Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Goan Diary – II – “I am sorry….. You are Indian”

The arch that welcomed us to goa, was a mirage…… we still drove around….round and round….. for more than 3 hours before we managed to find our hotel……I was falling asleep, sandwiched on the back seat of the car, between amma and C my SIL, who had her 20 month old daughter fast asleep in her arms….i didn’t envy her….my SIL, cos I knew her arms were aching from holding the baby for hours like that…..the price one pays for motherhood….i envied Rachel….who really didn’t know that we had been driving around in circles for the last few hours……literally wishing I too could crawl back into my mother’s lap and sleep like a baby…..

When we reached our hotel, I was too sleepy to notice anything but a freshly made queen sized bed….i promptly jumped in after washing up….careful to use tepid water so as to not wake myself up!!

We spent almost the entire next day till late afternoon indoors…..trying to recover from the long drive and prepare the body for the holiday ahead….a friend of mine and seasoned traveler advised me, never to go for the kill on the day you reach your destination….always rest the body well enough to be able to withstand the onslaught of the rest of the holiday!! It is actually the best holiday advise I have ever got!!

Walking down the road in search of cigarettes for K that afternoon after lunch, we were literally accosted, not once, but five times by youths on two wheelers bearing invitations to a party starting at 10.30 that night to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of a resort….. we accepted the invite from the first guy who prompted us to open the invitation to check what “prize” we’d won ourselves….. it was a boat cruise….we thanked him and said we’d come by….. guy # 2, offered us the same invite, we mentioned we’d already received one and he drove on after bidding us a good day….. guy # 3 rides past, turns around, comes back and invites us to the same party…..when we told him we already had an invitation….he told us to try our luck a second time….. because there were an assortment of prizes and there was no limit on how many you could claim…..tired by this time….. and beginning to be crabby at my hand holding and walking down the lane experience with K was being interrupted again, we accepted the invitation, while I was trying to open it, guy # 3 quizzes K about where he is from, where he is staying, how old are you, etc…..he then asks us if we were NRI’s to which K answered in the negative…..guy # 3 promptly then takes back the half opened invitation from us saying you have to either be an NRI or over 35 to qualify for the party…..apologising that we didn’t make the cut, he rides on….. K smiles…..we walk some more….having bought the cigarettes, with K telling me, that it was a polite way of telling us that the party was only open to foreigners…..preferably the whites….and that this is nothing new…..the last time he was here with his friends, they were denied entry onto certain beaches that were hosting rave parties, with free flowing drugs, because they were indian……then comes guy #4, we give him an update, tell him we have an invite, won a free boat cruise, and didn’t make the cut since we were neither NRI’s nor over 35….. he says that it was wrong on his colleagues part to say this to us…since there is no such rule….and that he would be happy to take us to the resort, and will immediately arrange for a free taxi ride…..we thank him and tell him that we have other plans for the rest of the day, but if we did have the time, we’d surely drop in at the venue after 10.30….. he sheepishly tries to point out that we need to contact him to be able to enter…..and that if we didn’t go with him, we’d not gain entry…..K says we’ll manage to0 find him somehow if we did go….. he then says, if you want to come, you can come now… the evening the entry is only for foreigners…..adding as an afterthought………and NRI’s….we say no problem….wish him good luck and continue our stroll…..guy #5 appears in record time….we just say we have an invite thank you…..and walk on……

Goa’s economy subsists on its status as a tourist destination…. But before you think sunny beaches and sand, the reality of the underbelly strikes you……famed coastline notwithstanding, goa is definitely the easiest place for seedier things in india….the whole place waits for the tourist season that begins in October and lasts upto February…… walking down Tito’s lane in baga beach at this time of the year, you will see all the houses that let out rooms to tourists getting a facelift….the shacks that line the stretch of sand from calangute to baga still weren’t set up when we were here…..but they will in just a few weeks…..and then the foreign tourist contingent will arrive….to bring cheer to the economy…..

 while I love goa, have looked forward to this trip, telling K that we should make it a must visit once a year atleast, I found the whole thing annoying…….i wasn’t upset that I didn’t qualify for some vague party at a resort…..i was annoyed that there were certain parts of my own country where I wasn’t welcome……it isnt the first time I have encountered this…..the smiles broaden and behavior gets crisper and more willing to please when the shade of skin lightens….this is the same across this country….. from Leh to Varkala and across the east to West Coast……I’ve seen it in corporate offices, airports and pubs and restaurants…..and it irritates me….that my fellowmen/women want to please me any less than anyone else….especially when I pay the same, for the same service….. I am not prejudiced about colour. Race or nationality…..but to be told I am not good enough to go someplace in my own country because I am indian is possibly the most exasperating experience I’ve ever had……it continues to make me think about how much we love subservience and love to run and fetch…

I digressed…. But this was a fact I couldn’t ignore…..


Aparna said...

That's somthing you see in Goa all the time, Arundati. WE tend to avoid North Goa during the turist season. And you know why we don't venture outside during New Year's eve!

Raaga said...

And this country is still under the Raj... we love white skin. Oh how we do!