I’ve moved to Goa and the contrasts between here and Jaipur, Rajasthan are great. Firstly the weather has changed from a 40°c+ dry temperature to mid 30s feeling like 10 degrees hotter because of humidity. The landscape is green and lush rather than dusty and arid. Dogs are pets here or monkey alerts. Monkeys here have more respect and don’t venture into houses or steal clothes hanging out to dry. I see regularly butterflies, dragonflies, geckos, dragon type lizards, ants, red ones, yellow ones, black ones, small, medium and giant ones which come out at night, flying beetles, snakes, spiders, frogs, pigs, buffalo, cattle, and lots more.
The people move much slower probably due to the zap of energy because of the mugginess of the air. Western clothes are more noticeable, less traditional, more jeans and t shirt. Facial and body shapes are completely different. In the north in general people are really thin. Catwalk models look fat in comparison. Goa was colonised for centuries by the Portuguese so with intermarriage and the presence of slaves, people here often have a mixture of European or African features merged with Indian. It’s still rare however to see a tall Indian . I’m 5’3″ and most people are my height or shorter. Some women here have huge stomachs apparently because of the quantity of rice consumed and fondly called ‘rice bellies’. They also cut their hair so it’s quite common to see short styles. Plus they allow themselves to go grey gracefully rather than use harsh black dye or turn orange if they used henna as happens in the north.
Daily life here revolves round religion, Hindus and Catholics seem to follow feasts and festivals around the agricultural calendar. Portuguese Jesuits moved into Goa in the 16th century and were fanatical about converting the Indian ‘heathens’. The local area suffered greatly under the inquisition and destroyed most of the Hindu temples. Even so the Indians still managed to hold onto many of their beliefs and merge them into the new faith. Today’s churches are crowded on Sunday Mass and some even full for Mass on weekdays. When a Catholic dies they are buried in a maintained cemetery. When a Hindu died the tradition is to burn the body.
Local people have Portuguese surnames and many have also adopted European first names.
The Portuguese enjoyed 451 years of colonisation and only as recently as 1961 were they forced out. Goa finally became a fully fledged state of India in 1987.
The Goan people are not intrusive and appear to be sincere and genuine when they speak with me. They are used to Western faces and never stare. Daily as I pass people walking to the village center they always greet me and share pleasantries. However there’s a big influx of outer state people moving to Goa to earn money. These people are in your face and hassle you or they just stare. The Goans are unhappy with this influx as it has brought crime, and violence along whereas before the Goans lived fairly safe lives and didn’t even lock their front doors.
The local language is Konkani which sounds so much nicer than the direct aggressive tone of Hindi. However most people here speak English and not Indian English. The kids are taught once they go to school. The kids here, even as young as 6/7, can easily have a conversation with me. In fact most of the kids speak more English than their local tongue.
Now is the time that houses are preparing for the 4 months of monsoon. Roofs are being checked, plastic tarpaulins are being erected everywhere, plus huge plastic sheets to cover verandas, and wrought iron windows with no glass, gardens are being viciously pruned, furniture being brought indoors, and lots more.