Time: 3 p.m.
Place: Calangute beach
I delved into my beef stroganoff. To the west of the lunch table was the pork chilly fry. Occupying centre stage was the prawn curry rice. We were at Souza Lobo’s restaurant by the sea. Driving down in the heat from Vasco at midday had given me a headache.
The warm, placid interiors and the subdued gaiety seemed a marked contrast to the hordes outside headed for the beach. As I parked my car I noticed a group of male tourists spilling out of an eatery clutching bottles of Kingfisher Strong. Many were bare-bodied waist up.
It looked as though the whole of India had congregated here this afternoon! The feeble whistles of the life guards punctuated the air at Souza Lobo as waiters briskly served succulent preparations of lobsters and crabs. The superb view the restaurant offered made it possible to observe the various activities of a multitude of people enthralled by the sea. Some were posing and clicking selfies, others talking frenetically on the phone, still others just gazing at the sea.
I gazed at a foreigner who came and sat alone at the table beside us. Suddenly he took out his camera, adjusted the zoom and leaned precariously out of his chair trying to photograph something on the beach. I tried to see what it was and was most amused. As we moved out of the restaurant I happened to see the gent beside us. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked, ‘Got any good photos?’ ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘You don’t get to see a cow in Australia.’
Time: 4.30 p.m.
We made it in time from Souza Lobo’s for the 4.30 p.m. Sunday Mass at Holy Family Church, Porvorim. Away from the bacchanalia of the beach, I was thankful of the serenity of faith. It was drizzling outside. The drive from Calangute to Porvorim had offered us spectacular views of a brooding monsoon-sky. At the Saligao circle, lads were putting up stalls to sell their evening snacks. The headache had ebbed with the cool showers. How could there be so much of difference between two places in Goa which were not that far from each other, I wondered.
I suppose this was ‘Goa’ and that was ‘India.’ But that would be over-simplifying . . . . The tumult of people mostly in groups, from all strata of society, speaking all kinds of languages, doing all kinds of things on the beach was a culture shock, where I felt literally elbowed out of my own turf. Nothing could come in the way of them taking their pleasure – no matter what the cost.
And I was reflecting on the words of Jesus from the gospel, before jumping to conclusions, ‘Nothing that goes into someone from the outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make a person unclean. For it is from within the heart that evil intentions emerge.’
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 20 September 2015; pix. of cattle at Palolem beach, south Goa, courtesy travelblog(dot)com