Goa: Holidayers Instead of Hippies
Uday, branch manager at Metrohm India’s Mumbai office, and Mumbai Sales Coordinator Shoma showed me around Goa for a day and a half. While Goa’s reputation as a hippie paradise might live on, that’s long in the past. The former Portuguese province is «the Indian Croatia or Ibiza,» Marketing Manager Joy’s daughter Riya told me in Mumbai.
As Goa is within driving distance of Mumbai, it gets packed with Mumbaikars during holidays, especially the festival of lights, Diwali, which is the most important holiday of the year. During our weekend in Goa, it felt like all of India was there, too. With its crowds, noise, and traffic jams, Goa isn’t exactly a relaxing Diwali getaway, but that’s not what most people here are looking for. They’re hitting the casinos, clubs, and party boats or having dinner and parties at the beach.
In the daytime, Goa has a lot of history to explore. Goa was officially Portuguese between 1510 and 1987. It’s no surprise that the Portuguese influence on Goa is strong. The most obvious remnants of the Portuguese reign are the architecture and the many churches.
You can explore a quieter side of Goa at the spice plantations. Indian food is famous for its use of spices, and many of them grow here. At the Goan spice plantation, we saw how black pepper, vanilla, allspice, cardamom, and many other spices that are important in Indian cuisine grow and learned about their use in the kitchen and in traditional medicines. It turns out that many of the spices or oils extracted from them are used as medicines, their effects ranging from antiseptic to aphrodisiac.
Before celebrating Diwali in Goa, Shoma, Uday, and the rest of our colleagues at the Mumbai office had already celebrated Diwali together. When Shoma, who’s the sales coordinator and the only woman at the Mumbai office, started at Metrohm, she introduced office parties for the major Indian festivals like Diwali and Holi. «I spend more time with my colleagues than with my family,» the mother of two told me, «so I think it’s only natural that we should celebrate these holidays together.»