By Bharat Wanchoo
My association with Goa dates back to 1977 when, as a probationer of the Indian Police Service, I had the good fortune to visit this beautiful land of sun and sand. Little did I imagine then that this tryst would indeed turn into an affair with this wonderful land and its most remarkable, simple and lovely people. The CHOGM brought me back and gave me the chance to renew this association. My work in Delhi ensured that I kept coming back to Goa at regular intervals. However, during all these visits it was only work, a hectic schedule and contacts with only the officialdom. I did, however, over these numerous visits, get to see the changes or should I say the transformation that Goa underwent. After retirement when, in the last week of June 2012, I was offered the Governorship of Goa I realised that destiny had played its final hand.
I came to Goa with my wife (her first visit) with the clear intention that we would explore and discover the state and its people. In this we were fortunate to have the assistance of Sanjeev V Sardesai, whom I used to call the moving encyclopaedia of Goa, who took us to places that normal visitors to Goa would never go to. However, there were several places, events and things that I discovered on my own, the most remarkable and memorable being Goa Chitra. Some months into being in Goa one day as I was going through the newspapers I saw a write-up of some young officers having visited Goa Chitra. The first thing I did was to ask my ADC to fix up a visit at the very the earliest, as curiosity got the better of me.
That first visit of ours to Goa Chitra left a deep impression on my mind. I got to learn so much more about the agrarian heritage and lives of the people of Goa, something I do not think I would have imbibed in any other manner or form. More importantly I was deeply impressed with the commitment, zeal, enthusiasm and knowledge of Victor Hugo. What struck me was that this was a single handed job which would have taken a huge effort and not to mention the money to put it together. The adjoining organic farm in which rice was then growing was only indicative of Victor’s connection with his roots, something that is rare to find in today’s world. The peace and calm coupled with the artistic atmosphere was indeed soothing and perhaps was a portrayal of Victor himself. The section of wheels and carriages was still being put together and one could see that another masterpiece, Goa Chakra Museum, was in the making. On that visit we got to meet only Victor and it was only later that we met Aldina his wife and were impressed how they complemented each other.
Following our first visit to Goa Chitra I made it a point to recommend to all my relatives and friends, who visited us at Raj Bhavan, to visit Goa Chitra. All of them I must say came back very impressed, particularly with the passion of Victor. During my stay in Goa I thereafter made several visits to Goa Chitra either to attend a music concert of for the inauguration of a painting exhibition and the Dom Martin Gallery. Each of these visits was always intellectually stimulating and indeed pleasurable, besides getting to know more and more about the variety and range of activities and events that were being organised at Goa Chitra. The Goa Cruti was opened after we left Goa, and we will surely take out time to view it whenever we return to Goa for a visit.
While in Goa we did not visit Goa Chitra as many times as we would have liked to. We did, however, get to interact with Victor and Aldina on several occasions socially at different places, each time observing the enthusiasm and commitment of Victor and also the different facets of his persona. Goa Chitra, I feel, has made a significant place of pride for itself in the landscape of Goa and I can say with all the commitment at my command that it will only grow and prosper in the days and years to come. It has indeed already become a brand.
Shri Bharat Vir Wanchoo is a retired officer of the Indian Police Service. With vast experience in the fields of V.V.I.P. Security, Departmental Security, Intelligence and Counter Insurgency, he is regarded as one of the leading professionals and a stalwart in the field of VVIP Security. Shri Wanchoo was the founding member of the elite Special Protection Group and served in that organisation twice, before he was appointed its Chief in 2004. He was Chief of the Special Protection Group for seven years during; and was awarded the Indian Police Medal in 1993 and the President’s Police Medal in 2001. He served as the Governor of Goa from May 4, 2012 to July 7, 2016. Shri Wanchoo’s family includes Smt. Nalini Wanchoo, his wife, a son and a daughter, both of whom are married and two grand children.