What's it about Goa?
Goa is known for its serene beaches. (Photo: Reuters)
Five years ago, I witnessed Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar fly as a common man would. No VIP treatment, no front row seat, no entourage, no car on the tarmac to drop and receive him. He flew like you and I do. I was so pleasantly surprised, I felt I should share it with others. I wrote about it and it went viral. I guess Indians are not used to see or hear about their netas without frills. It was shared many times over on social media and was reproduced with permission as a front page lead story in a leading Goa news website. It was also carried without my name (after deleting two lines giving away my identity) by a national newspaper attributing the piece to an Indian.
I have just returned from Goa and this time I met three citizens in less than a week who left an impression on me worth sharing. My friend has a house in Goa which he frequents when he needs a break. He invited me to join him and I did. Below is a first-hand account of my experience in less than a week.
On day two after reaching Goa, my friend called a vendor to hire a car. Anthony, the owner arrived with a brand new car minutes after my friend had stepped out to buy some groceries. I introduced myself as a guest of my friend and accompanied Anthony to inspect the car for dent or damage. It is standard practice just to avoid stress later. The car was clean. Anthony handed over the keys to me and proceeded to leave. I asked him if he needed any security deposit but he declined. He only wanted an identification document and I offered to fetch it from my luggage kept in the house. He changed his mind and left without it. I was perplexed. Here was a man who handed over the keys of a brand new car to a stranger without any identification document or security deposit. I asked my friend, when he returned, if he frequently hired cars from Anthony. He said no, this was the first time and he didn’t know Anthony.
A day later, my friend and his wife made up their mind to buy a washing machine and they made their way to the market to look for one. They arrive at a store where they met its owner Dominic for the first time. They found the product they were looking for and after some quick negotiation, my friend headed to the cashier to make the payment. On reaching there, he found his wallet missing and soon realised he had left it at home. Visibly embarrassed, he turned to Dominic and suggested that the product is delivered after he returns to the store with the payment the next day. Dominic didn't think it was necessary and instead asked the store clerk to prepare the piece for delivery the same day. He told my friend to handover the cheque to the delivery boy. I looked at my friend in amazement. I was not familiar with a dealer who on the first meeting delivers a product without any payment whatsoever. If that's not enough, he was also okay to accept a cheque after delivery without insisting on cash or payment by card.
The very next day, my friend and I were on our way to pick up dinner for the kids at home. My friend stopped at a fuel station on the way and asked for a thousand rupees worth of fuel. The attendant asked if we needed petrol or diesel and my friend muttered diesel in a state of absent-mindedness not realising he was driving a petrol car. Barely had the car travelled 50 meters after fueling, the engine made strange noises and stopped. My friend had figured out his folly and we pushed the car back to the pump to request for help.
The attendant dialed his manager who had left for the day barely half an hour ago to report this problem. Prakash, the manager arrived in 15 minutes and summoned a mechanic from his home, who had also called it a day. It took 20 more minutes for the mechanic to arrive but the manager did everything possible to engage us in the interim. He was cheerful and tried to make us feel better. He said such things happen and there’s nothing to worry. The mechanic arrived on his bike without his tools. Promptly, the manager supplied all that was needed for the job to the attendant requesting him to hurry as he knew our kids were waiting for us to bring them food.
The mechanic got to work in no time and emptied the diesel into the first bucket. He then moved to the second bucket to empty the petrol. Having done that, he opened the bonnet to empty any remnant left in the tube leading up to the engine. He proceeded to switch the ignition on and off till he was satisfied that there was no trace of fuel left.
Once the job was done, my friend asked for petrol worth a thousand rupees following which he proceeded to pay both the mechanic for fixing the problem and the manager for the petrol. The mechanic wanted just five hundred rupees. My friend and I expected more knowing that he had been summoned from home well past his duty time. Now it was the turn of the manager to surprise us. He refused to take money for the petrol as the emptied fuel was already in his possession. Both of them were aware that we had hungry kids at home and we would have gladly paid them more at that time of the night. But they chose to charge us what they felt we owed them. It was unbelievable.
Anywhere in the national capital region where my friend and I live, it would be a miracle to find Anthony, Dominic and Prakash. And here I was lucky enough to have spotted them in just three days. Driving home that night, I wondered if there is anything in Goa's air which makes Goans the way they are. And if it's so, it may be worth moving from Delhi to Goa not just for the pleasant sea breeze but to live among people like Anthony, Dominic and Prakash.
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