Incomplete thoughts during my Goa tour
Trips are enlightening. Always. You revel, you enjoy, you do all other things that make everyone else J, but with a certain degree of consciousness you can actually learn quite a lot as well.
Three things worthy of mention which intrigued me during my 3-night long Goa trip follows.
One. The difference in the beach.
The only "other" beaches I had seen till before my Goa trip were those of Puri and Shankarpur. For the reader who is not aware, Puri is a bustling coastal town in Orissa, made famous by the historic temple of Jagannath (amongst other things) and Shankarpur is one of those lesser known (and hence, blissfully desolate) coastal towns in West Bengal which boasts of remarkably good prawns (erm ... amongst other things).
The beaches in Goa are radically different. They aren't desolate. They aren't bustling. In fact, they are like pleasant surprises. Like when you expect an ice cream and get vanilla with hot chocolate syrup instead. The Goan beaches are as picture perfect as beaches in India can get. And they speak volumes of how better off the western states are at doing the right stuff as compared to the Eastern ones.
Yes, I am referring to West Bengal in particular and the sorry state of affairs, decades of bad governance has plummeted it into. That when you visit places like Goa, you actually feel sad about your own home state.
West Bengal has a unique geographical location. It is the only state in India that can boast of snowy hill stations like Darjeeling on one hand, and picturesque beaches like the ones in Shankarpur on the other. Oh, wait a second. It could have. Thanks to (sorry if it sounds repetitive) decades of bad governance, Darjeeling today, is but a terror stricken district, with several clamorous minority factions threatening to break the state apart. And Shankarpur. As dead and dull as a dodo in ditch water.
Even Digha for that matter. The other better-known Bengal beach. Which is today, no different from a fish market.
One glance at the western states and you'll notice the difference. While hill stations in Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, thrive par excellence as numero uno tourist spots, and beaches like the ones in Goa outshine as world class tourist attractions, good old Bengal remains stuck in the cesspool of abject decadence. And the 'could be's become 'could have been's. Or rather 'should have been's.
The harmless commercialisation of the Goan beaches awed me. There are water sports and boat rides. Food stalls and shacks. But interestingly enough, they co-exist in perfect harmony with the natural beauty. Quite unlike Digha or Puri which have zero signs of innovative commercialisation or anything remotely constructive. And with all human activity laced with utter disregard for nature.
Moving on to my second thought.
On a site-seeing trip around north Goa, we stopped at quite a few marvelous locations. One of which was the Basilica of bom Jesus. This historic church, which dates back to the early 17th century, houses the 450 year old and still preserved body of St Francis Xavier. Needless to see, he is the patron of the school I spent 12 years in, in Calcutta.
Another historic location we stopped at was the 400 year old temple of Mangeshi. It's a shiv temple which fell prey to two religious insurgencies and was moved to Goa from Aurangabad and to Aurangabad, from Nepal. Which was what made me put my thinking cap on.
Terrorists, who today wreak havoc on our planet, in the name of religion aren't new. Such religiously intolerant groups have existed for centuries before the rise of the Taliban. That the Portuguese missionaries, in their pursuit of religious conversion had done similar acts of arson in the medieval ages, there's no hiding it.
The third, and a lot more trivial thought that had the competence to engage my brain was that of the foreigners and their fascination for the sun. Seriously. They puzzled me. Bewildered me. And made my head spin.
Why would anyone in their right minds, even consider basking in the mid day sun for hours at a stretch, and watch their own colourless skin burn into brilliant shades of crimson? Yet they did. And did. For hours and hours. Till their skins looked like the burnt buttocks of I R baboon. If not redder.
If you ask me, the only good part of the beach during the day is the sea. The water. And the water-sports. NOT the sun! Not at all. The beach, the non watery, non-sporty component is good when there is NO sun, which is nighttime. The beach at night is heavenly. You hear the splashing of the waves against the sand. The cool salty wind from the sea hits you in the face. That is understandably good. But what with lying in the sand at mid day and watching yourself transform into a red herring, I say!
Till then. I hope I have furnished enough contemplative material for the interested reader to ponder upon. By your leave.
PS : Best wishes and season's greetings :-)