Thursday, 2 February 2017

‘Fonda fudde’

                                                                            
Brian Mendonça

Dharbandora is a place I had only vaguely heard about.  Last week I had to reach it. Armed with my GPS on my phone I filled in the coordinates ‘Vasco’ to ‘Dharbandora.’ What fascinated me the most was how the app gives you the location of your vehicle as you are driving to your destination. Soon, with two hands on the wheel, I realised how futile it was to check your phone map and continue driving. The first time I checked my GPS was at Holy Cross chapel behind Kesarval. I had by then put 10 kms. behind me. I had driven down from Vasco via Birla, negotiated the steep descent on the road to Ponda a little beyond Kesarval motel, and plummeted into an oasis of green. Verdant fields behind him, a boy in blue school uniform, perched himself on a culvert and eyed me curiously.

In the distance Borim blinked on my GPS. Before that I would need to pass Rassaim and Loutolim. At the fork towards Borim bridge I stopped the car and consulted my GPS again. We were 20 kms. away from Vasco. This is the most lyrical of drives, with the Zuari river on your left lazing towards the South, and even a ferry crossing thrown in.

The Borim bridge shuddered as we passed it. As though we had passed some hidden signal, traffic picked up. Huge trucks made their appearance, and the grind started as we headed to Ponda. We skirted Ponda city and took the road to Dharbandora. We had now driven 40 kms. On the way we saw the MRF plant at Usgao, Tisk. We also spotted the Nestle plant. The Bondla wildlife sanctuary looked inviting but there was no time. After a while, after the heat and the gathering dust, after 50 kms. of driving we reached our destination at Government Primary School, Tamsodo, Dharbandora.  

A TTK map showed Dharbandora as part of Sanguem taluka. Another Goa map by Star publication showed Dharbandora as a separate taluka. Dharbandora was created on 4 April 2010. It comprises of five panchayats of Sanguem, viz. Dharbandora, Kirlapal-Dhabal, Mollem, Collem, and Sancorda. Laterite mining is carried out in Dharbandora. Dudhsagar waterfalls is in Dharbandora at its South-East end.

Tanking up on the night before my journey to Dharbandora I asked the pump attendant at Vasco where the place was. He spoke to his colleagues and replied crisply, ‘Fonda fudde’ [Beyond Ponda]. He also said it was about 15 kms. Beyond Ponda. I noticed how in Konkani the utterance is ‘Fonda’ rather than ‘Ponda’ as it is in English.

With this trip to Dharbandora, I realized I had set foot in all the 12 talukas of Goa. From Pernem to Palolem and Mormugao to Mollem I had seen several slices of Goa. With the rampant tree cutting for the 4-laning on NH 17 from Sancoale right up to Bambolim, our centuries old intangible heritage lies uprooted and discarded. The trip to Dharbandora showed how fragile our ecosystem is.
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Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 29 January 2017. Pix.(above) Buffaloes laze under the open sky at Tamsodo, Dharbandora.

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