If you were to travel or stay in India, you can be certain about one thing. The flavors would change when you move from one state to another. That wouldn’t mean less or more spicy, but the entire culture would have a traditional favourite one or two fruit ingredients appealing to local palette. While most of the country may have its own version of a mango species and the raw mango or Ambi would find its way into most preparations, there are some flavours which are predominant in some regions than others. In north be prepared to encounter the purple Jamun fruit, its colour staining the lips. The Imli, ( tamarind) would travel in most of the plains with you; but come west coast and you would find a red fruit called Kokum. I encountered this fruit for the first time in Goa in a vegetable dish. It’s natural red colour was a pale pink after cooking. At the steps to the east, across the country, a date and jaggery mix, called Nolen Gur is found. Move south and even the hotels could offer you a beverage “cold TC water” or Tender Coconut.
When you mention “Goa” to many people in India, an image of a stereotypical person wearing a Hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and a cane hat arises in the mind. A “Goan” person would be this person (generally a goateed man) sitting in the sun, sipping a feni on the beach. In fact the entire existence of this character was visualized on the beach. Lets blame the media for this and their rigorous campaigning of false stereotypes!
Nothing could be more far from the truth. Most locals I know of, avoid these touristy beaches and hardly can I imagine any of them stepping in the sun to pick a cane topi. But markets flourish. On the beach. In the city center, selling false stereotypical items. ( for example, peacock feathers…. when was the last time we ever bought a peacock feather?) Take Fashion Street in Mumbai for example. The Mumbai-Goa buses are strategically parked right outside this market, dolling out “costumes” that the ignorant tourist will “definitely need” at the end of their journey. These aren’t much different from the street market in colaba causeway selling afghan pants or Janpath in Delhi, selling stuff that many Indian homes haven’t seen.
A look at Anjuna market and you will know what I mean. The 60’s and 70’s tees and kurtas. Overflows and rejects from the once flourishing textile exports markets. They all seem to find a market here. Fulfilling just one purpose, accentuating the stereotypes and giving the experience that ignorant tourists demand. It builds for itself an ecosystem, different from the rest of Goa, but unique on its own. And its good. The economy depends on it.
Sometimes you just have to use what is available to come up with an innovative solution.
These are some designs from the metal sequin and shell collection that we had developed in Goa on our last visit. Its interesting how this came up. Mussel shells were the green shells that get generally thrown away as the locals found no use of them either in product craft or otherwise. The beautiful green color at the top had a tendency to chip. So most of the shells were lack luster at the top and green towards the bottom edge. We needed to give it a look that lasted. So after rummaging the local shops for locally available solutions, I developed this metal sequin look to cover the top area. The rest of the shell was given long lasting lacquer finish. We used some silken and cotton thread for the neck and voila, it was ready to use! The best part, half a dozen crafts women from Goa were trained to make a new kind of product which supports them in their livelihood.
I’m adding this post to Sue’s blog A word A week challenge: Metallic theme as it coincides with the topic.
This is Garuda. The king of the Bird community according to Hindu Mythology. We found this remarkable sculpture in the 11th C AD ruins of Vichundrem in Goa. He is the mount of Lord Vishnu and seems to be paying obeisance to him after being granted immortality. The Vishnu statue as Shri Narayandev is at the other end of the ruins.
Goa… I have lived there for the last three years…. and soon it will be time to bid it Goodbye. As I leave and move on to new places… there are so many thoughts that cross my mind…. like this weekend spent on the beaches… or the calm and serene chapel at Mount St. Mary. Can only hope that these images stay this way… so that next time… when I am to return… the fond memories can be revived.. whether it is the breezy mount mary, the sunset that we can see over the mandovi… the hills yonder… or the colourful wares at the shacks by the beach…. the people…my friends.. and the spiritual presence.. wish could carry it all with me.