BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The sound of blaring Bollywood music has made way for the waves breaking on the beach, and the sight of ladies dressed in sarees, draped to accentuate the curves, can no more be seen on Baina Beach – once the getaway for men wanting to unleash their lustful desires.
Baina of today is a far cry from Baina of the past where men, women, foreigners and children created a cacophony of deafening emotions induced by alcohol and drugs.
With the port close by, Baina, which was once a hub for boatmen of different countries to disembark, slowly ended as the acknowledged brothel of Goa that saw the local rich and poor find solace within it.
Broken huts, some still lived in and others abandoned; some concrete homes touching the sea; children playing; fishermen mending nets; men smoking and chatting; and a few women moving around observing suspiciously, are the pictures of Baina today, years after the late Manohar Parrikar started a demolition drive.
The demolition of structures in Baina has stopped or curtailed prostitution in the area, but it is business as usual all over Goa, though not as transparently as “sex is a need that none can stop,” thinks Devi as she sits along with a few women outside their shanties in Baina.
“I was born here years ago and, yes, the good times are gone. But my husband works now, and we have enough to eat and send our children to school. There is absolutely no business happening here, and it is better you go because people may think differently,” requests Devi after beginning to speak hesitantly.
“There is only one bar now, and all the bars of the past have shut down. I don’t know whether they had licenses or not, but as you see, nothing exists after the demolition except for the few half-broken huts,” admits Vinod as he puffs his cigarette against a strong wind from the sea.
As the raindrops beat on the shore and the wind blows the trees around, Laxman and his colleague busily mend their fishing nets in one corner of the beach.
“There are around eighty-five canoes on the beach belonging to various families,” says middle-aged Laxman, who believes the story of Baina is best understood by the visitors who scripted it.
“Fishing has been passed down to us from our parents, and we own two canoes while there are some families who own three or four canoes. The catch is plenty, and we normally sell our catch at the Margao fish market,” says Laxman.
“Our fishing community here is Amar, Akbar and Anthony. Fishing here is not restricted to any one community. We have all been together for ages,” admits Laxman’s colleague, helping him mend the nets.
“Few people can be seen coming to visit the beach. It is not empty because of the rains but because the place has earned a tag that will take years to disappear. Everyone wants to have sex, but most are very secretive about it. Many thought by coming here, they could get away without anyone knowing,” smiles Vincent, before requesting anonymity.
“There were a few of us who came to this place when business was in full swing, and some of us still come now because this is our beach. I do not believe some locals will want to come here to enjoy the beach because there is nothing here for the first-timers, and there is little the government can do,” thinks Vincent, as he offers tea at a nearby kiosk.
Amidst the ruins of the demolished structures which were once a haven for the oldest profession in the world, stands the desolate structure of Ravindra Bhavan. With hardly any footfall, Ravindra Bhavan seems to be crying for attention, or better still, asking why it was situated in a place about which the people of Vasco still have reservations.