SHANTH SWAROOPI

Pre planned imagery of an impending visit to Goa can lead to ecstasy or disaster. A trip in the making for a decade when it finally realized, all the layered imagination had dissipated. A blank mind with wavering excitement landed at the airport. Recurring sights of green, blue and orange filled my eyes and it traveled to nourish all my senses. From the lap of cushioned luxury, I chose to try the bohemian way. Not that I succeeded in entirety, but an attempt was made against all the rulings of mind.

A stickler for comfort and not the usual icebreaker at gatherings went against the wind and engaged in conversation with an unknown pilot (one who gives bike rides in Goa, similar to travelling by auto or cab). The most random I have ever had with a stranger and without an intended purpose, on a dusky Goan evening after a spell of monsoon showers.

The conversation meandered from the distance to my destination to details of the towns along the way, fishes to be eaten, new malls in the city, iron mining and politics. His opinion of the ruling party was not different from their successful poster boys’ rhetoric of development and progress, despite him being a Muslim. He did not feel threatened as a community was what I understood from the conversation. As the conversation drifted to my whereabouts, he acknowledged Tamil Nadu and Chennai. His voice turned enthusiastic as he spoke about it.

‘Amma aapka leader abhi, right?’ he said.

‘Yes’, I replied.

‘Amma is Shanth Swaroopi’, he said.

‘Matlab’ I intervened.

‘Unke muh par tej dikhta hai, ma ki tarah, shanth se, aur woh bahut acha kaam karti hai – Amma canteen, humko maalum hai’, he finished.

I didn’t know if I should have felt proud, for my state and its chief minister managed to impress someone random I met across a thousand miles or just acknowledge it as part of overt media reach.

‘Haan’, I replied and stayed quiet for rest of the upward travel to Siolim.

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