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Shamlesh Pagui: Kankon's favourite Taximan

Human of Kankon #1: Shamlesh Pagui

'Sam the Man' is our nickname for Shamlesh Pagui, Goa’s favorite taximan and Jack of all trades. Whether it’s for a smooth ride to the city, a tip on the best (and only) place to get an old Gypsy 4x4 repaired or for a roaring soccer match in Margao following by a lip-smacking Goan fish curry, you « better call Sam ». A good friend to the tourists, a respected member of the local community, Sam is a walking legend with a giant heart and an unmatched love for his home Goa, the Kankon region, and his Enfield.

What makes Sam unmistakably Kankonkar and Goan?

Sam is the incarnation of "susegad", a typically Goan relaxed, happy-go-lucky take on life that values the simple pleasures of home-cooked fish curry and quality time spent with friends and family exploring the region’s natural gems. Although Goa and the Kankon region are no exception to the religious divides of one of the world’s most multicultural countries, Sam has chosen respect as his religion, for the beliefs of others and for his duty as a human being to serve those in need and the precious nature around him.

The only time you’ll ever see Sam rising up again the opponent is at a soccer match - he admitted himself he’s such a die-hard fan of FC Goa that he’d happily give up work for a game !

His perspective on what makes the Kankon region so special

As a taximan, Sam meets a lot of newcomers to the Kankon region and time after time, his customers are wowed by the green magnificence of the area, starting with the lush mountain Karmalghat, right into the quaint village of Gulem in South Goa. Most people travel to the South from North Goa, formerly a pristine landscape degraded by the influx of mass tourism and unregulated commercial developments in the coastal region.

Less exposed to the destruction of the North, the South of Goa has preserved much of the dazzling biodiversity that makes the Kankon region part of one of the world’s eight biodiversity hotspots. With over 30 km of tropical coastline, infinite stretches of turtle-nesting beaches, vast expanses of primary forest, natural reserves, waterfalls and a rich infusion of Indian and Portuguese cultures, Goa and the Kankon region at wide are hypnotising with beauty.

For Sam, the simple mention of the names Kankon or Goa brings a smile to his face. If life is boring, you’re tired of daily work and you don’t know what to do, Sam’s advice is « pack your bags, Goa and the Kankon are there to freshen up your life »

What he would change to make the region more sustainable if he were head of Kankon.

Everything that is harming the region in the name of development ! For Sam, Goa and the Kankon region are losing their original charm to the greed of industrial tourism. The area is seriously lacking in eco-friendly tourism despite the villages in Kankon being full of organic produce.

If Sam were in charge, he’d start working to promote the right kind of tourism: one that preserves the region’s precious environment and produces organic food with the support of local governments. He would also develop awareness campaigns and seminars to educate locals about ways to help protect the environment like minimising the use of plastic and chemicals and converting to natural and eco-friendly products.

In his experience, the people of Kankon are not aware about environmental issues or the climate crisis - it’s high time they learn how to preserve their beautiful region.

Sam’s message for people coming to Kankon or Goa

As a Kankonkar and Goan, he extends his warm welcome to all visitors of the region: « Enjoy the beauty and please keep Kankon and Goa clean ! Take home good memories and visit again with your friend and family. Athithi devo bhava (guest is god) ! »

PS: if you ever need an outstanding ride in Goa, give us a shout and we'll put you in touch with Goa's favourite taximan !

Written by Maud Koenig O'Carroll

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