Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Berlin ‘Divar’ in India

I visited Goa this December, five years since I’d last been there. Lot of development, lots of new things, improvements in infrastructure but one thing had remained the same; its charm.

How many ever times I visit Goa, it never is boring and even though I’ve visited a lot of places in numerous vacations, no place has ever given the feeling of being at peace like Goa has. Goa today is a tourist hub like none other and one can see people not only from the various states of India, but also from around the world flocking to this former Portuguese colony to marvel at the amalgamation of the West and the East. And then there are Gujaratis, they just go to Goa to drink… with alcohol being prohibited in the land of Gandhi’s birthplace and all.

So, with this entire hullabaloo *hic* and crowd *hic* and everything else *hic*, how can Goa afford me with the peace and quiet that I need?

I go to the villages.

Divar island.
Every time I go to see my relatives spread out throughout the state and some of them live in villages but this time it was different. I went to an isolated little island called ‘Divar’. I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this place. It is a small island with a population of around 300 families, 3 churches, 0 hospitals, 0 bridges and 0 tourism… Beautiful!

Zero Hospitals! Unbelievable? Believe it. They just have a small healthcare centre on the island and they have to make do in that. With three churches on the other hand, I guess they just pray that nobody falls seriously ill at night. Well, they can be taken to the mainland if that happens right? Wrong! If you’ll kindly refer above, you’ll notice they have zero bridges connecting them to mainland Goa. The ferries that operate on the river Mandovi and the open sea do so only till 11:00 pm. After that, they’re on their own and if you’re stuck there as a tourist, too bad because there aren’t any hotels as far as I was informed.

Considering that the name of these people’s island is ‘Divar’ which means ‘wall’ in Hindi, I guess they really are on the other side on the (Berlin) Wall.

But it’s not like the government of Goa hasn’t done its part for this island. Locals told me that the state government did propose a bridge but the people voted against it in a referendum that the government agreed to honour. One would wonder why these people would be against development of their own area but for the people, the equation is pretty simple.

Bridges = Hotels
Hotels = Tourism
Tourism = Nuisance
Hence, No Bridges.

The people see how the rest of Goa is intoxicated with tourism and in fact a lot of people on the island are also employed by the tourism industry but they want their island to remain pristine, quiet and peaceful in order to continue living there as they have for centuries now. And the government seems to understand that.

So, Divar was, is and hopefully will remain the El Dorado with more green than gold in its streets.

Oh, and by the way, they have this huge crib making competition every year for Christmas. To how you the scale of the crib, here it is with a human for comparison.

A Crib on Divar island.