It was an ordinary day like any. I had to head to Bardez where I had planned some work post-lunch.
Being a stranger to the area I did some asking about a place to eat. A security guard of a gated colony enthusiastically pointed to a haunt opposite. Though he had been manning the gate for many moons he was not aware that the joint was closed on Mondays. As I trudged in the afternoon sun hoping to find succour I was directed to a place a little distance away. Helpful signboards proclaimed the way to my destination. Though I was wondering why folks were a little hesitant when showing me the way to the place.
When I finally reached the place it did not look like a restaurant at all. It was almost 3 and a few men eyed me curiously when I approached. As I entered, the plush interiors proclaimed the understated luxury of the corporate class. I decided to play safe and order the fish curry rice. I also needed to pack some veg. dish with rotis for my accomplice on the job. When I finished I had coughed no less than Rs. 1000 for both dishes, inclusive of a Rs. 50 tip and a bottle of water. But the perk of the afternoon was meeting William.
After being served food by several non-Goans waiters in Vasco, who blink when we speak Konkani, here was a lad who was Goan to boot. The lilt of Bardez Konkani provided the wine to our conversation and William – I don’t know why – began to tell me his story.
William was 31 but he did not look it. He told me he was down from Dubai after working there for a couple of years. He had forfeited a month’s salary saying he was going to return from Goa. He was fed up with the discrimination he had to face there --especially during Ramzan. Once, a Pakistani eating an ice-cream was bashed up during the season of abstinence by two motorbike borne locals who took umbrage at his indulgence.
Now that William was back, there was pressure on him to get married. ‘All my friends are married and have kids!’ he confided to me incredulously. I asked him if he was seeing anyone. He said he did, and in a rare gesture flipped open his wallet to show me a photo of a staid girl – who I didn’t feel would have a clue to handling him.
I asked if he had any siblings. ‘I have a brother. I don’t speak to him,’ he said. This had been going on for years. His brother was married and had his own family.
Before we parted I asked if he liked being a steward in a place like this. He shrugged, and said he did before he buzzed off on his scooter to Mapusa.
He had a life before him. He was my ‘Prince’ William – the original from the British Royal family is 33 years -- of a Goan family in Goa.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 24 May 2015. Pix of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton at their wedding on 29 April 2011; source Wikipedia