What no one told me before I moved to Goa


It all started on a dark, smoky night in November 2016. Just back home in Delhi from a work trip, I walked to my gate and saw three masked individuals emerge out of the smoke (no it’s not fog, it’s not even smog, it’s just plain smoke! This is Delhi remember!). Before I could pull out my Neighbourhood Watch whistle and yell for help, I realised it was my wife and children. Slightly relieved, as my wife doesn’t beat me much when the kids are around, I started pleading with my wife not to leave and that I would be on my best behaviour forever. She started laughing and told me of her idea to move to Goa and escape the ‘Airpocalypse’ that was informally called the Delhi winter. 

So, long story short, we moved to Goa and started looking at neighbourhoods, schools, beaches, and dealers (for a home to rent, in case you’re getting excited at the thought of dealers in Goa). In short order, we’d found a home, a school and a bank loan (moving is never cheap) and were living in Goa before you could say ‘Susie Sanders slightly sieved some silvery sand’. Four years down the line we’ve added friends, a very active lifestyle, a new perspective on the quality of life, and three cats to the mix. 

Here’s what you should know if you’re planning a Goa move

Life lesson 1: Get on Goa Standard Time

As we set up home, here’s a sample script of many such conversations. 

M: “Dear Plumber/electrician/carpenter etc could you please come to our home to fix xyz?”
Service Provider: It’s late today, so maybe tomorrow”
M: Err, it’s 11am
SP (firmly): ‘tomorrow!’
NEXT DAY
M: Hi! When can you come today?
SP: Morning time
M: It is morning time! It’s 9am!
SP: I’m coming!
Same day at 2pm
M: Hi where are you?
SP: I no coming today! I went to buy fish, and then my wife cooked a very good meal so I eat. Now I do siesta, so tomorrow I come.
M: Can you come after your siesta? Say, 5pm?
SP: No too late! I come tomorrow.

You get the picture right? It will often take about eight phone calls before someone turns up. Then they’ll take another three visits to buy and fit what needs to be done. Do not wait at home for someone who said they’re coming. Carry on with life, do your stuff and hope that they’ll call before they arrive so you can try and get home. 

Life lesson 2: Personal networks are greater than social networks

Goa is still essentially a series of villages connected by roads and waterways. There’s no Dunzo, Delhivery or ‘ask-for-the-moon-and-we’ll-deliver-your-preferred-slice-with-a-crater app here yet. You get things done by reaching out to your community and following the string of relationships to find your solution. Furnishing stores, cooking gas providers, mechanics are all around you when you use the magic lens of WhatsApp. When we got a water bill of Rs18,000, it took me 9 months and 11 visits to different offices to sort it out. Each person I met did try and help (if only to pass me on to someone else who they thought could help!). The bill kept mounting and was at Rs36,000 when I finally reached a resolution with the engineer. She and I still exchange the odd note to say hello or wish each other for whatever festival is in the offing.

Life lesson 3: Getting angry does NOT help

The people of Goa, for the most part, are peaceful and calm. But of course, they can and will get riled up. This will result in non-cooperation. Goa is truly a magical place where almost always a smile or a joke in the right place/time will work wonders. A great example of this is seen on the roads. If you are in your car, especially with license plates from out of state, and you have even a minor accident with a Goan vehicle, it could mean a lot of trouble. If you handle the situation with kindness and care, you will almost always find forgiveness and a peaceful resolution. It’s a small thing, but it’s also a big thing.

Life lesson 4: Take the scenic route home

Goa is still in the throes of development, which means main roads are often dug up, being expanded or repaired. Fortunately, there’s always another road home. Goa is the land of the ‘patli gully’, so if you’re smart, you’ll learn the side roads, the slip roads and the lanes that will suddenly open up to a magical drive on a little road through green fields bordered by rows of coconut palms. Stop awhile to just stand, stare and listen to birdsong. It does wonders for the blood pressure. It’ll also help you deal better with roads that have potholes large enough to swallow a truck.

Life lesson 5: Goans are not lazy

In Goa, there is time for everything but you can’t dictate that time. Goans by instinct pay attention to what matters instead of what someone else feels is important. Your ‘urgent’ need to get something done will not get around the siesta, the morning walk, the little chat with friends at the park. The people of Goa still value such time, which may not seem productive to you, as the very essence of life. Take a leaf out of the Goan playbook and realise that the beloved ‘susegad’ does not mean lazy or laid back and instead susegad actually means a contented form of life. Derived from the Portuguese word sossegado, meaning quiet, susegad has many meanings in Konkani and no direct English translation. Quietness of mind and contentment of spirit = susegad.

John de Paola famously said, “Slow down and everything you’re chasing will come around and catch you”. Goa is a case in point. Everyone thinks it’s where you come to do nothing, but look a little deeper and in Goa, you’ll find folks at the top of their game and doing intensely exciting and creative stuff. Check out *takes deep breath* Stranger & Sons, Desmond ji, Tesouro, Audiophile, Vaayu Village, Sujit Sumitran, Madragoa, Omaggio Dance Company, Sensible Earth Collective, Green Essentials, the next time you’re in Goa, or just go on to Zee Zest and watch Goan Gullies with Rocky and Mayur. We’ll make it easy for you!

Catch Rocky & Mayur on Goan Gullies on Zee Zest, every Friday and Saturday at 8.30pm 

Rocky & Mayur in Goa
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As told to Smitha Menon

 



Updated: February 10, 2021 — 12:51 pm

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