Friday, December 19, 2008

Mamma Mia, here I go again

Mamma Mia, here I go again
Politicians, activists and the language of song

By Cecil Pinto

"Bamboos, bamboos, bamboos!", sings Irene at one end of the stage
while at the other end Tomazinho translates into Roman Konkani,
"Maani, maani, maani!". With a crash of cymbals Prince Jacob emerges
from the smoke, mike in hand crooning, "Money, money, money. Must be
funny, in a rich man's world!". I'm hallucinating!

It's the sequence of events that did it. Monday is not my favourite
day of the week but going for the morning show of the movie "Mamma
Mia" did help me forget the hangover. A fun-filled romantic story
interspersed with popular ABBA songs. Sitting next to me was a lively
woman who seemed to know all the lyrics and was belting them out
enthusiastically. If she wasn't already my wife I would have asked her
to marry me!

'Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita'

Well just four hours later I find myself in a packed auditorium
awaiting the commencement of a debate on whether Goans have really
become eco-sensitive or whether we are just anti-development. I found
a seat next to Public Relations professional Skitter Faia, who knows
everyone that matters, and everything there is to know about hair

A lovely audience of concerned Goans complemented by a well chosen
panel of intelligent articulate Goans – Prof. Nandakumar, Fr.
Maverick, CM Kamat, Parrikar, Dr. Oscar and another 'undaised' panel
of Nitin Industry Kuncolienkar, Nilesh Builder Salkar, Subodh
Installation Kerkar, Ramesh Anti-Mine Gawas and Patricia Environment

'Where is the spring and the summer
That once was yours and mine?'

The moderator was Sandesh Prabhudesai - as always eloquent,
provocative, fair handed, firm and prudent. While they spent
absolutely ages adjusting the mikes it was but natural that my mind
wandered. To the morning's movie…and back to the present.

ABBA was famous for outlandish glitzy costumes. Nandakumar and Oscar
had on folded long sleeve shirts. Sandesh and Maverick were in ethnic
kurtas, while Parrikar had his trademark short sleeve shirt. Kamat was
looking uncomfortable with long shirt sleeves fully buttoned.

I couldn't see the 'undaised' panel, as they were sitting in the front
row with their back to the audience, but I noticed Nitin was wearing
his patented 1970 polyester styled fine checked suit jacket. Somebody
should give him and our CM, both wearing the same style spectacle
frames, a fashion makeover.

'People everywhere
A sense of expectation hanging in the air…
Voulez-vous (ah-ha)'

The language used in the mega-debate was an eclectic mix of Konkani,
English and propaganda. Sandesh loudly shouted a theatrical
introduction to each segment. This shouting must be a technical thing
to do with checking sound.

Parrikar said Goans have always been eco-sensitive and would make good
diary farmers and security guards. Maverick said locals wanted
participation in governance to improve the quality of their lives, and
not have misleading first-names. Oscar quoted, "The arrogance of the
rich will be met by a low intensity civil war in Turkey", or something
to that effect.

'Waterloo - I was defeated, you won the war
Waterloo - promise to love you for ever more'

Nandakumar insisted that Government policy has to address the poorest
of the poor who had no e-mail address. Kamat said his Government was
open to consensus as long as it was top to bottom, and not bottom to
top as Oscar insisted.

'Knowing me, knowing you (ah-haa)
It's the best I can do'

In the second round of the debate the undaised panelists joined in.
Nitin claimed that an Agitation Industry has replaced the Agriculture
Industry, which everyone agreed had to be revived. Nilesh showed the
connection between housing and infrastructure, "If there were no
roads, why would we build houses?", or maybe he said that the
Government must provide roads for builders.

'Don't go sharing your devotion
Lay all your love on me'

Ramesh said, "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail – or join a student
union and ask for re-evaluation". Patricia said everyone was
rubbishing the garbage problem, as did Subodh, with a Biblical quote,
"Let he who throws plastic in the harvest cast the first stone."

'What about Livingstone?
What about Livingstone?'

Kamat said he threw out SEZ because it was all about land. Despite not
having a copy of the Regional Plan Parrikar said, and everyone
naturally agreed, that we should encourage industries that employed
Goans and froze the non-Goan population. Maverick refuted Subodh's
remark at the Church's involvement by saying that Goan Catholics had
agitated for Ramponkars, Konkani, Statehood and against Du Pont, Meta
Strips, mega–projects and the Konkan Railway.

'Just another town, another train
Nothing lost and nothing gained'

Conflicting statistics were used by all concerned, including an
audience member, to make their point. 800 engineers pass out every
year and 73% of them have to move out of state for jobs as there are
none here. Yet 56% of job vacancies here are filled by non-Goans. 60%
of Goa's rainfall is in Sanguem. Environmental damage from mining was
99% ignored in the discussion.

A suggestion was made that all luxury mega–projects should compulsory
have an affordable housing project side by side. This met with
uproarious agreement from the Goan audience, and will certainly
feature as a populist election promise soon. Speaking of which one
very vocal gentleman from the audience thought he was at a Panchayat
Gram Sabha and kept interrupting with slogans. Fortunately he was

At one point Oscar asked CM Kamat for a public guarantee that he would
step down if Amendment 16 of RPG 21 was misused. Kamat instantly
agreed, "Yes, yes, I will step down!" His body language seemed to
suggest, "What am I doing here defending my corrupt colleagues when I
could make much more money in my building business?" Parrikar's body
language changed in the course of the debate, from merely confident to
commanding and dominative.

'I can't conceal it, don't you see, can't you feel it? Don't you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do'

Watch the telecast at 7 pm on 2nd October. To Prudent Media and
Sandesh I say Thank you for the Music - and the lively debate.

'Darling, our love for Goa's much too strong to die,
We'll find a way to face a new tomorrow.
Hasta Manana till we meet again.
Hasta Manana until then!'

The column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 2nd October 2008

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