BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
In days past, the beach would beckon to families in Goa during the summer. But these days, the tradition of visiting beaches with picnic bags, undressing next to canoes, swimming in the sea and returning to devour homemade snacks is slowly getting to be a thing of the past.
“The atmosphere was different then. We may go for a walk now, but the delight of going to the beach is missing. I remember being taken to Calangute Beach and getting the feeling of being with our extended family,” recollects Diana Pinto from Nagoa.
“The feeling is hostile now, and compared to the past, the beaches are far dirtier these days. Being on the beach was magical when I was young,” says Diana, grimacing as she compares the good old days to today.
Families in South Goa normally visited Benaulim and Colva beaches, while for those in North Goa, Baga and Calangute were the beaches frequented.
Many find it difficult to visit and venture out into the sea because of the threat they foresee in the tourists. “It is sad that we are no longer able to take our families to either Baga or Calangute anymore because of the type of tourists we have on the beach. It is no longer safe to take women to the beach,” cautions Alirio Lobo from Calangute.
“We are getting lousy tourists in the north, and hence it is not possible to take our families and expect our women to bathe. It was different in the old days when the hippies were there. There was no threat,” adds Alirio.
“I did take the children to the beach the other day to collect shinges to use to make soup and pulao later on at home. Unfortunately, I have seen that children these days have their minds set on other things. Many would prefer fast food instead of the food prepared at home,” smiles Pascoal Noronha from Borda as he lights up at the thought of his childhood days.
If going to the beach was the thing of the past, discovering hill stations or driving out of Goa with family appears to be the new fad among middle-class Goans these days.
“We drove down to Pondicherry and came back after a week. It was a nice break as we saw new places, encountered new food habits and met different people,” declares Airito, as he cleans his garden along with the rest of the family on arrival.
As Goans are discovering new places to beat the heat, for people in Shiroda in Maharashtra, the beach is the best place to spend time in the evening, and most stay on way past sunset.
“The beach is packed with people coming from places around Shiroda. I make around nine trips every evening taking people back home or picking them up from home and bringing them to the beach. Business starts around 4 pm and finishes by 8 pm,” informs rickshaw driver Santan, who is one among the many rickshaw drivers that ferry people to the beach in Shiroda and back home.
Many beaches in Goa are now used as exercise turfs with most Goans thinking twice about having a dip – whatever the reasons. But what appals the elders is their inability to enjoy their customary salt water bath in summer.