Longing for real life on the waterfront

It’s one of the most gorgeous expanses of any waterfront, hugging any town or city in the world. We have lost it.

| AUGUST 10, 2012, 07:35 AM IST

We have lost it on our way to work and stuck in traffic inPorvorim and on the Mandovi. We have lost it due our inability to look out ofour car windows and soak in the expanse from Divar to Aguada in a wide swoop,dotted with boats, yachts (and in case you missed them, the casinos). We havelost it because WE have lost it.

We living, working and thriving in Goa, live around whatmakes our land what it is and yet, as towns and cities on water fronts, perhapsnot even half as beautiful as Goa, revolve their lives around their waterbodies. Yes we have lost it. There was a time when life and its myriadextensions were in water. The ferry point and the ferry ride became venues oflife changing experiences. Prospective brides were spotted, romances werecommenced, marriage proposals were mooted, hearts were melted and also broken,political intrigues were played out, plots hatched, cases solved and mattersresolved, all during the water crossovers at the Zuari and Mandovi. But somehowthe waterfronts as well as the backwaters have never been places where we haveconverged to listen to a local band serenading, or village chefs tossing up agreat meal by the waters. Panjim, from the Mandovi bridge, looks as exquisiteas Istanbul on the Bosphorous, but the similarity ends there.

In Istanbul, food, music, the arts come together along witha confluence of cultures, voices and expressions. The river or the sea is notonly a catalyst of cultural euphoria. It is also a companion.  Goa needs to make its waters a catalyst and acompanion.

The world over, “on the waterfront” means vibrant markets,spontaneous performances, and happening social scenes. Travels tell you this. Acouple of years ago, I drove from Madrid to a town in Southern France,Biarritz, crossing Bilbao and halting in San Sebastian on the Spanish borderbefore crossing over to France. The waterfront in San Sebastian – twowhite-sand crescents of beach bisected by the mouth of the Urumea River—isfringed by a promenade of parks, pavilions, and wide walkways. And right acrossthe boulevard is a human-scaled assortment of shops, cafes, and hotels. Thebusy area remains the thriving heart of San Sebastian. Yet, no city plannerswere involved in this success story. The old town was settled at the water’sedge and never lost its vital role as the marketplace, no matter howdevelopment sprawled away from the waterfront.

Urban beauty has to be a trait of a new, bettercivilisation, to uplift spirits, support community and well-being in the placeswe live. This can be permanent fixed tangible things like buildings, but alsoactivities like markets and art in public space, like installations,projections, sound installations ever changed by an art collective anduniversity students in public spaces, gardens.

Share this