I love to see people’s reaction when I answer “I am from Goa” to one of their most casually asked question “Where are you from?” I have witnessed many emotions from my questioners on hearing my answer, right from emotions of envy such as “Wow” or “How lucky” to suspicion such as “Really?” to disbelief such as “you must be joking” and even nostalgia “oh, I loved the place when we went there for our honeymoon”. These reactions often make me wonder what is about me belonging to Goa that gets me these responses every time I answer the one simple question of where I come from?
As a native, I am probably inclined to take things for granted – things that tourists find exiting, exotic or even extraordinary. Friends, close and distant, after a visit or about to visit Goa, often speak about the beaches, the grand Old Goa Churches, the freely accessible alcohol, the much loved fish curry and Xacuti, and not to forget the crispy fresh cashews. For us native all this is a given!
Life in Goa, as a native for me, however, has never been about the beach or the alcohol or Xacuti. It has always been about the sprawling coconut trees, Mario Miranda’s paitings, the ‘mankur’ Mangoes, Rum cakes, the ever so accessible Mira Mar beach, Remo Fernandes, and the much awaited Carnival and Christmas Celebrations. But above all this, Goa for me is about its conscious natives who make sure that they keep their surroundings clean and attractive. As such, the charm of Goa, I guess, lies in the fact that even its roads and by lanes are picturesque! Small wonder tourists visiting Goa often reminisce about their trip as if they have been to a foreign land.
I am a Panjim Girl – have rarely been outside this city – Margao, Vasco or Mapusa have been cities I would have visited maybe for about a couple of hours or enroute to Panjim of course. As such, Goa, for me begins and ends with Panjim. Every trip to my home town is always about family instead of beaches, about the delicious gujju vegetarian home cooked food rather than the fish curry and Xacuti. The small pleasures known only to the natives, such as myself, revolves around frequenting the 18th june road and relishing the awesome puffs of café central and the mix bhajji of Café Tato’s.
No matter what depth of love a tourist may have for Goa and no matter what he / she thinks makes Goa an ethereal place to be in, there is this one thing that you will never ever hear a tourist rave about; something that is only the prerogative of the native Goan. No no, I am not referring to experiencing the deadly combination of having a beer while walking bare foot on the beach on a full moon night. I am simply alluding to the one big sinful pleasure which only a native Goan will rave about and that is the joy of taking that afternoon siesta day after day, year after year!
For many of you who would have visited Goa, you know now why you so often spotted native beer bellied Goans sporting the “I Love Goa” t-shirts!