Review: Once Upon a Time in Aparanta
Once Upon a Time in Aparanta captures the charm and follies, greed and grouses, colourful characters and peerless natural beauty of Goa, writes Hartman de Souza.books Updated: Oct 13, 2008 16:50 IST
Once Upon A Time in Aparanta
RS 250 PP 232
Hey, what man, just two days ago and all I read this novel, and what to tell you man, I kept it near my bed and twice more only I read it! Solid bloody book man, and if you're one of those rich buggers in Mumbai and Delhi, thinking you're going to sell your bloody house for three crore and move down to Goa, find one gated colony and all and sit in your veranda drinking cocktails and eating fried rechad bangdas, you buy this damn book and read it; you'll give up all your big ideas of coming here. I'll tell you man, if some TV people do one sting in Goa no, people will be solid shocked how much money our politicias have.
When I started reading about the bad guys in this story damn happy I felt. Arre I said, this Number One fellow, this Winston Almeida fellow, that policeman, that pimp, all these buggers I am seeing every day from Margao to Panjim. Other day, sitting in the bar at home, same vnage as my MLA whose picture is on four full pages in the papers when it's his birthday interesting story Iheard. Bugger bought a car costing 1 crore for his daughter's 21st birthday; his brother, wanting to show even he got money, sent his son by air to Delhi to have his hair straightened.
These kind of people we have in Goa, why not this kind of a story? To tell you the truth, first bloody few chapters I didn't understand only Too much bloody history told in roundabout kind of way and I'm not knowing what kind of nice Goan fellows this writer wants to show. Change your bloody gear I want to tell him, hill is bloody over, but still he goes ghungghung-ghung in first bloody gear Then, when he starts talking about the bad buggers, his gear he changes, and damn good the book goes then. What I am feeling is that there are no heroes in Goa today, only the nasty buggers.
When this fellow who has his NGO to save Goa talks, you know he is going to get it in the neck the minute he opens his mouth. Where there are fellows in Goa like that? First thing they'll do, is sell and save their lives. You ever seen people in Goa kill a snake? No? Arre what to tell you, solid sight you missed! One bugger will spot a snake, and in ten minutes, half the bloody village will come out. They'll throw stones, sticks, any bloody thing they can find, until they kill that snake and make it into mincemeat. Then they'll place this lump on the road to admire it and talk about how brave they were.
Goa is Aparanta of old - the Land at the Horizon. The tale of Dino Dantas, protester and self-appointed guardian of Aparanta, and his innkeeper cousin Antonio begins here, in the sleepy village of Socorro Do Mundo by the Sea, where time holds little meaning and the haze of nostalgia is as binding a force as faith in the benevolence of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, 'Perpet' to familiars.
For some time now, the world and some of Aparanta's own have been engaged in a feeding frenzy on the natural treasures of this land of plenty Chief among the poisonmongers is Winston Almeida, supreme thug, land shark and political aspirant, who will stop at nothing to appropriate all that this creaky, corrupt paradise has to offer For this he has allied with Sergei, a Russian druglord; the Princess, a tantalising Brazillian transsexual go-between; and Fernandes, her Goan policeman lover, and their alliance is blessed by Number One, the political overlord of Aparanta.
In the face of their collective greed stands Dino, determined as ever to preserve what he can of his homeland.But can one man's courage and fervour alone save Aparanta from being betrayed by its own? Once Upon a Time in Aparanta captures this churn of present-day Goa, its charm and follies, its greed and grouses, its colourful characters and peerless natural beauty.
Hartman de Souza teaches theatre arts at the Mahindra United World College, Paud, Maharashtra