Opposite the Miramar beach in Panjim, Goa is a hanuman temple. I would surprise my mother every time I readily agree to visit the temple every Thursday and Saturday, sometimes even reminding her to; because it gave me the chance to dip my feet in the unending waters and watch the gorgeous sunset of miramar. To date it is one of my favorite beaches, that I visited every summer for 4 years in the early 2000s.
Amma is not a beach person. So I remember one Saturday morning, when Appa and I set off to visit one beach after another to the south of miramar.We started with donna Paula, Majorda, Colva, ate some puliodharai Amma had packed for us for lunch and proceeded to Angola and ended at Palolem. Alas! I have no pictures of that little sojourn we took meandering through the narrow streets of Goa on a bright sunny day and take a dip every now and then at some of the beaches which were rather secluded and wonderful.
Those aren’t my only memories of Goa. I remember the hilly terrains of Panjim, the way the city swelled and bursted to life in the monsoon months, the shops that closed for afternoon siesta, the beautiful white church** I spent a lot of time walking the stairs around and the strange 3 storied quarters we lived it, which was right in front of Wendell Rodrick’s house ( well probably one of his houses ). And if that was not enough, I finally learnt swimming, prepared for my GRE and took my driving license in Panjim.
I had no friends there. And yet I loved my stints in the quietude of that lovely city with its heritage architecture, cautious buzz, marveling at the Portuguese names and listening to sing song Konkani that made no sense. Little did I realize then, that’s the closest I was ever getting in adult life to relaxing summers, not one but for three years I spent two whole months, enjoying the rains and sipping endless teas and taking walks.
The memories came flooding back, as I finished reading “Bombay Balchao” last night. Set in Cavel, Bombay the book warmed my heart and also broke it many times. It shattered stereotypes and also reinforced them with equal gusto. But all in all it told about the beauty of relationships formed in a community. Communities we are all privy of growing up in back home. Of streets and neighbors, knowing too much, helping too much, being there and also not knowing when not to be.
I felt the book helped me come a full circle. As the 18 year old in Goa with no friends, I have often imagined how I’d be if I had a brethren there to share my love for the place and I felt like a wallflower throughout the book as the protagonists in Bombay Balchao came to life. And when that was coupled with the bustle of Bombay in the 70s, it was a real treat!!
I remember Amol Palekar and Tina Munim in Baton Baton Mein, where she plays a girl from Cavel; they croon to “Suniye, Kahiye”… along marine drive and Rosie Perreira speaks in bollywood exaggerated “men” and “re”.. It is one of the movies I best enjoyed as a teenager and Again I watched it while listening to the pitter patter of incessant monsoons in the heart of Wonderful Panjim!
** Trivia : It is the same church in the SRK-Ash movie Josh