I've had an interesting time the last month or so, hectic travel, lots of meetings, a quiet holiday and a light bulb moment. I'm not going to write about the first two but really about the last two. (This post is about the holiday since the lightbulb moment needs a bit more time to write about)
A week before Christmas we headed off to sunny Goa for a few days. The trip in itself was uneventful, we drove. We reached Goa just before the bulk of the tourists from Europe landed on the beaches (thanks to the weather caused flight delays out there). I soon realized that I'm so hooked onto work that it took me about 3-4 days to shake off all work related stress out of the system and start to relax. Once you detox all the work out of your system and give the blackberry a break, hanging around and doing nothing is quite fun! Anyway, these are some random thoughts on that trip,
a) Goa isn't really for the Indian tourist- In the sense that you aren't the first choice customer any hotel or restaurant or shop prefers. Maybe it's racism, maybe it's commerce but Goa creates a lot of opportunities for you to whip up righteous indignation if you are a brown skinned person. Like the time we (self, wife and the lil 2 1/2 yr old munchkin) were turned away from resort after resort when we were looking to use a swimming pool, after being looked up and down or even being told that the guests would be sunbathing and they might not like us around. This wasn't just an isolated issue, over the last five years we've been there 4 times and pretty much every day we run into some casual form of racism thrown our way by our fellow countrymen (and women). Yet the reason why we love Goa is that it is spectacular place, for every douchebag you meet you generally wind up meeting someone genuinely nice as well and plus the food is quite something else.
b) Indian women have spectacular legs! - They honestly do and you notice this only in Goa. The reason why I single them out is simply because, they are the most well kept secret in our country and our women go out of they way, often going to extreme lengths to avoid getting tanned (my favourite is the bicep high gloves that is worn in Chennai's heat). In Goa though they seem to have come to some kind of a truce with the Sun. So one seldom gets to see so many women wearing shorts in the rest of the country. It's nice to see people loose their inhibitions and leave their complexes at the Goa state border. In a country where getting two shades darker means a whole different life, this is quite a refreshing change.
c) Vacationing doesn't mean relaxing- When my cousin's found out that we were headed to Goa for a week, they had a lot of ideas on what we could be doing there, the many places to see etc. Thankfully, we did nothing of the kind. We woke up late each morning, had a long meal times, spent most of the time on the beach and had a whale of a time doing it! At the end of our trip, my thoughts were clearer and I felt that my body really needed the break that it got! Of course, my cousins think we've wasted our time but hey, it was worth the waste!
d) A Norwegian Rebuke- At our guesthouse there was this other family from Norway and we got to know each other during breakfast times. One of our conversations was about the poor in India and how they could not imagine how people cannot be moved by children begging on the streets. As we were talking about it, the lady suddenly burst out that if this was in Norway they would make sure that everyone was taken care of (and made a kind of a hugging sign with her hands, yes, language was a bit of a barrier). The way she said it and the look of reproach that she gave stuck in my mind. While I know that poverty eradication is a long term vision and not something that we can achieve so easily, yet it is also clear that not all of us (and I firmly include myself) are doing our bit. We talk about it, we have some arguments that we use to rationalize our inertia yet we know deep down that it's all bullshit. To be honest, a lot of folks prefer poor people to be exactly where they are. What would we do without our cheap labour, our maids, cooks, gardeners, drivers, right?