We got to Daman.
Planned as a weekend night away, we drove into Daman. And got to Moti Daman fort. And asked a chap who vends ice cream, what Daman was famous for. We have always stopped to ask such questions to ordinary folk, and the answers are usually very incisive. And far apart from what tourist guides tell you.
And so we ask this gentleman again. He looks up from what he was doing, and says without a flicker of his eye, ‘Booze. What else. The low taxes means booze is dirt cheap. There is NOTHING else here. NOTHING else”. He thunders. With special Spielberg sound effects on on ‘Nothing’ !
I smile. I am genuinely amused.
There we are. Standing within the precincts of the Moti Daman fort. A fort built by the Portugese, some 400 odd years ago. Yes, 400 odd years ago. Almost the time when Columbus was discovering America. And here it was, still standing. In its majestic splendour.
Lighthouse. Arches. Columns. Doors. Chapels. Pews. Prisons. Municipal office. And the precincts of the fort. Standing, as it seems, almost in fierce defiance of the Arabian sea and whatever that lies beyond. The fort itself houses this church built in 1603 AD ! And its such a fabulous sight. The camera cant quite tell the complete picture.
Imagination wanders on how life would have been here. 400 years ago. What it must have taken to build a fort, with relatively sparse technology in a foreign land. Kissing sea, river and land.
And to do all this, after sailing the high seas from Europe. There sure must have been something that coursed the veins of those people.
I have my hands on my hips and and smile at this chap. Who tells me that there is nothing but booze here. Standing right here in this fort. And silently mutter ‘you must be crazy’ !
Back in Mumbai. I talk to friends. About the the Moti Daman fort. They listen. As my excitement reaches a crescendo, one of them waves me to stop. And says, “you went all the way to Daman. To look at some fort. And not touch the booze”.
And as i look at him. He smiles. And says. “You must be friggin crazy !”