The simple joys of being a Goan
BY ABIGAIL CRASTO
Simple pleasures come in different ways: the vendor saying "Dev borem korum" after you’ve purchased vegetables, listening to your favourite song playing on the radio, catching up with childhood friends over urrak, taking a walk or sighting a rainbow that brightens up a gloomy day. Things that can bring a smile to your face.
But, with today's fast-paced lifestyle, who really has the time to notice these things?
We are so caught up with life, stressed regarding work and anxious about the future. We fail to appreciate little things like these that can lift your mood or even spark some creativity.
Goans are often regarded as simple people who wake up, do their work, spend time with family, fill their bellies and have susegad sleep. Having the same routine every day but taking each day differently. Routine can get boring, but the simplicity rooted in it has its own beauty.
Let me take you through some Goan experiences that bring me joy.
A TIN OF SARDINES
Commuting in a local bus in Goa is an adventure on its own. With the conductor shouting “Fudem voch go” (“Go ahead”) and packing the bus with passengers to the brim, you start comparing yourself to the sardines in the tin your relatives got you from London.
You often end up being in such close proximity to absolute strangers, all sweaty and falling on each other with no place to stand. To add to this, the roads filled with potholes definitely have the feel of a rollercoaster.
But all this is compensated by the fact that you get the chance to meet some interesting characters and see some incredible sights on your journey.
It's amusing to bond over problems like the hot weather and the bad political conditions with people you are meeting for the first time and probably the last.
The elderly complain about how slowly the bus is moving, the cows blocking the road and causing traffic and a stranger dozing on another passenger – it's refreshing to be a small part of somebody's journey.
THAT’S FISHY – WHAT’S COOKING?
The pungent aroma of fish being fried at your neighbour’s house is enough to get your stomach growling. Goans, in fact, have the ability to identify the fish being cooked from a mile away. In a Goan household, a meal is truly relished when rava fried lepos, rechad bangdas, chonak or visvonn are served.
You may find Goa's incredible beaches a great rejuvenating spot. But they also serve as a source of income for the ramponkars who venture into the sea. Fish being a staple in the Goan diet, you find great demand for fresh fish as well as cooked ones in thalis at restaurants.
If you’ve lived long enough in Goa, you may have experienced the joy of catching, cooking and eating fish. A common ritual at family picnics is marinating fish with some sea salt, ginger-garlic paste and lemon, covering them in some leaves and letting them cook on a small fire.
It’s a blessing to savour these delectable fish prepared using authentic Goan recipes, marinated with some freshly ground masala, cooked with a generous coating of rava and served with lots of love.
ZORLOLO TAPE RECORDER
Goan music is addictive. Once you get a taste of it, there's no going back. Despite failing to understand the lyrics, you will find yourself humming the tune of the same chorus over and over like a zorlolo tape recorder (malfunctioning tape recorder).
There's something about Goan melodies, the beats and, quite simply, the Konkani language, which brings deep emotions to the fore. Even though there's easy access to other types of music and in different languages, Goa’s “Ya, ya, maya ya” and “Ho mando Goencho” remain personal.
You are mostly introduced to Konkani music by your neighbours, who blast the volume of their radio sets only when Konkani tunes play. It's about time that you realise and are glad to have neighbours with such incredible taste.
Goan music is integral to any celebration. Even if you dread dancing, you will find yourself on the dance floor at weddings during the Goan masala set, grooving to Remo's “Maria Pitache” and enacting Lorna's “Bebdo”.
It’s incredible how our ancestors left us a legacy of knowledge about them, for the future, through music. So much about the Goan song lyrics describe who they were, how they lived and what they strived for. Goan music and songs help you understand true Goan culture and identity.
“DI TEKKA”, THE FOOTBALL MANTRA
Being a Goan, you definitely have a special corner for football, more than any other sport. No doubt, there is a thrill and excitement in watching a 90-minute game on TV, or even to cheer on your team in stadiums. But a sight to behold is the football matches played on the muddy grounds in the villages of Goa.
You either win or learn. Football lets you have fun and bring back the playfulness of just enjoying a sport for its sake. Young lads hurry with their schoolwork to go play and learn passing skills from their neighbourhood friends and not-so-professional uncles seated nearby, screaming tips and guiding them.
The sense of responsibility you feel when the village is watching you is something else.
Feeling the sun on your skin and letting the breeze rough up your hair – a mere spectator, a substitute who’s never given a chance or a player on the field – what’s common is the love for the sport.
The shared disappointment of missing a goal or the joy of scoring one is felt by all. No matter how a game turns out, there’s always sportsmanship, injuries, some dirt collected and memories made.
Troubles come and go, but at the end of the day, life is what you make of it. And when in Goa, the simple joys of Goa is one way of making the best of any situation.