Earlier this week, Goa banned drinking on its beaches, which sounds about as blasphemous as banning siestas in Goa. The rule applies to alcohol bought and/or consumed outside of a shack, which is bad news for people who bring their own alcohol to the beach, such as college kids surviving on Kingfisher salary-level budgets, and gentlemen clusters insistent on scoring with the ladies, despite possessing the charm of rabies.
Now I’d like to be able to bum around on the beach with a beer or six, look out at the sea and think deep thoughts about Spongebob Squarepants. But I get the logic behind the move. It’s about hygiene. The government is sick of the stuff that people leave behind on beaches, like broken bottles, cans, syringes, deceased Russians etc.
Many years ago, Goa was discovered by Vasco Da Gama, who had just finished his TY exams and wanted to spend his vacation vomiting outside Tito’s. Much later, the hippies came in and brought with them the one thing that raises the market value of any Indian tourist destination: white skin. Things were still good, until Saif Ali Khan sat on a cushion and the hordes descended upon the Dil Chahta Hai fort. (Originally called ‘Chapora’, which is Portuguese for “Picsss from mah Trip!!!!11!”)
As Indians, we’re always quick to point out that our biggest problem is other Indians. No, not you fine people. Not unless your idea of swimwear is Dollar underwear, stamped with holes to strategically highlight the part that awards a standing ovation to the hugely titillating sights around, like a sliver of bare shoulder reflected in sunglasses from halfway across the beach.
Over the years, Goa has developed a self-correcting mechanism to keep out certain kinds of tourists. It’s called racism. For example, if your group consists only of brown guys, Curlie’s will try really hard to keep you away from the best tables in the house (i.e. the ones that offer a great view of the sea, along with the old guy in a thong next to it). This, despite the fact that you’d spend way more money than the Israeli guys who last took a shower before they joined the army, and now survive solely on the small animals trapped in their dreadlocks.
India’s never been kind to tipplers, with our place on the morality scale hovering somewhere between ‘Baby Puncher’ and ‘Serial BBM Forwarder’. But some form of control isn’t entirely a bad thing, simply because we aren’t ready for public drunkenness. Take, for example, stadiums. Wankhede would be terrifying if the spectators were drunk, especially if they were Shahrukh Khan. Also, the North Stand has managed to negate the alcohol ban by being completely nuts. This is what it usually sounds like:
Fan 1: PAKISTAN HAI HAI! WANKHEDE MEIN AAYA BHOOT –
Fan 2: MUSHARRAF KI – hang on… This is Namibia vs. Burkina Faso.
Fan 1: *stabs with handpump*
In other clampdown news, there is a PIL floating around that seeks to make the viewing of pornography a non-bailable offence. The PIL seeks a ban on porn, and while this is far from becoming reality, you have to applaud the logic that seeks to put adults enjoying legal erotica in the privacy of their own homes, in the same prison as rapists. It’s really sad to see the State tamper with the sacred bond between a man and his computer.
The PIL contends that porn leads to a rise in violent sexual crimes, which is like saying that Terminator caused people to turn into cyborg assassins. Nobody thinks that real-life is like a porno. If it were, this PIL issue could have been resolved by a cheerleader who gets lost and lands up at the petitioner’s house, and they figure out a mutually beneficial arrangement involving tacky synth beats and vigorous religious invocations.
They say that this PIL aims to protect youngsters from the horrors of porn, especially the part where they cut to the guy’s face. I don’t think the youngsters are listening though. They’re too busy getting kicked out of Tito’s.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 28th April 2013.)