Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Winding Down on the Winding Road

-Brian Mendonça


Travelling back from a hectic day in Panjim, I was, as usual, headed South.  Night had fallen. I had already negotiated the ghostly spectre of the Taleigao plateau in the lonely reaches before I met the junction at GMC.

Thinking about the event of the day I was keen to unwind. It was 8 p.m. Getting to Benaulim for the Big Bang Blues concert at GoaChitra seemed out of the question. This was a pity, since I had viewed a UTube clip that morning of Shivam Khare(keyboard) performing as if there was no tomorrow. As the city winded down the firelight glowed in the villages.

I was hungry. Ravenous. It’s true the food at the Taj Vivanta – Tango 1, they call it – was delicious with the chicken cafreal and all, but on a Friday night I was in a mood for more.  It had to be Elena’s delicious sausage pau on the Agassaim road. For a taste of Goa it was unbeatable.

As I approached the junction at Agassaim coming from Panjim in the inky darkness I turned left. A new world opened up to me. Rather than a bald bypass hurtling to destination almost in virtual time, I was transported to a Goa 20 years back.  Nothing had changed. I remembered ‘Last Bus to Vasco’ --the poem I had written in 1987 -- when as a youth I travelled on the KTC buses– usually alone – back home to Vasco.  

Suddenly, I felt young once more. The same emotions of my youth surged through me. Then, as now, I used to observe the vignettes of village life, the characters coming to life, as it were, from a Mario Miranda cartoon. Struggling to keep my hands on the wheel, my eyes went this way and that like a child in a fair. There in the distance to my right loomed the massive Agassaim church. To the left amid dim lights, weary souls asked for their tot, or in yesteryears played carom.

This was the Goa I knew. It was right there before me, to touch, to hold, to preserve. As frenetic  Goans chose the highway, I chose my way. This was a Goa which welcomed me and brought me home. Straight roads which get straight to the point bore me. Give me a winding road, any day. The sausage pau was delicious. Bound by a common heritage I asked in Konkani whether she had visited Old Goa. No explanations were needed. It was December, and there was only one thing I was referring to – the feast of Francis Xavier on December 3rd.

Elena sells her signature sausage pau outside her Goan house, by the roadside. A family business, you can always count on her to be there just before the  Agassaim road meets the main road up ahead. In Vasco, a Goan lad has a cart on which he sells omelets. But his best is mutton soup. The lemon drink which Elena offers is manufactured in the house opposite. In their quiet ways they sometimes struggle to make a living.

The old roads of Goa bring back old memories. The healing of the past is always rejuvenating.
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Published in Weekender by Gomantak Times (St. Inez, Goa) on Sunday 20 Jan 2013. Pix courtesy know (dot) burp.com

1 comment:

Jemina said...

This part of Goa is something I am yearning since months to visit. Your post increases the urge....! :)