Because small is beautiful

Remember this post? Only like the 398th time that I extolled all the wonderful things about living in a place like Panjim.
One part of me wants to pin that post up somewhere prominent in my home, so I can read it and remember how I felt. Not so long ago. So much love. So intensely. Because right now, I feel like I’m drifting away from there. From that point of blinding adoration and fondness for a place. For all that it has given and all that it has done for me, the husband and our life here. I’ve felt so much love, in the past. Almost like Panjim is actually a person.

How else do you explain the many posts I launched into when I was overcome by gratitude everything this move meant to me? How else can you make sense of the unending stream of fondness that is constantly bubbling inside of me, pouring out at the slightest excuse to begin to wax eloquent? How do you find the right reason for inexplicable tears on my part, when the husband and I once sat and imagined what life might have been like if we hadn’t moved? I haven’t been able to put it into words. Even after all those posts, I can’t seem to elucidate how I feel. I fumble, can’t find the words to explain this feeling, that I fear will forever remain just a feeling.

And how then, do you explain what I’ve been feeling of late? Blinding rage with the increasing, unruly traffic?

Surprise, and a bit of helplessness, at the visible aggression I feel bubbling beneath the surface of the otherwise very calm and composed folks of Goa?

Confusion, at how it seems to be increasingly common to see people chatting on their mobile phones while driving, like it is the most normal and acceptable thing to be doing.

Worry, at how a growing number of vehicles that violate street laws and cause disturbance seem to be registered outside of Goa.

Disgust, at the speed at which parking in Panjim is becoming impossible.

Concern at how a major part of the city’s roads have been dug up and in a state of chaos and disorder for over a year. Driving through some parts of the city now feel like you’re navigating through village roads that haven’t been tarred in decades. And what’s baffling is there seems to be no sign of anything being done about it. Life goes on in a glib sort of we-must-make-do-and-get-on-with it sort of fashion.

Helplessness, at watching things change so rapidly right before my eyes.

A little residual guilt at having watched it happen and reach a point of no return when I was in Bangalore, and fear that it might just happen again.

Restlessness, at wanting to do something, but feeling like an outsider trapped just outside the boundaries, and not knowing how to get in.

But that’s just it. I watched these changes slowly eat away the Bangalore I knew and loved. It was the tip of the ice-berg. The most visible and apparent set of changes, set of by a whole machinery of change at work, behind the scenes.

It starts somewhere, this kind of silent expansion. People like us, outsiders, bloody bhingtas as we’re called, coming in to cash in on the great quality of life that costs less. The easy going pace, the proximity to the beach, the cheap petrol, the cheap alcohol. We come here to cash in, and not many of us give back. Instead we sap the place of all its got, and before we know it, consume the little sleepy town that was Panjim, and turn it into a monstrous mess.

I try and do my bit. Drive the same sane way I did three years ago. Honk less. Let pedestrians pass. Pick up trash when I see it. Try and respond in konkani when I can. Blend in and not stick out. But I can’t help some things. My KA registered car for one, how I spontaneously break into the ease of Hindi, the way I feel when I am surrounded by a group of locals. I want to show them that I love and respect the place. That I am not here to be a parasite. But I am and always will be an outsider. One of the bhingtas that came in and began this downward spiral of ruin.

I get it, its the flip-side of modernisation, moving up in life, prosperity — call it what you will. But why is it so hard for us to figure out the pluses every little place has to offer and make the most of that, rather than turn every little place into just another monolith of a city. Why are we so quick to trade in the little charming buildings to put up a giant parking lot? Why is is so easy to sell out our vast expanses of green rolling fields to bring in that SEZ? Why do we let go of genuine, heart-felt hospitality, in favour of mass-produced, character-less tourism? Why are we always making the wrong choices?

You see this is a small place. An eco system that was based on smallness. Limited capacity. It thrives because it is small. It works because it is small. And the little changes that are percolating down, sending ripples of chaos in so many ways, come from forces that want to expand, grow and widen this little place.

I get it, this is me being naiive and idealistic and downright unrealistic. But is it so wrong for a girl to dream? To wish things remained just the way they were? One part of me wants to pin that post up somewhere prominent in my home, so I can read it and remember how I felt. Not so long ago. When small was beautiful.


11 thoughts on “Because small is beautiful

    1. You know, Im not against progress and growth. Its just sad that we only see progress and growth in such a uni-dimensional way. How about progress by way of having perfectly laid roads for a whole year? How about working towards 100% literacy? How about cashing in on tourism, Goa’s biggest bread winner, and building institutions that hone these skills and can feed back into the states economy? How about cleaning up the trash on the beaches so people come and enjoy being here, rather than adding to the trash? How about building a stringent framework of laws to make sure Goa is not equated with lawlessness? How about perfecting tourism, going the extra mile and doing it well, lilke they do in some parts of Sri Lanka and Thailand? The list is endless. If the forces that be sat and put their heads together, there is tons of growth and progress to be had without ruining the natural beauty and character of a place like Goa.


            1. IM worked up, worried and restless. I have tried to reach out to him. Didn’t want to go into details in the post, but his office almost never has anyone approachable sitting there. I have tried hunting for an email address that I could reach out to him through, but had no luck online. When I was on fb I was on two fairly active citizen’s groups that initially seemed like they had some substance. Unfortunately most people who care are in the same boat. Have lots to say, but don’t know where to direct it and how. The groups were just places for people to vent, rant and armchair critique.

              I still have the very lengthy letter I have drafted to the CM — not filled with complaints only, but a few proactive suggestions as well. Of course how those things pan out at an administrative level is entirely different. The govt usually has several reasons why they cant do something you have already thought of.

              If you have any ideas on how this is usually done or how I could go about it, I’m all ears.


  1. mahabore

    It is quite inevitable that when progress catches up with life, most of the innocence and simplicity that life has disappears with it. This is truer in the case of entities like companies, cities and the such-like. While humans themselves might resist change in their individual capacities, bigger entities like these cannot be resistant to change and progress.

    Tourist destinations like Panjim have probably outlived their shelf life and are slowly on their way to becoming metropolises, and that probably is the reason that many tourists do not include Panjim in their list of Goa destinations anymore, the same reason that tourists simply don’t care to visit Bangalore anymore and go directly to the Mysores and the Coorgs of the world.

    That being said, my heart does go out to you. As someone who actually relocated to a city for all the goodness, simplicity and simple pleasures of life it provides, it must be heart-breaking for you to be experiencing this.


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