Anjuna in the northern coastal belt lacks infrastructure – no proper roads, no public toilets – and yet the village that is known as one of the flowering pots of the hippie tribe in Goa, has been kissed by commercialism.
Anjuna of yesterday started with Starco bar and restaurant at the junction and finished at the edge of the cliff that offered a view of free will. Not anymore. Starco is closed and on the edge of the cliff are nestled restaurants that play a distinctly Indian groove – so different from the past.
“It is all over, the main reason being drugs. Drugs have had a toll on the locals and with most places given to people from North India, whose concept of tourism is skewed, there is little of Anjuna left,” says local Roysal D’souza.
Guru Bar was a unique restaurant that attracted people from all over the world because the owners then had a unique style of selling Goa through their drinks and food. Opulence has robbed the place of its charm and soothing music is replaced by throbbing beats.
The sound of waves crashing can no longer be heard as one takes a stroll on the edge of the cliff as the music is deafening, irrespective of whether there is crowd in the restaurant or not.
“These people from Delhi who have built restaurants have no idea of what music is. For them, noise is music and that is why one has to bear this loud music right through the night with the police totally in connivance with them,” rues an annoyed Anselmo.
Unlike the past, life around Anjuna Starco junction starts ebbing after nine pm. There are no more temporary omelette kiosks; just a hand full of motorcycle pilots and a few Indian families checking out shops selling handicrafts.
“There is no beach in Anjuna. We have to go to other places to see the beach and go sightseeing in the morning. When you talk of Goa, you talk of Anjuna but there is nothing here except for a few very expensive restaurants,” says Vandana who is on her first visit to Goa.
“A lot of our people have sold their land and gone abroad. The land sold goes back four of five generations and by doing so they have helped in destroying our village,” laments Prakash who at 62 is convinced that the goods days are over.
Starco started as a restaurant that served Goan food and with passing time hosted small parties that went on till early morning thus financially helping many families.
All along the road were tea shops, cigarette kiosks and motorcycle pilots ferrying home tired party goers. “Rent a bike has left no business for us. Now, we have to wait to get a client. Before, we used to rush to drop a client and comeback to drop the next one,” remembers Sudesh as he puffs his beedi.
The heart of Anjuna, many villagers think, will start pumping again normally when foreigners start returning and a few think that will be an unfulfilled dream. Hope, however, is not a thing of the past.