There is no doubt that Mario De Miranda’s cartoon on this topic is way better than mine! But then he was a maestro at observation, emphasis and exaggeration!
I remember when I was a young boy, whenever we went to Utorda during vacations, my father would drag me along to the Cansaulim ‘Tinto’ (Market Square) to buy provisions for a Sunday fest at home. We would leave early in the morning so that we could catch the best ‘Potantulem’ (Pork inards – Liver, Heart, ears, cheeks …. hmmm ugh right?) before it could get swiped out! If any of you don’t know, your favourite ‘sorpotel’ is made from these spare-parts!).
Then there was loads of fish to bargain for, under the covered shed, which somehow rightly or wrongly carries the name ‘Tinto’ although the who marketplace is really a ‘tinto’! Fruits and vegetables would be brought in fresh from Belgaum via train (The Cansaulim station is right next to the marketplace!). The good thing about accompanying my father to the market was that he was extremely impatient but knew exactly what to buy and our shopping was done in a jiffy! The bad thing was that he hated to carry anything in his hands and so his ‘martial artist’ son had to exercise his muscles a bit!
What i loved (and still love) about the ‘Tinto’ (Any Tinto that is!), is the happy animation that unfolds before your eyes – Cows, dogs, cats, pigs, rats, crows, sparrows and even human beings are seen sauntering lazily around the marketplace. Sounds of, “Bai tuka mhunn ditam huh?” (I am only giving it to you at this price ok?), and sometimes even, ” Bonkam Chincharo!” ( Tamarind seed in the bum! … meaning, miser), are heard over the cacophony of voices. Little kids selling thin plastic bags press through the crowds, coaxing you to buy one for a meager sum just as you are closing a deal. Then there are the lottery sellers who raise the hopes of everyone by saying, “Aiz abertur, Bab tuka lagtolich!” (Results today! You are sure to win!). Then there are beggars who bless and others who go straight to the bar with your ‘izmol’ (Mite) for a ‘cop’ (a shot of licquor)! And of course, ladies have to watch out for the ‘compradores’ (Elbow specialists) who will take great pleasure in jabbing your softies with their elbows! The good thing about the marketplace is that almost everything needed for your survival in a village will be available there. For electronic items, hardware and building materials (other than small appliances and tools), one would have to go to the town of Margao. Even doctors’ ‘consultorios'(Clinics) would be located close to the market place.
Once all the shopping was done, men and women alike would hire a motorcycle ‘pilot’ to take you home (I have covered the ‘Pilots’ in a separate post!). They would take my father and me ‘doubleseat’! (It was quite common to do this in those days).
I hope you have time to stand and gaze at a ‘Tinto’ the next time you go to one. I am sure you will find many ‘Taitr’ (Plays) announcements stuck onto the pillars. Do go for one and support our dear ‘Tiatrists’ (Local Actors).
I wonder how many youngsters in Goa know the meaning of the word ‘ Alvorada’ (The dawn)or ‘Foznem'(The feast ‘bombs’). Back in those days, every child awakened to the sound of the ‘Foznem’, looking forward to the ‘Feira’ (fair) and the money that grandparents, parents, and relatives would hand out (usually 10 rupees were the top limit, however, from the returning ‘Tarvotti’ (Sailor) uncle, we would get even a 100!)
The village feast in Utorda (Our Lady of Lourdes) was a once a year event that my brothers, cousins and I looked forward to. The house would be packed to capacity a day before the feast. Sorpotel would be made almost a week before but the ‘Add-Mas/Sukhem’, ‘Oshe-Pulao’, ‘san’nas’ and ‘Xacuti’ would be made on the day. The mothers would be busy ironing all the clothes for the ‘Festachem Mis’ (Feast mass) which would be the longest but grandest mass of the day. Even before entering the church, I would glance at the ‘Feira’ and think of what to buy – The ‘Heat-driven’ boat always being the first on my list. This little boat operated on the heat produced by a candle flame. The other item on my list was to buy the ‘kaddeo-Boddeo’ (I loved the jaggery and ginger coated ones but despised the white sugar ones!).
It was usual for churches to invite well-known ‘pregadors’ (preachers) for the 9-day ‘Salves’ (Novenas) and the ‘Festachem Mis’ (Feast mass). The 9th day was called the ‘vesperas’ (Eve) and the mass was followed by fire-crackers and ‘foznem’. The whole village would wake up to the sound of the ‘foznem’ whose loud blast could be heard reverberating miles around. Those who lived close to the church would also wake up to peeling of church bells and beautiful music (Alvorada) played by a brass band under the pergola/gazebo located in the church compound. The church and its surrounds would soon be teeming with a riot of colour painted by bright and new garments worn by the Children and adults for the grand ‘Festa’ (Feast). The Church grounds would be festooned with decorative stringers and balloons and the ‘kermes’ (stalls) doing thumping business selling ‘khajem'(Sweets),’bhoje'(fritters), ‘solie'(Dry fish),’mobil’ (furniture), ‘fell’ (toys) and even ‘cerveja’ (beer) and snacks!
Cute little girls would pin artificial but handmade flowers on the lapels in exchange for a small donation. The elders would usually buy candles to burn at the statue of our Lady inside the church. After mass, shouts of ‘boas festas’ (Happy feast)were heard all around. People would be seen greeting each other with hugs and kisses (Hmmm..Cheek to Cheek only!). My father and i would attend the ‘dhireo’ which would take place in the afternoon of the same day, in some nearby field ( Once, a bull came charging after me! But that’s a story for another post!). It was usual for most of the village to show up at the ‘teatro’ (play) that same night. The ‘pandal’ that was erected close to the church, usually had many issues with the curtains getting snagged, sound system giving loud feedback and the generator noise causing a darned racket! But then it was all part of the fun!
All in all, it used to be a day full of fun and frolic. Returning back to our city dwellings after tearful farewells to our cousins the next day was always heart-breaking. I hope these lovely Goan traditions never die. May the ‘dhar’ (gunpowder) of the ‘foznekar’ never dampen!
The very first time I entered Bombay (Now Mumbai) and that too via a domestic flight from Dabolim Airport in Goa, was in 1982 after I had just completed my Secondary School Certificate exams. My uncle Lazarus was on his yearly vacation in Goa and had to be in Mumbai to attend some important work.
During this trip, I had the pleasure of visiting a Goan ‘Kudd’ – A club where mostly sailors waiting for their call to board their ship on their next assignment or, returning sailors waiting for their onward transportation to Goa would stay. I don’t exactly remember which village the ‘kudd’ belonged to (I believe it was the ‘Majordekarancho Kudd’). All i remember is that it was located in a run-down building, in a busy part of town. It was accessed by a timber staircase which appeared rather rickety and creaked as we walked on it.
The door was opened by a wiry old man, wearing a soiled banian and a chequered ‘droz’ (drawers/short pants). He had in the corner of his mouth, a ‘Black Lion’ cigarette (Brand of tobacco, well-known among the Goan ‘shippees’ of that time, which came with a sheaf of thin paper with a glue line to hold it together when rolled). Even before he could ask who we were looking for, someone shouted from inside, ” Konn aila re uncle?” (Who is it uncle?)accompanied by some other grunts and moans – “Maar zok re chediechea! Tujo dhav …khell re!”(Leave it be, son of a bitch! It is your turn … so play!).
We were ushered into a fair-sized room which looked like a living room (or was it a bedroom? A playroom perhaps? or, the only room in the house!!!). Sat right in the center of the room were four drunks trying to play a game or carrom. They were rambling, and cussing and punching fists in the air, totally engrossed in the game. Two chairs were dragged from under the dining table that had some Goan ‘pao’ (Bread) and probably chapattis kept in a covered plastic vessel. A kettle probably left from the morning’s breakfast patiently awaited clearance. We sat just behind the players, peering over their shoulders at the ensuing game waiting for someone to look in our direction. Suddenly one of them asked drowsily, “Konnank mevonk sodhtat re tumim?” (Who do you want to meet?). We were shocked to hear that my uncle’s friend had already left on a voyage the day before!
It was good to know that Goan hospitality did not end once a Goan left Goa! Although we stood up to leave, we were almost pushed back down into our seats and offered a glass of ‘Feni’ (Goan local spirit) with a lemon cordial chaser. Uncle went behind a curtain and reappeared with some hot ‘bhoje’ (Fritters). Uncle probably was a ‘long stay’ there and was paid a salary to cook and look after the ‘kudd’. I don’t really know if there were more rooms other than the kitchen and the toilet. If there were, i was wondering why there was a bunk-bed and atleast three large trunks with bedding on them. There was no doubt that the ‘kudds’ of those days were only for males, given the number of nude images on the wall! The irony of it all was the altar to the Gods was right next to all the perverse calenders! (Goans and their Catholicism – simply inseparable!). And not to forget the underwear left to air on the bedposts (Typical ‘married bachelors!).
I am told that to this day many of the village ‘Kudds’ still survive in Mumbai. These offer the cheapest room rates in town for the members and as long as Goans continue to go on sea voyages, and the old buildings they are in survive, they will be fully occupied.
To me there’s no other place to go to but the Word of God for ultimate comfort! This is an old CD which has always helped me get through the most difficult times in my life. I now share it with you. I am sure you will be blest by it. Also pray for the church that put this audio together (I believe the name is mentioned at the end of the audio?).
I was so tempted to share this with you … Just loved to hear it for some reason…Spiritually uplifting! Hope it brings you into a worship mode!