Beautiful Goa of Yore No More

By Mário Cabral e Sá
It was a pleasure to see on the front page of a local daily NSS volunteers collecting garbage along the Bambolim highway.  The batch was coordinated by the distinguished and devoted environmentalist Patricia Pinto.

They were participating in the ‘Chaka-Chak Goa’ re-launched campaign on Republic Day. It was initiated with much fanfare by Sanjit Rodrigues when he was commissioner of the corporation of Panaji. It soon evaporated.  This time round let us hope for the best.
Typical of Patrícia,  she was not in the picture. She is a silent worker, never was an exhibitionist. And typical of modern Goa, the NSS volunteers found a cadaver left to rot in an unused bus shelter near GMC. Similar campaigns by NSS volunteers were conducted at various other places: Bandora, Ponda, Tivim, etc. Chaka-Chak is an onomatopaeic word popularised in Indian metros by shoe-shine boys.
One only hopes that  it was not just a one-night stand. The other day the IT savant Dr T V Mohandas Pai stated in a signed article for this newspaper headlined “I fear for my Goa!” that he was sad that even Dabolim airport,  the entry point of international tourists on whose pickings Goa depends a great deal, stinks.
History is humanity’s best teacher. Those who do not learn from it are condemned to repeat it.  That seems to be Goa’s fate.  Do you recall how Cidade de Goa, the capital city of the Oriental Portuguese Empire was destroyed? It was surrounded by marshes and stagnant pools that emitted noxious exhalations (just like our Santa Inez nala).
Little or no attention was paid to hygiene. The muddy banks of the river were generally covered with detritus of animals and vegetable matter, which at low tide were washed ashore and putrefied. The people, with the knowledge of the government, defecated in the Mandovi River and they could be seen from the Palace of the Quay, the Viceroy- not unlike in Panaji not so long ago, and, right now, in the backwaters running by our ever proliferating slums bordering them.
Even the thorough fares were dirty and nobody cared at all if one saw people  throwing  muck in them.  A few years back, while waiting for the traffic to ease at the corner of Junta House opposite Hotel Fidalgo, in order to cross the road, I was showered with the sweepings of one of the top floors, the residence then of a senior government officer, whose wife was tidying up her flat.
Pe Francisco de Sousa, the Bhaian (Brazil) Jesuit and historian piously wrote in his ‘Oriente Conquistado a Deus’: the pestilence in the city could be the result of one of the two causes − either the fervor of Christianity had cooled down, or the putrefaction  of the dead body of an elephant thrown in the  lake (Carambolim) near the  church of Santissima Trinadade infected the air and spread the poison all around.
There are no more elephants in Goa, so there will be no carcasses which can be thrown in any of our water bodies and be left there to rot and spread insalubrity. What abounds is the NIMY syndrome.  It is NO to Bainguinim, which is an ideal site for dumping the city’s garbage. Why? Its stink will be resented by the Catholics, because their heritage churches are in nearby Old Goa.  How one wishes the priests of Old Goa had been as alert to the stink all along Kadamba plateau just behind their heritage shrines. 
It is not only garbage, it is the slum dwellers who have pitched their tents by the same plateau and feel free to defecate and urinate by the kerb.   It is also cattle who graze on shrubs and garbage strewn there and leave behind their dung.  
It is NO to Bainguinim also because it is within the limits of the Combharjua constituency represented by Panduranga Madkaikar. How one wishes the MLA had been as scrupulous in his public life. As a realtor he should know the regulations about buildings and put an end to the illegal constructions spreading all over his constituency and right near his chateau. 
To add to the woes about garbage disposal, a swami from somewhere has established his mutt atop Bainguinim. 
Did he care to obtain a license to put up the buildings?  The answer is a flat NO. How many devotees does his sect have in Goa?  No one knows for sure.
Former Director General of CSIR, Dr Ragunath Mashelkar said the other day, and said it very timely, “Goa should be a land of ideas and enlightened creativity.” But NIMY is a syndrome that will stifle creativity and progress.
Margao, once the city of the Hindu and Catholic elites, is a shame. Marvel at the majestic houses in the Church Square and then climb the road running between the Hospício and the cemetery. Could you bear the stink?  Or then take a walk around the once beautiful town hall and the lanes leading to it. 
It is Chief Minister, Digambar Kamat’s home town. The fish market stinks. So does the sprawling slum called Moti Dongor, the main vote bank of the CM.  Obviously, he is keener on his re-election than on maintaining the standards of the much remembered mayor Jorge Barreto who was an aesthete and insisted on the highest standards of hygiene in the city under his charge.
Mapusa (then spelt Mapuça), continues to the capital of Bardez, then known as the “brioso concelho” – the proud/full of honour/punctilious county. Go to the municipal market built by the late Dr António Pinto do Rosário, the famous obstetrician and gynaecologist of Bardez, and its mayor for several terms.
He built it to be the best in Goa and, a few glitches apart, so it was. Visit it now. It stinks. The kerchief you carry in your pocket will not be enough to close your nose, luckily, right at the entrance there are shops selling perfumes and lotions.
Ponda was a quiet, clean garrison town. Its well kept town hall and the garden in front of it gave it an air of dignity and sobriety. If Hindu architecture was your favourite art form all you had to do was to go to Bicholim and admire the row of houses in the street. It was a lovely row of them.
Perhaps the prophecy attributed to St Francis Xavier was not as fake as one presumed.  “Goa ninguém a tomará.  Ela por si acabará” – Nobody shall take Goa, she will destroy herself.