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Little Moscow in Goa


Mending nets on Morjim beach

A small metalled road leads from Morjim village to the beach, which under a decade ago was the one of the most tranquil stretch of sand and coconut palms in Goa. Today the area is known as “Little Moscow.”

I entered a huge bamboo and palm shack full of  nut-brown lounging Russians and found the DJ who’d been blasting his mixes towards the beach and the resort next door with his hideous thump-thump-thump sound. He was a surly looking man with druggy eyes, long-haired, about 35. I addressed him with excessive politeness, which, I’ve learned from my friend AshaRani gains one advantage; she is La Diplomate Supreme.

“Sir, would you turn down the sound a little please? I cannot read, think or enjoy the sound of the ocean, which is why I have come here. Everyone can hear it in Montego Bay.” I didn’t say that no-one in Montego Bay seems to care enough to reproach the scion of Russian (presumed) Mafiosi to lay claim to a meagre, legitimate few inches of their own comfort zone. The DJ grunted. “Vy? I live in area 8 years and no-vun complain.” He glared.

I mustered all the  apologetics I could, “ I’m sorry, I’ll have to take it to the police otherwise.”

“OK.” He twiddled some knobs and the noise dropped and stayed muted the rest of the afternoon and into the small hours. It could be a temporary let-up, as the Mafiosi is on chummy terms with the local police. The previous night the air had throbbed with  dreadful mind-mashing blows that  turn seekers after “cool” into zombies. Very chilled young Russian women with perfect figures lay spread-eagled, some bare breasted, as the usual local flaneurs snapped the sights with their smart phones. The Russian  men, by contrast, muscular and beer-bellied, stood waist deep in the shallows, some with white cotton sunhats protecting their heads. We could have been by the Black Sea .

The Russians are everywhere- in Madeira, in Goa, in Kerala. They are very visible as they move in noisy crowds wherever the sun is warmest in the winter months. They are the new Germans on the beach.

An amazingly handsome young man, obviously not Russian, is fiddling with rucksacks, ropes and kites in the resort garden, under the golden coconut palms.

“Is kite-surfing dangerous?” I ask.

He shrugs, “Not really.”

“Where are you from?”

“My papa is Goan, my mother is Portugese. I come from Lisbon.”

“I’ve just been there.” We shake hands and he grins widely showing perfect teeth.

Overheard at breakfast. Three Bombay-ites discussing this and that in petulant Princess tones:

“See, I don’t like anything heavy at breakfast. Cocopops are nice.”

“No-oo, Egg and toast for me, with a little bit of spread…”

They possess what is called a “convent accent”, chee-chee, singsong, cadenced with privilege.

They don’t look at the waiter. “Bring more tea,” they command.


Friday is the weekly market at Mapusa. Gregory drives me there in his Tourist taxi and waits while I take pictures and buy incense, tea and seeds for the allotment  (red and green spinach), a sunhat, sunglasses and local brown rice, which I hope the chef at the resort will cook for me. I get my photo taken by a really charming Goan woman called Brenda.

“I don’t like Delhi people, “ she confides. “So rude they are,” and tells me a long story about a train journey and seats that were grabbed by Delhi bullies. That’s a new one. Delhi belly and now Delhi bully.


Old style Portugese bungalow

Mapusa is pronounced Mopsa, which brings to mind the Flopsy bunnies and the fairy in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mopsa has some enchanting houses built in the old style and many truly ugly ones coloured flamingo pink, sulphur yellow and cobalt blue.

Ludwig van displays the family credentials

Ludwig van displays the de Souza of Mapusa family credentials-


old world grace

old world grace



Humble but sweet, with a shine to tulsi (see below)

Humble but sweet, with a shrine to tulsi (see below)


Bird’s Eye custard and more horrors


Gypsies from Karnataka

Gypsies from Karnataka

`frisky incense

`frisky incense

Sugarcane juice by the yard

Sugarcane juice by the yard

when I grow old I shall wear purple

when I grow old I shall wear purple





{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Hilary January 25, 2013, 11:36 pm

    Great photos! Social mix unusual! Xx

    • pratima January 26, 2013, 2:09 am

      Thanks Hilary, not sure what you mean by social mix. Please expand…

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