In search of Serenity

Ilya Demenkov, 27, was a computer programmer in Moscow before moving to Goa.

Please describe a typical day of your life from when you still lived in Russia.

I woke up alone in my Khrushevka apartment in Sviblovo district of Moscow and went to work.

By metro?

Rarely by a car, when I forgot what it was like to get stuck in a traffic jam.

Did you come here to have more space?

I just got tired of problems in my personal life. Of my work. Of communicating with the same people. I was tired of what I was doing. I never really wanted to be just an ordinary software programmer, I always thought that was a temporary stage. I have been always excited about doing extreme sports – snowboarding, kite surfing. I came to Goa to make it my profession. And I established my private Kite School.

Did you also try to find your way to your true self?

Honestly, I also came because I wanted to find a girlfriend.

Are your students of Russian descent?

Yes, 80% of my students are Russians and the rest are Italians and Germans.

Why do you think Russian people move to go by thousands every year?

Because of Goa Syndrome, a bestseller book that came out in 2007 about the life of foreigners in Goa. I read it too. Many people come here because they can afford cheap charter flights by Russian carriers Aeroflot and Transair – otherwise, people of low income could not have afford moving here.

Alla Duhl, an artist from St. Petersburg, came to India to travel five years ago. Since then, she hasn’t looked back…

How does India inspire your artistic interests?

As a creator I value comfort, atmosphere – I feel comfortable here.

Some people say that India sucks them in, like marsh land, and they cannot think of leaving it.

It is easier to find your own way, figure out what you are worth. I have more energy here.

How did you feel when you arrived five years ago?

I felt at home. Most of all, I enjoyed people’s smiles – they seem to look grateful just for being able to live. In Russia, the first thing that foreign people notice is that nobody smiles.

Ivan, 22, a software programmer, decided to try to freelance out of Goa. He arrived in India in early February, determined to stay for as long as he could.

How do you think a young Russian professional could be making money in Goa?

Oh, anything is available; I could be creating web sites here, or programming software. My goal is to establish a net of clients. I calculated that if I design a couple web sites a month, I will be quite wealthy by local standards.

How do you think this trend of Russians moving to Goa is going to develop?

There will be poor development, as local authorities are very much against this trend. They say that Israeli, German and Russian mafias have occupied all of Northern Goa. And that illegal tourists should be ready for massive checking.

Did you hear that from authorities?

No, I read about that in a local newspaper recently. Instead of 3-6 months, as before they will now give Russians visas just for one month.


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