The awe and envy is difficult to hide. The look in their eyes is unmistakable. The moment I mention that I had recently moved to Goa for work, it was apparent that I had the conversation (and the crowd) at my mercy. They were holding on to every word I said.
That’s the reaction one tends to get when one mentions moving to Goa. However, this jealousy always seems to arise a little too soon without knowing the reality.
Sunny Side Up
If you’re planning to set-up your own independent art and design studio or trying your hand at writing a deadly film script or honing your culinary skills to become a restaurateur, simultaneously embracing the ‘Goa life’; yes, I can see where the amazement comes from. No traffic jams, less pollution, no continuous calls from your boss-it all seems perfect. Work by the beach, drink a beer at lunch, go swimming, get a tan or a massage and get inspired simply by the sights and sounds around you. What could be better?
But, if for some reason, you move to Goa as an employee, watch out.
Not all that rosy, perhaps?
No traffic jams, but potholes big enough for elephants. The rain during the monsoon season makes the most innocuous puddles turn into small death traps. Try driving your new Ford Focus through these and you’ll really be testing its suspension. In fact the police usually have their hands full trying to extract cars out of these holes and spend more time on this than real ‘police work’.
Then there’s the small town charm or lack of it, depending on how you look at it: water shortages, electricity problems, internet failures whenever it rains and network problems from every provider.
Welcome to Goa! Where the music never stops…just the work does. One to four PM every afternoon is susegado time i.e. the siesta. And don’t forget Sunday is a day of rest (like every other day?) so almost everything is closed including your neighborhood grocer. So when does one buy vegetables and provisions?
As a banker friend recently told me, “Goa is a hardship posting. Nothing works, there’s no professionalism and in the name of ‘relaxing’ nothing ever gets done.” Well, to be fair you would wonder why a banker would want to live in Goa anyway; given that’s it’s not and never will be the global financial hub like New York, Tokyo, Dubai or Shanghai (and nor does it aspire to be).
So is it only artists and the like who can live, enjoy and thrive here? Well, yes and no. Restaurant owners and designers have recently complained about threats being made to them. Apparently, all was well when their shops/restaurants were opening but now that they’ve established themselves, the local villagers/panchayats have raised issues with the use of their land while some are even demanding compensation. So much for the myth of the relaxed Goan villager.
There’s more than what meets the eye
While it’s got its pros, it also has a lot of the same problems here that plague any town or city in India. And not just physically but the same inefficient and slow bureaucracy, red-tape and difficulty maneuvering the seemingly illogical system. So the next time your eyes light up when someone says they’re moving to Goa, remember, it’s still a part of India and faces many of the same problems as the rest of the country. What Goa means to a vacationer, is very different from what Goa is for someone who lives there.
By Rahul Ahmad