Friday 14 June 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed




A beautiful colony of whites has come up in my ward. Their national flag flies high over the colony. My poor Tiranga flies on school buildings and the panchayat ghar only on national holidays more out of compulsion than patriotism.

Portuguese spelled it as Mandrem, the letters “em” representing the nasal sound “e’m”, where “m” is mute. The villagers know it as Madre or Majre (pronounced Mandrey or Manjrey where again “n” represents the nasal sound) and proudly announce their roots as Madrekars or Majrekars which means they hail from this picturesque village by the sea.

I am one such proud Madrekar or Majrekar by birth as well as by association with the village in more than one ways. In short Mandrem is my “janmabhoomi” as well as “karmabhoomi”.

My early memories are a muddle of many different events and sights and experiences, which are now vying to surface one before the other in total disregard for chronology.

For instance the “thigurs” caught with bare hands from the muddy swamps of the village rivulet. These fish are slippery and bury themselves deep in muddy shallow waters. It used to be a prized catch as against the crabs in the crevices in the river bank or the single pincer “mundye” on the Ashve or Junas beaches which were easier to catch in spite of their pincers.

And I cannot forget repeated forays through the thickets of the village hills for wild berries called “canta” or “carangana”, “hassoli” and “churna”. The freedom of picking up cashew apples of your choice from any tree out of the hundreds was a unique privilege and so was the joy of eating semi ripe mangoes directly picked from the trees instead of the hundreds lying in my grandmother’s “aadi”. 

The hills were green and thick with vegetation and many a times it was possible to sight a rabbit or a fox darting away from our sight. Jackals howled during the nights and an occasional “bhalu”, a female fox cried plaintively on dark nights and sent shivers down my spine. I remember my excitement after having seen a flying snake darting from a tree to another and my disappointment thereafter as none would believe me that I had indeed seen one. The village rivulet, then, used to flow almost round the year.

Today its lower reaches alone have water because of the tidal effects. Rest of the river boasts of water only in the monsoons. The springs on its banks at “Mushyer”, Marathwada, Tambal and Sauntwada have all dried up. The annual “hunvars” (“n” silent please) or monsoon floods too have disappeared. The numerous ponds along the foot of the hills which provided water for “vaingan” crop too have disappeared due to nonuse and neglect. My repeated attempts to revive the river by encouraging the farmers on its banks to take up farming again have failed. My recent attempts to trace the pond where I once almost drowned but was saved by a cousin and the large well where I tried to learn swimming with floats made out of “bonde’” were not successful.

The “laath”, a contraption which looked like a see-saw and was used for drawing water to irrigate the fields and its “kolmi” too have disappeared. The smell of ripening “jiresaal”, a local variety of fragrant rice still lingers in my nostrils. The present day “basmati” is no match for it. Nachni, vari, til, mung, udith, kulith, alsande, green and red pepper and  onions which were once  grown in abundance in my village are not even mentioned in the village households anymore. Maraathwada gave up the sugarcane years ago.

Now the children tell you that milk is provided by Goa Dairy or Gokul or some other brand and massala (spices) is Maharaja or Bedekar or MDH. This information chirped out by children in one of the village schools recently floored me completely. Milk reminds me of my own pet cow “Shamal” gifted to me by my grandmother. Its frothy  fresh raw milk collected in my little silver “chimu”, again a gift from some aunty or other, is still fresh in my memory. “Kharvas” is not on the menu any more. Those “kongyo and kanteykongyo” (sweet potatoes”), those “karande” and “chinni” (a large sweet root which turns pink on boiling and tastes so sweet) are now grown only in my dream farms.

What has happened to the villagers and their farms, their river, hills and their cattle? So called “Education” has taken a toll of the village life and its culture. White collar jobs, Government doles, and the tourist trade is now bringing in money. Rising real estate prices are tempting the villagers to sell their lands. Matka, drugs and gambling are also quite rewarding.  Culturally and socially it is “unbecoming” to be a farmer. Young brides do not want to marry a farmer. They would rather settle for a motorcycle “pilot”.

But the village has made strides in many different spheres. Roads for example are broad and smooth. Every house has electrical connection. Many are equipped with cooking gas and stoves, and gadgets like grinders, washing machines, dish TV, cable connection etc. Mobile phones are no more a luxury. Young kids flaunt their sparkling bikes and fleshy mobiles and wear branded shoes. Houses have improved and so has sanitation.

Less number of kids is born and most of them move out of the village with their parents who have migrated to the towns. Primary schools therefore have no students. Six of the nine Government Primary Schools all in Marathi medium have closed down. Remaining three, each managed by a single teacher, are tottering with a handful of students. But there are three secondary schools and a higher Secondary School.

Village now boasts of a College as well. My NGO, Vikas Parishad, Mandre manages the College, the higher secondary School and a Secondary, Primary and KG schools. Village boys and girls are educated. Many of them are professionals like Doctors, lawyers, engineers, Chartered Accountants, Teachers and Professors. Some are occupying high posts in Government.

The village is well connected to Bardez and Maharastra through bridges built over river Chapora and Terecol. The beaches are studded with fancy hotels and shacks and they have blocked all traditional accesses to the sea.

I wonder sometimes what  my mother or grandmother would have done, were they been alive today and desired to worship the sea god and Shiva-linga made out of sand on the festival day of “Somavati”. I have many reminisces of this festivity when almost all villagers would throng the beach on this day with their children in toe and we would vie with each other to make the best and the largest sand Shivlinga.

Today a “baba” may be found on the beach with beads, ash and matted hair, smoking a chillum and pontificating god knows what to the white skins sitting cross-legged before him. Does he show them the way to nirvana or moksha ? May be so because the “baba” and the “chelas” appear to be on cloud nine all the time.

Tradition of Christian “puran”car who  used to read the Christa-Purana is forgotten and so is the case with the Hindu tradition of reading Bhagwat purana, Hari Vijay or Dnyaneshwari. Bhagwati and Sapteshwar temples are now brightly painted and illuminated at night but the number of participants at the “paar” which used to perform bhajans round the clock continuously for seven days during the annual “Ashad Saptah” have dwindled.

And I remember the Zatra night on which the Koyna earthquake had violently shaken but had failed to damage the Bhagwati Sapteshwar temple. Every ward now has a newly built temple. The village Church too has been rebuilt. So too are the Crosses and few Chapels dotting the village . All festivities are being observed with much more fanfare and gusto. Spirit of worship however is missing...

The old sport of “hockey” with the curved root ends of bamboos and the square wooden ball with which we played in our childhood in the paddy fields after the summer harvest is no more remembered. Football and Cricket are now the favorite games. Tennis ball night cricket   draws enthusiasts from far and near. Hu tu tu or kabaddi, atyapatya, viti-dandu, lagori, langdi and patang or kyte flying is passe’.

Childhood pastimes like foraging for berries, jambul, avle or other wild fruits is now unheard of. No child of the village has now gone as far as the natural rope like formation on the hill between Mandre and Harmal or traversed along the old cattle paths connecting Mandre to the other villages or seen the “doverne” – a square laterite stone structure as high as a persons height on which headloads could be kept by weary travelers.

And there are hardly any cattle in the village either. The great “sarkar” now doles out monthly pensions to one and all and provides rice and wheat at heavily subsidized rates. Health care and Education are free. Even the house tax is abolished. So where is the need to husband the farm?

The village market is bustling with people of many different tongues and nationalities. A beautiful colony of whites has come up in my ward. Their national flag flies high over the colony. My poor Tiranga flies on school buildings and the panchayat ghar only on national holidays more out of compulsion than patriotism.

From the balconies of my College, Mandre College of Commerce, Economics and Management which sits high above the village, I watch and grieve for the village I have lost and rejoice for the new resurgent village coming up before my eyes. And I am happy that I may, after all, leave behind a few footprints of success and achievements.

Jai Mandre…..     

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Felt ver very nostalgic.. I am from mandre, studied in mandre and now i am away for job for almost 4 years. I miss my home, family, friends, and mandre very much.

Yoganand |

It is indeed sad but true that traditions have eroded down over the generations.

But I do not understand what efforts have been done to avoid this.

Putting the blame on the current Government for all our ills of all the times, seems to be the easiest way out.

Sandesh Anvekar |

Wonderful nostalgic piece..

a bit sad but deep lovely,my childhood memories came flushing gushing back .

Next generation will miss all those wonderful things...

My village Mandre will never be same again...........Damage done at cost of modernization,tourism and bad politics.

And Mopa airport coming,the whole Pernem taluka will see ecological destruction.

Yogesh Desai |

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Ramakant Khalap

Adv Ramakant Khalap is former Chairman of the Goa State Law Commission. Being a veteran politician of Goa, he has served the political arena as the union law minister as well as Goa’s deputy chief minister and the opposition leader in the past. He also takes keen interest in literature and cultural activities while heading several institutions, especially in the field of Marathi literature.


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