The year is 2015 and the coconut trees at Parra are swaying unapologetically. Hearing nothing more than the songs of the sweet birds and the distant sound of vehicles passing by, they bask in the sun all day long.
It was only the following year that brought in the turn of events on the coconut palm-laced road, at Parra, when Bollywood director, Gauri Shinde, released a thought-provoking film titled, Dear Zindagi.
Several parts of this film, starring Bollywood heartthrobs, Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt, were shot in Goa. But, it was a scene of the two actors cycling down this road that somehow made an impact on the audience.
Soon, the tourist itinerary for every trip to Goa included having a photo shoot on the famed road, which is now unofficially rechristened as ‘Dear Zindagi road’. This road now makes news headlines every now and then, and that too for all the wrong reasons!
A few days ago, this GT reporter, along with her colleague, went on a fact-finding mission to Parra to see for herself the ground reality of the current situation at the Parra Madani road (also called Parra coconut road).
When she was there, a kind lady with braiding beads in her hand, approached her and asked, "Do you want me to take a picture of you?”
They eventually got into a conversation. “Yesterday was a total mess! There were multiple accidents and fights because the road was jam-packed due to the long weekend,” she shared on condition of anonymity. Several tourists had made their way to Goa to celebrate the Independence Day holiday.
Tourists are seen flocking the Parra Madani road to click selfies, sitting in the middle of the road and parking their vehicles on the already narrow road. The ruckus that is created by yelling at people passing by for apparently ‘ruining’ their pictures and videos, and several accidents that take place all along the road are added problems.
So much so that the tourists have even gone to the extent of demanding that the locals build another road to commute to and fro and that this one be left as a prop for unlimited pictures! This has angered the local Goan community and continues to be a growing problem for the Parra panchayat.
Parra Sarpanch, Chandanand Harmalkar, shared how despite parking provisions being made at the spot, the tourists refuse to listen and abide by the rules. “There are designated parking spots for the tourists visiting the road, but they still park on the road,” he explains.
He also shared how the Government responded to his appeals for assistance by advising him to handle the menace at the panchayat level. “The panchayat had appointed a few people to be present at the site to monitor activities, but even this has been stopped due to interference from the RTO department,” he rued further.
If there is any way to a solution, it has to come using joint efforts, and Harmalkar is affirmative that the necessary measures will be taken as soon as possible.
As for the speed limit, there is none, and this often leads to accidents and rash riding on the narrow road which is a maze full of people most of the time.
The year now is 2023 and the coconut trees at Parra are still swaying unapologetically. But, the songs of the birds are a little less audible and the distant sounds of the vehicles are not so distant anymore.