Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Goan or Coming?
Have been in Goa for the last few days. I have come for a meeting, whose pace, in keeping with the spirit of the place, is not exactly frenetic. The mornings are reserved for tourism. Work starts languidly around 2pm. By 6 or 6.30 we are done and free to do whatever suits our fancy. (My only regret is that there is no siesta time). Of course there are advantages. It allows me to prepare my talk as well as my Field Theory lectures which I am missing back home and which I will need to make up once I return. Goa is of course a tourists' paradise. I mean for the locals, not the tourists. That means you are allowed to charge tourists approximately three times what you would charge in the rest of the country (a bit like Jaipur as I have mentioned elsewhere). A taxi ride of 8km costs around Rs 300. A taxi ride around 6 km costs Rs. 300. A taxi ride around 4 km costs...well, you get the point. Beyond around 10km, the cost makes a substantial jump. The numbers are independent of size of the car, petrol or diesel or any other such piffling details like number of passengers the car can carry. The locals are relaxed and easy going (another word is l... well never mind). However, if you think I am over critical, perish the thought. Yesterday, while we were walking along the road, a scooterist coming towards us spontaneously toppled off the scooter and came a cropper. A car passing by immediately stopped, the people got out and asked him very solicitously if he needed help, and what they could do. (As it turned out, the poor guy had had a pint too much and there wasn't much damage done). This would be unheard of in Chennai (or any other major city in India). Car drivers would just whiz past (if you are lucky) or run you over (if you are not). Nobody would think of stopping, let alone ask about your health. Punjabification of food has not left Goa untouched. Everyday at the centre we are staying, we get Paneer Masala/Makhni/Butter Masala/Badami, Chicken Mughlai/Masala/Butter Masala/Xacuti along with tandoori roti, dal makhni/tadka, and some other non-descript vegetable. Goan cuisine is conspicuous, if I may be allowed a cliche, by its absence except for that one Xacuti which unfortunately tasted the same as the others. However there appeared today, a pleasant coconut based prawn curry mixed, somewhat disconcertingly, with bhindi(okra). In a couple of days, I will have something nice to say, I am sure. And so to bed.