May 11, 2006

All aboard for Gigi

Small kids' park near where we are staying in Goa: slides, swings, see-saws. I'm with my daughter one evening, pushing her up and down on the see-saw to much gurgling delight (hers, not mine). (Well, I am delighted. I'm not gurgling, is all).

Then I notice some handwriting on the long bar of the see-saw. I look more closely and there are long paragraphs of stuff about a word that rhymes with "pushy".

I'm glad the daughter can't read yet.


Large traffic department sign above the road to Calangute has the now-familiar adage "Safety on Road is Safe Tea at Home". It also says:

At Your Service Call:
Hearse xxxx
Ambulance xxxx
Night Soil Tanker xxxx


On the island of Divar in the Mandovi River, we have stopped in the village square. More to the point, I'm waiting out in the blast-like sun while wife and son are chatting with a friend in her (no doubt much cooler) house. The bus-stop immediately in front of me is marked "Fetorim", and just as I notice that idly, a bus pulls up with "Gigi" where you might expect its destination.

An old man gets up from the stop and scurries to the front entrance of the bus. He is bent nearly double. He smiles as he clambers on board. Is he happy to be going to Gigi?


Margao has what looks like a new cricket field, just outside the massive stadium that's used for international matches. The road we are on skirts the field, where there's a match going on. Men in whites, a bowler sprinting in, crack of a well-hit shot, the batsmen sprinting along to take the score to 49/0.

And in this corner of the field -- and only after a closer look do we realize it's actually a separate, marked-off area -- there's, of all things, a baseball match in progress. Men with one ungainly glove on one hand, pitcher winds up, batter takes an almighty swing but misses the ball completely, the only thing missing is the usual animated umpire behind the catcher, signalling "Strike!" with a flourish. All the players are in yellow and purple uniforms. Batter the same, oddly enough.

Some hours later, with the evening shadows starting to saunter across the two fields, we pass this way again. The cricket match is still in progress. The same white uniforms, some looking a little browner by now. The baseball match is still in progress too. The same yellow and purple uniforms.

Only ... I rub my eyes. This time, it is women inside those yellow and purple uniforms.


The PM is here one day, to inaugurate the Goa campus of BITS Pilani. Now I have faint memories of BITS Pilani, of course, from having spent five years there getting a degree. So I think I'd like to go take a look at this new campus.

Though note that it isn't really "new" -- it has been around for two years, has 1200 students and is getting ready to admit its third batch of young hopefuls. What the PM does, therefore, is merely a formality.

Still, I'd like to take a look. Two days after the inauguration, we show up at the gate to the campus. The security guards will not let us in. "Where have you come from?" they ask, "who do you want to see?" I mean, this is an educational institution, are folks not allowed to simply wander in to look around?

Look, I say, I graduated from the parent institution some years ago, I know nobody here, I just want to see this place.

"Do you have an identity card?" one guard asks.

I offer him my driver's license. He brushes it aside. "An identity card from Pilani," he says, leaving me open-mouthed.

I graduated from there 25 years ago, I say. You seriously expect me to carry my student ID around wherever I go, even if I had graduated last year?

"Wait," he says, "I'll call someone."

That someone actually repeats the conversation, down to asking me if I have the identity card. Perhaps nonplussed by my spluttering, he says he'll call back. Ten minutes later -- who has he called to check what, in that time? -- he does so, and directs the guards to let us in.

We're laughing at the whole thing by now, and it is a spectacular campus. Stunning views of the river, lots of green, nicely designed buildings, friendly students.

But it has to be said: give me Pilani, every time. Last time I checked, people could still simply saunter in.


Unknown said...

What's the not-so-good word, kind sir? Can't figure it out at all..hmm...what could rhyme with pushy...

Anonymous said...

Graduated 25 years ago! Hmm.. that's 45 years of age at the least. 45 and can pack such venom. Whoever said that people become saner with age ain't seen anything.

Hippy Bogus said...

Divar to Gigi?

I'd take Divar to St inez any day :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, the BITS-Pilani campus is a beautiful place, but if only they allow you in. It's funny how these education institutions have started to think of themselves...a couple of years back when I went (all nostalgic) to Delhi, I was not allowed to visit my school too. They looked at me as if my intentions were to blow up the school building or something. They did not allow me and I had to leave it at that.

'Security' in India: either we dont do it at all or we overdo it.

Oh and while we are talking about BITS-Pilani Goa campus...Did you visit the Bogmalo beach nearby? Its a lesser known but a (relatively) quiet beach and worth a visit. In fact its the only beach near my home in Goa and I visit it each time I visit home :)

Dilip D'Souza said...

Shrik, can't help you there. I never ever mention such words in polite company, you see. So unless you certify to me that you are impolite company, I can't help you.

Truman, didn't get to Bogmalo. Liked Candolim. Did you get my mail to your ak@... address?

Abodh said...

Hi! So hope and the gang loved Goa. When r you back ?