Panaji: As a group of 12 young people of Goan origin (Pogos) return to their homes abroad after a familiarisation tour of Goa, they will take with them memories of silvery mackerel braised in traditional recheado masala as well as more and more casinos cramming the Mandovi river.
"There are five casinos right now. How many more will you have after five more years... 30?" Aaditi Pramod Dubale wondered during an interactive session with the media.
The 22-year-old was part of the 11-day familiarisation trip arranged by the Goa government's department of NRI affairs. Dubale, an Illinois community outreach coordinator, traces her roots to a small north Goan town of Mapusa.
She was the only US citizen in the 12-member group that included people from Canada, Mozambique and Australia, many of whom had never visited Goa.
Aaditi said the 'Know Goa Programme' exposed her to the Goan culture and heritage, but she added that the five riverboat casinos bobbing on cramped Mandovi river was an ominous sign for Goa.
Rachel Castelino, a singer and engineer from Ontario, Canada, said the trip was a catalyst of sorts for her.
"Earlier, if you asked me about my identity, I would say I am a Canadian. But after travelling around Goa, I'm proud to say I'm a Goan Canadian. I am a lot surer about my identity now," she said.
The dozen Pogos visited temples and churches dotting the state and interacted with people and professionals from different walks of life.
"We saw everything right from the way a Goan potter makes his pots to how a district council works," said Donovan Fernandes, a sociology student from Canada.
There are nearly 300,000 Goans who have settled abroad.