Of fish, fisherwomen and life in Goa

This is a replug of my column that appeared in The Goan on Saturday.

Last Friday, one of my Goan hostel friends went over to her brother’s apartment in Dahisar for the weekend. That very evening, I pecked on some vegetarian food in the hostel foyer. On Saturday, I stepped out to meet some friends and treated myself to some delicious Goan style crab curry, bombil (Bombay Duck) fry and rice, of course! Where, you ask? It was at this petite Goan restaurant in Mahim. Sunday came along at its own lousy pace. Hostel served us biryani for lunch and I thought that was it for the week.

Sunday evening, my friend returned with a bag full of food. And mind you, this was not any other food. I bet, only a Goan understands what it’s like to let a day pass without a piece of fish in our plates. This evening, we commenced dinner 15 minutes prior to our usual time. The aim was to relish every morsel, every bite.

One by one, she opened the tiffin boxes that were resting in her bag. The aroma spread across the foyer which tickled other hostel girls’ senses too. Without wasting any time, I dug a table spoon into the crab curry, then into the yummy-looking bombil scramble she’d cooked and finally, I shamelessly took two pieces of fried fish. The last time I saw so much fish was when I was at home in Goa.

For a good 45 minutes, all I did was buried myself under tales of fish and fisherwomen in Goa. Not forgetting, I was relishing every bite of what this dear friend had cooked and brought for me on her way back to the hostel. We shared stories of how fisherwomen arrived at our doorsteps every morning calling out names of fish that grew familiar to our ears. This happened a lot during my childhood in Velim. When I moved to Cuncolim at the age of 10, this changed. If we wanted fish, we would have to take a stroll to the fish market. Even the stench at the market would automatically fade away at the thought of fish.

In Cuncolim, dad had a special fisherwoman he’d walk up to everyday to bag some fish. After he passed away, grandpa and mum continued to purchase fish from the same fisherwoman, Magna. The moment she saw us, she’d start wrapping the fish in paper. She never failed to drop some extra pieces. Once, Magna invited my family over to her place in Ambolim for lunch. It was her parish feast. She promised us a lot of fish to convince us into coming over. We accepted the invite. This was the first time I’d been to a fisherwoman’s house. She cooked the most delicious meal for us on the day. I was surprised to see that my family of five was the only guests. Till date, when I visit Goa, she’ll be the fisherwoman I buy fish from. She never cheats. There’s never a negotiation because the price she quotes is always reasonable.

Something about this dinner reminded me about the relationship we embrace with the fisherwomen in Goa. It’s true that we need fish to complete our meal, and that evening, I had a complete meal.

Image courtesy: www.trekearth.com

Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Of fish, fisherwomen and life in Goa

  1. Though I don’t eat fish (and am a vegetarian), I really liked the piece. It has a great piece, has nostalgia set in, and makes for a good short read 🙂

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