DR OSCAR REBELLO 09th Mar 2023
In case you've been living under a Rock, let me bring you up to date.
Much before Putin and his mafia invaded Ukraine, our local mafia here, under the garb of Smart City, have been pounding the living daylights of the capital city, for well over a year now.
The number of underground bunkers and craters that have been created in Panaji would put the Nazi engineers of WW-2 to shame.
Seriously, in the name of development and disfigurement, Panaji looks like a smashed-up wedding cake that a bride stood up at the altar and smeared all over her rejected husband's face.
So, all the interior roads, which necessarily must be hidden from the view of the visiting G-20 delegation, are like smallpox scars on the citizenry’s helpless faces.
And, as if this wasn't enough, the main arterial road of Panaji, the DB Marg, (the only passable, forget motor-able, road in Panaji) is now undergoing multiple layers of bitumen, in the name of asphalting, akin to some vain 70-year old bimbo overdosing on Botox.
Now there are multiple layers of mascara, rouge, eye shadow—
multiple layers of make-up, mind you, to make the whore seem beautiful.
In sum then, Panaji in the daytime is completely non-navigable.
Since I need to beat the system,
I come in from Miramar and park my car in a desolate , shady interior road (still uncratered).
I do not divulge the spot for fear that some Smart Alec Panjamite will just come and steal it.
Then I walk the streets of Panaji to get to all my places of work.
Come rain, hot shine, dust or forest fire.
And on those walks, which by now have turned rather amusing, I observe and observe.
And my observations run thus.
1. I observe the total traffic jams, particularly when school breaks and I soak in the tragic faces of hungry kids and their exasperated parents at the wheel.
The car moves so slowly, the crawl is so agonisingly slow, chances are that by the time they reach home, the child will have been promoted to the next class!
2. I see guys on bikes —many journos amongst them, giving me triumphant grins and winks—zoom onto pavements knocking down elderly pedestrians.
They beat the traffic snarl and, like good journos, they beat the system.
3. Most folk caught up in the interminable gridlock curse the Monserrates.
I tell them—mostly BJP junkies—that Monserrate is the BJP Rock of Gibraltar so they should take it on the chin.
They show me a finger.
But who cares??
Just walking, I get faster to my destination than they do.
4. There is a gigantic crater dug out in front of the St Inez church.
It's not funny.
How the poor parish priest gets in and out of the church I know not, but an enterprising engineer told me they fill the crater with water and Father walks on it!!
The same engineer , laconically tells me they may dig up the graveyard as well to lay sewage lines.
You never know when the corpses will need to go take a piss or a crap.
That's the level of morbid "smartness" we are dealing with.
5. As I walk, I observe the swanky Panjim Gymkhana grounds.
Stylish, effective, and most importantly, run by private individuals.
Imagine a government babu running it.
But l wish they would stop having cricket matches for middle-aged portly males, whose abdomens nearly touch the turf.
They huff and they puff,
they wheeze and they sneeze.
Just seeing them sweat gives me a mini-cardiac event.
6. But by far the most lacerating encounter I had was with one of the outstation labour guys working on the roads as he was having a smoke.
Imagining he was Rohit.
Poor fellow, I lashed out at him inquiring when will this process of layering bitumen upon bitumen stop.
With an air of schadenfreude, he replied:
Ek haphta lag sakta hai.
Ek mahina bhi lag sakta hai.
Ek saal bhi.
This was his way of saying:
We from the interiors of India go without food, water, roads, all our lives. We live with nothing.
And you pampered city hustlers just whine and whine.
Knock Out round to him.
I grudgingly concede.
On a more serious note there are these few solutions I have in mind to tide over the great Panjim Dig.
Book yourselves a helicopter ride in case of a medical emergency.
Invest in snorkeling gear to keep yourself afloat and breathing when you drown in one of the craters, as and when the monsoon hits.
Revisit your Covid masks so that the dust pollution does not consume your lungs.
Book yourself a permanent cabin on one of the casinos.
They ain't dredging and digging the Mandovi as yet.
After all this digging, they might discover a gold mine under the rubble after all!
And we can all end up wealthy and dead! Meanwhile I will continue to walk the Mile.
My feet are killing me. The dust is choking my lungs.
My knees are buckling.
My brain is on a short fuse.
I am as deaf as Beethoven, with all the drilling and hammering pounding my ears.
My skin is itching and my eyes are blurring.
But the walking, some dumb-ass doctor tells me , is good for my heart.
So my heart is good. And it beats for Panjim.
Forever and Ever!!!
DR OSCAR REBELLO