GOA is still a welcome wedding destination for many, guess for whom? For the Gujarati community abroad in USA and UK, they love Goa and come in large groups everything laid on for the nuptial rites and ceremonies for the couple at one of Goa’s popular places like say in this case it was the classiest Ayurveda retreat in down south Goa Beach House and nearby Baywatch, interestingly two properties owned by Gujarati businessmen in London! For some reason, I thought Gujarati wealthy don’t like to have their weddings in Gujarat anymore or perhaps just a reception for the extended family in Ahmedabad or Baroda.
For the big bash wedding they like to check into one of the Goa beachside resorts and the down south Goa beach sides are much preferred by the connoisseurs amongst Gujaratis residing and doing great abroad in the developed countries where they have emigrated, regenerated and are happy…
This is to say I got a pleasurable surprise this week when a long lost cousin of mine Naresh Patel, whom I have not seen in donkey’s years (long ago in Gujarat in the 1900s and maybe again in Goa in the 2000S) from London called to say he was here for a family wedding in Goa at Ajit Patel’s Beach House and Baywatch near Sernabatim beach down south Goa. It was a weeklong affair and they were having a great time and would I like to meet up? Of course.
Since I’m not too much in touch with my cousins in London I asked now who’s coming to get married in Goa? It was the wedding of Priesh (his wife Taru’s and Ajit Patel’s younger brother) and Chandni and that’s all there is to know, two young adults in love with life! That’s all we need to know. Both families are happy and Goa is a happy place.
I missed the big fat family wedding but caught up with my cousin Nareshbhai who is so clued about the rest of my extended family of many cousins and uncles, aunts, grand folk. As families turn nuclear and get smaller and smaller all the fascinating stories of old kind of get faded and someone has to revive them with bits of spice added to it garnered from personal knowledge and experience…and that’s my most enduring cousin brother Nareshbhai or so it seems to me. He is a godfather of family memorabilia if I may say so. “Ours,” he refreshes my mind, “is a story of four sisters from village Dharmaj in Gujarat, your mother Vimuben was one of them. The other sisters were Gangaba (my grandmother, Gajraba and Kashiba, all of Dharmaj…your mother married and went out to Malaysia, my people via Africa went to the UK and there have grown flower and fruit. I have my son Priten, daughters Tulsi and youngest Bhumi…several grandchildren.” In other words he has arrived as a godfather for family near and dear as also extended family far flung around the world, including me in Goa. We should meet up to clue up about each other!
Well, I agreed and a meeting at my home in Panjim later we were friends, I reckon; a few tears over old family matters and memories were recounted and a few tears shed, questions asked about so-and-so and so-and- so in the US and the rest of it. You get the idea.
Funny, or not funny, suddenly I feel I have family out in the UK and I need not feel like I have no family at all! So with promises to keep in touch anew the fat UK Guju wedding in south Goa was over with and I’m thinking if I had gone out to the UK too many, many moons ago….how different would have been my story. No point in sulking over lost years and lost glories abroad. I like my India, okay, although I have no desire for it to become either a Hindu-style democracy or another Russia in the making. Think about all this and don’t just think.


IT came like a bolt out of the blue. Dear friend of old “Baba” Dinesh Vaghela, barely in his 70s, just sat down on a watchman’s chair outside his residence in Mapusa and he was gone with the wind. I will miss Baba — as most called him — for this adventurous man who left his native Kutch in Kathiawad in Gujarat in his early 20s and came to Goa, after having spent some years with the late Bhagwan Rajneesh, later Osho, in Pune…to Goa perhaps in search of greener pastures for a mind in a state of despair.
April Fool’s day is like a joke, Baba passed away that day and I thought too early to go Baba, I haven’t done down memory lane with you yet, how can you be gone? Come back! On April 1, 2024 late evening I sadly watched the pyre wood burning away at the very nicely made-over St Inez crematorium in Panaji (it’s called Moksha and designed by Arvind Deshpande).
Honestly, my mind was filled with regret and a flood of tears for Baba. He is gone and last I met him he was talking of visiting us!
For Baba was one of the first people my hubby introduced me to when I got married in 2001 and came to live in Goa – then he was Baba of Baba Tiles, a flourishing company in tiles which everyone wanted for their homes and hospitality ventures…Baba was a free thinker not bound by rigid ideas of any kind, he married his secretary, a Santa Cruz Catholic girl Teresa in 1990 and soon they had two sons Geet and Kabir (although earlier he had vowed he never wanted to get married and would be a sanyasi for life, don’t ask me why, perhaps it’s because Baba had bad memories of his stepmother’s cruelties back home in Kutch when he was a little boy and his father married anew).
Anyway, he escaped from home and adventured some before finding a home in Goa which he loved. He transformed Teresa’s life not so much about being a Hindu wife per se, but being comfy in a saree and cooking and eating vegetarian food. Teresa was a big help to him in very many ways …Baba was a free soul and I think Teresa was also interested in his world of spiritual over material matters, a true soulmate for Baba.
Into the spiritual world Baba certainly was for he entertained Baba Ramdev and took up a Patanjali products agency; he entertained the social activist and spiritual teacher leader Vimala Thakar, philosopher UG Krishnamurthi …later on he started a Friends Centre for he thought people should meet and talk more often than they did. A deep thinker most easygoing and reassuring man was Baba and then he worried about the growing corruption in the country and helped found the Aam Aadmi party of Arvind Kejriwal.

St Inez Crematorium in Panaji… a pleasant suprise, makeover by architect Rahul Deshpande!

Baba knew a lot of people in high places and amongst his friends were many niz Goenkars, some were at the St Inez crematorium on Monday evening to say their last goodbye to him. I’m feeling very disappointed and sad because Baba has gone with the wind prematurely and will miss him sorely, for so many things he had left unsaid when I wanted to do a down memory lane with him.
His eldest son Geet confides his father was diabetic (all the anxiety maybe for many owed him money which his father gave away easily), “My father also suffered asthma. That day he must have been tired looking after the Baba Ramdev shop at Mapusa…” He came to the home in Mapusa and at the gate sat down on the watchman’s chair, he went out like a light, “although I was with him and I tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resusstication, it didn’t work. His heart just packed up I guess…”
My good friend Baba Dinesh Chandra Vagela, gone with the wind and I’m feeling blue; so many friends are just dropping and I’m convinced it’s the bloody Covid vaccines doing it…killing many prematurely. Maybe I can persuade Teresa if she will do a down memory lane of her life with the very interesting person that Baba was, her life and times with him, for the goanobserver.in?
On that note it’s avjo, poiteverem, selamat dating, au revoir, arrivedecci, hasta la vista and vachun yeta here for now.

—Mme Butterfly

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