No Glad seasons in Goa

August 29, 2011

No glad seasons in Goa
Mid-day Date: 2011-05-31 Place: Mumbai

Pensioners and overseas visitors who want to make Goa their home are
being stifled by strict visa regulations curtailing long stays. This
May could be the last month in for several of these foreigners

Dave (64) and Penny (58) Sanders (name changed) are a typical English
couple who came to Goa one winter on a two-week charter holiday four
years ago. Charmed by the region, they booked a further two-week stay
and the very next year decided they would like to spend six months of
the year in Goa, and six months in Spain where they run a small
business. The Sanders purchased a leasehold apartment in Siolim, north
Goa and settled into their six-months-a-year life in Goa. Life is good
when they come down. Internet connectivity helps them monitor their
business in Spain while they are here. The exchange rate makes it
extremely easy on the pocket. With their friendly disposition, the
Sanders’ rapidly made friends, they quickly plugged into the vibrant
Goan social circuit, and their Goan friends invited them over to
premiers, concerts and family occasions. Dave’s skill with the guitar
led to him playing gigs with local musicians at the many live music
venues around the touristy coastal area.

Relax: Tourists at Calangute Beach in Goa pic/AFP

The Sanders took the usual precautions, avoiding the pitfalls of
buying any ownership property in Goa that had earlier got many
purchases who did so while on tourist visas, into deep trouble with
the Enforcement Directorate. “We were quite happy to buy a leasehold
apartment,” they say. “But just when you get used to one rule, they
throw another at you,” Dave complains. He is referring to the new visa
restrictions that the Government of India notified in 2008, but whose
effects are slowly beginning to blow away the carefully laid plans of
the Sanders and hundreds of other mainly British retirees who live in
Goa to avoid the harsh European winter. The new rules have all but
stopped the five-year multiple entry visa for India. Now only
three-month tourist visas are being issued, with visitors expected to
stay out of India for a two-month cooling period before re-entering or
applying for a fresh visa. “We would have liked to settle down here,
but with the two-month cooling off rule, we have to reconsider our
plans,” says Dave. They are now considering a move to Sri Lanka, where
pensioners are allowed to stay on if they can prove a known source of

Bottoms up to Goa: But is the magic fading? British nationals at a
restaurant pics/Arvind Tengse

Unknown to the Sanders, internal circulars of the Union Home ministry
and external affairs ministry aim to discourage the practice of
part-time residentship in India. Resultantly, consulates have been
weeding out five-year multiple entry visas and even six-month tourist
visas in favour of the three-month tourist visa. The unofficial policy
change and visa rules have similarly dashed the hopes of Marjorie and
Sondra Myles (names changed) who planned on running a small guesthouse
business in Goa. While the ambiguities and irregular application of
laws have meant that several British run tourism businesses do
flourish in Goa, the Myles count themselves among the unlucky lot who
have run into a series of brick walls in this pursuit, quite possibly
from no fault in their paperwork. They were understandably upset while
relating their story.

Home: Britons enjoy Goa’s good life but things are becoming tougher

Visiting India and Goa over 15 years before the former university
employee decided that Goa might be a good option for a retirement
base, Marjorie (76) sunk her savings into purchasing freehold
apartments in a complex in South Goa. She planned on converting the
six-bedroom double apartment into a guesthouse, she would run with her
daughter Sondra (50) and 19-year-old granddaughter. The Myles have
been particularly unlucky, hit by a triple whammy. They purchased
their properties in 2004 in the initial euphoric years after the new
FEMA legislation led people to believe the law on immovable property
purchase had opened up, — only to see a complete rollback when the
Enforcement Directorate began investigating 400 foreigner-made
purchases in Goa alone. The Myles now find themselves in a quandary.
“Our dream has become a nightmare,” Marjorie said. “We’ve not been
able to process any permissions to start the business and we are now
staying in a house we apparently do not own, despite consulting a
conveyancing advocate at the time.”

To add to their woes, their visa durations have shrunk over the years,
making living here untenable. Their applications for a business visa
was rejected, authorities granted them an X visa initially; these were
further reduced to a one year visa and more recently to six month
visas. “It has come as rather a shock to us. The new visa rule has
crippled us financially,” says Sondra. It would be impossible to go
back to the UK every six months, stay two months in a hotel in the UK
and return to Goa, she points out.

Erstwhile Goan fishermen, toddy tappers and farmers who have been
evicted from beach and farm land to make way for hotels, are
increasingly asking government to protect their new livelihoods in the
small guesthouse and restaurant trade they opted for, even as newer
entrepreneurs from outside the state and abroad ramp up the
competition. All this has rendered the bustling tourism arena into a
seething cauldron of social tension and conflict, despite the overt
bonhomie on show for the visitor. The Myles have had their brush with
intimidation, while aggrieved western long staying tourists often vent
their frustrations at being turfed out, in the letters column of local
dailies. Sources in the bureaucracy say it is for precisely this
reason that the home ministry is hoping to curtail potential cultural
and diplomatic tensions by restricting the numbers of western
“residents” who have homed in on Goa as a preferable region to spend
their retirement years, some setting up small businesses to supplement
their pensions.

By the time the Indian bureaucracy woke up to this trend and began
taking dissuasive measures, it was already too late for many western
retirees who had invested life savings into homes in Goa. Among the
badly hit are an elderly British couple who constructed a bungalow in
the beach village of Bogmalo. They now have to fly back to the UK
every 180 days, and since they have no home there, spend two months in
the UK in a caravan in their daughter’s driveway. They are currently
holding out, hoping to make a reasonably priced sale on their Goa
home, instead of taking the route of the hundreds of “distress sales”
that were made by foreigners when the clampdown began. Visa rules have
not just hit wintering Europeans, who have had to rethink their
long-term plans in Goa. It has impacted short-term holidayers to Goa
and alongside it, the entire tourist industry.

“At least 30 to 40 per cent of vacationers from Britain take repeat
holidays in a single season, coming back twice and sometimes thrice on
a six-month visa. Many visit neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia or
elsewhere and return. Reduced visa terms and the cooling off period
has meant that many have cancelled holidays and are down to a single
vacation to Goa in a year,” says Guitry Velho who runs the Heritage
Village Club. His business has taken a hit, as the hotel mainly caters
to the UK segment. “Clients of mine who’d come in pre-Christmas, then
go back to celebrate the holiday season with family in the UK and
return in February — are now just coming in February for a single

Smaller establishments downstream that survive from tourism are
similarly affected. “It has been a bad season. A lot of tourists who
had returned in January and February after the Christmas rush have
simply not done so, and we’ve lost this business,” says Roy Barreto,
who runs Betty’s Place restaurant and a cruise operation on the River
Sal in South Goa. Western European visitors to his eateries are down
to a trickle, while his overheads on staff have remained the same.
Goa’s tourism trade body the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa
(TTAG) is naturally sore over the visa rules. “Working over 40 years,
hundreds of thousands of Goans at all levels of the tourism industry
have built a unique record of 40 per cent repeat clientele from
western European markets, especially the UK. Until the recent visa
revisions, they returned year after year, because of Goa’s branding as
a long haul winter destination. They are now leaving Goa
permanently,”rues TTAG spokesman hotelier, Ralph de Souza.

“Since the new visa regime, long stayers and return holidayers from
Nordic, Scandinavian and the UK region has fallen by 30 per cent,” de
Souza says. The TTAG estimates the loss to be in the region of Rs 900
crore. Long-term visitors are estimated to spend in a year Rs 10 lakh
each across a range of services from tourist taxis, two-wheeler
pilots, beach shacks, cafes, restaurants and super markets. It’s a big
economic hit, and the TTAG is currently lobbying with the state and
central governments to consider alternatives, such as granting visa on
arrival at the Goa airport, building data bases on regular visitors
and granting exemptions to traditional long stayers. While discussions
are on, there has been no change yet, and this May might well be their
last month in Goa for many visitors.


Patricia Rozario: Mission to train Indian talent

August 29, 2011

August 2009, The Asian Age
Panaji, Aug 28: For a soprano and opera singer who has scaled
stratospheric heights, performed on virtually all the better known
stages in Europe, the United Kingdom and around the world, there’s an
endearing down to earth generosity in Patricia Rozario.

Though probably awake half the night to catch a 4.30 am flight from
Mumbai to Goa, with a couple of hours to nap on arrival here, the
Mumbai born British soprano was all warm indulgence and attention as
she listened to thirty children take turns singing at a specially
arranged audition that morning. The songs ranged from a five year old
singing a lullaby to a teenager fumbling through Abba’s Chiquitita
—not quite the material for the over 16 year old talent hunt the
audition was meant to be, one susects. But going by the soprano’s
encouraging applause, none of the young singers would have guessed
they were anything less than spectacular.

“This is really a fact finding mission” says Rozario of her four city
India tour, where she performed concerts and held auditions in Delhi,
Pune, and Mumbai, before concluding here in Goa. ” There’s a lot of
talent here. I’m really here to find talent and then train them over a
period of time, in the study of music and in building technique. The
concerts I did were more to demonstrate the level which one has to
aspire to.”

That level for Patricia has taken her to the top of her field in
Britain. Her recordings of both ancient and avant garde music are
reputed to sell sometimes in “pop-music proportions”. Her voice has
been inspiration for several modern composers, including Simon Holt,
Arvo Part, and Sir John Taverner who has written over 30 works for
her. Rozario’s concert and opera repertoire include a good many of
the baroque masterpieces and contemporary compositions — her
contributions earning her the order of the British Empire in 2001.

Still the learning never ceases — new languages to learn and sing
operas in. She’s planning to tackle Russian and Czech next, she lets

She’d left India at 20 to join the Guildhall school of music and drama
in London, followed by post graudate studies at a National Opera
Sudio. Though slated to return to Mumbai after her studies, Patricia
won the school’s gold medal and stayed on to hone her skills on her
professor’s insistence and belief in her talent. “Making a career as a
musician is probably harder that any business. You need backing and
luck, besides talent. It has’t been easy but certainly very exciting”.

After a rich, varied career, the time seemed right to engage with
India on a professional basis, not counting off course the regular
personal visits.”I was very happy growing up here. I knew I had to
come back”, says she.

Her India connection never waned, performing often in saris to
underscore her identity. She’s adapted Indian folk songs for a 2008
City of London festival. This year she’d doing a fusion programme
with Ashwini Bhide. “I tried learning Indian classical music as a
teenager, but was told I had come too late. You have to start at 4
years and grow up in that tradition to be able to be a master and
improvise. so it was lost to me. But I did do a six month training to
pick up elements to sing a fusion composition a composer who loved
Indian music had written”. The two vocal traditions are developed
differently. “In western music you project your voice, you do not use
an amplifier, whereas Indian classical vocal music is pure beautiful

What propelled the current engagement with India, started with young
Indian soprano Joanne D’Mello, whom she mentored, trained and helped
make it to London’s Royal College of Music a couple of years back.
While Joanne’s distinction this year speaks of her own abilities,
Patricia realised the immense potential that could be trawled from
India, though other Asian students were way ahead here.

” India has a great love of singing. Bollywood has contributed
immensely to this, people sing in the streets. Like India, China has
its own traditional music, but still encourages people to learn
western classical. We need not lose our own culture to adopt another.
I feel responsibility to develop this talent” .

For starts Patricia would like to work with music teachers here, and
through them with chosen students. If the project can attract
funding, she plans to return 3-4 times a year for the training
programmes. “The talent is there, it has to be built up. It would take
2-3 years to bring it to a particular level”. There’s promised support
from the principal of the Royal School of Music, to extend
scholarships as has been done in China and Korea.

Her own meteoric rise came from a small annual parent-organised
talent contest in Santacruz, Mumbai. “My mother taught us to sing.
Western music was part of our Goan home tradition. I had no formal
training, before I went to London”. In fact Rozario warns against
formal voice training for those below 15-16 years, aside from gentle
singing practice.

The soprano and her pianist husband Mark Troop are treading carefully.
“We’d like to work with everybody, in harmony, see what we all can do
together.” says Troop. While Mumbai has few voice teachers, singers in
Delhi find themselves frustrated at being denied performance avenues,
as organisers import troupes from abroad. Patricia is hoping to
contribute to changing that, she says — raising levels and hoping
to convince organisers to source local Indian singers itself.(ends)

Bombay before the British

August 29, 2011

August 2009/The Asian Age
From 2002, a team of researchers from the University of Lisbon and University of Coimbra have been working on an interesting project —- Bombay before the British. The project’s preliminary findings , presented recently here at a public lecture — are a fascinating glimpse into a long forgotten past of the now pulsing teaming city of Mumbai and its metropolitan area.

Mumbai’s urbanity is a mere 330 years old and is considered a creation of the British colonial empire and the East India Company’s trading needs in the region. But Portugal — once fierce colonial rivals of the British (or is it the other way around?)—- have a script to add to this rendering of history.

“The area of Bombaim was certainly not a desert when the British came in. It was a built territory, there were roads, pathways, bridges, watchtowers and habitation, fortified manor houses, besides convents and churches”, says project researcher Dr Paulo Varela Gomes. The Indo Portuguese layer in this region was often overlooked — partly due to Britain’s colonial rivalry with the Portuguese, and the fact that the Marathas conquered large areas of the Northern province back from Portugal in 1739. But 200 years (1534-1739) was a long enough time for Portugal to stamp its presence on the region.

The project Bombay before the British is all about revealing this layer. “There is a surprising amount of unpublished, forgotten or little known information about this historical reality… ruins, material traces of whole cities, parts of cities, towns (Bassein, Chaul, Tana, Bandra etc) forts and fortified manors, churches and convents, houses and villages, roads and bridges”. There’s also a historians’ treasure trove of cartography prints, engravings, drawings, photographs, manuscripts and documents from Portuguese, British, Indian and Italian archives, that the project eventually plans to collect and put online.

“We’d like eventually to open it so people can add on information to the findings”, says architectural research scholar Sidh Mendiratta.

It’s fairly well known that the isle of Bombay was handed over along with Tangiers to Britain’s Charles II by a 1661 dowry agreement when he took Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza as his bride. Bombay’s seven islands then was part of Portugal’s northern province in India — a territory it wrested by a treaty with the Sultan of Gujarat in the sixteenth century.

With its capital at the prosperous port town of Bassein, the wealth generated in the province— went into financing Portugal
s expansion plans in Japan and elsewhere.

Fewer would know though that Bombay’s transfer, signed in Lisbon, was not taken to too kindly by those running the affairs of the Estado da India, here on India’s west coast. The Portuguese Governor refused to hand over Bombay. Control was grudginly ceded, not before 1665. In some areas of Bombay, an undeclared war raged for some time between Portuguese and British forces.

Bombay castle, now inside Mumbai’s naval base, remains the best preserved remnant of that era. It was a Portuguese manor house, where the transfer of Bombaim took place in 1665.
It wasn’t made easy for the British to take over Bombay. They were told that everything outside the castle walls was privately owned. Only four of the seven islands were eventually handed over. Britain seized Parel and Mahim by force six months later, and had to purchase Colaba island from its Portuguese landowner.

In time the area was completly transformed. The research team’s attempts to find any Indo Portuguese layer in the main Bombay area proved nearly futile. “Outside of Bombay castle, precious little remains of the Portuguese era in the Bombay metropolitan area. Portuguese presence in the seven islands was almost eroded here” says Mendiratta. The fourteenth century Mahim fort still stands, built over by the British and now occupied by shanty dwellers.

Three years of on site and off site research, checking and cross checking local maps, old Portugese records, British maps, 1955 US army maps and GIS satellite imaging , gave the team an estimate of the erstwhile northern province’s 6000 sq km area. Mapping the area became crucial to the project, and came up with a larger area than previously believed to have been under Portuguese control for a while. Mendiratta says it stretched from Valsad, north of Daman down to Chaul and Revdanda in the south, eastwards to include Trombay and Uran, aorund 40 km inland in some places.

Does much remain from that era four and a half centuries later?

Mendiratta’s attempt to trace vestiges of that time came up with as many as 100 defensive structures, including fortified manor houses, convents and watchtowers strewn all over this province, many off course in ruins. Besides there are records in Portugal’s archives for some 480 villages, 85 % of which are still traceable by a process of cross verification. The team also located 90 churches and convents, only half of which are still around, albeit modified several times over, though many still bear their original names.
“In many churches, what remains of the original church are its ancient relics, statues and altars, deep inside the churches”.

Historians have off course in the past looked at the Indo-Portuguese influence in Thane, Vasai, Mount Poinsur, and the Salcette islands of Bandra, Manori, Madh and Erangal, where villages still survive in the former Portuguese pattern.

The last structure the Portuguese built was probably Thane fort, according to Mendiratta. Now a prison, nothing remains of that time, except the ramparts — as it changed hands to the Marathas in 1739 and the British in 1774. The team made a dramatic find in the hill top Asherigad (formerly Asserim) fort, identifying it as a former Portuguese fort 50 km north of Manori, from a slab with a Portuguese coat of arms found on this site now frequented by trekkers.

Some 60 watchtowers are strewn all along the area, including further north, though a few are being destroyed in the current urbanisation. Interesting bits of information have surfaced from the study. The famous Mount Mary church in Bandra was initially built by the Portuguese in the 1620s, and a new structure extended to it later under the British. Bandra itself was the source of conflict between the two colonial powers in 1722, when the British raided Elephanta island. There’s still the accusation that the British located a slaughter house on the site of Bandra’s Santana convent, built during the Portuguese era.

An interesting find are documentation of villagers demanding compensation for the submergence of their village during the creation of Vihar lake. “Its the first documented case of a mission village with a communal system of land ownership as in South America, and the priest was seeking compensation for the villagers who lost their lands” says Mendiratta.

Village histories of Kandivli, Marol and many others emerge from the study. Present day Marol is actually the relocated site, after the village was shifted from an original site, due to an epidemic.

As the layers emerge, the team’s initial conclusion is that Portugal’s sixteenth and seventeenth century presence in the area played a not so insignificant role in the region’s urbanistic expansion during the 19th and 20 th century under the British. (ends)

Konkani Film scores internationally/ Pultadcho Munis

August 29, 2011

The Asian Age, November 2009
It’s taken awhile before a film in Konkani could make it to the honour
position of Indian Panorama’s opener at next week’s International Film
Festival of India. Paltadcho Munis ( The Man Beyond The Bridge) has
that distinction this year. The small budget film made by young Goan
filmmaker Laxmikant Shetgaonkar, and produced by NFDC, won critical
acclaim and the International Federation of Film Critics ( FIPRESCI)
prize in the Discovery section at the 34th Toronto Film festival this

For the region’s fledgling cinema culture, this is a important
breakthrough. It was the first Konkani film to be selected to a major
international film festival and to win an international award. “Far
from the sensory overload of India’s big cities, the film explores
smaller but enduring dilemmas, drawing together keen environmental
sensitivities with a nuanced view of village dynamics”, said the

Shetgaonkar, has featured in Panorama before. In 2005, his short film
Seaside Story — a narrative of cross cultural friendship between a
white western woman and a Goan Hindu man — was selected, and picked
up a national award.

Ask Shegaonkar about the Toronto award, his subsequent felicitation
and Rs 25 lakh grant from the Goa government, and he downplays both.
“Awards help you to get a bigger audience and some recognition for a
film. They don’t mean much beyond that. It’s just that mine may be one
of the few from this region to get there, that’s why all the fuss”.
The bustle that followed only embarrasses him, a reminder that in the
relatively fledgling Konkani and Goan film making culture, his
attempts have stood out and assumed a different dimension.

It was the human aspect of writer Mahableshwar Sail’s story that
appealed to Shetgaonkar in the first place. “I liked the heroism of
the central character, who defies village sentiment and societal
mores to connect with and love a mentally challenged woman”. Paltadcho
Munis’ protagonist — a lonely widowed forest guard posted in a
remote jungle, finds himself ostracised for his new found friendship
with the abandoned woman. The suffocating narrow conservatism of a
remote hilly village comes to the fore to judge and condemn two
marginalised people, it never bothered with before.

Intrigued by the story, right from 2004, and interested in translating
to celluloid, Shetgaonkar began his research, living in the western
ghat forest villages to get closer to that reality. Developing the
screenplay took another year, when he approached the NFDC, then
strapped for funds. “I pursued other projects in the interim but never
lost sight of this film”, says he. He took the script to several
workshops, including one set up by the British council. It began
getting noticed then.

Shetgaonkar turned down an offer to make the film in Hindi. “It might
have got a bigger budget and probably a different cast altogether,
definitely more exposure”. He turned it down though. Shetgaonkar has
a different goal, creating a kind of cinema movement in Goa, that may
probably never get to be as ambitious as that in Kerala, but a start

He’s been taking some of his documentaries and short films to rural
schools and villages, and has similar plans for Paltadcho Munis.
Rather than chase another project just yet, Shetgaonkar plans to spend
the next year, taking the film to international festivals and to
theatres in Goa. “I’m a susegad (laid back) Goan. It’s not my ambition
to chase commercial success. If you ask me what I want to be doing
five years from now, I would not be able to tell you anything, except
that cinema for me is life I don’t think creative people can push
themselves to produce anything unless it comes from within”.

In the past, Shetgaonkar has made films on child sexual abuse, and
another in English called “Let’s talk about it”, on a now demolished
red light area.

Does he see himself as a regional film maker? Will he stay with using
Konkani in his films? Not so, he says. “Seaside Story is in Marathi
and English. Goa is liberated enough, and uses several languages. I’ve
made films in English as well, and it works here with some audiences.”

The language a film is shot in must fit the context and mood of the
film to be authentic, that’s his only criteria. He’s not averse to
using Hindi, when it suits the script, or any other language, for that

But that’s a bridge he’ll cross when he comes to it, he reckons. (ends)

Room with a view

August 29, 2011

The Asian Age
Panaji, Sep 25, 2009:
When restorer Victor Hugo Gomes was awarded this year’s Verodiana
award no one here was particularly surprised. The artist restorer had
just this year launched an ethnographic museum he called Goa Chitra.
Far from the madding crowd, secluded in a coastal village, Gomes had
been tinkering away for years, putting together a astounding
collection, that when it went on display took many by surprise.
Considering it’s a labour of love, a museum that has been
conceptualised and realised by a single individual, with no
institutional support — the effort is awe inspiring,

Goa Chitra represents the culture of ancient Goa . The artifacts on
display reflecting the life, religion, homes, trades and practices of
this small west coast region, that remained even until the mid 1980s
frozen in time — much of its population engaged in primary
activities of agriculture, horticulture, fishing, and in vast swathes
of its interior. ferrous ore mining.

Its creator seems to have had an innate love for all things antiquated
and began a private collection that steadily grew, during a stint he
spent restoring old Indo-Portuguese houses. “People seemed to have no
use for these old seemingly useless household items, so I began
collecting them. Then I went in search of more, trawling old attics
and storehouses of anyone who would let me” says Gomes.

” Over the years I have been collecting old implements and tools,
initially as a passion but over the last few years with the sudden
awareness that a heritage was being lost without documentation, then
the passion turned into an obsession”.

The result is a collection that grew from 200 to 4000 pieces.

Central to Goa Chitra’s display — privately accumulated and
restored — is a 16 ft high wooden oil grinder or ghanno, that also
figures as the museum’s logo. Palm oil extractors of this kind fell
into misuse with mechanisation, and the museum piece was restored from
its broken parts left with an aging “ghannekar” ( a profession that
has since died out).

A walk through the museum’s small display rooms would be a nostalgic
trip back in time for many from India’s coastal regions as some trade
tools tend be more or less similar. Implements associated with the
multi-use indigenous palm tree take pride of place. Not least because
Goa Chitra is located in the south Goa village of Benaulim —- famed
for its eccentrics ( as Gomes points out) and quite literally its
variety of coconut, the Benaulim coconut, acknowledged as one of
India’s largest species and propagated by agriculture research labs).

Tools of the toddy tappers, those of coconut pluckers, the vessels and
implements used to make derivatives like jaggery, vinegar, palm feni
and rope. aside from making an interesting display, also lend a sense
of the elaborate rituals and economic importance these once held in
the region’s plantation and agrarian economy. The museum’s researched
information, contextualises displays for the viewer, enriching the
experience. Collections of masonry tools, carpentry equipment, items
of once daily use by village barbers, cobblers, herders, weavers,
smithys and potters give browsers a sense of professions central to
erstwhile self-sustaining village life.

It’s a surprise to find quaint liquid and grain measures of various
forms used by grocers of yore, traditional implements to churn milk, a
rare wooden rice noodle maker, exquisite oil lamps of pre-electricity
times, palanquins and carriages, a variety of ploughs, household
storage containers, once ubiquitous earthern ware cooking pots with
their varied uses and nomenclature that old timers recall; stone
grinders, antiquated toys, traditional games, customary altars and
religious accessories.

The museum has its sights set on exhibiting much more from the
cultural cornucopia. Plans for a second phase visualises putting
antique jewellery, costumes, medical equipment, crockery and cutlery,
photographs , manuscripts and other art and artifacts on display.

Space is a constraint. Completely self financed by its creator, Goa
Chitra is housed in the middle of a 12,000 sq m organic farm owned by
Gomes’ family. The building itself, in keeping with its celebration of
a “waste-free” culture — is a new construction built using
architectural castaways from 300 traditional houses — giving it a
curious amalgamated look. Wood doors, windows, pillars, rafters and
other material have been consciously resurrected in the museum.

Gomes is unabashed about his admiration for the past — for the
accumulated wisdom of agrarian practices, the beauty of traditional
arts and crafts and the entire harmonious village system that was
sensitive to the environment.

“Goa Chitra believes in reviving age old traditions through the
museum and in outreach programes so that the younger generation can
share the wisdom of the past which would otherwise be irretrievably

Tourist Traffic to Goa

August 29, 2011

The Asian Age
Panaji, Feb 6, 2010: Tourist traffic to Goa is down 15 % , but visitors from
Russia have registered an upward graph, according to tourism
officials. Holiday makers from Russia heading to Goa are rising this
season, with numbers overtaking the British charter tourist market,
until recently, the largest number from any one country to holiday

Despite the much hyped strained relations over crime in Goa, a total
of 142 flights from three Russian cities have touched down at Dabolim
since October 2009 until January end, bringing over 35,000 Russians.
This year flights from former Soviet republics Estonia and Kazakhstan
also began carrying planeloads to Goa.

“The Russian tourist base has far overtaken those from the UK, which
is hit hard by the recession.” says tourism director Swapnil Naik.
Less than a hundred flights from the UK arrived in Goa this year.

In a recessionary year though, the price of fortnightly packages from
Russia were pre-negotiated at depressed prices, with hotels selling
star category rooms for as low as Rs 200 a day, and tour operators
offering cheap deals to Russian agencies.

The only silver lining tor the region’s tourist industry this year, is
the slow shift over from package charter flights to scheduled flight
arrivals into Goa. “Until recently 80 % of foreign visitors came in
via chartered flights for fixed stay packages. Now this has evened out
to 50 % arrivals via regular flights like the newly opened Qatar
Airways, Air Arabia, Sri Lankan Airways and just launched Swiss Air
flights”, says Naik. This is seen as a good sign for the region’s
tourism, reducing dependency on mass markets to more committed and
discerning travellers.(ends)

Goa to refurbish tourism image

August 29, 2011

The Asian Age
Panaji, Mar 15,2010: Goa is slowly but surely shedding its “anything goes”
image, as tourism officials and police tighten law enforcement in
tourist related areas.

A series of crackdowns over the past week have heralded an end to the
state’s “live and let live” image, agrees Lyndon Monteiro officer on
special duty for tourism.

“It’s true Goa had this image of an anything goes place, but times
have changed and this image in its negative sense has to stop. We
cannot let it continue”, says Monteiro. He said high power meetings of
tourism stakeholders, police officials and government over the past
weeks following the spate of negative media coverage last month, had
arrived at a consensus of sorts on this.

The result is a crackdown from the police department. In the past
days, several night clubs have been served warnings for blaring loud
music. Officials are contemplating increased patrols in a once
off-limit area of Baga street, known for its night life and party
culture that often spills onto the streets.

Arrests have also been effected in the coastal belt with anti-narcotic
cell picking up three biggies in the drug trade in the past fortnight.
The clean-up has included the police department itself, with five of
its personnel suspended for links with the drug mafia.

As part of pulling up its socks the administration and Goa’s tourism
department has published new advisories to tourists listing dos and
dont’s including asking visitors to avoid going topless on two
wheelers, and cover up while visiting religious shrines. The booklet
published in English and Russian, will likely see a German edition and
other translations in the future, said tourism director Swapnil Naik.

Naik stresses the booklet additionally lists helplines and contact
numbers for visitors in distress.

But there is no denying that the holiday industry is taking a hard
look at its tourism profile. Ralph de Souza, hotelier and head of the
tourism association here has stressed the state has taken a long time
to build its image as a safe holiday destination for families.

Since then the proliferation of night clubs and more recently permits
to casinos has affected that profile, he admits. While seven offshore
casinos are licensed to ply, just two ships are currently operational,
given the stiff competition and high taxes imposed by government.

“I’m sure now they have been permitted, they can be strictly monitored
to ensure they run legally and within the confines of the law”, says
Monteiro. (ends)