The start of a Goan love story with an ill-fated ending

When the Goan left his land, did he leave it for the tourist from his own country to reap what had been sown and left to rot?
Goa's fate and the impact of tourism.
Goa's fate and the impact of tourism.Photo: Rohan Fernandes

Goa by night is a nightmare, especially in places frequented by tourists. There was a time when a local or even a tourist could walk around freely with no misgivings. Everything felt so tranquil, the vibes were so honest and the give and take so mutual.

Life in the northern coastal belt changed dramatically with tourism or it will be more apt to say that tourism changed life in the north for the worse. One can still walk in the north but the experiences of the stroll leave chilling reminders of the Goa we have lost.

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Today, there are no local tourist guides. Baga is the bastion of Indians masquerading as guides and most of them are patronized because very few from Goa are capable of offering what they have to offer.

Prostitution existed before and will exist forever. The crux has not changed but the perception has changed with force and fear being the tool that demands silence. The way business is solicited now is a reflection of need and desire of changing times.

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Drugs were available then and are accessible now but the word recreation has been obliterated from the dictionary in as far as it relates to narcotics. Like a lot of things, drugs are harmful and like anything when had in excess are destructive. But, drugs then had no link to death as they have now.

Amplified music used to be played in the 1970s and thereon, but it never hindered conversation; it never made one forget that two is company and everything could be so cheerful. The shrill loudness today is scary.

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The demand for flesh and drugs is loud and clear today with no fear of authority and it is this mindset that is frightening because it indicates a connivance with the ballot and therefore you and me.

Tourism, a friend says, is a car on a one-way road which is unable to reverse. The industry is stuck because the way forward is the complete end and static is morbidity.

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Foreign trips, to study the definition of tourism, have not helped in the past and will not help now because if it helped before, we would not be in the situation we find ourselves in today.

When we had the best chance, many took it and made the best of their lives whilst others got themselves entangled with greed and ended up making a mess for themselves and others.

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Many years back, few would have imagined that the shift in tourism power play would be as dramatic as it is today where it is not just the tourist who is Indian but the person catering to him is his own counterpart.

The first tourists were foreigners who came to learn and teach. There was a give and take from where a bond grew. Now, there is arrogance – from both sides – that stems from money, and values are damned.

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Did the Goan start migrating because he could return as a tourist to his own homeland? After living for years with tourism, did the Goan start wondering: why can’t I be a tourist in my own land?

If he did, then he left his land for the tourist from his own country to begin to wonder: why can’t I reap what you have sown and left behind to rot? This could be the beginning of a love story with an unhappy ending.

Whoever thinks tourism is here to stay, is living in a fool’s paradise because what we sell today is not tourism but a fleeting shadow of the place that was once synonymous with bliss.

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The goodness of Goa is gone or is almost on its way to go. There will be nothing of the past recognisable in the future. The ones who left wanting to return as tourists will wonder where they have returned to because by then the landscape will be of a merger of what our ancestors fought against.

Tourism today reminds one of a biblical quote: “Foreigners who live in your land will gain more and more power, while you gradually lose yours. They will have money to lend you, but you will have none to lend them. In the end they will be your rulers.”

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