DR OSCAR REBELLO 06th Nov 2022
The operative word guiding our life in Goa these days is SMART
Smart cities and mangled villages as envisaged by easily the super-smart kid on the block: The BJP.
The Congress still smarting over their familiar divorces and, strangely enough, the alimony paid for by the BJP.
The AAP being too smart by half for its own good.
Tourists choking our beaches and roads, our lungs and our noses, smartly attired in weird combinations of half- sleeved “I love Goa” T-shirts and oversized straw sombreros and really high-heeled stilettos on the beach.
And of course the government and captains of industry clueless about how to jump "smart” the economy.
With so much smartness strutting around, I'm glad I was born a duffer.
Let us list some of the Smart initiatives swirling around us in Goa presently.
1 SMART CITIES
This is one phrase that certainly gets my goat of late.
If you hadn't noticed, there is a massive archeological Dig that is taking place around Panjim city these days.
Faceless labourers, and some dozed-out engineers, are simply shoveling and digging and laying pavements and promptly digging them up again.
No one seems to have a clue as to what's going on.
Is it the laying of the sewerage system or
is it the laying of cables?
Is it lying down with the cabals??
Are they searching for some Ancient Egyptian Civilization, presided over by Emperor Athanasius Monserratus? Some one should tell them the Emperor is still around here.
I asked a completely disinterested engineer, brazenly digging the roads in front of our hospital, as to what was the plan, when is this circus supposed to end?
He gave me a quizzical but smart look.
And proceeded to Dig his nose.
The story goes that the funds earmarked for smart cities, in itself a very good idea, were expiring and had to revert to the centre by April 23.
So panic stations and orders were issued to dig whatever was in sight and lay all the utilities in a haphazard manner—and let the citizenry of Panjim, little uncomplaining lambs of the BJP, just suffer the insanity and smartly smile through it all.
Panjim is such a freaking herculean mess, that I hope the traffic cops have some plan for the throngs that will choke the city during IFFI, X’mas and New Year.
The really smart ones among you should flee to Delhi to escape the utter chaos that is going to descend upon us.
Die by smoke inhalation, rather than get crushed by the surging crowds here!
2 SMART ACCESS TO MOPA
This must count for one of Goa's beauties.
The airport is ready.
The tower is ready.
The airlines are ready.
Sawant is super ready.
But the approach roads to Mopa are completely not.
In the best of times, the Panjim-Porvorim- Mapusa road is a motorist’s nightmare.
Many culinary experts call it the “Rohan Khaunte Jam”.
Everyone is sticky with sweat.
The jam doesn't move.
And you are stuck tightly in a bottle-neck.
To add insult to injury, the CM now tells us that to finally get to Xanadu, a.k.a Mopa, the last stretch will be over village roads in Pernem, roads smaller than Chorla Ghat.
So imagine the pile up of private vehicles, indisciplined reckless cab drivers, and massive tour buses ferrying commuters to Mopa all in one go.
I sincerely suggest that if you have a morning or afternoon flight scheduled for tomorrow, leave today itself.
Take your "atlio potlios" and spend the night on the tarmac to catch your morning flight.
GMR has made arrangements for sandwiches and a swig of urrack to calm your nerves.
Smart Mopa, indeed!!
Alternatively, the government could build a rope-way from Panjim or Margao to Mopa.
Maybe we can take a walking pilgrimage for our flights, baggage and kids in tow.
3 THE GREAT GOAN ROPE TRICK
Talking of Ropeways, this one must certainly take the cake.
A rope-way for tourists is proposed to be built from Reis Magos to Panjim, culminating in a glitzy mall-cum-entertainment centre to be built on the vacant space near the indoor stadium.
Why can't open spaces just be kept open spaces for the citizenry??
Why must you promptly build some crap on it.
For a politician, an open space is like what an actress was to Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
See it, Like it, Molest it, Assault it, Destroy it!!
After the Morbi tragedy in Gujarat recently, who in their right senses would want a rope-way to kill tourists in Goa?
There is a real danger of heavy unpredictable winds at the mouth of the Mandovi—referred to by some as the Anus of the Mandovi, considering the amount of sewage allegedly disgorged by the casinos.
It is due to these winds that bikes aren't allowed on the Atal Setu, lest they fly off the bridge like helium balloons.
Come on, youth of Goa, you need to vociferously protest this daylight hijacking of your open spaces and parks.
Where on earth are you going to go with your partners to neck and schmooze and peck a kiss in Panjim?
If not for any altruistic reason for Panjim, you must protest in the interest of your surging hormones at least!!
Come on Rohan, you are smart enough to know that this Rope Trick is past its prime.
Zero advantage to Panjim.
Massive traffic chaos again.
Unmanageable crowds doing their nonsense.
Come on bro.
Do the right thing.
Drop this Rope bridge in the Mandovi to drown forever.
4 THE JETTY POLICY
From what I've read and understood this is not a doomsday scenario.
Cut the hysterics.
Have a dialogue.
Let some sensible jetties happen.
Make the process transparent.
And let villages on the coast or by the rivers who want jetties or their upgradation agree to it.
That may be the smart way forward for that issue.
In sum then, we live through some truly dumb—camouflaged as smart—times.
And as an aside:
the one truly smart and noble thing to do would be to name the Mopa airport after Goa's first chief Minister Bhausaheb Bandodkar
Because here was an incredibly smart man who took charge post-liberation, and without dislodging the traditional elites of Portuguese Goa so as not to disrupt the economy, continued to use state power to uplift a multitude of people, by a smart blend of education and land rights.
A people who, hitherto for generations, were under the jackboots of the elites of pre- and Portuguese eras.
A quasi-Nelson Mandela of Goa if you like.
The moral of this smart article therefore is
You are going to be screwed anyway. Because you are never ever smart enough at the ballot box when your smartness really counts!