Goa take a running jump

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December 31st, 2009 Pablo Chaterji


I was dog tired. I’d been driving all day, on my own – 600-odd kilometres and about 14 hours over some terrible roads, with a long delay for a troublesome puncture thrown in. I had a headache. I was starving. I needed a good meal, a hot bath and a clean, soft bed. It was almost 10 at night, and most places seemed to have downed shutters, which wasn’t terribly encouraging given my mental makeup at that point. I parked my car on a street which had several hotels on it and walked over to one that looked promising – it was small, quaint, was more of a guest house than a hotel and had a welcoming air about it.

The man at the front desk was pleasant enough and asked if he could be of service. ‘I’d like a room for the night, please’ I said. ‘Just a moment, I’ll ask the owner’ he replied, craning his head around the corner towards a room with a curtain on the door. ‘There’s a person asking for a room’ he said in a respectful tone. ‘Yes, there are rooms available’, a woman’s voice barked. I smiled in relief – a good night’s rest seemed a moment away. Then the woman yapped again. ‘Who is asking for the room?’ The lackey lowered his voice a touch and said just one word – ‘Indian’. The response was immediate - ‘No, sorry, no rooms’. At first I thought I hadn’t heard right, but from the way the man was looking at me, it immediately became as clear as a punch to the gut – there were rooms available, but they weren’t available to Indians. No, this wasn’t some bigoted foreign country (although that’s not far from the truth, sometimes) – this was Goa, of sun-kissed beaches, laid-back attitudes and friendly, cheerful locals. You know what I have to say to that? B******t.

This might sound like a bit of a rant, but I think a spade has to be called a bloody shovel. The myth that Goa is some sort of paradise on earth, with an anything-goes ethos and a charming populace, has been perpetuated for so long that it’s become gospel. First-time visitors have visions of being welcomed at the airport with garlands and of outgoing citizens smiling and inviting you into their homes, but the truth is that the airport sucks and you’re likely to be looked at askance if you venture near someone’s home. I’m not speaking merely from personal experience, mind you – others have related their own Goa horror stories to me, and almost all of them have to do with the people, rather than the physical environs (which are spectacular). Some have been denied access to tables with views in restaurants, the explanation being that ‘they’re reserved’ – only to see the first, quite random, white people walking in being given those tables. Others have stopped to ask for directions and been rudely sneered at because they didn’t pronounce the name of the place in question properly.

Most of all, I’ve been told about (and have experienced) the phenomenon of a lot of Goans not thinking of themselves as Indians, and of them preferring not to have to deal with ‘Indians’. I’m not even getting into the attitude that a lot of white people, who’ve settled in Goa and run establishments there (many of them illegal), have about Indians – in some cases, it’s apartheid without the shooting. All this is, of course, sad beyond measure – one of the loveliest places on the planet (in spite of rampant development) could have been so much more special if attitudes like these didn’t exist. Thankfully, Goa’s beauty more than compensates for the narrow-mindedness of some of its inhabitants, and I’ll continue to go there and have a really good time – despite these jackasses. As for the woman in the hotel – well, the hell with you, lady. You’d still have been kissing Portuguese butt if it hadn’t been for us ‘Indians’.

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11 Responses to “Goa take a running jump”

  1. Shubham Says:

    very aptly written, it almost seems like the goans would be so much happier without us indians…
    just if dat attitude is changed it wud be so much better for us! next time paint urself firang white or black negro!!!

  2. Gaurav Says:

    The situation is exact what has been described by Pablo.I have been in Goa for around 2 years and believe me the foreigners here think it is their state and not Indian and they are right in thinking so because the local inhabitants(read the food joints owners) treat them that way.
    A few centuries back we treated like that in foreign countries and now we are treated like that in our own country.
    and BTW it is not only the food joints,it is everywhere.You go to play in a local govt owned stadium then you are treated as enemies and if some firang comes to play there, He\She is treated as if they own that place.
    Hospitality I agree is a good thing but treating your own countrymen like that is no way justified.
    There was a great uproar when the MNS thing came up in Maharashtra but this crap is going on for years in Goa and there seems to be no talk of it anywhere.

    @Suresh: both of Ur points of view are flawed:
    1) There is no evidence that the Indian people don’t maintain the hotel room well and foreigners do.I mean ask yourself if you go to a place to have nice time will you go on spitting on the wall or start taking out Ur frustration on sofas.Cummon!!!
    2)If tomorrow Govt of Punjab or Haryana or Orissa or anywhere in the country becomes corrupt(if it is not so already) so the residents should start licking foreigners boots.Grow up man and talk sense.

  3. Kamikaze Says:

    I sympathize with the writer. Even in Goa, we see quite a few articles in the papers where people complain of secondary treatment, being Indians (for the hotel owners, u are an Indian regardless of the state. Its your money, not you that decides who you are to them. You say u pay in daaallars, and see if the hotel owner’s tone softens or not :) )

    Goa’s main economy (i maybe wrong) is tourism - both domestic and foreign. The sad part is, the Indian tourist comes to Goa for beaches, booze and (feel disgusted to say the following) BABEs. The inian tourist salivates at the sight of bikini clad white skin. This is embarrasing fr a foreign tourist who is gonna spend a month or more in Goa and probably write abt the place in a book or a blog for others to read. This is the single most important reason why hotel owners dont want indian customers, be it goan or otherwise.

    Also, indians pay in Rs while foreigners can be taken for a ride on the rates! If u pay in dollars, like the foreigner, you, the INDIAN, are king :)

  4. Suresh Says:

    I think we need to look at this issue in 2 different angles. I feel the hotel operators may be disgusted with Indian tourists who dont maintain the hotel rooms as good as foreign tourists, so obviously you will welcome foreigners. The other point may be the local goans are disgusted by corrupt politicians in the state. I think indians should learn some manners. Pablo these views are not against you. Your case may be unique. Illegal hotels are setup by bribing politicians. So a hotel owner may also be disgusted by this.

  5. koshy Says:

    Regarding the parting shot of the blog, the ‘lady’ might indeed be interested in kissing (rather than kicking) Portuguese butt. A section of the Goan society are ardent followers of the Portuguese faith and hence might feel disconnected from the rest of India. But one would do well to remember that the Portuguese faith proliferated on the fear of inquisition more than anything else. Even more pathetic would be for an Indian to treat Portuguese ancestry as a ‘privilege’.

  6. aman Says:

    i agree with you 100% - though not GOA but i had a very very bad experience in Andman’s Havelock island.

  7. arun Says:

    Horrifying story. I am surprised that the central and the state govts. are so lackadaisical about this. In most countries racism is a crime that is severely punished - usually with a jail term. The Indian govt. should do something about this. What are these Goans so uppity about anyway? They are the same skin color as other Indians, and not particularly rich or educated. Anyone tell them that? As for the firangs who have illegal establishments in Goa - the Home ministry should do turf them out ASAP and deport them. Already one family has been implicated in the Bombay massacre of 2008 for being pals of that Headley guy. These people can keep their racism and their apartheid in their own countries and get the hell out of India.

  8. Sudhanshu Says:

    Goa, as its often said, has just two seasons- the peak season and the off season. The behaviour, attitude and tone of voice of Goan’s varies depending on the season. So during the dull period, when the firang’s are few (that too doped out of their minds), the apartheid you are talking about is less severe. Having said that, I would say that such experiences are relatively rare and it still is my favourite destination in the country.

  9. Narendra Sharma Says:

    Sad. I was there in October 2008 and remember the royal treatment I got then. During a chat with one of my hosts, I was told the foreigners had cancelled several charters to Goa because of the travel advisories issued by their countries and the recession that had begun to affect Western economies. Is that why the Goans were so warm then?

  10. Ruchita Says:

    I completely agree with wht u said Pablo..

    We also had the similar experience last week. We went to a beachside restaurant, where the boys didn’t even bother to take our food order initially since they were busy greeting the so called rich foreigners. Even after 30 mins, when we were not served the food, my husband went to have a word with the manager, he started abusing hy husband. The restaurant owners, specifically those at beachside are real “goondaas” of goa.

    guys .. just beware next time u visit that place..

  11. Renish Says:

    Really nice blog.i got more info about situation GOA


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