Monday, November 26, 2007

The Facilitators



Afternoon at the Passport Office, Patto Plaza, Panjim. Official facilitators help out in filling forms and checking them. Goa has a large overseas population and the passport office is always crowded. The other 'passport office' that is equally crowded is the Portuguese Consulate with Portuguese passports being greatly in demand for entry into the European Commonwealth.
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A railing pillar becomes an impromptu office desk as the 'unofficial' facilitator gets to work. He solicits the unsure passport seeker with an air of confidence and pockets his modest fee. Hard work in a poor environment. He sometimes puts up a plastic sheet over his pillarpost. Can't afford some crowshit ruining a neatly filled form!
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I got tired of waiting for my friend standing in his queue and I strolled out. Out on the street was a huge march, er marcha. Morcha actually. Hundreds of workers from various industrial firms chanted 'Murdabad murdabad' and 'Zindabad zindabad' alternately marching under the towering buildings of Patto Plaza.
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They all marched up to a corner of Patto Plaza and their chief honcho gave a speech. The sun was scorching overhead and the women wilted in the heat.
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The cops were all at the ready, prepared to take a few stones on their heads. Huddled with their transparent shields they look like Roman soldiers waiting for Obelix to arrive.
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The rear of the police force is more relaxed, the constables are deeply engrossed in studying their female counterparts. The security guards of the building also seem to share their appreciation.
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I left the facilitation of the workers woes to their aggressive leader and ambled back. A jungle man squatting by the pavement offered to take away the pain of all the passersby. His pots and pans contained an exotic concoction of roots, barks, leaves and assorted parts of half a dozen endangered lizards and godaloneknowswhatelse. "Many fellows say they have cured Rajas and Maharanis with their medicines. Look, I offer no such false proof!" he claimed. Having confused his audience, he proceeded to rub some of his magick oil on his accomplice's shoulder and then pulled out some imaginary spirits from his ears with a scrap of newspaper. The bloke to the left promptly parted with a few rupees for the magic oil. The jungle man kept up a steady flow of sales talk peppered with philosophy and ancient wisdom.
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The heat was killing and a soothing glass of sugarcane juice facilitated the quenching of my thirst.





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José Lourenço - Margao,Goa

This blog is about Goa as she really is, with her dimples and freckles et al. There's also a Goan Architecture blog and other useful links on this page.

Drop me a line at: joselourenco@rediffmail.com