A shore thing: This podcast dives into the heart of old Goa
What makes Goan homes unique, what secrets are hidden in old Konkani songs, what was village life like before all the change... Susegad Stories from Goa by Clyde D’Souza takes listeners through the beach state, along the roads less-travelled.
What is Goa beyond the booze, beaches and bikinis? There’s history, a rich local culture, food, music and visiting tourists of the sea-turtle kind. Clyde D’Souza, an author and media professional who divides his time between Goa and Mumbai, focuses on this other side of the state in his new podcast, Susegad Stories from Goa.
D’Souza focuses on what it means to live and work in the state today, by interviewing one prominent Goan or Goan resident in each episode. Season 1, which was launched in May and wrapped up last month, features heritage-home expert Heta Pandit, digital influencer Moses Saldanha, musician Agnelo Mendonca, and Hansel Vaz, founder of Cazulo Feni, among others.
D’Souza, 45, grew up shuttling between Mumbai and Dubai. “As kids, we would be dragged to Goa for summer vacations,” he says. “I use the word ‘dragged’ because at that time we felt there was nothing to do in Goa.” The youngsters spent much of the hot months in Colvale, a sleepy village in North Goa. “Now when there is so much to do, we all yearn for that nothing to do,” D’Souza says.
Bits of that sleepiness linger in the podcast. It’s a sort of extension of D’Souza’s third book, Susegad: The Goan Art of Contentment (Penguin, 2021). “Sometime during the pandemic, I was asked to explore the idea of susegad, a Goan-Portuguese word which means quiet. If you’ve ever spoken to a Goan in Goa, they will say everything is susegad, which means everything is okay.”
Things aren’t as quiet as they used to be, however. Amid sweeping change, Goans and non-Goans are doing much to protect, preserve and popularise the state’s innate charms. Varun Hegde, an engineer turned travel guide who grew up in Benaulim, kicks off the podcast. He runs Soul Travelling, which plans offbeat excursions in Goa: visits to tribal communities, shucking river oysters, plucking cashews in the local orchards. The episode entices listeners to explore Goa’s villages and spotlights the different communities that make up the beach state.
Another episode focuses on Heta Pandit, who came to Goa in 1995 to research the book Houses of Goa (1999), along with the architect Gerard Da Cunha. The book is now a bible for people looking to preserve and renovate old homes. She recalls knocking on people’s doors, asking if they wanted to be featured, trying to convince them to preserve their traditional bungalows. It was an era when people bought and imported furniture, and rebuilt their houses to accommodate it. “And also to show off to your neighbours,” she says in the episode, laughing.
Susegad Stories from Goa is produced by Bound India. “We would brainstorm every week on how to take people beyond the usual ideas of Goa,” says D’Souza. “We explored topics that a lot of non-Goans might not be familiar with.”
For instance, in one episode, Agnelo Mendonca, frontman for the band The Vindaloos, explains how a lot of the Konkani folk songs sung at weddings are actually battle cries by the Goans against the Portuguese. “Farar Far, which we love dancing to because of its energetic rhythm, refers to shots fired between a guy named Rane, a freedom fighter, and Portuguese soldiers,” D’Souza says.
In another episode, Sarita Fernandes, founder of the Sea Turtle Trust, talks about how Coastal Regulation Zone or CRZ norms have been changing and how these changes threaten storm buffers, stand to intensify flooding, and could endanger the sea turtles that arrive at the Morjim and Mandrem beaches in North Goa each year.
Collectively, the episodes form an audio document of a Goa in the midst of transformation. “It’s been going from a once-sleepy state to one of bustling commercial activity,” D’Souza says. “In the next season, we plan to look beyond susegad and the sleepy Goa we all knew and love.”