This government can’t do much for senior citizens already, but it would like to do it in CM Pramod Sawant’s constituency Sakhali. But the phrase “small events” which could turn out to be the very big destructive EDMs, worries me. It appears that Vijai Sardesai is all gung-ho if the idea to make fields a talking point or a photo op comes from him.Earlier he appealed to farmers to chant a vedic mantra in their fields! Harebrained ideas, keep on coming.

May 7, 2019

I was in Negombo on October 19, 1999 on holiday, a tourist destination recently devastated by the senseless bombing. The thing that struck me most about this beach town was its resemblance to Goa, especially the similarity of its people with Goans living on the coast. I felt it was uncanny. It was almost like I was in Goa. The other thing that struck me was that its post office was open seven days a week and even sold stamps and aerogrammes at night. It was almost like it was privatized. The availability of buses was so good, there were visibly few ricks as a result.

There was also the Lamprais, which loosely translated is a packet of lumped rice, a Dutch Burgher-influenced dish with two special curries (a three meat curry: beef, pork or lamb, and Ash Plantain with Aubergine), Seeni Sambal, and a mouthful of other separately cooked items. All these goodies wrapped in banana leaves and baked in an oven. There is of course much more to it, but suffice it to say that it brought back more memories of Goa because of the Portuguese influence on some foods.

Adaptive reuse

'Adaptive reuse’ Yeah. Those two words I love. Takes me back a long time. The Times of India reported that the “much awaited restoration work of the Sakhali fort will start soon”. The focus will be on “recreation space for senior citizens…as well as space where small events can be hosted” - reported on April 29 titled ‘Sakhali fort restoration to focus on adapative reuse.’ Senior citizens. Seriously! This government can’t do much for senior citizens already, but it would like to do it in the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s constituency Sakhali. Also that the phrase “small events” which could turn out eventually to be the very big destructive EDMs, worries me.

Here’s why. In August 2009 I wrote in this column elsewhere. “Perhaps the oldest colonial edifice in Goa, the old Secretariat building, or Adil Shah Palace or Palacio da Idalcao is currently being renovated at a cost of Rs 3,86,37,880 and the expenditure required to complete the renovation is currently pegged at Rs 7,25,62,120. This of course is peanuts compared to, I think, the Rs 36 crore that was spent to give Adil Shah’s inheritors a spanking new Goa Assembly at Porvorim.”

“It is the government’s intention to turn the old Secretariat into a cultural centre thereby establishing art galleries, museums etc. While it’s more than probable that the Rs 7,25,62,120 could rocket into space like the Agni-3 currently doing trials; what is true is that the government is fuzzy as to what it intends to do with it.”

“Remember, the Entertainment Society of Goa came up with “adaptive reuse” when it wanted to lease out the Macquinez Palace (old GMC building, Campal, Panjim) to a Dilliwallah for a mall?”

Now check out the government website on the ancient building and you will learn nothing:

His ideas just keep on coming

His latest is to “weaponise” his youth brigade to protect “Goekarpann! And he seems to be aware that it will be seen as aggressive, but “we will take the party forward aggressively”. Some will say it is misplaced, but he’s a big fan of self-aggrandisement.

It appears that Vijai Sardesai is all enthusiastic when the idea to make agricultural fields a talking point or a photo op comes from him. This is notwithstanding the allegations of illegal conversion of land levelled at him by an NGO some time ago.

Last July when the sarpanch of Aquem Baixo, put up a picture of planting paddy saplings and threw a challenge to other “leaders” to do the same, some MLAs including Vijai Sardesai joined the band wagon. But it appeared that Sardesai was a bit petulant (perhaps because it was not his brainchild) wondering why there was a need for a social media challenge. He instead introduced a cosmic farming initiative and planted saplings. Earlier he appealed to farmers to chant a vedic mantra in their fields! Harebrained ideas, it seems, keep on coming.

Try this for size. He shocked the legislative assembly last year while talking about making agriculture an “attractive profession”, by suggesting, “If you want, you can even host beauty contests in paddy fields. Let the youth come. You can do that. Do everything possible to get the young generation to the fields.” Huh???

Swachh Beaches or Photo Ops?

How come the magazine sections of your newspapers are plastered with pictures frequently of young people in matching T-shirts getting their hands dirty while scouring through beaches to clean it and yet beaches and roads in Goa are dirty? Enough for many foreign tourists to categorically say that they have been put off from coming to Goa because it is dirty and is clueless about garbage management.

Beach Cleaning: Trash bags, three, people 14,photo-ops, countless(courtesy:oheraldo) 

So no prizes for guessing that like the Swacch Bharat campaign introduced by PM Narender Modi to give our netas an opportunity to flaunt brooms and get photographed, so is this beach cleaning fad. If your photo is not snapped up by the city supplements of newspapers, always on the look-out for the “beautiful people” (trust me, I’ve been there, done that), then you have various social media platforms to preen. We call it fad because if there was an organization that calls itself “The Clean Beach project”, there should be some effect on the ground, say at Calangute, not broken glass and cigarette butts from Here to Eternity.

Incidentally, five-star hotels too have this garbage cleaning fad not only for the photo-op  but also because they are doing themselves a favour considering they have appropriated it and blocked access to locals.  So every monsoon, you have them making a pretence of “giving back to society” when all they are doing is cleaning a beach that they/or their guests had a hand in dirtying in the first place.

In today’s age of millennials where life is lived on facebook/twitter/instagram, it’s all about apps. As someone said, “Likes on social media don’t change the world, but actions do”, but who is listening?