaffled by one Mr Ashok from Dilli, so everyone heads hopefully for Ribander where a new highway's been built. There're no regular water connections in Ribander yet. But what the heck. It's got a view. And you can get a piece of it for 2,000 bucks a metre. How can you go wrong? What's fuelling the upward drive of property prices is that apart from Indians, foreigners are also buying into Goa, drawn by its redolence of residual Europe. Almost everyone speaks English, they have recognisable names like Fernando and Isabelle, there are hardly any beggars, the booze is cheap and plentiful. It's India without the Indianness. Heaven should have it so good. Property consultant Alan Viegas tells me that foreign nationals are entitled to buy property either by staying for more than six months and claiming resident status or by forming a facade company which enables them to acquire immovable assets as a corporate entity. Goa is selling like hot vindaloo. And pretty soon there'll be no more of it left to sell, or to buy. And when that happens, Goa will stop being Goa and become something else. Like Ghatkopar, or Brixton, or Greater Kailash III, as a Dilliwalla remarks. Already Baga and Calangute look like Lajpat Nagar market. Or Chowpatty on a public holiday. Goa? Gone, or almost. The thought saddens me for a moment. For when Goa stops being Goa, what will the Goans do? Rent the place back from the new owners? My regret is fleeting. For it is soon overtaken by a further reflection. That, for all the pomp and circumstance of title deeds and legal documents and claims of proprietorship, we're all of us just short-term tenants, whose tenure is at the sufferance of an infinitely munificent, infinitely indulgent Landlord who created it all to begin with. Not just Goa but everything else as well, sea-facing view and all.

By
Mr Jug Suraiya in the Times of India

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