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Foreigners smitten by Goa village houses

Foreigners smitten by Goa village houses

Goa has been witnessing an economic boom. The new-found wealth among village middle-class has made them abandon their old village houses and move to cities chasing their dreams. The abandoning of houses in the villages has left many houses for sale.

CARXETTA, SMALL ward of Velim village in Salcete taluka in the western Indian state of Goa, is not a tourist village; villagers are selling their ancestral houses. The Schofields from England are the first ones to set foot in the village this year. The Russians are also on their way to settle in the village. Many are on their way to buy houses in Carxetta.

In Focus The villagers of Carxetta have welcomed a new neighbour in their locality – the Schofield family. The name may seem strange among the predominant locality of the Colaco’s, D’silva’s, Fernandes of the area, but a stark reality. Carxetta, like all villages of Assolna, Velim and Cuncolim (AVC), is experiencing an economic boom of a different kind. The ‘dollar boom’ you may call it. A ward dominated by men who work as seamen and others who have found greener pasture in the Gulf or in Mumbai. The new generation has shifted to the more comfortable life of the cities, and with it, a chunk of the old ancestral houses is up for sale in the village. This is the new India, which is emerging, especially in Goa where the villagers are abandoning their village houses and chasing their dreams of prosperity. The surging economic boom has forced some Indians to abandon their village houses and shift to more urban areas in search of jobs. The chase for dreams has seen many a Goan youngster migrating to Mumbai and elsewhere in the world. With passage of time, the pangs of separation from the village life ease out. The trend of selling village houses to foreigners has not started here at a hectic pace like in north Goa, but the Schofield family is the first one to have set the trend. The village is connected by road and the nearest city Margao, some 16 kilometres away, and the nearest bazaar is three kilometres away, in Velim village. Yet the Schofields fell so much in love with the village house that they paid to the original Goan owner Rs 27 lakhs. The 1000 square metres property on which stands the house, which now has been renovated giving a novel glitz to its rugged exteriors, has been dotted with a swimming pool as well. The Schofield family is from England and they have moved into this sleepy village on the banks of river Sal, last March. The white-skinned couple stands out among the crowd, among the predominant brown skinned Goans. Carxetta is not a usual beach side village that one associates with, but a global picture of tourism. Mobor and Cavelossim are the nearest beaches (some three kilometers away), and the villagers have to cross the river Sal to reach there. Cutbona, a village that is one kilometre away from Carxetta, has been engaged in fishing business for ages and with modernisation has a fishing jetty, where the numerous trawlers berth to unload the fish. The retired English couple has selected Goa and specifically Carxetta, as its destination for rest and leisure. They join an increasingly number of English middle aged people, who have bought houses in Goa and are preferring to settle down in the coastal sea-side beach resort infected Indian state, former Portuguese colony till 1961. Official records at the state foreigners department show that around 5000 Englishmen have bought houses in the state. Some property bought by the foreigners has come under the scanner for violations of the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999. They preferred Carxetta for its tranquility and the laidback lifestyle of the village compared to the hustle and bustle of the tourist-infected areas of the state. The village has retained its old essence. The old tiled houses are still found, the greenery in the form of mango and coconut trees are still evident everywhere you go. And the paddy fields have turned green in the rainy season not with paddy cultivation but with wild grass. Villagers have abandoned paddy cultivation in the village for a host of reasons. For the locals, the foreigners are not a problem in the area if they are peace-loving citizens. Says a local citizen, Franklin Colaco, now settled in Mumbai, “A small trickle of foreigners into the village is understandable, but tribulations may crop up if the trickle turns into a huge wave.” Colaco, on his part, has retained his ancestral house in the village even after staying in Mumbai for the last fifty years. And a second foreign family was to enter into Carxetta, but the Russian’s fate has suffered a twist. He has become a victim of the circumstances. With government cracking its whip on the foreigners buying property without following the (FEMA) procedures, he thought of breaking through the corridors of the legal hassles, but has ended up losing his money in the process. A Goan middleman from the same village has ended up being the owner of an old village house without paying a pie. The Russian paid all the money to the original owner of the property and when it came to execution of papers before the Registrar of Salcete, the Goan owner was shown as having bought the property. This is one of the pitfalls suffered by many foreigners in the past and the Russian is not the first or the last one.

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