Monthly Archives: February 2013

Column: The Goa Connection

(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

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Before I begin, let’s take a test.

What comes to your mind when someone mentions “Goa”? Let me guess – party, cheap booze, tourists, beautiful beaches, vacation spot, fun, chilled out people, “susegad” etc. etc.

Now, how would you react if someone happened to mention that s/he is a Goan? I’m guessing your face will reflect a great amount of excitement.

No. I’m not making a sweeping statement. I’m basing this conclusion on how Mumbaikars have reacted when I mentioned that I am a Goan.

“You are a Goan!? What are you doing here in Mumbai? You should not leave Goa.” This is just one reaction that is repeated by many people. I don’t understand how to reply, but please put a lid on that rising excitement.

A lot of my gal-pals keep reminding me that I am supposed to show them Goa. In other words, I’m supposed to be a tour guide. I didn’t know how to tell them that I knew quite little about my state. All I knew were a couple of beaches and restaurants, and honestly, it was only South Goa.

It’s either my skin tone or my surname that gives way most of the time. So, I was meeting a Chinese consultant at work last week. At the lunch table, our conversation was based on India which progressed to Indians and was later broken down into different communities (Punjabi, Gujarati, Marwari, Maharashtrians) and their traits. I wouldn’t want to drift away from the topic by writing what their traits are, but this conversation diverted when my manager announced that I am a Goan. I find it difficult to explain their reaction. Nevertheless, one exclaimed, “You are a Goan!? Would you take me with you to Goa? I’ve not yet been there. And I so want to visit Goa.”

I had half a mind to tell her that it’s just 600 odd kilometres away and a train journey takes around 12 hours. But I didn’t.  However, the Chinese consultant said that she visited Goa twice and loved the state. She had lots to share about the beaches and the delicious food she enjoyed.

Another colleague said that he loved Goa so much that he completed his summer internships with some companies in North Goa. Wow! Impressive, indeed.

This incident ends here, but every time I meet a new person, they immediately load their gun with questions like OMG-you-are-a-Goan-why-did-you-leave-Goa-you-should-take-us-to-Goa-sometime and then shoot me at point blank. There is no space for an answer. I’m glad, there isn’t.

However, out of 10, at least 2 people won’t bother about where I come from. But at some point or the other, I picture this disclaimer when they’re discussing Goa with me. It says – You are so lucky that you’re a Goan. I so wish I was one too.

Too bad! You need to be really lucky to take birth on this land. That’s all.

Photo: www.timesofindiatravel.com

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Column: Seafood, Choris Pao And Nostalgia

(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

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I have a friend who goes home quite often. Oh yes, she is from Fatorda, Goa and works at a law firm in Mumbai. Well, what has this got to do with the price of fish, anyway? Umm.. Not the price actually, but fish has everything to do with this conversation. Every time she goes home, her mum faithfully sends me either a bottle of balchao (spicy prawn pickle) or molho (fish pickle). No words can explain how much I love this Goan speciality. So even if I’m stuck with dal and rice for dinner, this fish pickle partially makes up for what I’m missing by not being in Goa.

I’m not the only Goan in Mumbai who craves for Goan cuisine. My friends think I’m silly when I term eggs and fish as vegetarian food. Every Lent, being a Goan catholic, I abstain from non-veg food, but eggs and fish are considered as veg. And there are no arguments about that. Sssshhhhh!

Anyway, last Sunday I behaved like someone who returned from a land that was struck by famine. It was my parish feast. In the evening, among all the stalls that were selling chaat, tandoori chicken, desserts and other snacks lay a counter with sorpotel. If you know what I mean, you will get the famine connection and you will also get an idea of what happened next. Yes, I stuffed myself. Like I had an option! I’m never alone at such occasions. My Goan and Manglorean friends are my best buddies.

Recently, there was a fish festival organised by the Maharashtrian fisher folks. Of course, I went to the festival. It happens every year, but this was my first time. I started getting crazy looking at the amount of mouth-watering deliciously cooked seafood. There was not one, or two, or three counters. There were over 40! I was getting seduced by this delicious fish. Again, I stuffed myself and didn’t care about who was staring at me. Despite enjoying the food, my friends and I continuously debated on whether this food was better than Goan recipes.

There’s no doubt that we get to taste a lot of cuisines here in Mumbai. But the moment someone talks about seafood, no one can curb the nostalgia. And when such situations arise, we just hail an auto rickshaw and head straight to a Goan restaurant in Mumbai. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, there are a lot of Goan restaurants in this city. Let me keep that for next time. I will write about the different food they make. Not forgetting the Choris Pao. Some generous soul really feels sorry for us — Goans in Mumbai.

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Column: Mind Your Language

(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

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When I was a kid, my dad convinced me to speak English as Konkani would not take me very far. I’m glad I paid heed to his words, but altered his statement. Learning a new language is never a waste. So, in an English medium school, I talked to my classmates in Konkani and conversed with my teachers in English. Now in Mumbai there is no distinction. If you’re a Goan and if you know Konkani, that’s our language.

Last year when I visited Goa, I happened to meet a college friend. I greeted her with a smile. However, she chose to start a conversation. It started by enquiring about my health and Mumbai — all in English. I grabbed a chance and replied in Konkani. She then asked me how I was faring at work — again in English. All is good, I said in Konkani. And like this we continued our part English-part Konkani chat. It annoyed me how she didn’t realise that I was interested in talking in Konkani. In my opinion, she had subscribed to the idea that I could have possibly forgotten my mother tongue when I shifted to Mumbai. Darling, you got that wrong!

Initially, I was shy to talk to any Goan in Konkani. I never uttered a word that didn’t sound like English. But gradually, I made myself comfortable and hugged the language I had abandoned in the first two years of my stay in Mumbai.

Today, any Goan I meet can’t escape my Konkani. And mind you, it’s quite fluent. My Konkani is what my grandmother would call it — Sashtti Konkani. It’s rounded and definitely doesn’t sound like Marathi. I call it the proper Goans’ perfect Konkani.

Apart from speaking the language, I also like to listen to Konkani kantaram composed and sung by Lorna, Olavo, Lynx to name a few. This is not all. My sister and I love watching tiatrs. So as and when we can, we dedicate a couple of hours of this traditional Goan drama. Till date, I recognize fish in Konkani. Remember Rechaad Bangdo (Mackeral)? Also, I know Sangot (cat fish), Mori (Indian Dog Shark), Bombil (Bombay Duck), Surmai (Sheer fish) and this list can go on.

This should suggest that I’m still in touch with the lingo. My father was right when he said I wouldn’t reach too far if I was fluent in only one language. How far could I go with Konkani in a city like Mumbai? It’s not all that similar to Marathi to get away with. And I need English to live in Mumbai. But why am I deprived of Konkani when I go to Goa?

If when in Rome, do as the Romans do, when in Goa, do as the Goans do. Relax, make sure you’ve taken your siesta, sip on some beer or feni, and talk to me in Konkani. I’m returning from Mumbai, not America.

P.S. My Konkani is not dying a slow death. It’s alive and kicking.

Photo: www.number27.org

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Column: Mumbai Takes A Nap

(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

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It was when I missed the last suburban train that I realised the city that never sleeps actually takes a nap. After a late evening movie show at a multiplex, I thought, my friend and I could make it on time for the last train. But alas! That night proved that Mumbai is no longer the city that never sleeps. Hence, I was stranded at Dadar from 1:45 am to 4:30 am till the first train arrived.

As a college student, I had limited money on me; no ATM card as well. In such a case, my sole option was to wait until morning to get the first train. My friend and I couldn’t afford a cab, and to our terrible luck, we were both going in different directions – he towards South Mumbai and I was headed for north. A couple of cops came up to us to inspect if all was good.

It then occurred that Mumbai’s suburban trains snooze for about three hours to complete the sequence of the day. We decided to sit at a bus stop, as there was no public place that was open at that hour. A handful of buses were awake on the road, but not wide-awake to halt at any bus station. Cab drivers doing their 7:00 pm to 7:00 am shift approached us, but we were not capable of paying the normal fare let alone the night charges.

On one of my recent visits to Goa, a friend and I decided to go out for coffee after stuffing ourselves with a sumptuous dinner that comprised everything meat and fish. Being born and brought up in South Goa, I rarely stepped out of the house after 8:00 pm. But this night, I was out past midnight. We rode till Colva beach and walked towards the shore. I nudged my friend and asked if we could go to the beach at that hour. He replied with a confused look on his face. So I had to narrate the story.

About two years ago, after an event at one of the five star hotels in Juhu in Mumbai, a group of friends thought we could sit by the sea. So following our idea, we walked towards the shore, and were shocked to witness a chase by the Mumbai cops. Since then I started to believe that we couldn’t visit a beach after midnight. However, we took a cab and headed to our respective homes.

Today, when we say that Mumbai is the city of dreams, it’s non-negotiable. But when we say that this city never sleeps, we are definitely going wrong in our perception. If you compare the number of clubs that exist today with those that existed five years ago, the number has the answer. If you were a party-hopper, you will know what I’m trying to convey. No nightclub has the permission to operate post 1:30 am. Even before the clock freezes its hands on one and six, a Mumbai police van will halt outside the nightclub. More often it’s not the clubs that generate noise, but it’s the people who are congregating in front of the club.

As laid down by the Maharashtra government, nightclubs should bring down their shutters by 1:30 am so that even the neighbourhood is released from the constant party-animal rant.

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Column: Changing Tracks

(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

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Two weeks ago, I met a college friend from Goa at one of the coffee shops in Mumbai. He was here to complete a couple of tests to make it for his next voyage on time. “It’s been a day since I’m in Mumbai, and I’m already so bored. How do you survive here?” he asked me. Every friend from Goa asks me this same question. And I reply, “Stay here for a year, and you will fall in love with this city.” They think I’m crazy. I don’t explain because I know Goans in Mumbai will agree with me.

When I first came to Mumbai five years ago, I wanted to take the next train and flee to Goa. The odour, traffic, crowded trains, the noise and the fast pace – It was all just too brisk and beyond my senses to catch up with. But after a point, I guess we start liking this shift from slow to fast. At times, we’re so used to the fast pace that a slow train’s speed feels like a crawl when it’s actually not. It’s just not the train that skips stations or if put the other way, it’s the train that halts at all stations. Let’s take each sense at a time, and how it undergoes transformation.

The first sense to be alerted is your nose. Previously, when I visited Mumbai, the moment my nose sensed a strong odour, I knew the train had entered the city. It was so strong that even clenching my nostrils with my fingers wouldn’t stop the smell from entering my nose. But today, I’m immune to this same smell. I can pass a dustbin on the street without covering my nose with a handkerchief or I just pause my breath for a moment and it’s gone.

Next on the alert are our eyes. After a point, my eyes started paying close attention to traffic jams and people running helter-skelter. And it’s normal. The day you do not spot a vehicle on the road or lesser than usual, you will wonder if you’ve stepped out of your house on the wrong day. Is it a holiday? Is it a bandh? Also, your eyes will get used to distinguishing between economy cars and luxury cars. Number plates are one thing I make a note of.

With all this comes noise. Earlier, this noise used to give rise to a base drum banging in my chest. It reminded me of pigs making noise in a trough. This noise was mainly of tardy trains helloing each other, taxis greeting auto rickshaws, two-wheelers and four-wheelers wafting up or BEST buses puttering noises of their own. And again, it doesn’t bother anymore. Sometimes, these decibels are so high that it can be jarring to your ears despite listening to music through noise isolating headphones.

Then comes the sense of taste. I remember my days in Goa. The moment I saw leafy vegetables my face would droop as if it was not watered since weeks. But the day there was fish, chicken or any other meat, I would get a command from my palate to lead the queue so that my mother could serve her daughter first. However, I’ve now developed a taste for paneer (cottage cheese) and other north Indian vegetarian food, masala dosas and idlis from the south, Mumbai street food – vada pao, bhel, paani puri and other chaats. Not forgetting the famous cutting-chai!

Lastly, if you think you can walk on the road or enter a bus or even stand still in a train, you will find it difficult to do so without nudging someone to make your way. Beware about your toes being crushed under a kitten heel. Especially, if you’re trying to commute during peak hours, even God seems confused about whom to extend his help to.

As long as I’m in Mumbai, I won’t understand these transformations. But the day I visit Goa, it’s a break from the odour, unavoidable traffic, uncontrollable noise, monotonous dal-rice-roti-sabji and the hustle-bustle of Mumbai city. In Goa, my body starts functioning at a leisurely pace. Drifting away from the past seems difficult, but as you approach the present everything seems incredible.

Photo: masterwordsmith-unplugged.blogspot.in

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He Made Me Love History, Politics, Journalism

I should have visited him. I should have done it as soon as I was notified that he was unwell. I should have at least called. I can’t believe I didn’t attempt to get in touch with one of my most favourite college professors – Sir P.K. Ravindranath.

I’m guessing he was 86-years-old. But that man had a charm that could convince me into anything that was of benefit to me. PKR sir (that’s what we all called him) taught me Indian Regional Journalism in my Semester V. The first day I saw him, I thought it was a terrible idea to let such an old man teach a young batch like ours, but I was wrong. My narrow thinking misled me. He was the best. I never missed a single lecture. He taught us journalism, but he also made me love history and politics. Today, every time I say I love history and politics, it’s because of PKR. He narrated every story patiently. At times, I’d sit with him after the lecture and get more details. He explained the Emergency in 1975 beautifully. And believe me, prior to this, I never scored good marks in history. I was a part of the lucky batch that got a veteran journalist like PKR as a professor during Semester VI as well. He taught us Media Management.

Apart from being an amazing journalism teacher, he also encouraged me to read. But it was not just text books, he gave me his copy of Serious Men by Manu Joseph. Since then, I’ve not stopped reading. Reading was something I didn’t care much about. But here I am, not just reading, but writing as well.

I remember stepping into his house one afternoon when I was worried about choosing a job. I was straight out of college and this was my first job. No doubt, I wanted to get into serious journalism, but no newspaper wanted to hire a graduate. You had to have completed a post graduation in Journalism. However, I got through a newspaper in Goa. I also got through an interview at a Lifestyle website in Mumbai. There, I had to choose – Newspaper, but in Goa and Lifestyle in Mumbai. I wanted Newspaper in Mumbai! Nothing was going right. Hence, I visited PKR that afternoon. He said, “Girl, very soon, everyone will start using a chip to read news. Everything’s going to be digital. And there are enough people to take care of a newspaper, as of now. I suggest you take up the job with the website. Start writing there, and you can always move to a newspaper later.”

I didn’t question any of those words. I took up the job at InOnIt.in as a content writer. Worked with the company for one year eight months. But before I took up a new job as a content writer at MSL India, I also started freelancing with The Goan on Saturday, a weekly that’s published in Goa. And I wanted to tell PKR about this. I really wanted to give him this good news. How terrible I feel to not share this amazing information about me with him.

For me, PKR was a very important figure. He helped me change the way I think. I liked him as a person and loved him way too much as a professor. If every college gets professors like PKR, you will love sitting in college. Believe me, you will give a second thought before bunking.

Rest in Peace dear Sir PKR. I’m sorry, I didn’t come to see you before you passed away.

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Bladder Burst at The Little Door

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The Little Door literally put your bladder on test. The Bladder Burst at The Little Door is a unique concept wherein one can gulp unlimited beer at a price of Rs. 497 only (*prices exclusive of taxes).

But there is a condition; you can’t visit the washroom in these three hours. If anytime in these three hours you are unable to hold your bladder and you make your visit to the washroom you start paying from your next beer.

About The Little Door:  The Little Door is a bar that serves a variety of Mediterranean fare including fondue, pizzas, and sloppy giant burgers and of course the house specialty – the Drunkesserts. Not to mention a great selection of beer, wine, cocktails and universal alcohol and a sense of belonging that will have you coming back every day.

What:  Bladder Burst

When: 18th February 3013 onwards

Timing: 6.00 to 9.00 pm

WHERE: The Little Door – Ground Floor, Shree Siddhivanayak Plaza, Off New Link Road, Andheri –  West,Mumbai–400052

(CONTACT:  9892649040)

Photo Credit: blogs.knoxnews.com

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