This book Moving to Goa by Katharina Kakar was on my reading list since the day I moved to Goa this January. Reading it after living here for 7 months was probably the best time to read it. I could relate to all that Katharina Kakar had to say about Goan-Migrant relationship having experienced it first hand. I had visited some of the places she mentioned in her book and also got a list of places I should visit in the non-touristy part of Goa. Perfect timing as always.
So, Katharina and her husband Sudhir Kakar who is also a famous author moved to Goa about a decade ago. Settling down in a small village in South Goa. She begins the books by narrating the circumstances of their moving. How Goa chose them rather than them choosing Goa to live (I so connected with this phrase, for cities including Goa have been choosing me for some time now). She then goes on to talk about the known and not so known aspects of Goa.
In the better-known aspects, she talks about the beaches and all that happens or is perceived to happen there. Scratching beyond the surface and telling you some behind the shack scenes. She talks about mining and its impact as she has seen first hand. She also talks about the corruption therein. The author also talks about the food and the influences that it carries from its various rulers. Katharina talks about the palatial Portuguese houses with a reference to what people still feel about the Goan liberation. She talks about Goa becoming the melting pot of the creative people – writers, photographers, artists and the just born author in me smiled on this strange coincidence.
In the aspects that you can only discover if you live in Goa – she talks about the community culture of Goa that to my knowledge (after living in 10 states and 13 cities of India) is unique to this state. She looks at how the land and the language binds the people of Goa. How collectively they have a say in what happens in the state, unlike most other Indian states. She talks about how Goans relate to outsiders. Which includes anyone outside of Goa be it a foreigner like her or an Indian from other states like me.
She takes you through villages and their history. Through the tribal belts and their faith and her own experience of living in a village. I loved her chapter on village rituals, though I have experienced very few of them, I have been reading about them in the newspapers and would want to attend many of them during my stay in Goa. The same goes for the chapter on sacred groves and migrant gods. She also talks about the hippies and neo-hippies
It is a very good personalized guide for anyone Moving to Goa – it can prepare for what to expect and what not. It can prepare for the lazy pace of this state. And for the attitude that you may get. She also gives you various flavors that you must explore. Furthermore, if you are keen enough a long list of people you must connect with to plug into the social circles of Goa. It is a participant observer’s chronicles as they say in anthropology. And lately, I have been finding them the most engaging – they give you an outsider’s inside view of a community or a place.
A highly recommended read.