Flavours of the month, Dec 2003
Margaret Mascarenhas at Home
Goa Residency Studio for artists and writers
The Goan Art Community
Christians in South Asian Lit
Goa Today Column: Urban Gaonkar
Skin Excerpt I
Skin Excerpt II
Excerpt :The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos
Short stories
Interviews with M
Essays by Margaret Mascarenhas
more essays
Goa's Civil Code
Goa Environment
Goa Garbage Crisis
Link page
Frog Books

Flavours of the month


Flavours of the month

Margaret Mascarenhas

Digambar Kamat is my number one flavour of the month. Heres why:

            A couple of weeks ago from the time of writing, the power line in front of my house in Tivim started buzzing, smoking and sparking. An intermittent drizzle appeared to exacerbate the situation. I dialed the number of Tivim electricity department substation, which I have handy, along with the telephone, police and sundry other governmental type numbers on the Goadesc calendar on the wall above my writing table. After about an hour some men in blue worksuits materialized and I duly pointed out the problem. They stared glumly at it for awhile and leftI presumed to find and acquire the remedial equipment necessary for repair. They never returned. The buzzing, smoking, sparking continued; I phoned again several hours later. It was now after dark. The surprisingly pleasant individual who answered my call, explained that he was all alone at his post but would do his best to send the linesmen back. Around midnight there was an explosion and a burst of flame shot into the sky from the power line. I phoned the substation again, who referred me to someone in Mapusa, who referred me to the Fire Department, who referred me to the Tivim substation. I believe I began to raise my voice when I got to the part in my diatribe about whether they were waiting for someone to be electrocuted, so they could refer me to a funeral home. By then it was the next morning. Finally, I phoned Mr Kamat at his Margao residence. By then, I was pretty agitated, and he was incredibly polite and calm. Ill take care of it, he said. Within half an hour the linesmen were back, claiming Id never adequately explained the problem. You should have made a written application, said one, as though such procedures should precede any activity on their part. Another earnestly recommended that I purchase a new wire for the Electricity Department and bring it to them, so the old one could be replaced. A third explained that since it was Sunday, he was too tired to climb the pole. I reminded them that it is the general public who pays their salaries. I suggested that the wind might not blow in their favour if, as a consequence of their lazy-ass ways, a major incident were to occur, such as a major fire. I explained that if they didnt haul their bodies up that pole with immediate effect, I would be happy to call the Power Minister again at his residence so that they might discuss their difficulties with him personally. This seemed to have the desired effect and the dangerous wire was replaced and repaired within an hour.

            A couple of months ago, it was Manohar Parrikar who was a rising star in my popularity poll. And I was irritated with Tara Patel for criticizing him for snacking at a street stall in Mapusa. Snacking at stalls seems a perfectly normal activity, I thought, what on earth is wrong with a CM hanging out with the common man? I was all for him doing that. But then my enthusiasm waned when he got all unhinged over Luisinho Faleiros rantings in the Assembly and had his lawyer issue a shrill legal notice to Everybody that was at obvious odds with the spirit of the Indian Constitution, namely Article 361 A:  Protection of publication of proceedings of Parliament and State Legislatures

(1) No person shall be liable to any proceedings, civil or criminal, in any court in respect of the publication in a newspaper of a substantially true report of any proceedings of either House of Parliament or the Legislative Assembly, or, as the case may be, either House of the Legislature, of a State, unless the publication is proved to have been made with malice:
Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to the publication of any report of the proceedings of a secret sitting of either House of Parliament or the Legislative Assembly, or, as the case may be, either House of the Legislature, of a State.
(2) Clause (1) shall apply in relation to reports or matters broadcast by means of wireless telegraphy as part of any programme or service provided by means of a broadcasting station as it applies in relation to reports or matters published in a newspaper.

Luckily, I read today, that Manohar Parrikar still believes in a free Press and that the legal notice should be considered a dead issue. Good move.


Anyway, while were on the subject of flavours, Id just like to point out that kaka-water in the taps is not going to be the flavour that endears the government to the resident public, nor will it prove to be a major tourist attraction. I know this from empirical evidence: As soon as he heard the news, my father not only cancelled his trip to Goa from the US, but recommended that I leave the country immediately. Dr Nandkumar Kamat was right on the money when he assessed the governments track record on waste management and gave it a thumbs down. Clean water and waste management are key to Goas survival.


On the plus side:

Is it just me, or are the cops getting not only more professional and effective, but also cuter? I didnt even mind getting busted the other day for going 50 in a 40 km zone, even though the sign was erected overnight. Even though crime may be on the rise in our little state, the capacity of the law enforcement appears to be also. I attribute this to a certain amount of political will on the part of the government. Just the other day, two very cute policemen stopped by while in the process of conducting a survey of my neighborhood. Any problems? they inquired. None so far, I said. Anyway, they said, dont worry, we are there. And I had no reason not to believe them.