Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 07/31/15 3:19 PM

Book review: Moving To Goa by Katharina Kakar

In Moving to Goa (Penguin/Viking), Katharina Kakar takes a long, hard but affectionate look at what has been her home in India for over a decade. Having lived in the southern part of the state for a while now, she decides she is fairly well equipped to write about the place; the book is less an account of the Kakars` (Katharina`s husband is the noted psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar) life in Goa and more a neatly encapsulated overview of this beautiful place.

All the usual topics figure in this roster of topics: its Portuguese past, its beautiful beaches, the hippies, the truth in the promiscuous paradise tag it has acquired, the interior villages with their interior life, the delectable cuisine, the eccentrics of her village, the Christmas rituals, the sacred groves deep inside forests, the Hindu gods of Goa who have a history of being moved around for their safety, the wild beauty of the monsoons.

Kakar steers clear of stereotypical writing, and is almost kind to the tourist rabble who descend periodically on the place; even when she rues the destruction wrought by the mining fraternity and the fast fading friendship across communities, she manages to sound even-tempered.

She ends on a somewhat wistful note,though, noting that the bhaile, the outsider, will always be an outsider. However, she is in a happy place, and clearly will take what she gets. I liked the book, it educates even as it entertains.

GoaKatharina KakarMoving to Goa

Sheila Kumar • July 31, 2015

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