Monday, October 27, 2014

Spice up the season in Goa

The Fun, The Unusual, The Wild and The Serene

If you told your buddies that you weren’t really looking forward to ‘the scene this season’ and they gave you a ‘what’s-come-over-you’ look, know that you haven’t flipped a lid. Sometimes you need to change things a bit, leave the haze of parties and beach trips behind and do things a little differently. Instead of hopping from one bar to the next, one dinner plate to subsequent serving for lunch, take a shot at some fun, unusual things to do this coming season.
Crash a wedding
This is the season of weddings after all. You’ve probably been to one before, but there’s something so exciting about doing things you’re not meant to. Don’t go with your entire gang of drunken buddies and avoid dressing like you want to kill the fashion sense of the season. But it’s great to make random conversation with an interesting set of people, or ask the pretty girl or cute guy across the lawns for a dance. And then disappear into the night like Cinderella. Not before wishing the happy couple of course!
View the relics of St Francis Xavier
This happens only once in 10 years, so if your memory of last time’s visit is fuzzy or if you’ve never been to it before, it’s about time you did. The Catholic saint’s body has been lying in state since it arrived in Goa in May 1542! Despite two burials after his death, St Francis Xavier’s body was found to be incorrupt until the end of the 17th century. It was in the 19th century that the current cycle of decennial expositions began. This year, it will be held between November 22 and January 04.
Contact: 0832 2284710
Learn how to water ski
We’ve all seen the parasailors, the jet skiers and the banana boat riders, and we’ve lost our twinge of jealousy having done it ourselves. Now it’s time to get a little more adventurous and ski on water. Get in touch with any one of the numerous water sports companies along the coast and feel the adrenaline rush as a cable pulls you along on skis behind a speeding boat.
Witness a Combat Cage Fight
In late November, Goa will see a new, different kind of entertainment. Combining a variety of martial arts, the Combat Cage Fight at Tito’s Courtyard promises to showcase the complexity and beauty of self-defence skills surrounded by the vibe of Goa’s nightlife that we know and love. With six bouts, one including women fighters, this unusual event is set to leave a mark this season.
Tito’s Courtyard – 0832 2275028, 2276154, +91 9822765002.
Saunta Vaddo, Tito’s Lane, Calangute Road, Baga. Website:
Volunteer at an old age home, orphanage or kennel 
When you think of it, there’s a lot for you to be grateful about. Sometimes we need to share that with those who haven’t got very much. Instead of wasting those semester breaks in the company of your PlayStation or exhausting your excess compulsory leaves expanding in front of the television, leave a little room for some volunteering. Lend a listening ear at an old age home, play some music for children at an orphanage or hand out some much awaited tummy rubs at your nearest pound.
Cheer on FC Goa at an ISL match 
Yes, this is not the Premier League and yes, our standard of football has yards to go, but haters will be haters and we’ve got to start somewhere. The Indian Super League has proved an excellent way for domestic football to get going. So grab your pom poms, banners and jerseys and head to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda to watch veteran international players show off their skills right here at home.
Tickets at
Tour crib county
Where else in India can you take a leisurely walk or drive in your pyjamas and see nativity scenes that sometimes reflect completely disconnected themes? Across Goa, Christmas is celebrated with much revelry, but it’s the competition of the cribs in south Goa that can make your celebrations a little different. From Christmas trees made of straws depicting concern for the environment to banners with social messages, and some very traditional ones, the creativity never ends.
Make your own guitar
Thought you were cool when you made your own Hallowe’en costume? Think cooler when you make your own musical instrument. Join Chris Horton at Jungle Guitars in Baga, where he shows you how to build classical or steel string guitars from scratch over 15 days. With more than 20 years of experience, he will take you through its construction, from choosing the wood to varnishing. It might be a bit heavy on the pocket, but how many people do you know can boast of such an achievement?
Contact Chris Horton. +91 9823565117,+91 8308162326.
Whip up a storm with culinary classes
After the success of Masterchef Australia, pretty much everyone thinks they can throw a few ingredients into a pan and receive gushing compliments. Learn how to do things the right way with some classes in your favourite style of cuisine. With the season of giving coming up, you can ready yourself to lay out the perfect spread for family and friends.
Discover the Story of Light
Here’s an artsy version of all the incomprehensible physics quips from the Big Bang Theory. The Story of Light Festival from January 14-18, 2015, will throw cross-disciplinary scientists, artists and philosophers together to translate quantum physics and the universe into exhibits, workshops and installations around a planned pedestrian route in Panjim.
Give your insides a makeover
Did you ever think that maybe your internal system – that effectively keeps you alive – might need a little overhauling during party season? For all the tightrope walks you put it through, hopping from one party to the next, it needs a bit of rest and relaxation. Head to a detox centre, and we’re not talking about illegal substances here. Most offer detoxification programmes focusing on rejuvenation, cleansing and stress reduction based on the ancient Indian science of ayurveda. It might be a bit rigorous, but believe me, your body will thank you for it.
Juggle me joy
If everything goes according to plan as it has been over the last six years, juggling convention InJuCo might return to Goa in January next year. If you’re expecting clowns throwing striped balls or oranges in the air, you’re highly mistaken. Here, a variety of performance artists showcase everything from the popular trapeze, acrobatics and hoola hoop to lesser known but equally mindnumbing arts such as poi, kalari payattu and acro-balance. The non-profit event features artists, some with strange names such as funny man Mr Banana and escape artist Monsieur Gusto, from all over the world.
Walk back in time
You could uncover a lost world in Panjim just by looking a little closer to the signs. If you nodded off in class while the History teacher droned on, you’re guaranteed to be snapped wide awake by this activity. Take a walk with the Goa Heritage Action Group, which organises tours in the state’s capital city and points out bits of the past you would never have seen otherwise. You’re sure to have several ‘aha’ moments that reconnect with a dusty old schoolbook.
Tel: +91-832-245-9109
Website: www.
Gardening glory
Stop complaining about the price of vegetables in the market and grow some of your own. It’s the perfect run up to making your New Year’s resolutions by getting in the groove and then committing to it long-term. You’ll get a bit of a workout in – bending over, raking, digging – and you’ll be eating fresh, organic veggies without those disease inducing pesticides. Green Essentials’ website even provides a calendar to help you schedule your gardening tasks.
Tel. 99606-43245/0832-2443124
Loosen your tongue
No, don’t hit the bottle. Sign up for a language course and learn how to say your favourite phrases a different way. There are many foreign language institutes in Goa, but there are also many that teach Indian languages. With travel a favourite activity among the middle class these days, learning a new language will help you make your way to the core of the destinations you’ve always wanted to see and the cultures that have never stopped intriguing you.
Whatever it is, choose to do something that’s not run-of-the-mill, whatever age you’re at. You owe it yourself to be able to look back at experiences you can remember and learn from, not just (although equally fun!) days and nights of partying that turn into one long blur.
First published in Goa Streets on October 25, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Young, Smart & Committed to Changing The World

The Goa hub of the international World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers initiative is addressing global issues at the local level

Social media is a lot of things, chief among them being a superb out for venting. We’re always expressing our happiness, sadness, rage or disgust on the latest trending topic. But when it comes to actually getting down to doing something about it, people often pass the buck. It’s either out of their control or someone else’s job.
Not these youngsters. This group of 14 Goans has joined the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) international initiative to improve the state of the world, one project at a time. Around the world, thousands of Global Shapers are making a difference, from providing furniture and household items for displaced people in Gaza to encouraging young Costa Ricans to vote.
“These are young people exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities for building a more peaceful and inclusive world,” says Tallulah D’Silva, the curator of Global Shapers Community Panjim Hub.
With 50 per cent of the world’s population under 27 years of age and a majority in urban areas, the World Economic Forum began to look at engaging young people in the solutions to global challenges. The Swiss non-profit started this global network of people between the ages of 20 and 30 in 2011 and by June this year, more than 344 Global Shaper Hubs had been set up.
In Goa, the hub was formed five months ago after D’Silva received a call from the WEF. She then recruited youngsters she knew had the passion and drive to make a difference here.
“The Panjim Hub is involved in a number of different projects at the moment,” says social worker and photographer Fabian Franco, continuing, “One of the projects is promoting grey water recycling systems using plants and biogas systems in institutions.”
This is their G2H2O project in which they opt for plants over a conventional sewage treatment system to convert waste to clean water. Another similar project is their Trash2Gas initiative in which they hope to use wet waste to generate biogas that can be used to run a community kitchen, or light public spaces.
In Karmali, the group has joined hands with the Mitsuko Trust and the local panchayat to come up with a low-cost eco-friendly toilet to improve sanitation. The community in Old Goa is currently grappling with increasing population density, lack of water and sanitation facilities, which pollute water bodies and put the nearby Karmali Lake bird population at risk.
To combat this, the Hub’s Ecoloo Project is looking at eco-friendly, cost-effective individual and community sanitation modules with grey water recycling, minimal water usage, built with long-lasting materials, with plants grown in the root zone that can be used as food.
Recently, Viola Rodrigues, Mrinmayee Thakur and Chenelle Rodrigues assisted D’Silva with a series of nature trails to help students from city schools connect with their environment. “The objectives of the trails are to promote outdoor learning, understand local biodiversity, identify and document local flora and fauna, and connect to natural systems and understand the role they play,” the Shapers explain.
They’ve conducted two trails for students of Our Lady of The Rosary High School – one in Dona Paula and the other in Bambolim – and a third for the Little Penguins School in Old Goa.
The Hub will soon launch a Career Speak initiative for young school and college students to encourage them to choose careers that go beyond the typical ‘first choices’ of engineering and medicine. And this is just the start. D’Silva elaborates, “We are currently involved in preparing a tree policy for the city and are documenting and mapping tree avenues and different species. There are also plans to introduce urban farms in the city as a collaborative effort with Green Essentials and the Corporation of the City of Panjim.”
Goa’s Shapers come from across professions and spheres of interest – from professor Varad Sabnis, student of Environmental Studies Gabriella D’Cruz and research associate Atul Borker to journalist Anwesha Singbal, psychologist Krystal Cardozo, engineer Nitish Wagle, teacher Chandrakant Shinde, and the youngest Tarika Khan.
Being a part of the Hub is a way for them to make a change in society while also exposing themselves to the ideas and voices of youngsters from around the world. Entrepreneur Raghuvir Mahale is looking forward to using information technology to make life easier and improve daily life. “I also want to get exposed to a lot of knowledge from around the world, and learn new things that can be implemented in Goa,” he says.
The group meets every month, either at a small cafĂ© or at the curator’s office, discussing ideas and making plans over hot chai and bhaji. They often work on implementing their projects on their own time after office hours, and gain inspiration from the shapers around the world who are already well on their way to making a difference.
The global community lends its support through forums and offers opportunities to exchange best practices on relevant issues – from selecting Shapers to Hub governance, and sharing insights with WEF colleagues on regional issues and pressing world challenges.
“I look at being part of the Global Shapers Community Panjim Hub as a way of helping each other with new projects, building a network not only in India but across the world and giving our community work international exposure,” says Franco.
This motley group of youngsters believes in making the change they want to see, and the next time we think of complaining about something, we might want to take a leaf out of their books first.
To learn more about Global Shapers, visit their website at
First published in Goa Streets in August 2014