February 11, 2017 // 02:14 pm

Goa, amor da minha vida

Ethel Da Costa raises a toast to Saudades

Ethel Da Costa

The grass is always greener on the other side you say? It is. For someone like me, a nomad in my head – seeking fresher pastures, green rolling hills, air that cools the lungs and food that does not give me heartburn. So where do I rush to rest, when the city life of my choice, Mumbai, gets to me and days feel like a blur of deadlines and traffic? I hop on a flight and go where my father said we belong. Home, to Goa.

Much poetry and many print reams have been written about Goa over the decades. Birth-place of the world’s hippies, and full moon night music festivals. World-weary strangers and enlightenment-seekers bonding over Jazz and Trance, beer and Caju feni rubbing shoulders and whetting palates with the world-savvy, as rebels and seekers found their spiritual revolution. Some stayed, some went back, telling others about this paradise of the East that awakened their Third Eye. Songs of love, lust and bliss, blue seascapes meeting verdant back-waters, age-old trees and ancient banyans standing sentinels over time, history and natural evolution. And it became the home of those who stumbled upon her by accident, others by intent, a few by passion. This is my story.


As it is the story of others as well, like Ayaz Busrai, an Industrial Designer by training and Principal Architect at The Busride — an eight-year-old Architecture and Design studio out of Bandra, Mumbai, involved in heritage conservation projects, film sets, restaurants, boutique hotels, street signage and parks. Succumbing to an inner call for balance, Ayaz took the 45 minute flight to Goa with family — and stayed.


”Well, apart from all the obvious reasons, two revelations really stand out for me,” Ayaz, now recent native of Goa, happily narrates, confiding that this shift of location has rejuvenated his creativity to a healthy, deeper, flow of being and ideas. Inciting a renewed lust for life, abundance and perception. “In Goa, I feel I have the luxury to reject my own work. Being here allows me to think deeper, beyond the first surface level of ideas, which the faster-paced city speeds were increasingly making me do. Ideas and directions seem to be a lot more grounded, informed by longer thought chains, and avoiding knee-jerk impulses that result in shallow work. Somehow, it has sort of organically weeded it out now,” Ayaz shares. This synchronicity of mind and heart, Ayaz believes, has flowed effortlessly into his family life. “It allows me to spend a whole lot of fun time with my almost two-year-old son Yohaan, and really have a shot at integrating him intrinsically into our lives. I’m so looking forward to share work and play, both with us, and we with him!”

A familiar sentiment echoed by Mitesh Thakkur, an entrepreneur in the social development sector who runs education and technology projects, and is a consultant to international development agencies such as the U.N., and World Bank, among others. Having lived abroad across different cultural destinations for more than a decade, Mitesh’s work continues to put constant travel on his priority list. But he now looks forward to come home to Goa. “The natural serenity of Goa and its peaceful pace is a God-sent offset to my itinerant lifestyle. With internet and all, I mostly work remotely, and when required, I have quick access to most urban cities in India within a few hours.”

IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA (In the Garden of Eden)

Of course, this trend is not lost on the local authorities. It’s easy to see why. In a recent media comment to encourage Goa tourism, Nikhil Desai, Managing Director, Department of Goa Tourism, called Goa, “a settler’s delight.” Meaning — rivers, mountains, seas, forests, clean air, less traffic, warm cosmopolitan vibe. “Flights are plentiful, locals speak English. Food, drink, petrol and electricity cost less,” he praised the State’s quality of life. It wins Goa – repeatedly – the `Best Place to Live and Retire,’ award year after year conferred by National and International Travel & Lifestyle magazines and organisations, putting the State head above shoulders over other destinations in the country. “Of course the economics matter,” Desai says. “But people primarily move to Goa for the lifestyle. We have great tolerance and respect for privacy. You don’t get this anywhere in India, and many people are realising the value of it,” Desai adds. Which in turn has encouraged Goa’s government to step up, adapt and equip technology and infrastructure to support the local economy.


To new settlers and the perks of spoils that come with it, `Home’ is a state of mind. I needn’t even prod for the answer. “Being home in Goa now means being by the river, the sea and in the midst of palm-trees. The desire to step out is rare, but weekends tend to be long drives across curvy roads to find a local eatery, a small bucolic church, or a verdant temple tucked in the hills,” says Mitesh, conjuring up his lifestyle with an imagery that has become the blue print for travel magazines, sought after wedding destinations and is the premise story line for budding film writers, musicians and aspiring directors from all over the world. No guesses that Bollywood has recently seen Goa prominently hogging 70mm celluloid space bringing artists, writers, actors and assorted talent for creative workshops, or, on personal rejuvenation hiatus. On weekends, you can find Ayaz “floating motionless in the Agonda Sea,” having his deep conversations with Self. There are many like Ayaz and Mitesh, each rekindling their inner mojo and going back to the world, fiery and feisty, to battle life’s demanding schedules.


Hence, given her unique geographical positioning to support an enviable lifestyle, Goa, in recent years has rewritten the mantra from sucegad to spiritually buoyant, encouraging an attitude of reflection and re-valuation for many. Some would call it, `a returning back to the Source,’ lifestyle shift as their new found luxury from previous materialistic values, to pursuing intrinsic deeper meanings of life, goals and relationships. A `state of heart over mind,’ affording a seamless re-adjustment for a healthy, holistic, wholesome work-life-family balance; a spiritual re-connect to Self; and a symbiotic re-defining and re-creation of one’s-own-on-one’s-terms, work and play fundamentals. This shift of attitude Is Goa’s new luxury. After all, isn’t it Man’s inherent quest to `seek all that is within’ to manifest an outward life of greater purpose? So, it is of Goa’s new found inhabitants, as it is mine.
See you in Goa then.

Photography by: by Manish
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