Wednesday, June 2, 2010

At home in Goa

The summer holidays are here and it’s time once again for a bit of frolicking on palm-fringed beaches. Unfortunately, I have, as usual, put off planning for the vacation till the last moment and now have no option but to go to Goa.

My usual procedure in Goa is to make a mandatory tour of the north and south Goa tourist hotspots and then settle down for some serious gorging and swilling, interspersed with periodic bouts of hard jostling at overcrowded beaches. After all you need to get your money’s worth and it simply wouldn’t do if Mr Sharma of flat 14 C enjoyed himself more than I did.

Thankfully, though, times have changed and I’ve been told that a trip to Goa these days offers a completely different itinerary. Here it is:

Day 1: Visit to the Russian mafia. This is a great opportunity to meet the dreaded Russian mafia right on our doorstep. You will be introduced to their great gang leaders Vladimir Ilyich and Josef Vissarionovich. Warning: Do not carry cash, credit cards or jewellery. Tour operators will provide full security, including bullet-proof vehicle, flak jackets, helmets and security guards with AK-47s. If you desire the experience, however, the Mafia will arrange to kidnap you, on payment of a small fee, so that you could write a short story on ‘I was a hostage of the Russian Mafia’.

Day 2: Visit to the mining mafia. This tour will take you to the hills of Goa, or what remains of them. Do not worry about the dust and the foul air, your operator will provide you with gas masks at no extra charge. You will be taken to the river near the camp, where you can see the amazing sight of the water turning red. You can then experience the thrill of travelling in one of the trucks carrying ore to an artificial mountain made entirely from waste ejected from the mine. You could climb the waste mountain and plant a flag at the top. Or alternatively, you could ski down it. The possibilities are endless.

Day 3: Visit to a restaurant off-limits to Indians. Those with a historical bent of mind wanting to sample conditions that existed during the British Raj will be taken to one of the several areas where Indian tourists are not welcome. Refugees from South Africa pining for the return of apartheid and masochists are welcome. Later on, a night tour of the beaches is perfect for those in search of material for writing crime novels.

Day 4: While the fish in Goa’s rivers may be dying, one particular species is flourishing — the land shark. This trip will take you to some of the biggest of them. Visitors are advised to wave their cheque books and discuss land prices when in the presence of land sharks. That makes them rise to the bait. But remember they are dangerous, apart from being related to the big fish in Panaji.

Day 5: Visit to the jungle. No, we do not mean the forests that used to cover so much of Goa, but to the concrete jungle. If tourists are lucky, they will be able to see real forests being cut down to make way for the concrete jungle or for mines. Who knows, you might even get to see an entire hill being levelled to make way for concrete blocks. Land sharks roam freely in the new jungle.

Best of all, all these familiar things will make you feel completely at home.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

No comments: