On a recent Whatsapp conversation with one of my cousins, she quips, “But there are only beaches and more beaches in Goa. What else should I expect?”
I would not fault her, because Goa in the popular imagination is ONLY beaches. It takes a traveller and seeker to look beyond the postcard simulations and venture out into the experience called Goa. Every beach in Goa holds a different kind of character, and it takes a shrewd visitor to know the personality of each beach.
One such popular beach is the Anjuna, in the north of Goa. More than the beach, however it’s the Wednesday Flea market that holds my attention. The beach is another topic for another post.
The market which opens during the season time (October to April) is a treasure trove of diverse items ranging from clothes to silver to masala teas. Bargaining and negotiating prices irrespective of the ware, is the unwritten motto of the market. The hawkers are of diverse origins ranging from the local Goans and Lamani to the British, French, Greek and others.
Walking through the vast areas of quirky products, one happens to hear an assortment of tongues which provokes you to pause and listen. But for me the lingering memory is that of the women/men who are Indians by attire and face but speak a range of languages based on the customer’s nationality – The code switching was a pleasure to watch, not forgetting the accents and tones! These were traditional women/men who might not even know how Greece or France looks like but they would be able to definitely converse if they ever happen to visit the country. The conversation is mostly on the lines of bargaining and negotiating prices and if the situation demands the hawkers know even to use swear words (which I guessed based on the contortions of the face and the tone).
On being asked about how they came upon learning foreign languages, they become shy and reticent managing to murmur, “We learn it just like that from these people (tourists),” making me wonder about my painstaking attempts at learning Spanish through Skype lessons!
Susan is an academician by profession and blogger by passion. She is one of the editors of Culture and Media: Ecocritical Explorations, the first volume in the area of ecocinema in India; Ecodocumentaries: Critical Essays and Ecocultural Ethics: Critical Essays. Her interests, academic and social lie in food, cinema, gender and ecocriticism. She blogs at susan-deborah.org