Poor man’s orchid

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Saw these in the garden for the first time . Many buds waiting to bloom , but these looked eager to open up and bask in the summer sun . Looked them up online and found that these flowers ( Kachnar) are also called poor man’s orchid.

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Lesser known Lenten tradition – Mumbai

The Good Friday service is the longest one of the year ( three hours or more ) in many churches across the city . The church I belong to is one of the oldest in the city and follows many traditions of the East – Indians , who are believed to be the original inhabitants of Mumbai . They speak a dialect of Marathi which is quite different from the state language which is also Marathi . When my grandfather decided to leave Goa and settle in Mumbai , he chose an East – Indian gaothan ( village) in Mumbai to call his home . Here , began our initiation into all things East- Indian , especially their food !

One such snack , if I may call it that , which I associate with the East – Indians , is GOTWAL. Ever since I can remember , this has been a Good Friday special treat sold by vendors outside the church lane exclusively on this one day of the year. Gotwal is what the East – Indians call it and that’s what I have called it all my life , until a few days ago when I read that they are called ‘hyacinth beans’ .

Gotwal is rich in protein and is believed to be the perfect way to nourish those who’ve been fasting the entire day . Sold in paper cones , they used to be a rupee each cone when I was a little girl . Now , they are sold at a much higher price but still remain perfect treats for restless toddlers who cannot keep still through three hours of sermons and silence.

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The beans are boiled and salted and that’s about it , but they are always looked forward to . Today , I picked up a few for us at home and my little one had her first taste of Gotwal 🙂 Tradition continues !

 

 

Break up

She sat there wondering what she’d write in her diary that night .

It had been a long relationship and they’d been together through thick and thin . In moments of sadness and elation , on lazy mornings and cool winter evenings , this is what kept her going . Energising , stimulating , addictive , keeping her up so many nights cause  she could never have enough . It was her toughest break up , nothing had been more constant in her life than that steaming hot TEA.

Diary entry – disinteagrated .

I can’t let her go

Those hands that first held me

And moist eyes for each time I wept

Her voice that wove dreams of magic

upon  which for years I slept .

Those hands that cooked and fed

with love sprinkled on every meal

The one  with bruises each time I fell

Who stormed heavens so I could heal

The one who had nothing much in life

but who gave me her all and more

When she tells me it’s curtains now

How am I to let go ?

I tell her it’s not over

Hang on a little more

not now , not her , no , never

I just can’t let her go .

—- For Mai ( my grandma , the one who taught me to live , love and love some more . )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chikki and a cheeky partnership !

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Of the five men who’ve influenced my life the most , the first was my Papa ( my grandpa) and one of the first things I picked up from him – my love for chikki 🙂 Chikki is a brittle sweet , made with a variety of nuts and jaggery .  The most common variety is the one in the picture , the peanut chikki and this was Papa’s favourite .

Being a diabetic ,  his consumption of sweets was always monitored and rationed at home . I was probably 5 at the them when he first bribed me into keeping mum . When all at home were enjoying their afternoon siesta and I was busy playing by his bed , he quietly pulled out a packet of chikki and offered me some and that was how we had an unwritten but solid pact sealed . I never told on him , began to love chikki and that remained our secret for years . I lost papa a decade ago , four days after I went to meet him in Goa . He was 84 then and I had taken him a packet of chikki along with his other favourites , but nothing could beat chikki ! Even today , I can never have a bite of this sweet without smiling and thinking of how we were partners in crime !

Reis Magos , Goa

On the banks of the river Mandovi , in a village named Reis Magos , near Panjim in Goa , stands the Reis Magos Fort right next to the church with which it shares its name. I was expecting it to be crowded owing to its proximity to the bustling capital city , but we were the only ones inside the fort.

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Reis Magos Church

Reis Magos in Portuguese means ‘ Three wise men’ . This is the oldest fort in Goa . The once impregnable fort was used as a prison and a hospital before it began falling apart and was abandoned in 1993. The restoration that began in 2008 has restored parts of the fort and transformed it into a cultural center. It’s a short trek to the fort , but there is a free van pick up for senior citizens and parents with infants.

The first thing one sees as one enters the fortress is the death hole.

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Death hole

The death hole was used to shoot or pour hot oil on enemies who had breached the gates. A little ahead is the  hole in the wall that was once a solitary confinement cell.

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The solitary confinement cell
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Inside the fort 
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This is currently an information center
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Wooden model of the fort 
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Remnants
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Laterite walls
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View from the cannon gallery
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The village cemetery and the church roof top 
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Prison cells
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Something interesting from the loads of information on display
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TOP – The frontpage of the TOI the day Goa was liberated 
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Taken through the glass panels installed so one can get a glimpse of the view without the fear of a steep fall !
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Walking down 
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Time to head back

In the above picture you can see a banyan tree that began to grow as a parasite on a coconut tree that stood there once and eventually strangled it. The dead coconut tree caught fire in 2008 , the banyan tree was held in place with steel ropes and is now supported by a concrete pillar . What stories this place has to tell !

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The art gallery just before the exit

There are seven galleries , each dedicated to an artist or theme. I loved these by Mario de Miranda .

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So this is Reis Magos , a lot of history , a fort with an awesome view , a quiet place to spend a few hours and some lovely pieces of art.

She’s more than Pink

She’s red sometimes , like the lipstick she wears

Unfazed as she climbs forbidden stairs

And cool shades of blue , like the vast sky ,

Breaking glass ceilings so she can fly .

Streaks of passion and compassion

She’s s a shade of orange too ,

Mingled with yellow warmth and fun

Putting a  happy spin on you .

Like black alcoves and purple silk

She is mystery , magic and more

And ashen grey that she might hide

Or sometimes readily show.

Life-giving green and golden shimmer

She’s a kaleidoscope , don’t you think ?

She’s this and that and just herself some days

She’s so much more than pink .

 

 

Fontainhas – Quaint and colourful Goa

The old Latin Quarter in Panjim city , pretty heritage homes in happy colours , windows that are lined with shells , people speaking Portuguese as fluently as the local language (Konkani), serene lanes that invite you to explore , early morning walks through the winding lanes with church goers and school children eager to chat and help, remnants of Portuguese architecture and the little fountain from which this place derives its name – Fontainhas ! It has been a little over three months since my stay in Fontainhas and a post long over due .

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Afonso Heritage home

I have always lived at home in an obscure village in Goa and this was the first time I was in Goa but staying away from our ancestral house. I decided it was going to be a beautiful heritage home converted into a warm inviting guest house – Afonso Guest house. This was our first trip with our nine month old baby and the place had to be sparkling clean with a touch of homeliness. That’s exactly what we found inside this bright yellow immaculate home away from home. To add it to it , the freshly baked bread by the owner for breakfast was the cherry on the cake .

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The blue house next to the chapel
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The chapel next door
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Home and hues
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Pretty nooks and corners

As we rambled for the next few days , we saw colours everywhere .

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Check out the rooster , the balcao ( verandah ) ,tiled roofs
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Another heritage home owned by Linda – the owner of Viva Panjim

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Most homes are brightly painted , have red tiles on the roof , are surrounded by lots of plants and the names of streets and house owners are displayed on Azulejo tiles (Portuguese ceramic tiles).

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Street names on Azulejo tiles
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House names on tiles too
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And flooring too !

My chats with the owner, Aunt Jeanette, revealed that back in the day it was mandatory for every home to be freshly painted after the monsoon season, however , the rules are not so stringent today .

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The main street here is the St. Sebastian Road , named after the St Sebastian Chapel – the only white structure towering amidst a burst of colours.

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The Chapel . Looked forlorn to me amidst all that colour 

Next to the Chapel is a page out of a fairy tale , a wishing well , with roosters perched on top , begging for some love ( a fresh coat of paint may be !) . Defunct and lots of weeds growing inside , how it got its name am not quite sure , but even though the it resembled an ageing woman with disheveled hair and in need of some grooming , it had a charm of its own.

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The wishing well
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Am calling these the rainbow stairs 

The rooster which is an important part of Portuguese architecture can be spotted on roofs of homes and uniformed police figurines also adorn the exteriors of some homes . I read that the latter signifies the home belongs to a freedom fighter , but there was no way to verify it.

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Rooster perched on the wishing well
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Rooster on roofs
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Cop like figures places on exteriors of some homes

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Shell lined windows made me sing ! They looked so pretty , so ingenious and let in the right amount of light .  An owner of a pretty cafe told me how it is now illegal to be selling these shells and heritage homes that are renovating can only salvage a few that hey have or source it from other heritage homes that are being demolished to make way for modern ( not so pretty ) hotels .

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Shell lined window pane – Afonso home

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Pretty , no ?

The place is fab , the people are warm and the food is super too . Viva Panjim is a good option for some authentic Goan cuisine but the real super deal and steal for me was the little cart that dishes out beef delicacies – tongue , rolls , chops , curry , croquettes ! You cannot miss this one right next to the  Library ( another bright yellow structure ).

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On my last day here , I walked to the other side in search of what remains of the font after which this place is named . This is all I saw with no information or sign board in sight . I walked back , this time slower , wishing I had more time to spend here .

I couldn’t sign up for a heritage walk but have no regrets . Wake up early , talk to the locals and they will tell you stories of the past and how their beloved Fontainhas is a font of happiness , love and colours .