Waxing nostalgic, with pleasure

Durgadas Prabhudesai | OCTOBER 06, 2012, 01:09 PM IST

The column “Business with Pleasure" always makes mesmile. It truly makes one feel nostalgic. One can't help but feel a sense of'deja vu' because the incidences and characters mentioned, either living ordead, sound so symbolically familiar that you get a feeling of meeting most ofthem.  Last week's column, particularlythe section  "Goa then" and"Goa now" was very poignant. I have penned down a few of mycomparisons from my young years which I have spent in my unadulterated andunspoiled Goa.

Goa then: Year 1967: There used to be a set time forfisherman to catch mackerels. The season would begin towards the end of GaneshChaturti with baby mackerels locally known as 'Bangullyo' or 'Bangdullyo'. Thesize of the fish would keep getting bigger till fishermen would stop catchingthem just before the monsoon. During the peak mackerel season one could gethalf a bucket of fish for as little as Rs 1. I remember one when we got 100mackerels for just Rs 1.That day most of the houses in our area had garlands ofmackerels drying on clothing lines.  Thewhole area smelled of dried fish for weeks but the beauty was that nobodycomplained.

There was one type of fish, which has since disappeared fromGoan plates, known as "Korbott". It was nothing but assorted smallfish caught and sold the way it was netted without sorting them out. It cateredto the poor as well as the rich because of its freshness and tasty curryprepared in Goan kitchens.  One would getlovely variety of small fish for which Goans would travel any distance such aswhite prawns, Sole fish, Dodiaro, mullets, Kalunder, shetkam, Kapsali, Vanaga,Khapis, Muddoshi and a variety of select small fish sold in generous portionsthat cost as little as Rs. 2 to Rs 10. These were available throughout theyear.     

On a bright sunnymorning anywhere in Goa, Goans would always greet one another by a symbolic‘nistyak kitem hadlem’, which literally could mean “Good morning, how areyou?”. And after exchanging these greetings, the inquirer could easily peepinto other persons ‘poti’ (carry bag) which was always made of cloth from oldpants stitched at home and never ever plastic.

About 20 years back,like today, Goans would rush to various beaches for their annual ‘salt waterbath’ which is considered therapeutic. One such beach, which use to be packedwith such campers, would the be extreme end of Baga beach. I vividly rememberthe lovely aroma of authentic goan food filling the air during lunch. Almostevery plate had a small hillock of boiled rice and bright orange or deepsaffron colour curry generously poured on it. If one had a stroll amongst thesefamilies, virtually every family there would call out ‘jevya’ (Let’s eat). Andone could happily join and have lunch with people you have never met before.You could even get a glass of beer or a shot of cashew feni from a gentlemanwho felt hospitable.

Goa now: There is nothing such as a fixed season for fish,since we get our fish from neighbouring states. For example, large mackerelsare available all through the year. Often, the fish are never really fresh.Besides, they are priced high, often four for Rs.100 making it extremelyuneconomical. Goan fisherman have become too greedy, their new generations arenot prepared to sweat out and toil like the good old days.

Wrongly planned tourism policies by various governmentssince Liberation have not only spoilt the ecology of the beaches as resultedinto congestion, unplanned constructions and shops, temporary structures,hawkers and sellers and unbelievable amount of people with criminal tendencies.One of the reasons to allow shacks on the beach is to provide cheap food anddrinks to the tourists. But over the years the pricing of menus have beencostlier than the five star resorts.

Goans still come to Baga beach to have their annual saltwater bath and you had to be really lucky to be offered lunch even if you knowthe family. And if they do offer, the menu for the afternoon will be ChickenManchurian and fried rice. 

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