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The changing face of my Goan village

Updated: Feb 5, 2022

14 years ago Villages in Goa are witnessing rapid modernisation. One such village is Cuncolim. Yesteryears' joy and ecstasy have gone. The bogey of industrial pollution and contamination of water resources has hit the village hard. . CJ: Armstrong Vaz CHANGES ARE taking place left and right at jet speed. The face of my village, in the Indian state of Goa, is changing. We have grown from young toddlers to mature individuals. Growing up in a dusty, cow dung and marshy village had its share of joy and ecstasy. No mega-project stirs have rocked the village yet, but the bogey of industrial pollution and contamination of water resources has hit the village hard. But building blocks of one plus three, and more, have sprouted at a few places, thanks to the purchasing powers of the locals and the foreign returned builders, who are into the real estate business. But a few builders from outside Cuncolim have set shop here and turned up with monster structures in the heart of the municipal town. But no one is complaining. Life goes on in typical susegad (slow-paced) style. More on the builders eye sore in the village some other time. With the rainy season in full flow, the mad rush for construction is at a low key pace. But I always relished the rainy season since my childhood days, and we are in the midst of it, with all its greenery. But I am waiting for the winter for the mangoes and cashew trees to flower. The two mango trees in front of my house will flower and so will the cashew tree, once the winter sets in. We have a mild winter where temperatures drop to a minimum of 11 degrees at night. This is a reason many foreign prefer to holiday here in the pleasant winter season of Goa. A winter, which is an escape route for many of them to flock to the western Indian state of Goa. The other day I woke up and as I sat pondering in the Bolcao- courtyard leading to the entrance of the house- the rapid changes, which have undergone over the years surrounding my house, struck me from the cold. The once open space, where some youngsters used to play cricket with a hard season ball and broke a few tiles of the Marathi medium primary school house, is no longer there. Loose laterite stones, arranged by design, have pushed things in the foreground for sports. The younger generation can no longer play cricket at the same space where youths of my generation played their cricket some 15 to 20 years earlier. This is one of the ironies of the development of Goa. A lone pig furrows at the green surface where we played cricket. He is looking out for earthworms. Two decades back if not for the noise of cricket and the youths around, a herd of them used to burrow the surface and leave it uneven. The green grass sprouting out of mother earth had not been watered by anyone. Instead, it was a natural process, which kept it going. The cattle calves, which used to graze side by side with the pigs, have also diminished in recent years. The hens and cocks calling in the early hours of the morning have become fainter and fainter. This is because not many people are rearing them any more in my neighbourhood. Blame it on dog menace. Pigs and hens were the easy prey for prowling stray dogs looking for food. Like many others in the neighbourhood, we too lost many to the dogs instead of it ending on our tables. The early hour cocks calls, set our grandfathers and grandmothers on their daily work trail with the cocks early calling being their guide to get up from bed, with watches a distant dream, some 50-60 years ago, for our forefathers in the village. The municipality has not been able to handle the stray cow and stray cattle menace. The stray dogs' numbers and wild ways are menacingly increasing and may god forbid them from attacking humans for prey. My friends and I miss the bullock carts from the village. The carts, which were all in plenty, have all diminished from the site in the last twenty years with modernisation. The carts in the in the 70's and 80's were a craze for us. As young toddlers we would have a ride with our favourite bull cart rider, he being a willing ally. The sound of the rings around the ox neck and the iron caste wheels of the bull cart brushing the surface, we knew the cart was on the way. Some of the bullock carts started their every day chores as early as five o'clock in the morning. Pebbles, sand and laterite stones were the things, which were transported by the bull cart man, only to fade in oblivion now. Newer modes of transport have taken over with faster reach and with more capacity. The younger generation, too, are not inclined to continue the trade of their forefathers. The cattle continue to litter the road in front of my house. Friends and relatives despise the calling at my house on a rainy cow dung laced road. The corrosive, propellant cow dung adds to the time they have to devote to their vehicles. The cow dung would get entangled into the vehicles they drove. There is also the danger of another vehicle splashing them with cow dung. The Marathi government primary school still stands. The school has turned into a library. Marathi medium crush is second fold, English has taken over. Some of my Christian neighbours got their first lessons in Marathi in this very school. I, for one, learnt a bit of Marathi listening to the daily recitals of maths tables and some poems in my early days. I am waiting for the Independence day festivities, which are fast approaching on August 15, to meet the new toddy taper in the area to have my share of my early morning toddy. Toddy from the coconut trees to drink and some of it, which I take home to make sandonas and podes (sweet dishes made especially on the occasion of feasts and other festival occasions). Toddy is used instead of baking powder. Till then I see in Cuncolim, turning up in my village, asking Shantadurga Kunkolikarin, who is worshipped by Christians and Hindus, to evoke her blessing for you and your family.

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