Senses at play….Chisel to the paintbrush

We are known for food, spirits and beaches. Does one think of Art and Goa? Wake up. It’s time to ‘up the ante’ this time from stone chisels to the palette and paintbrush…

Let’s start at the beginning…prehistoric art. These are Rare Stone Age rock carvings in Usgalimal of Pirla village which lie on the bank of Kushavati. Off the beaten track these carvings gets submerged by the river during monsoon. This river bed which is hard rock is full of carvings by specially prepared sharp pointed hard stone tools

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A few centuries later….it’s now a combination of the chisel and the paint brush…..

If one walks into the local churches built over 5 centuries ago, the images, furnishings, and decorations were crafted by local Hindu masons.  Or maybe the temples in Ponda…folk paintings of different places in Goa adorn the walls.

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And then from palatial manors to humble households…intricate detailing in the exteriors and interiors too….a joy to behold.

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Or take in the natural sceneries of Goa….green paddy fields, ferries chugging on the blue river of the Mandovi, red laterite Forts peaceful sentinels in the setting sun.

This is what the ‘modern’ aspect of art has captured. Watercolors on canvas by two local artists- Kalida Satardekar and Dharshan Shetye. At the Kala Academy in Panjim…their declaration of their deep connection for nature and environment.

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A legacy which hopefully should go down centuries….maybe??? I wonder, with progress around the corner…..perhaps this will be all that is left for our senses to play.

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All the World’s a Stage

Yes…famous words of the great bard….. But what would happen if food was staged like a play?

Yes it happened, the food and spirited mixes ‘play’ was curated by a Mr. Nobody (Nolan Mascarenhas), and produced by Shefali Gandhi and Aziz Lalani of the KOI fame. Yes that is a restaurant that specializes in Far Eastern cuisine…but a ‘food play?’ Well the title does grab one’s attention.

And so the homework started. If one wondered what the deadly sins are? They spell out as: Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and slot…Yuck!

And if one thinks oriental…come to think of it, there was a Japanese manga series too written and illustrated by Nakaba Suzuki which was serialized in 2012. So before he took on the cast there would be a story line. But we will come to that. Perhaps the audience invited for this extravaganza could be slotted for the cast later on. They were 7 too.

Look at the Japanese story line. It had 7 characters too:

The Dragon…Sin of anger and the captain of the Deadly Sins..the owner of a bar known for exquisite ale and less known for its food. Cooked by Melodius.

Melodius: very powerful and looks older than he appears. He is the Sin of Wrath…gets angry very rarely.

Ban: He is immortal and takes on the Fox’s Sin of Greed. He is Very concerned about Melodius and the other Sins.

Diane: The serpents Sin of Envy, a giant with immense physical power.

Merlin: The Boar whose Sin is Gluttony. She displays a mockingly playful and confident nature as a Mage.

Gowther: The Goats Sin of lust. He is a doll who has little concept of social interactions and emotions

Escanor: The Lions Sin of Pride. He suffers from a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde syndrome. Meek, scrawny, apologetic during the night, proud and dominant during the day. He has strong feelings for Merlin.

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Can keep one guessing as to from this audience  above, who will play which part.

And there were two more invitees…see them with the producers of the play. They really did have a ball. Perhaps one person can play a double role. It usually happens. Any takers?

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The other characters were:

Eliizabeth Liones: the third princess of the kingdom of Lione searching for those sins in order to fight the Holy knights. She takes on a job as a waitress and is driven by her devotion to saving lives

The Hawk: a talking pig and Meliodas’s  companion. He helps clean the disgusting food scraps

King Harlequinn: The grizzly king of Sloth. A fairy king and was once the protector of the fairy forest and the fountain of youth. He is probably the most powerful of the seven deadly sins. He is also secretly in love with fellow Sin ‘Diane’

 

But as the event – the food play ‘The 7 Deadly Sins’ unfolded that evening….check out the time and date: 7 pm on the 7th day of the month….

The chef who was the main actor to this super hit, stood behind the teppanyaki counter. We clapped for every ‘course’ performed.

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And as the drinks came in course by course, the curator would like the proverbial ‘chili’,  pop up to explain each sequence. By the way the roasted chili with the raw mango panna beverage was awesome, as was the wasabi Bloody Mary. Kudos to this team..

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It was a good feeling as the curtain dropped down at close. There is now a confession to make….those ‘Far Eastern’ sins really made our evening.

 

Take off…joy up in the air

When one thinks of George Clooney and his mode of travel…  And yet, taking off to the skies seems to be the ‘in’ thing this season in Goa.

The story started when the villagers of North Goa refused to let this big bird land on the helipad. It scares away the peacocks was the reason given. So this bird with the mechanical rotors moved to South Goa. And believe you me, there was no need for a helipad…the lawns of the swanky Park Hyatt became its landing ground.

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And to make it a ride of joy, one will carefully refrain from calling it a joy ride, a Sunday scrumptious brunch was laid out at the Palms, their Beach side shack with not one, but three chef’s in attendance…shorts et all.

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As one enjoyed watching the landing and the take off, with a big plate of sausages and cold cuts, one cannot but help reflect on the past. Did mechanical birds take off and land in South Goa?

Way back before Liberation, the Portuguese Air Force did not have any presence in Portuguese Goa except for a single officer in the role of an Air adviser. So on 16th December 1961, a few days before Liberation, the Portuguese Air Force was put on alert to transport ten tons of anti-tank grenades in two DC-6 aircraft from Montijo Air base in Portugal. However most nations, including Pakistan , denied it a stopover facility for a military aircraft. So a civilian airline TAP offered a Lockheed Constellation CS – TLA on charter. The plane landed in Goa on 17th December, with a consignment of half a dozen bags of sausages as food supplies instead of the intended grenades and of course a contingent of female paratroopers to assist in the evacuation of Portuguese civilians.

India believing that the Portuguese had superior air power at the airport flew in a few military sorties. The first raid on 18th December on the Dabolim Airport and was in the form of 12 English Electric Canberra aircraft,  and the second Indian raid was conducted with eight Canberras on 19th December They dropped 63,000 pounds of explosives within minutes, completely destroying the runway

And the rest they say is history. Freedom is….sitting by the beach nibbling on sausages, watching the joy enfold with food and up in the air rides.

The Winding River Nets a ‘catch’

Evening time orange and purple hues dot the sky, for us it was the time for ‘fun’. We drive down the narrow road past processions of locals enacting the Way of the Cross. It’s the period of Lent. We squeeze our way between houses by the river where boats lie rocking in the swell. This used to be the navigational lifeline for the Portuguese and we were off to retrace their path towards their capital Old Goa

Daphne and Colin Raghuram…folks from abroad settled here and have their boat docked for their relaxation mode. So we sailed with them away from the noise and activity towards the backwaters. On the lookout for the lazy crocodile amongst the mangroves, no such luck this evening…but we did see plenty of flying fish popping out of the water.

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The boat chugged leaving behind a frothy wake of a greenish blue hue. Birds swooped to catch their tasty morsel for dinner. The wind pulled at the tendrils of our hair. Ferries moved to and fro, so we throttled quickly to avoid them. Wooden stakes driven into the river bed, there is a net below the surface that ensnares the crabs we are told. Forget the crabs by now we were totally ensnared.

Peace and tranquility enveloped our senses; we were drugged with the beauty around us. We sipped on red wine and nibbled on homemade chutney sandwiches, vegetable pattices from a local bakery as we passed the Old Medical College (later became a home for the destitute), beautiful architecture…wonder if the stories of ghosts walking down corridors hold true. Yes it did become a premier Institute (GIM), perhaps the students could tell us a tale or two.

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The white cupola of St Cajetan’s built to resemble St Peter’s in Rome. Initiated by Italian Friars, who although expelled from Goa, fled to convince the King of Portugal that it was in the interest of Christianity they worked alongside the Portuguese priests. They got permission and this was their legacy. Below that cupola, there is a covered well, hence presumed to be the site that was once a Hindu temple.

Linked and surrounded with water…unlimited and limitless. The Eau de Vie (water of life)…don’t forget one can get it spirited too.  Jet…Set…Go…Goa

An Inner ‘Revolt’ of sorts

Have you ever seen women dressed in fatigues, jump over sand bagged pits; raise a rifle to shoot and then salute when shot at (here the camera of course)? In real life? Perhaps in the army.

But here was an invitation to be part of that exercise for an evening. ‘No heels’ said the invite and dress the part.

This was the yearly event by Khushi Dawda the VERY store owner for women of every age group to celebrate Woman’s Day. The venue? Goa’s historic Calizz owned by Nandan Kuchodkar. If you are looking for a place to recapture the past then it’s Calizz. It literally means ‘heart’ in the local language. The event was held in the ‘inner’ courtyard of this palatial home which houses several Portuguese styled houses. This massive Portuguese mansion belonged 200 years ago to an old lady- Dona Bertha who followed the quaint old custom of ensuring that by the division of her property she would be able to satisfy God (given to her priest son), the Devil (given to her son who was a lawyer) and the local people (given to her son who was a doctor).

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There were no 3 men in today’s gathering….at least no priest, lawyer or doctor- but over 300 women. Could army surplus material generate such a fashionable clique? But they managed it. Dressed to kill! The area was staged with sandbagged pits, plenty of open space for activities, the mess where women of every social strata had to stand in line for their ‘rations’…but this was a veritable fare (no pun intended).

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And then the stage which showcased …those male models ‘hunks’ perhaps would be a better term and the ladies…gorgeous in hot pant ‘fatigues’. If our army would trend this way we would either stop a war or create a ‘revolt’ amongst the civilians.

And talking about ‘revolts’…there is another mansion just down the street where the ‘Pinto Revolt’ took place. It was against the Portuguese way back in 1787. Unfortunately a conspirator turned informer and the plan was found out, 47 of them were dragged through the streets, staked on wooden poles as a lesson to others.

So perhaps this was the best way to revolt against tradition…history has a way of repeating itself after all.