Douwe Osinga's Blog: Life is a beach

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The first time I was in Goa is now more than 15 years ago. Back then the only Indians you'd see on the beach would be the skinny fisherman bringing in their catch or the waiters serving said catch. A lot has changed. Goa pretty much has been taking over by, well, Indians and skinny they no longer are either.

A big sign over the beach tells us not to litter, smoke or abuse children. This seemed rather scary to me, since I did see a lot of littering and smoking going on. It also warned against drinking and swimming, since 'your loved ones are waiting for you at home.' I guess in India they tend to. Whereas you typical European beach seems to be filled with families and couples carefully carving out a bit of beach using towels or sand, in India the beach goers mostly are made up of groups of young men that just stand around, talking and waving. You don't bring your wife or children.

An Indian friend probably had observed the same thing, because he asked me what Western people did when they went to the beach. It seemed they mostly just laid around. No water sports, not social interaction. Jet-skiing and para-sailing are rather popular activities for the locals here. I suppose partly this has to do with the fact that getting a tan is still part of the reason why people go to the beach in Europe and this is usually not a priority in India (rather the reverse), so standing up makes sense.

And they just like crowds. My Indian friends would dismiss a beach because there was nobody there, while in Europe that would be a good reason to go there. That also probably goes back to whether you see the beach as a group/social activity rather than a family/solitary thing. In Europe dismissing a bar since nobody goes there is perfectly normal.

One thing that hasn't changed is the fact that it is all still pretty cheap. Back then my brother and I lived on 10 dollars a day and got drunk every night. 15 years of that would set you back slightly less than 55 000 dollars. Maybe those hippies were on to something after all.