Friday, June 12, 2009

Random shots in Margao

Some mornings in Margao can start with standing in a queue. The line to pay telephone bills can be quite long. In these days of e-payments and credit card transfers one wonders how this comes to pass. But then again, this is 'queue therapy'. Standing in a line with people in front of you and behind you can be very therapeutic in this increasingly lonely world. And what a sense of achievement when one finally pays the bill! Can the click of an e-payment offer this sense of elation and triumph?

And the telephone bills we pay go to build these beautiful poles that lean elegantly across the road, hanging like the Sword of Damocles on the unwary pedestrian. Well, not really. This photo was taken when the cables were buried underground and the redundant poles were being axed. The axeman could not take out this proud pole the previous night, he only succeeded in making it bend a bit. It went down the next night.

Damocles sword or not, the people of Margao and neighbouring villages browse happily through the wares hung out for the feast fair. The man studying the red dress has to look straight up- upskirt- something he would not do if the said red dress was duly filled.

Earthen pots are also laid out at the fair of the feast of the Holy Spirit Church. Curry or any other Goan dish cooked in earthen pots tastes better, specially if cooked on a wood fire. Some earthen handcrafted objets d'art are also displayed. Clay art is a well explored field in Goa, some of the pottery studios in Bicholim produce excellent work. Zilu Harmalkar has carved and fired a name for himself.

So what are we going to cook in our earthen kunnem during the rains when fish is scarce? Dried fish curry of course ! Purumentachem fest is a feast of provisions for those lean days. Thank God for that umbrella, else our vendor would get pretty dried up herself. She can sell you some sun-heated grams as well.

That's it for the feast. But since we are playing a tag game, what do feasts and this photo have in common? Music! Johnson & his Jolly Boys were a famed dance band back in the sixties.
Domnic Fernandes writes : "The one band which was almost always in attendance at weddings all over Goa was “Johnson & his Jolly Boys”. Every member of the band, including the drummer, was well-versed with solfas (music notes); it was like a mini symphony orchestra! João, known to all as Joãozinho/Johnson (1913-1996) and my father, Roque J.R. Fernandes (1909-1983) who also was a mestre and a violinist and double bass player, were colleagues until my father left to play for the GREEN HOTEL in Bombay in the early 1940’s.
Johnson provided music to Goans for over four decades from the 1930s through the 1960s. He was an avid listener of Radio Ceylon. When at home, he sat by the radio, wrote down music notes of popular songs broadcasted on Radio Ceylon and introduced them in his band. Johnson traveled with his group in “caminhão” (bus) from Siolim to every nook and corner of Goa to play for weddings, dances, feasts, etc. A caminhão was required mainly to transport the “bonkanv” (double bass) and the drum set. For close by functions, separate persons carried these instruments on his/her head."
The grill paying tribute to Johnson & his Jolly Boys is at the road level (ventilating the basement) of a building that houses the Margao branch of Bank of India.
Fabrication Art can be found at the road level as well as slightly above it, in the form of a cycle tailpipe. Let us call it Aspirational Art. Someday this lad will own a vehicle with a real exhaust pipe and real turning indicators. Until then, a slightly bent aluminum pipe dream will do.

Cycles. They have to share the road with motorbikes, trucks, buses, cars and... yes, you got that one right... buffaloes! In Dubai where I am camping right now, one cannot see dogs, cats, pigs and cows on the roads as we can in Goa. Not even camels, such a sterile city. So thank God for buffaloes. Carry on tinkling your bells, dear chaps. You are welcome to our roads, hell, they were your roads before we took over your land.

A buffalo's gaze embodies WH Davies' poem Leisure very well. What is life indeed, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. Or sit and stare, as this leisurely gent does outside Kohinoor Opticians at the Municipal Square.

Leisure and speed are brought together fluently at Bombay Cafe, a short walk from the Municipal Square down Station Road, formally called Francisco Luis Gomes Road. The fare is cheap, served fast for the folks shopping at the New Market, and yet there is time to chat and chill out. Touching one side of one's nose may be interpreted as a lewd gesture to a woman, but this gent must be thinking his moustache needs a trim.

And this is where he would probably go to. Again a short walk back to a small building opposite the Municipality. This place houses the famed Lorenz Studio on the first floor, where my brother Eddie works. And on the ground floor, in a small barberia, reflected in the mirror sits Kirk Lourenco, my beloved son.

Just outside the hair cutting saloon sits this old Gauddi woman contemplating her day and her life. Drumsticks, chikoos and a few mangoes are on offer alongwith some green leafy vegetables, to be sold at the close of another long, hard day. Did I say hard...yes, hard, but its therapy again, 'hard work therapy'...elation and triumph and a well earned night's sleep.

Shine on Silvery Light, bless the good people of Margao and stand guard as they sleep...



Wendell said...

Dear Jose Trust you to have this special "eye". Very early on in school in America we were always told to look to the regular to find the extraordinary. You have acheived this with ease and that too with matters thought provoking

Anonymous said...

Hi Jose... your photo-essay evoked a lotta nostalgia...good ole town of my birth!!!God bless Margao :)

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read that article. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.
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José Lourenço - Margao,Goa

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