Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Letter to Canada - from The Times of India

Fri, 25 Apr 2003

Goan for the Jocular
by Cecil Pinto

Dear Gilbert,

Hope all is well with you and the children. The photos
you attached came out really cool.

Thanks for the offer of being my 'sponsor' if I choose
to come to Canada but I have to decline. Before I give
you my reasons let me say that the word 'sponsor' has
a different connotation here in Goa. The immediate
image that comes to mind is that of a liquor company
which you approach when organising an event. Unlike
the old days, that you fondly recall, successfully
organising a event here no longer depends on your
management skills - or the cause you are promoting. If
you find a major 'sponsor' for your show then
everything will work out well. Remember the good old
days when we organized Jam Sessions at the Aldona
Institute and paid off the caterers from the entrance
money itself? Long gone.

I am digressing though. Let me briefly outline why I
have no wish to go to Canada. You talk of a better
quality of life. Can one really compare the joy of
dancing in the first monsoon rains here, with getting
soaked with the spray of Niagara Falls? And in what
way is a field full of orange pumpkins any better than
green paddy fields as far as the eye can see? And
I am sure Desmond & Fabian enjoy an evening at the
Campal Childrens' Park, and the Science Park behind
Bal Bhavan, as much as your kids enjoy a day at the
Toronto Zoo. And I have yet to see a better place to
view the sunset than near the Aguada lighthouse. Don't
you see the point? I don't live in a crowded, dirty,
hostile city like Mumbai. I live in Goa '365 days on
holiday', as the tourism slogan goes.

And you guys have to wear seat belts in cars. Every
person in the car. Here we don't even have to wear
helmets when we ride motorbikes. Which may not be such
a good thing actually.

Six months of the year you huddle in your house
surrounded by snow and dare not step outdoors because
of the cold. I don't think I can live with that.
After a lifetime of glorious weather in Goa I would
die of boredom indoors.
Even with Pro-Wrestling and Naked News on TV.

Sure I don't make much money here in Goa but how much
do I really need to live a decent life? For example
garbage is collected from my second floor flat
doorstep for just one rupee a day. Electricity is
cheap, water is practically free and cable TV costs
just Rs. 300/- a month for 37 channels (including 18
in South Indian regional languages which nobody
actually watches). My housing loan is spread over the
next 20 years so it hardly pinches. Not like you,
always bickering about your mortgage payments.
What's the difference between a mortgage and a housing
loan anyway?

You talk of communalism and religious intolerance in
India. I agree we have our bad apples. But here in Goa
things are relatively peaceful. And can you honestly
say there's no colour discrimination in Canada? For
example they will test my knowledge of the English
language. Is a Britisher migrating also given the same
test? Why not? Most of us write and speak a better
English than the UK charter tourists we see here.

You also speak of a better education for our children.
Ok I see the point.
But at just Rs.1,200/- for a leaked SSC Maths paper I
think we have better opportunities here.

What worries me most is a recent report of 4,000
Canadians marching in Toronto in support of the Iraq
War. While every sane human knows the USA's
intention in this massacre, you Canadians march in
support instead of protest? Ha! We may not have that
better 'quality of life' here in India, but at least
we don't have to be sycophants to a Big Brother next

Which brings me back to my earlier topic of liquor and
'sponsors'. The happening thing now in Goa is Vijay
Mallya and his grand mansion in Candolim. Every
journalist, editor, fashion designer, cookery
columnist, whatever… is writing and talking about
nothing but the King of Good Times and his fantastic
house and his every political and social move. My
chances of migrating to Canada are of course far
better than my being invited to Kingfisher Villa. But
I'm not particularly keen on either.

Quite happy where I am. Thanks but no thanks.

Love to the family. Best regards


The humour column above appeared in Goa Plus, the
Friday Magazine section of The Times of India, on 25th
April 2003.

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