Saturday, 9 May 2009

Seawalk

'Seawalk' is the name of an adventure sport – India’s first ever - at Baina beach, Vasco where wannabe's can walk the sea floor at a depth of 10 feet. Saw this advert on a morning walk today which began at 0645 from my home in Mangor Hill, Vasco. My steps took me down to the Vasco railway station, the railway yard, and then on to Baina beach - on which I had written a poem more than a decade ago. The decrepit advert about a seawalk fluttered somewhat aimlessly on the deserted Baina beach only peopled by an array of bums relieving themselves on the ocean's shore. One was capturing the action on his digicam (seen here at left in the photo on the fringe of the sea).

If the intrepid organizors wanted to promote a seawalk, I was at my wit's end to figure out how the aforesaid activity created the perfect ambience. The fact is domestic tourists think nothing of crapping on Goa's beaches to avoid footing accom during their stay. What is worse is the Goa police let them. Goa police is known to have beaten up a teenager stricked with polio in both legs begging on the popular Calangute beach in North Goa but are nowhere to be seen at Baina beach - 8 kms from the airport. Shit happens.

But in lieu of earlier illegal settlements at Baina which were demolished by the Goa government in 2004, the area has now become the happy hunting grounds of another tribe, viz. truckers from neighbouring states bringing their goods and vegetables into the state. The close proximity of the railway yard - with unmanned entry points - to unload freight, and the seafront to park their trucks, spawns an unenviable matrix of social issues of which sanitation is not the least.

Summer in Goa is a time when kids are roped in to do a host of things. In the past Ful-na-pakli [If you cannot be a flower, be a petal] has conducted sandcastle-making on seashores. This May, Galleria Velha Goa conducted a workship for kids on azulejos conducted by Helena Ferreira from Portugal, at La Paz Hotel, Vasco. How about harnessing energies this May on the beachfront, and having beach patrols by kids for, say a couple of hours during potty time, viz. 7-9 a.m.? Now that would be some seawalk huh?
Slippers in the Sand
-Brian Mendonca

Slippers in the sand
like mackerals in a heap
Share the laughter
of children at play.
The setting sun
enclasps them in his warm embrace
As through the grey drizzle
of fleeting clouds
close enough to touch,
a rainbow arcs through the twilight.

Along the seashore of tomorrow
One more chance is all it asks for.

(Baina beach, 1998)

Baina beach was a space frequented by the women of the night. Large scale demolitions of the settlements by the government on 14 June 2004 have ostensibly put an end to these activities though NGOs believe the scenario has only moved into the hinterland. 'Slippers in the Sand' has been published by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi and appears in Last Bus to Vasco: Poems from Goa by Brian Mendonca (New Delhi: Self-published, 2006; reprint 2007). All photos by Brian Mendonca on location at Baina beach, Goa.
This article was published in The Navhind Times, Panjim, 27 May 2009.

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