Disclaimer: I am not writing this post to make any sort of judgment over the death of Scarlett Keeling. What happened to her was wrong, but who was to blame will never be certain.
I have seen four kinds of foreigners in Goa.
The ones that look like they have been staying here for a while. These are people who look extremely comfortable with wearing what everyone around them is wearing, you have to look at them twice to really see that they don’t come from around here. They are spotted more in art exhibitions and music shows rather than on the beaches. They carry diaries and journals rather than cameras and bottled water. These are usually people with genuine interest in Goa and its culture. Many of them stay in Goa to learn some kind of art; some form of music (i think an extraordinarily large number are fascinated with the sitar). Be it a way to get away from the bland lifestyle of the west or way to start a new life, they are really interested in staying here for a while. They also know the ways of the land they are living in. They make sure they don’t leave their 15 year old daughters alone on the beach full of rowdy drunk men after dinner time, or that they don’t attend late night shows without arranging for transport.
The other type is the hippies. Everyone knows of Goa’s reputation as the haven of drug users and rave parties. These parties are often misunderstood for what they are not, but it is true, that it is a dangerous affair in all. These ear, nose (and god knows what else)-pierced people roam the beach strip on enfeild bullets and bikes. Most of them appear harmless to someone as gullible(giggle) as me, but frankly I know as much about them as I know about Goas nightlife. (which is to say I know nothing at all), so i’d better shut my mouth right here.
The third kind are the ones that roam the streets of panjim wearing shorts and cotton kurtas, looking not quite so comfortable in their Indian clothes, but willing to try and blend in, in order to observe Goa and its lifestyle more closely. To my imaginative (and modest ) brain, they are the journalists, they will probably go back home and publish a book or showcase a documentary on Goa and its culture.
The last kind are the tourists. The lost expressions show they have not done their homework. The revealing bikinis that they wear while walking on the busy(or not so busy after all) streets of our cities, show how negligent they are of the fact that they are standing out. Their bright red tans show they are here to enjoy to their utmost. These people don’t really care about being polite or clean or anything else, they are here to have a good time and go back to their land with tans to show off the tropical country that they visited.
To wind up, a few pointers:
- Goa is and always will be the most peaceful and calm place that I have seen.
- Tourists: (especially Indian) Do dive in and frolic in the water on your first few days here, then try sitting calmly by the beach and sipping coconut water.
- Foreigners: Come here to find yourself, not some fantasy land.
- Media: The things because of which you label Goa unsafe happen out on the streets in your metro cities too. It is unfair that they dont make headlines then.
- Goa needs the tourists for revenue, the tourists need Goa to have the best time in their lives. It is symbiosis. Both sides are to blame for anything that goes wrong, and both will be affected equally.
- To the culprits: Think before you cut off the hand that feeds you.
- To the visitors: This is a place where you will get some of the most pleasant and hospitable people. It is a statistical fact that the tourists and visitors produce more garbage and human waste in Goa than the residents do. Th least you visitors can do is take care of yourself and this beautiful land around you.