Vasiliy Karavaev On ‘Other’ Side of Goa-II


By Nandkumar M Kamat
Government of India finally preferred erotic Khajuraho over chaotic Goa for Eighth BRICS summit. It won’t be good news for divorcee Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff but Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Jacob Zuma and Chinese President Xi Jinping should be secretly pleased for reasons well known in media gossip. The other side of Goa painted by Vasiliy Karavaev probably explains why Prime Minister’s Office developed cold feet and suddenly changed the decision to shift the high profile eighth BRICS summit from Goa to Khajuraho where it would take place on August 31 and September 1.
The Goa MPs in New Delhi, the Defense Minister, the Chief Minister and full Goa cabinet have maintained a strange silence on this decision since last week and they owe an apology and a true, convincing explanation to people, media and tourism industry in Goa for this humiliating decision. On June 15 we read about how Prime Minister Modi advised Goa Chief Minister Parsekar in New Delhi to use BRICS summit to showcase Goa. Amazingly in less than 10 days PMO issued instructions to shift the venue from chaotic Goa to erotic Khajuraho. Although none would admit it officially, but it sounds plausible that intelligence reports about Goa must have been very adverse considering the security sensitivities of the Russians and the Chinese.
PMO, MHA, MFA need to critically examine Vasiliy Karavaev’s novel regarding emergence of a “state within a state”- specifically a global psychedelic state in Goa so vividly portrayed by the Russian author. He also captured the socio-economic and cultural transformation of north Goa tourist belt. This description of a trance party in Arambol would offer a glimpse of the new situation to all those in denial mode- “The plateau on the top of hill resembles a Martian landscape. The red volcanic surface extends almost to the horizon, in front stretches the endless sea, melting into the starry sky. A thousand elegant, colourful people dance to loud, beautiful trance music.
Once upon a time in Goa parties were held on the beach. The local people and the freaks lived in harmony then, and no one got in anyone’s way. The freaks bought seafood from the fishermen and fruit and vegetables from the peasants. Everyone was happy. Hippies and freaks sunbathed naked on deserted beaches, danced at the parties, smoked and spent the money they earned by selling charas on the locals. Thriving quickly, the local population pulled down their primitive huts and built beautiful two and three story houses in their place. The strange, hairy white people were pleased to pay a lot of money to rent these houses, making it possible not to fish or grow rice. No one other than hippies wanted to visit wild and underdeveloped Goa. All of progressive humanity preferred comfortable hotels and beaches with no cows or pigs on them.
In Goan villages, there were neither cars, nor paved roads. The hippies helped the locals to open small restaurants, explaining why you need spoons and forks. They showed them how to cook European dishes and taught them minimum sanitary requirements. And the local people happily joined in dancing to the drums played by the white people at night. And just like thousands of years ago the Indians danced happily in the Full Moon, thanking the Indian gods for the good harvest and the happy life that the foreigners brought them”.
There are certain comments which the Catholic church of Goa would also have to scrutinize. Sample these- “and so it would have gone on if the Catholic Church hadn’t come out against the satanic dancing. Since the time of the Portuguese, Catholic churches have been built throughout Goa. Even before the arrival of the first hippies, the locals started forgetting their Indian traditions and gods due to the influence of the Portuguese. Priests from Catholic churches preached the right way of life, a decent Indian had to work tirelessly all his life, producing more meat and fish, collecting more rice and bananas, building new homes and acquiring all of the modern benefits of civilization. While all the time of course paying a tithe to the church in order to go to heaven after death. However the philosophy of the hairy, happy visitors went against the philosophy of the Catholics. The younger generation of Indians preferred to be content with what nature and the white men gave them, and not to spend their spare time slaving away for a new refrigerator or an iron which they didn’t need in the first place but enjoying life. Then Catholicism started a crusade against the evil influence of the happy satisfied hippies.”
The author also exposes the political dimension of the other side of Goa-“In the mid 90’s a political party supported by the Catholics came to power and the Minister of Tourism announced that Goa didn’t need hippies and freaks any longer. “We need money for Goa, we need wealthy tourists who come for two weeks, not have nots who cannot even buy a cup of tea” he declared on television and in the newspapers. From that time began a crackdown on parties. First they banned them on the beach claiming that the loud music disturbed the sleep of workers. Soon after parties were also banned in the jungle and remote locations”.
And here comes a disturbing revelation on rise in Cocaine trade- “From the beginning of the twenty first century all parties are illegal in Goa. The organisers pay the police huge bribes which can only be compensated through the sale of cocaine. And so coke started to be sold almost everywhere. Tonight’s party is organised in the farthest northern point of Goa, away from beaches, populated areas and the sea. Despite the party taking place on a deserted stone plateau nothing has prevented a thousand people who love freedom from coming from all over Goa in order to feel the vibration of love and harmony. This is the last place the last bastion of freedom”. We need to thank Vasiliy for having shown us the “other side” of Goa ignored deliberately and dismissed arrogantly by local Konkani and Marathi authors and artists. Vasiliy Karavaev has put the psychedelic republic of Goa on world map.