Go(A) Corona: Harmal villagers provide solace to stranded foreign tourists

Goa has always been known for its hospitality when it comes to catering the needs of relaxation and comfort of tourists. Despite been thrown at the odd end due to nationwide lockdown to battle against Corona virus, there is one hamlet in Goa which has stood firm in establishing the old adage of Athithi Devo Bhava (The guest is equivalent to God).

Nearly 250 foreign tourists are currently stranded due to lockdown at the Harmal village in Arambol. A hub for the study of yoga, meditation, and alternative therapies, lively Arambol centers on its namesake beach, popular with backpackers and bohemian travelers.

But despite their own personal battle against the lockdown the villagers, the Panchayat members and local volunteers are all out to lend a helping hand to these foreign nationals day in and day out.

"I did not expect this kind of personal care and attention from the locals, more so when they themselves have families to look after, " says a Scottish national who has been living in Harmal since last two months. He was also full of praise for the volunteers who ensured that he got his basic essentials delivered right at his doorstep.

Since lockdown, the locals have come together in taking upon themselves the responsibility of these foreign guests.

"We are very much aware of what these visitors must be going through being stranded far away from their country. Hence, we collectively with the help of Panchayat decided to ensure their comfort in whatever little way possible," said a housewife who didn't want to be named. As a matter of fact most of them insisted that they are not out to seek any publicity by doing this but only carrying out their social responsibility and hence their identity should not be disclosed.

Catering to nearly 250 foreign tourists is a mammoth task, but despite all odds many host these foreigners on rotation basis over lunch or dinner at their respective dwellings.

"I'm here for quite sometime and with this lockdown I thought all doors would be shut upon me. But I was proved wrong when some locals ensured that I get two meals a day and other required essentials from time to time. I shall forever cherish this experience of been take care of by strangers like anyone from your own family would do for you," said a Belarus national.

She was also full praise for locals maintaining social distancing while out on their daily purchases.

Goa which had been at the receiving end for the infamous rape and killings of foreign nationals in the past has ceratinly set an example of being a caring State while waging war against COVID 19.

Meanwhile, the Goa Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant on Monday admitted that there are around 1600 foreigners currently stuck in Goa. "In coming days they will be airlifted by their respective countries," assured Sawant.

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