(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)
I recently took up a new job at an MNC in Mumbai. And guess what? I’m known as “the Goan girl”. I like the title though (winks). Once I began interacting with teammates from my department and others too, it struck me that this company fosters some creative Goan minds. What a pleasant surprise!
So the first Goan I met has Fernandes as her last name. And that’s precisely what tickled me to ask her if she belonged to the same community as mine. Her reply delighted me and we spent the next 15 minutes discussing our connection with Goa. The only difference between us is that I was born and raised in Goa, while she spent all her life in the island city. I went on to ask her if we were the only two Goans here. Well, I definitely got that wrong. There’s a minimum of one pao in every team.
After a couple of days, a friend called to convey that she was offered a job by the same company I recently joined. Wow! That was my impromptu reaction. One more pao, and still counting! Once she was aboard, we joined each other for the morning’s first cup of coffee followed by lunch (where she shares the delicious food cooked by her mum) and we also leave the office porch together.
But then came this one evening when this friend had to attend a meeting outside office. I called it a day and was on my way to the door, just when I heard someone utter something in Konkani. Resting my hand on the door, I turned to let curiosity win. She smiled and repeated those words – “Tughe zalem. Borem aha, borobor ya ami (Oh you’re done. Lovely, let’s leave together).” I didn’t know which team this new girl belonged to, but she did recognize me as “the new Goan girl”. I was a little hesitant to talk to her in Konkani, but after my comfort level rose, our mother-tongue steered the conversation.
Our entire journey that commenced from the exit door of my office tower ended when I got off the train. During this time, we talked about our schools in Goa and how we would have come across each other at various inter-school competitions. This girl had shifted to Mumbai with her parents at the age of 12, but surprisingly, her Konkani is smoother than mine. She still attends tiatrs, and converses with her parents in Konkani. Goa, she said, reminded her of her grandmother. She talked and talked like she’d found her lost sister and had so much to convey. It was terrible to interrupt her, but I left with the promise of seeing her next morning.