Athiti Dev(il)obhava

Athithi devo bhava…


What about the responsibility of tourists, nobody talks about that, not even the effervescent travel bloggers.

Yesterday we went Basilica Bon Jesus at Old Goa, the place was swarming with tourists.

The guidelines to tourists are placed all over the Basilica, “Do not photograph people” being the most prominent one. yet the tourists, were blatantly clicking pictures of themselves, using selfie sticks. When the security personal objected, they would steal the selfie and gloat about it.

There was one particular crowd standing right in front of the board that said do not click people and went trigger happy. So Mr.Aamir Khan do you have something to tell the tourists? About responsible behaviour?  This is just some stuff to help you with the script.

Tourism  no doubt plays an important role in the economy of Goa, that does not mean that tourists are “Devo” or gods, they people we welcome into our homes, it is an interaction of mutual respect, there are certain norms to be followed.

There is a concept called responsible tourism, this was defined in AITR’s 2005 resolution it goes like this == responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justices and exerts full respect towards the environment and its cultures. It recognizes the centrality of the local host community and its right to act a s a protagonist in developing a sustainable and responsible tourism. Responsible tourism actuates to foster a positive interaction between the tourist industry, local community and the travellers.

Here is what probably most local host communities look to

To minimize environmental damage caused by the carelessness of the tourist and growing destruction to environment corresponding to the growing tourist influx.

To give the local population a central role in the tourist development of their own territory.  That the involvement of the local community through a participatory democracy and in decision making process is essential for sustainable touristic development.

To respect the local culture by including its essence in the overall touristic experience by focusing on and creating awareness of the local culture , its traditions, the lifestyle, the gastronomy, the handicrafts etc.

Maybe next time any of you decide to travel to a terrain, you could keep an open mind, particularly when you come to Goa, yes we are different from rest of India, but we are not very different from the west coast culture.

Respect human rights particularly privacy and decorum in public places.

Help to preserve the natural environment that you have come to see, there are wildlife and habitats that need to be safe guarded.

Each place has its own cultural resources that are the document of the history of the people, please respect it, selfie in a Basilica, or loud hooting is Salarjung Museum is disrespectful.

When you buy something you do contribute to the economic and social development of the place, try to see that you can pick something that is truly local.

In your Google search do look at the cultural expectation at a place, like not wearing run down shorts into a temple or church, not clicking pictures within the prayer houses,  not scratching the edifices, along the way.

These are just small gestures that reflects you culture and your upbringing to the host community. It is about your dignity…

I hope soon the Basilica will come with deposit your mobiles rule like the Thirupathi Temple.

Community Radio

Travelling by the KSRTC Rajhansa I heard a language I had not heard in years, familiar, yet unfamiliar one got the drift of the language it was Byaari the language of the local Muslims. Which my friends Shameem and Naseem spoke. And it was being aired on the community radio.

The young twenty something kid told me, “aunty I listen to only this bandwidth” more curious about it asked him, he says they have small programs that talks of their community, the events happening there, it was like you are part of the community even you are not physically present.

“It’s better than YouTube, because I can hear when I drive, or when I work.” Actually it is true, I remember the radio from my growing days, since licenses were required to own them, and few people owned them. The Ajjarkaad, tower had a public broadcast which my father says was on since radio entered the human world. People would be seated on the rocks of Ajjarkaad, with their children playing in the sand dunes and maybe some even ambling in the park, the news and songs from vivid bharati or AIR would heard.

Dinner time began with the 8 O’clock news.  At the end of “swargiya kundanlal sehgal’s” song one began getting ready to go to school. Then of course there was fight to listen to the oral teasers of movies, sometimes ghazal programs, various debates and talk shows. I remember being part of the couple youth programs and being paid a princely sum of 105/-Rs. for it.

Somewhere the louder and more demanding sibling of the radio has taken over, the TV, it is intrusive and offensive unlike the radio which is rather more personal.

Goa had such a powerful airway that its bandwidth was available even in places like Angora, in 1961 when the Indians landed, the shut the station down for 25days and when it opened again, the station has become impotent. There are places in Goa where bandwidths are not available.

Content is another issue, with the centre controlling the airway, and programs the issues relating to the community, the language of various communities is getting lost. Like the Byaari and Nawayati communities of Konkan-Karavali, community radio’s maybe a good way of rebuilding the community.  we might actually escape the tyranny of the shrill screeching monotonous RJ’s of Radio Mirchi and 92.7 FM,

When Mr.Sajan Venniyoor made his presentation at ICG at the community radio awareness program, he shared with us the community radio’s in various states, and showed us the status of community radio in goad… it was blank.

Like I mentioned before 1961 Indians bombed Goa shut it down for 25 days, and has stayed stifled before it went right up to angora. Community radio would be a great platform to address the Goan community, revive the Goan culture, and since 2007 the government has opened airways to public. Though individuals cannot have bandwidths, NGO’s universities, colleges can all have them.

Community radio covers up to 10-15kms; it can be tweaked up to 20kms, if the towers are placed on the hilly terrain the radio waves travel much more.

Canada has a community radio called Mango Radio which addresses the Mangalore and Goan community. Kutch has mahila Vikas sangathan  radio which is for the women of Kutch, the issue that the central government came up with  was that it was close to Pakistan border, but how does it matter. After Pakistan has FM station along its border that broadcasts and the waves are received in India.

A community radio is a very personal experience, it is as if, the device is speaking to you, it can follow you where ever and give you company even as you work. It is like sitting in your living room and debating on issues that are relevant to your small community.

If I were to tweak the slogan of democracy a bit… community radio is of the community, for the community by the community. The management of this can be done either by a group of people, or an individual or it can be done to colleges and universities,

Community radio’s being smaller and locally organized it allows, inclusion and participation. It also creates a sense of ownership and belonging. It allows use of technology economically appropriate to the community rendering external controls out of the play.

When someone’s buffalo went missing people asked the local radio man “raga” to help it is so within the community it empowers the community to do its own problem solving. The community radio basically runs on content, access, community participation, self management are all part of it.

The initial layout cost is  a bit steep, for a good one, however the government does support a bit initially, the biggest disadvantage is the minute the bandwidth is allotted to an outfit its billing begins, and there is no exit policy,

community radio
recorder for radio transmission

Some interesting community radio heroes, the Deccan Development society in pastapur, is a women run station as is the Kutch Mahila vikas sangatan project at Bhuj. Bundelkhand has its station run in the local language as Bundelkand is split between two states and it does not belong to either state. The gurgoan community radio is sliced away the elite migrant dwellers, to address and connect to the original Haryanvi populations.

The story of Radio Raghav from bihar is quite interesting. Like the bootooth radio of madhyapradesh where the songs are shared through Bluetooth and broadcasted over speakers.

It might be an interesting option in community building and connecting.

On NH66

I love driving down the stretch from Goa to Udupi.

On this stretch despite the dug up roads, crazy diversions and sliced old houses, which to me are slicing up of an old way of life there are some salient point.

One of them is a small eatery which is tucked in a village called Gunavante some 30Kms, off the town of Kumta on the NH66, it was known as NH17 before.This eatery was introduced to us, by my friend’s father and it did not have visible name board.

The sliced hillock and other buildings make mooring rather difficult, as the familiar landmarks are no more there. On our onward journey we missed out on this joint maybe having had breakfast at Kamat upachaar at ankola we were not really looking out for it.

Dosa haven

On our way back we managed to sight the place and we got down for breakfast. The place is as if we are walking into somebody’s house maybe we are I am not sure, the simply arranged old fashioned benches, unpretentious decor he has four tables and four benches, yes the old fashioned ones, the only difference this time is that he has tied the bench to the wooden pillars of the house as the sliced terrain renders the risk of the bench and people sitting on it getting toppled.

He opens at the crack of dawn, as his first customers land at 7 am. The menu is very rustic, “Tuppa dosai” there is no hint of Masala, with traditional coastal chutney which is made with coconut and urad dal, and sambhar again the coastal kind,  avalakki Mosaru that is beaten rice with curd served with pickle, buns another traditional coastal snack made of banana’s and maida served with chutney, and Idli and vada… it is called vada and not the urban “meduvada” for in the rural or traditional Udupi cuisine meduvada is something else. The only concession to modernization is Puri-bhaji, which is puri with potatoes instead of the traditional puri-palya or puri with random vegetables cooked with coconut in coconut oil.

The rustic seat, secured to prevent toppling, check out the traditional coastal pillars.

The dosa’s are amazing, yes they do seem to swim in ghee but the crispness is just right it is served piping hot. The coffee is to amazing, Idli of course was rather flat, maybe because we really just enjoyed the amazing dosa,

As we were waiting for the dosa to arrive, I could see the old grinding stone, where a gentleman was grinding for the idli and dosa for the next day. It reminded me of my grandfather and his siblings and many of the young people from the Brahmin families during the turn of the last century.

People had just begun moving from their villages outside to find jobs that were considered modern like putting hotels youngsters also moved to town to study. Traditional people would leave home after school, do bit of their studies at Mangalore or Madras and move on to Madras for higher studies. Though these people were not impoverished there was a lack of cash since transactions would be in kind. It was kind of  became an accepted norms for the Brahmin boys who left home to study to be offered stay and food at these hotels in return they would grind and prepare the batter of the next day, cut up vegetable for and help the cook get ready for the next day.  These activities would be supervised by the owner’s wife.

So and Udupi hotel came to mean a place where the food was cooked and served by Brahmins,  it also meant the use of onions was also zilch, as opposed to the military hotels which served non-veg and drinks.

Of course Udupi hotels now mean different the kind of food served is so totally different from where it began.

Eating there brought home the extent we have walked from independence to today, culturally value wise. The container of water at the entrance every guest walks up washes his or her hands, asks the owner if they can wear their foot wear in, it occurred to me we are at the crossroads where a way of life is slowly dying.

back on NH17 I mean NH66


A Lunch Break -On a Road Trip

Have a long weekend, then the place to go is Goa, people enter the state from the skies, through the trains, on the roads, my grouse with road trippers is whiny long blog for another day the way they piddle anywhere and everywhere, drink beer and dump the bottles where they drain the last drop etc. etc.

But these road trippers and their behavior is quite an entertainment when we are on our way to work.  I think a road trip is more about an adventure, its not like place to goa you just drive along. The other day on my way back from work I saw four gentlemen  squatting on the university lawn, cooking their lunch.

cooking in the open

I was quite curious so I decided to have a small conversation. The men happened to be road trippers form Shivamogga in Karnataka and this was an annual activity they did the days were fixed that is the last three days of Navaratri, as business is low people are busy with the Dushera celebrations these men took a men only holiday.

They traveled with few utensils their agenda was simple they would drive around, pick something to cook wherever they found anything interesting, cooked had lunch and drove around. In the evening they would go to the casino, spend time there and repeat the routine next day, on the third day they would drive back.

The whole idea as they explained to me was to go outside and switch off. They do not actually tell anyone where they are going, since they do these road trips twice a year, one is definitely Goa and the other is interesting, they turn their mobiles off, and just drive, taking turns where ever they felt like and they said they would soon land in roads that do not know. There is no definite destination, they just walk and sit down when they can, whenever they have to and this entire exercise they say is so refreshing and empowering. It is like the whole world is there right outside… it is the adventure…and not a place to go to.  They accidentally discovered that when they got lost they discovered beautiful terrain and great experiences.

I realized this was what drove people to go on a road trip, or plan a road trip or even those armchair travelers they are always talking about this, posting quotes and waging a war against organized travel. OMG! That sounds like I am saying wage a war against organized crime!!

When we go on a road trip we make it a point to carry one set of change of clothes, lots of water and then it is “yunhi chala..chala re.. yuhi chala”  we leave the house without targeting an destination and time of arrival.

It is about doing something, without actually doing anything yet doing a lot.

taking their road trip business men from shimoga.


Sunset at Dona Paula

Dona Paula,

The iconic destination at Goa.  I prefer going there in the morning when there is no influx of tourists, touts or tiresome stall owners.

dona paula (3)
Odxel View

But my daughter had her college friends over from outside state and of course Dona Paula for the tourist is in the evening.

dona paula (4)
Vasco View

The romantic folklore goes on from a lovelorn Dona Paula who turned to stone waiting for her love to many more. But historically the place is a dedication to Paula Amral Antonio de Souto Major, the daughter of the Portuguese viceroy of Jaffnapatnam in SriLankan. She was married to Dom Antonio Souto Major, which was an affluent family. She was a woman of charity and did a lot for the villagers, when she died on Dec.16th 1682 the villagers renamed the village of Oddavell in her honour.

dona paula (7)
When the Wind meets up with Zuari-Mandovi and the Sea

There is myth of Dona Paula who is entombed in the Cabo Chapel at the Governor’s chapel emerges from the moonlit waves wearing only a pearl necklace, this seem to entice lot of tourists.

dona paula (5)
The iconic Dona Paula

Currently for the domestic tourist, Dona Paula is the place where Ek Dujekeliye, and Singham were shot. In addition to be a part of the Bollywood travel sites of Goa, Dona Paul is a p;lace where migratory Dolphins can be sighted. Dona Paula also offers water sports like boating and water scooter riding.

garabage– gifts from the tourists

Night Flight To Arpora

“Where are you from”


“Oh! Lucky you, its so much of fun, I have been to the Night Market.”

I give my sheepish smile; well I can’t let people know that I have never been there.

saturday night market (1)
Tea Vendor

For the past 5yrs we have been planning to go this absolutely to do place on every tourist agenda. The Arpora night market happens every Saturday during the tourist season. And make shift shanties are put around the a lake space. There are make-shift parking slots, with different parking area for taxi’s and private cars. As the place has been spruced up since  our last visit we decided to ask help, can you beat it, we could not find a Konkani speaking Goan for nearly 15mnts through Calungute, the place is infested with Hindi speaking Cowbelters!!

saturday night market (2)

The central Nevus of the market is the eating area which serves all sorts of food, even an apology for vegetarian food.  With the central band playing.

It was quite interesting to see the stalls and the wares they were vending, the handicrafts, and teas of different flavours. Clothes, crystals, the mehendi applier, the metal works.  Books on popular Indian philosophy dominated by Kama sutra. The stalls came in cyclic layout.

saturday night market (3)

The stall owners who are vending their wares strive hard to keep the air of the Rudyard Kipling’s India, with kids in tow, who hand around sleeping in the stall places,  their clothing carefully crafted to recreate the visual of rural India, Sari’s draped in North Indian styles or women clad in traditional Lambani outfits. The stall owners are astute enough to gauge the customer and choose the language to speak in.

saturday night market (5)
Quilts and Bedsheets Rajasthan

The tourist themselves, clad in clothes that reeks of I am tourist to Goa, loud brash Delhi-ites, drunken slobs from Bangalore, a few foreigners here and there, interestingly the metal artifacts and books stalls are dominated by the foreigners like the prayer equipment stalls.

saturday night market (7)
Bollywood Inspired

We spent an hour doing usual things done at Ajmal Khan Road Delhi that bargaining and not buying, neither the handcraft, nor the food, was Goan. It was like entering Sarojini Market in Delhi the only difference being the Russian speaking vendors are not Sardars.

Just a request domestic tourists coming to Goa, Goa is a state, where people live just like in any other state, we are peace loving and like our quiet, can you kindly respect us?

saturday night market (4)
The Russian speaking Rajasthani.

The 11085 down.


double decker (1)
view of train

My first trip to Bombay was when I was all of eight years old. it was going to wonderland. Despite the stink which had not reached the current day pinnacle as yet.

The stories of Indo-Pak war, the siren ringing and taking shelters from a potential bomb was all romantically adventurous, but the most fascinating of it all was the double Decker buses.  Somehow getting on to the upper deck was thrill.

Bombay morphed to Mumbai, the hallmark of which became the ocean of human beings and stench, the Mumbai local trains somehow  relegated the buses to being a second class citizen, maybe once the existing buses are retired they will be seen only in a museum, or read in BusyBee’s banter.

Few months’ back we read that a double Decker train had been launched from Mumbai to Goa. I decided I am travelling on that train. Somehow Mumbai never happened.

double decker (2)
to the lower level

Finally over the week end when I had to travel guess what, my husband booked me on the train.

The train is a shatabdi. From LTT before you think Tamil Tigers, it is Lokamanya Tilak Terminus Kurla at 5.30 AM. The train 11085. As I arrived at the station with enough time on hands, I could peacefully look for C8U91 allotted to me, and guess what… the train had  seven coaches, that is no C8

I  ask the ticket checker, and he looks at me blank, and tells me the train is empty so occupy any slot in C4.  Of course I did occupy C4U91 the train was really empty.

the first twenty and last twenty of every coach are on standard levels, numbers in between are duplicated as CU—whatever number or CL whatever number which essentially means more passengers can be accommodated. The train is fully air-conditioned.double decker (3)

Bio-chemical toilets are provided.

The train has an obscene running time like 12hrs to Madgaon. The train is scheduled to arrive at Ratnagiri at 11.45 but ambles in 12.15, after which, the coach C4 turned into the locker room for the catering staff, they were sleeping on the seats, eating, and having loud conversations. The train arrives at Karmali at 15.30 but takes another two hours to reach Margao!! And the train staff tell me that it usually takes more than that.

The Pantry car is terrible and nothing is available after Ratnagiri. It is a lovely train to travel by, but please carry your food along since it is a day journey. Every set of seat is provided with plug points for the Laptop/mobile.

Somewhere I could see lot of resources going waste, or maybe because I was travelling mid-week but this is a bi-weekly train.

It is definitely worth taking it as a way to chill.