A Brazilian in Goa

Arthur Ituassu’s internal Amartya Sen guides him through Goa, in openDemocracy:

For a Brazilian, this is a very interesting place to be. It is so clear that both former colonies of Portugal (Brazil 1500-1882, Goa 1510-1961) are products of a shared history – Portugal’s pioneering globalisation – that enables people from widely distant territories to feel at home in the other. When, for example, a mass in Portuguese is celebrated on Sunday morning at the church of Imaculada Conceição, both the oceans and the centuries between Brazil and Goa seem to fall away.

But a common history, as Amartya Sen argues, is no excuse from reasoning. A Brazilian in Goa can equally see that everything here is also “similar, but different”. The space for human creation and intervention – for making it new – must never be suppressed. It is such intervention that has also made Brazilia and Goan cultures – their shared histories notwithstanding – different.

Goa is India, and the Portuguese influence could not change this fact. This is a place where Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Arabs and the non-religious have been talking to each other for centuries – even though some people are (often violently) trying to sell the idea of a “pure” Hindu India. In that particular sense, a Brazilian’s journey through Goa is one that triggers reflection on one’s own self amid Goan/Indian complexity in order to come to a better understanding of one’s place in the world.