My name is Veronica PM (stands for my last names – Perez Morales or for Pagli Morni, my local nickname!) and I’m from Alacranes, Matanzas, CUBA!
Now I live in Goa, in Siolim ( Lion Land).I came here 5 years ago and thought of spending a lot of time here; and I guess my thoughts were strong enough.
I’m a Professional Hispanic Dance artiste, I graduated from the National School of Arts of Cuba. I say Hispanic because is not only about Flamenco there are other styles too . Flamenco is the main part of it, but there is more!
Before I came to Goa, I was a dancer in the Great Theatre of Havana, as a part of the Spanish Ballet of Cuba. Once I started “spending more time here” the dancer in me started kicking in and I wanted to dance!(It’s been my major activity since I was 8 years old; 8-9 hours everyday for the last 17 years) So, I started looking for a space in Goa to dance. I thought dancing will also show a big part of the Cuban culture and will summarize the Cuban people and their way of life since it’s our most outstanding feature, the dancing, the grace. On top of that, I studied Flamenco, which is a dance that originated in Andalucía (Spain), where we Cubans come from – our heritage is half African and half Spanish, no?
I started dancing for events; at the beginning it was a bit shocking as the art scene in Goa is not that strong. It’s more about entertainment than about appreciation for an art or artiste, but I believe that the Moon always thanks a dance made with the heart and she is my favourite audience.I dance a lot in open spaces, on beach stages... so, now you know from where the Moon comes in to the story.I still dance and teach also.
Goa is a lovely place to live and I’m not very demanding though; it feels like a working holiday all the time. I love riding my bike back home from my shows, hanging up my dresses and head to a nice Trance party straight away.Then it’s hard to find the Flamenco Dancer in me,it’s so abstract the whole scenario of Goa!
Living here is very similar to living in Cuba in terms of simplicity: the plus points are riding my bike-it gives me a very strong sense of freedom and independence; and where else can you find Monkeys and Shev Puri? The locals casual mentality pinches me and reminds me of the amazing adventure that life is.The flipside is that I miss my family, my dog and friends who are not here.
The Indian mentality, the Hindu Poojas and the Churches are the biggest similarities between Goa and Cuba. Rest of India is not so similar to my motherland, but by no means is less charming to me –here is a magic, as it is there in Cuba, these are places where one feels that "there is something else going on". To me, India and Cuba are two completely opposite energies that complement each other, whatever one is missing, the other one has it in abundance. – my two beloveds.
Like many Indians, Russians, and Filipinos, Chinese, Europeans and citizens of other countries, Cubans also leave the country mostly looking for an economic improvement. I guess I’m living here because I don’t require much; Goa is a place for simple living, not about making money. That’s maybe why I’m the only one here and in the nearby states, and possibly one of the very few Cubans who live in India (except the people from the Embassy). If you know of anyone, please let me know; I would love to connect and share my experiences with some civilians ;)
I think Cubans are the Ambassadors of Grace par excellence, always disseminating our culture, either laughing out loudly or dancing Salsa anywhere. Every time I say I’m from Cuba, I have to repeat it, and I’m used to hearing – Wow, you are the first Cuban I meeting (if is an Indian talking) and; Wow, you are the first Cuban I’m meeting in India (if a foreigner is saying it). I love talking to people about our culture, our cigars, our music, our people… sharing the endless sense of humor, rhythm, grace and joy of the Cubans. I love to start playing the Cuban music around and dance, dance Salsa, alone or with a male partner. Wherever people hear it, it’s like opening the gates of a dam of intoxicating cheerfulness.Dancing in Goa, the Flamenco and Salsa, going to the markets and having silly-jolly talks is a way of sharing my culture and so I hope to keep contributing to the harmony of this place.
Text: Veronica PM
Edited by Zainab Hyder Razavi