Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Konkan strip is like an after thought on the Western Coast of India and begins in Maharshtra and ends at Kerala passing through Goa and Karnataka on the way.Legend has it that Lord Parshurama had sworn to rid the Earth of the Kshatriyas-- the Warrior race but was prevailed upon by the Gods to relent.He therefore shot an arrow into the Arabian Sea and pulled out the Konkan Region.If one looks at the Map of India---Konkan DOES look like an afterthought----a thin strip running alongside the sheer and steep cliffs of the Western Ghats!!!
Goa is a land of Serendipity---the laid back attitude of the people,fertile soil, Rice plantations,Coconut Palms, Cashews,Areca Nuts,Mangosteen(Kokum) and Mango groves,Manganese and other Mines in plenty----all hint at being blessed by Nature.This tiny strip is watered by two wide fresh Water Rivers---The Zuari and The Mandovi----there is a flush of both Fresh and Salt Water Fish in Goa.The land is so fertile that the people are totally relaxed in their unhurried attitude-----"suseygaad" literally means unhurried---totally laid back!!!
Vasco De Gama laid the seat of Portuguese power here way back in the mid 1400s and Goa became indepedent in !960 and joined the Indian Union.It has an interesting and chequered History but today is known for it's Cuisine,Beaches and Feni---a potent Liquor made from Cashews.Like Vodka colourless AND like Vodka packs a kick.There is a flush of beautiful beaches,thick green foliage,old Portuguese ruins of Churches and Forts as well as the Old Goa complex and the Sea Port built by the Portuguese and still going strong.There are loads of Flowers with brilliant hues and fascinating scents and the whole ambience is like being in another world!!!
It is really heartening to see how both Hinduism and Catholicism co-exist peacefully here.North Goa houses the relics of St. Francis in the Bom Jesus church at Old Goa while the Hindu Temples of Mangueshi,Mhalsa and Shanta Durga to name a few ,are situated in the Southern part.
The architecture of Goa too has Portuguese overtones and the Cuisine is a mix of both cultures and extremely spicy and pungent enough to induce tears in the eyes and a runny nose---but extremely tasty and very satisfying.It has a wealth of Legends,stories and of course Ghosts who are supposed to manifest themselves in the old ruins---of which there are plenty!!!
Our Family Diety is at Ponda--Shri Shanta Durga while the Diety of my paternal family is Lord Mangesh.The Temple of Shri Mhalsa at Mhardol is one of the oldest Temples in the region.It was said that anyone who lied after placing a hand on the old Temple Bell would instantly struck down and so powerful was this belief that even the Portuguese rulers used this method to get to the bare facts in complicated cases!!!
The Goans are a very loving,friendly hospitable and out going people who love to pass the day with their friends.Blessed as they are they have managed to capitalise on the resources gifted to them by Nature and are progressing fast----without losing touch with their past and their traditions!!!!
Friday, January 08, 2010
As a child I was a dreamer---always with my head in the clouds!!My best friends were my Books---I learnt to read and write very early and was totally fascinated by Words--still am.Both my parents loved to read and since any other form of entertainment was not available those days except the Radio and the Gramophone---Books became my constant and faithful companions.They gave me all the support I needed and didn't criticise any action of mine!!!
I began with Enid Blyton's Noddy at age 3 years and rapidly progressed to her Fairy Tales and Mr.Pink Whistle!!!From there on to the Famous Five and all the rest of them----it became a passion to save up my almost non-existent pocket money to buy the entire sets---these were our favourite gifting ideas--to give as well as to recieve!!!Those books are such a pleasure that even today I love reading them---such wholesome pleasure and full of the proper "P&Qs"!!!!
Cartoon characters like The Phantom,Superman and Tarzan were great favourites too.On my fourth birthday Daddy gifted me a T.V. like box with a strip he made of Phantom in it.In a closed box there was a window in the lid with two sticks on each side of it.He had wound a long strip of the Phantom series cut out from the Sunday paper-----stuck the sequences together and wound the entire story round one of the sticks sticking the other end to the second stick on the other side.By winding the other stick I could scroll the entire strip from one to the other strip reading the contents as they appeared!!Even today the thought of the Time it must have taken him to make it brings me close to tears!!!
Side by side I learnt both the Gurmukhi(Punjabi) and the Devanagri scripts--the latter used for writing both Hindi and Marathi---and yet other beautiful vistas opened up before my wondering eyes.The wealth of Literature available was a treasure of Information---the expertise of each author opened up a new perspective,a new outlook and I began progressing-----developing and growing as person.
At the age of 12 I became sick with Jaundice and took three months to recover from it.The list of my friends grew---Jonathan Swift,Daniel Defoe,Rudyard Kipling,Pearl S. Buck,Jean Plaidy,G.A.Henty,Sir Walter Scott,Robert Louis Stevenson on one side and William Shakespeare,Jane Austen,Charles Dickens,Alexander Dumas,Mark Twain,Margeret Mitchell on the other.Indian authors like Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya,Munshi Premchand,Kamala Markandeya,Ruskin Bond------Marathi writers likeG.N. Dandekar, P.L. Deshpande,N.S.Phadkey-----to name just the tip of the iceberg---were literally devoured by me---there was nothing else to do!!!!I could read all 24 hours if I'd been allowed to by my parents.
Daddy then started me on Egyptology and books about the Indus Valley Civilization and World History.It became a game that we played---"Reference to the Context"was the name.He'd pick any line from any book and I had to identify the author and the character referred to!!!This made me read all these books with earnest concentration----I developed into the girl who knew too much and therefore a total BORE!!!
I could speak with authority on the exact method used for the Mummification process in Egypt and the excavations being conducted everywhere.
Mythology too was a pet subject---Indian,Greek,Norse,Roman---I spared none!!! My memory then was truly awesome---a statement of fact---not conceit---I was full of various types of Knowledge imparted to me by my friends.The hours I spent with them were so beautiful and my imagination so vivid that I could picture each scene and situation in my mind.
Today I need my spectacles to read and my eyes pain with the strain sometimes---but my friends are still there---from Enid Blyton to Charles Dickens and Margaret Mitchell---I re-read a lot of them even though I know most of them pretty well---it is comforting and the familiarity brings with it a feeling of satisfaction of unchanged pleasure!!!
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