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.