Monday, June 9, 2008

Fields of Gold


The blue skies of Goa's paddy fields. The colours, the scents and the breeze are so beautiful you just want to dive into the waters and be a part of this godly painting.

Francisca is taking us to see the fields getting readied for the monsoon crop. Her husband's name is a saintly coincidence - Xavier. Both were probably named after St.Francis Xavier, the Spanish Jesuit who came down to Goa to harvest souls for his Master.

We cross a small stream of kneedeep water. A photo from the water level makes everything look larger.

The four women inspect the fields and pray for a good crop. Women work hard at farming in Goa. The men are good for nothings who spend their time drinking feni at taverns and taking photographs of paddy fields!

Fish laid out to dry on a high platform covered with netting. A tired old dog was grateful for the cover. He lifted his head as we passed by and then went back to sleep.


Buffaloes lounge in the waters of a pond completely covered with a water weed. Weeds like Salvinia and water hyacinth are causing havoc in the waterbodies of Goa. They clog up waterways and suffocate ponds like this one. When the buffaloes come out of the water, they look like FTV models in green designer wear!

. A good catch of fish from the pond. The khazan lands are actually swampy lands bordering rivers, which have been reclaimed for cultivation by our ancestors. In the rains the water will become freshwater, allowing for paddy to be grown. The salty waters of the sea come in during the summer, allowing for salt extraction. There's some fish harvest too. This ingenious use of land is being slowly destroyed by illegal filling, construction and neglect of the sluice gates that self regulate the flow of salty and fresh water.

Local boys place twigs in the water to prevent unauthorised fishing with nets. They must have won the auction bid for this pond, which gives them the right to the fish catch later, and also the burden of preventing others with fishy intentions!

A haystack stands amid freshly ploughed fields. Come June and the rains will pour down and the paddy seed will be planted in these waiting furrows.

The narrow pathways of a small farming community. No scope for compound walls here. The walls are freshly thatched with coconut leaves for the monsoons.

Dulcina weaves a palm frond into a mat which will be used for rain protection or waving at the falling grain during harvest time to seperate the chaff from good grain. There's probably a hundred uses for such a mat, but plastic sheets are fast replacing them. A pity, because the coconut mats biodegrade well. After one rain the plastic shreds just flutter in the wind like our environmental conscience.


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José Lourenço - Margao,Goa

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