August 11, 2023

The Radius Of Life

Three Kings Chapel, Cuelim (2009)

It was evening when we took the narrow road up the slope before passing steps that zig zag up the laterite hill to the Three Kings Chapel perched on top.

View of Paddy fields from Three Kings Chapel

The chapel looks south over the vast paddy fields of Velsao and Cansaulim that stretch past Arrosim, narrowing in Utorda and gradually petering out near Majorda before Betalbatim ties up the loose patches of green approaching Colva into a thick knot of  cement constructions that’ve gathered pace over the last two decades with no signs of letting up anytime soon.

Rice Fields of Velsao and Cansaulim belt (2009)

Only fragmented patches of rice fields now dot the countryside past Colva and Benaulim thanks to the beachside housing market boom driven by investments flowing in from Bombay and Delhi, and elsewhere, serving as beach homes for the affluent to visit in the winter and bring friends along when Delhi gets too chilly for the Dilliwaley.  

A was at the wheel as we drove along the road through Velsao along the South Central railway line hidden behind trees and houses. One of the two railway lines through Goa, the South Central line emerges from Vasco before making its way to Karnataka, the other, the Konkan Railway, meanders along Goa's coastline.

It was summer approaching monsoon when we idled along to the languid rhythm of Goa.

A light breeze blew in from the sea. The air was thick but we felt light to be out and about Salcete, taking in the sights of South Goa, reminiscing of my childhood in Margao as I usually do when in Salcete. The paddy fields were dry, awaiting the approaching monsoons a little over a fortnight away.

No sooner we turned a gentle curve approaching Burdi and we came upon a group of people standing roadside and looking in the direction of the paddy fields.

A found a shoulder wide enough to accommodate his four-wheeler and we got down to join the curious group.


Men fishing in a shrinking pond of water

In the backdrop of rolling hills a shrinking patch of water, turned dark from congealing in the mud over the dry summer months, held a group of seven men in knee deep water dragging a fishing net through the water.

Cattle egrets foraged in the fields in the distance, fenced off from the hill beyond by an unbroken line of coconut trees curving along the road we had just driven along after descending from the Three Kings Chapel atop the hill.

Men pull fishing net to catch fish in a rice field

With monsoons approaching work in the khazan fields across Goa gathers pace. Water catchment ponds in fields fed through sluice gates regulating water backing up inland from estuaries and rivers are cleared of debris and readied to channel water to rice fields when the Kharif season gets underway in the monsoons.

A thickly set man speaking Salcete Konkani stood on the edge of the pond shouting instructions to one of the men carrying a stick and beating the water to get fish moving in the direction they were pulling the net. Most of the workers, darkened to the colour of still water, were not of Goan origin, labour migrating to Goa for work and dismissively known as ghanti locally.

Shrinking over the summer the pond, fed through a sluice gate controlling the inflow and outflow of backwater from the other side of the road, had shrunk, reducing the ‘playing’ field for fishes that had made it their home having arrived with the water irrigating the paddy fields.

A largish fish trapped in the net made several heroic attempts to break free, propelling up each time the net held it down. A man with the stick would walk up to it and beat it down with heavy swings of the stick before it finally went silent, and the pond was serene once again only to be broken by several smaller fishes making similar attempts but to no avail. The man with the stick would have none of it.

Serenity is on the surface, mostly!

Given the effort the seven men were putting in to drag the fishing net towards the edge of the pond it was likely to be a substantial catch.

The tumult of fishes trapped underneath, beating at the water furiously to escape the net, must’ve been considerable, their panic in the dark water smoothed over by the smothering net and invisible to eyes looking on from the road.

At what point would the trapped fishes resign to their fate is anybody’s guess, their resignation bringing along a sorrow to fill the depths of an ocean, and deeper still.  

Summer had reduced the radius of the pond and shrunk their circle of life small enough to become easy pickings for anyone who cared to net them.

Not unlike life itself!

August 10, 2023

Probus Club, Up A Step, Down A Peg


A club is no ordinary matter in India. Starting one is matter of pride to individuals called upon to join it, a stamp of approval bestowed upon the individual, signifying his/her worth to the collective that has decided to be clubbed together, a coming of age event no less.

At least it used be not too long ago when people would meet other people in person.

Other times a club merely formalises a group who decided one day that it’s time they need to be known by a name, a collective identity, to be derived from the name they settle on, a name to identify their persona they want the world to know them by.

So whoever decided to name their club Probus in a dark corridor in an old Goan building was under no illusion as to what they thought about themselves . . . .

probus (feminine proba, adverb probē); first/second-declension adjective

1. good, serviceable, excellent, superior, able

2. (morally) upright, honest, virtuous, moral


But the thing with the world is it doesn’t always look at you how you look at yourself.

Man proposes, Goa disposes.


For, before long someone decided to hold a mirror to those who called themselves Probus, adding a rejoinder, knocking them down a peg or two.

Graffiti on the wall

gandu (Noun), (plural gandus)

(India, vulgar, slang) An arsehole, an idiot.

It’s used in other more colourful and incendiary contexts, none any more palatable than the above so I’ll leave them alone, to live on the streets where they come to life in more corners than you'd care to count, its myriad meanings burnished in the rage of their usage. 

To share further blushes, some kindly soul likely decided that a part of the context was served better whitewashed, leaving us guessing what more was said of the probus brothers and sisters.


NOTE: On another note, in a more saner world, the one that preceded the one now, Probus Clubs had their moment in the sun.