Monday, January 19, 2009

Do like the Goans.

I was thinking about Goa. Yes, it is beautiful, but that apart, what makes it so completely different from the rest of India? Everything about it is different. It has a small population, most of which are either Hindus or Roman Catholics. Disputes between the two religious denominations are very rare. There are no beggars. The roads are clean. The houses and the surroundings are clean. The public transport is clean. No one spits on the roads and no one, but no one, urinates in the trees dotting the roadsides. The people smell nice. The people talk nice. They greet each other; they smile, even if they don’t know you. This just does not happen anywhere else in India. Despite liquor being a way of life in Goa, you don’t see drunks making asses of themselves in public. You rarely witness fist fights or any sort of fights. The crime rate is low, which is why the occasional beach rape or murder gets international notice.

Everyone, cabbies, shopkeepers, beach shack owners are educated, property owning, responsible people. Time and time again, I have forgotten my things and got them back intact after days. Visiting Coco beach, which is a remote beach accessible only by private boat, I had absolutely no doubt that the boatman dropping me there would as he had promised return to fetch me that evening. I call a cabbie I had traveled with on my last visit two years ago, and I know he’ll be there when I arrive. I call Auntie, who runs the beach hotel and she agrees to hold the rooms I want and no questions asked.

The only other state in India, that comes up to Goa is Kerala. True, Kerala is not as cheerful and smiling as Goa is but the people are invariably polite and as trustworthy. I was a little discomfited by the mustachioed men who stare at you unsmiling, but when I mentioned this to one of my Keralite friends, he was quick to reassure me that ‘Kerala men all love moustaches; and they only look, they don’t do anything.’ (Should I be glad or sad?!)

Like Goa, Kerala too has 100% literacy. So is it this that makes these states different from the rest of India. No. I think it is public awareness. Goa has an age old reputation of being “susegad”, which would mean something like laid back, cool. Yes, it is. But when their kids were threatened by the drug trade that once proliferated Goan beaches, and again when they felt their kids’ morals were being corrupted by the nudism on the beaches, every Goan was up in arms, fighting it together.

In Goa as in Kerala, everyone plays a very positive role in keeping their state clean and seeing that everyone else does too. In fact Kerala leads India in total implementation of all social policies and projects and the credit goes to its public who are not only aware of the policies, but make sure that they are implemented properly.

So why are we not like that? We need not strive to be like the US. Suffice it, if we just follow the examples of Goa and Kerala.

No comments: