Geography and history are only the outlines of any tourist destination. What makes these outlines complete and possibly attractive or unattractive are the colours that are filled into them through the local culture. That is what makes every tourist destination different from the other.
India has a huge coastline on either side of its peninsula and there are hundreds of cities located on these shores. Yet all these cities differ from each other vastly. One of the most distinct shore destinations is perhaps Goa. With a long coast line interrupted only by the majestic Western Ghats, vast Arabian Sea to behold, picturesque scenes to look at by the side of roads, beautiful palm trees, green hills and large open fields, Goa strikes all the right notes and is always in tune.
What fills up this fantastic outline are some vibrant and cheerful colours, ones which you may not find in most Indian cities. Interestingly these are not specially made on order for the pleasure of tourists but are inherent in the culture of the place itself. Most tourists from other parts of India just get to enjoy these as a pleasant change from their own places.
Composed of only two districts, Goa with all its attractions like the beaches, the shops around it, its trademark shacks and all other civic services is mostly run by its village panchayats since most of these attractions fall under rural areas of the state. Perhaps one wouldn’t be able to make out that these are villages because by most standards they appear much more urban than most cities in other states. Spacious homes with backyards and frontyards, homestead lands in some places and kitchen gardens in others and greenery all throughout, but also the street lights, well laid out roads and some tightly run civic services like the parking service, lifeguard services and traffic policing, make these “villages” look beautiful but also illustrate the excellent levels of local governance.
Even the greenery aspect of the state has been well ensured through a strict compliance of rules from the administration whereby any cutting of the trees is strictly prohibited without prior approval. Yet good geography is only a matter of chance and good governance can be achieved over the course of time, but there is an innate quality in the Goan culture that makes it special above most other places.
One of the most striking aspects of Goa is how fluently day diffuses into the night. Imagine strolling on one of the beautifully paved sides of the road in Panjim one evening and your watch begins to tick away into the early hours of the night. The offices and other official establishments have already shuttered down but the city comes alive. Street lights are lit up, restaurants start operating and getting crowded, pubs begin to be thronged and tourists and locals alike, begin to make their sojourns to local beaches and other destinations. This cheery crowd continues to go about its life irrespective of the time that the clock strikes. If Shakespeare had been born in Goa he just might have written “What’s in a time”.
In contrast in most Indian cities, panic strikes specifically for women as soon as the clock strikes seven or eight- a different interpretation of “Rush Hour” of sorts. A few years ago after a horrific injustice was committed against a brave girl in Delhi, “reclaiming the night” emerged as one of the popular slogans in the protest movements. How unfortunate it is when something, as integral to a person’s existence, as a time of the day has to be reclaimed, when women have to invoke language of rights and justice to do something as simple as step out of their homes after a certain time in the evening or when beyond these simple joys, there are bigger sacrifices that women have to make for their careers or lives just to be safe.
Therefore as a tribute to Goa which defies many odds stacked up against women who may wish to enjoy something as simple as enjoying a fresh breath of air at night on the street, or an ice-cream with their girlfriends at the stall nearby or just a late night party at a pub to enjoy a sip of beer without any terror or intimidation, here are a few pictures from all around Goa from the late evenings and nights, reminding people that it’s not unimaginable to exist in the dusk or dark.