Friday, 10 June 2016

Alsane Bhaji at Café Public

-Brian Mendonça

Ever since we have been making our weekend forays into Porvorim, I have been trying to take in the life in the North.

I am an early riser, and I usually get up around 6. Once I get the bread from the bread man I twiddle my thumbs till the house wakes up. Of course the ‘Breakfast Show’ on 105.4 FM beckons but that begins only at 8 a.m. So how do I explore my surroundings till then?

I am of the opinion that if you catch an early morning Mass, the day will go well. So here I was, this side of the Mandovi, scouring places for the morning service. Holy Family Church, Porvorim on NH17 has a Sunday morning Mass in English at 8 a.m. but  today was a Monday in May. It was past 7 a.m. on my watch. I decided to cross the Mandovi river and head to the shrine of Don Bosco to see what the Mass timings there were.

As I parked my car, imagine my delight as I heard the strains of the entrance hymn ‘Here we come’ emerging from the shrine. As I hurried to take a place I asked a gentleman what time was the daily morning Mass in English here. He said 7.15 a.m. At the end of the Mass I was thrilled to partake of the novena to Mary Help of Christians. We hope to attend the Feast Mass at Don Bosco, Matunga, Mumbai on 24 May. This was my old school from the 7th to the 10th standard.

After Mass I was really hungry. As I turned left from the main gate of Don Bosco, Panjim, I ventured to ask a sprightly lady where I could get some ‘bhaji.’ She pointed straight ahead to the Panjim municipal market. I had my doubts, but soon it dawned on me that the ‘bhaji’ she was talking about was not the ‘bhaji’ I had in mind! She assumed I was referring to the vegetable market. Nevertheless I came away with a stash of mancurada mangoes at Rs. 250 a dozen. I also picked up a raft of newspapers along with a lottery for Rs. 20.

The next person I asked was a young lad on his bike. He immediately recommended the parotha-bhaji at a place he wagged in the distance. The curiously named Café Public, was full of earnest early risers rushing to work and parceling some of the famous bhaji. Gajanand who was at the counter was bouncing up and down to attend to the needs of his customers. As I waited for my variety bhajis to take back to Porvorim, I sampled the alsane-bhaji with parotha, along with tea. It was 8 a.m.

Spiritually and physically nourished, I stepped into the cool morning air looking forward to a swim in the pool back home in Bardez. The river-crossing  had made my day! Plus I got a lesson in sociolinguistics of how men and women can perceive the same word differently.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 5 June 2016. Pix. courtesy 'Alsanyache Tonak'

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