This post is the last of the Malvan Notes series. If you haven't already been through them you may like to read the first, second, third and the fourth posts. Initially, it was intended to be in four parts but the hours spent in the region cast an enchanting spell with it's simplicity and languor that the fifth part was inevitable. Frankly, it was also a desperate attempt to hold on to the charms of small town pleasures.
A couple of steps up from the jetty was the tiny opening through the flower bushes into the village temple, the most magnificent building in that part and the most colourful. The facade sported a fresh brick cut design. The priest urged me to seek the blessings of the presiding deity and offered prasada.
|Entrance To Village Temple|
Away from the tourist archetypes, this corner of the village offered the solace and solitude that seeps in quietly leaving an impression to be relished long after the trip comes to an end. Shaded by the many leafy whorls of the coconut trees, it peeked out at the Arabian Sea. A shack nearby was stacked with firewood and planks. The lapping waves and the breeze were the only sounds that could be heard. A few morning glories here and there raised their purple heads to the sun. It was a place one would like to have a book for company or just watch the sea play with one's thoughts. The beach across the bay looked inviting but we were warned that beneath that benign looking water, were strong undercurrents where the sea rushed in to fill the bay.
|Shack Near The Bay|
Far from the maddening crowd, taking in the little details of quiet places, is the preferable mode of enjoying a place. The people here are simple and helpful. There have been drives to train the local people in providing services to the tourists to supplement their income. Home-stays and guesthouses have opened their doors. Some package scuba diving and snorkeling activities. Then there are the water sports that I mentioned in my previous post. Numerous roadside kiosks beckon with promises of the best Malvani cuisine. And if you are a sea food lover, there is an array of choice to pick from. Since our food was cooked by Vishal's ( caretaker of the cottage) mother, I am sure we had the best of the Malvani kitchen. We tried the food once during our stay at a much acclaimed restaurant but it was no match for her culinary magic. And like youngsters gone astray sheepishly returning to the fold, we came back to her much to her delight.
"You know, we had foreigners here for one whole month and they never tired of the food I cooked. Everyday they ate food that I cooked with my own hands. One day they also took us out for a meal in that shop that everyone goes to. It was not at all good!Why waste money there when I am making home food for you?"
We couldn't agree with her more and settled down to tuck into that prawn curry all over again and again till the last meal before we left. I had always suspected that kokum, that integral part of Konkani cuisine, was what an Assamese would relish as thekera on a hot sultry day. Belonging to the mangosteen family, thekera or kokum, brings not just relief from the heat but also has many digestive, nutritive and medicinal properties. I remember, mother concocting thekera sorbot to soothe a rumbling tummy or serve it as a refreshing drink to a visitor on a summer day. It also gave the right tangy taste to the our masor tenga ( a light fish curry popular in Assam).
And here we were lounging by the Arabian sea shore, relishing some great sol kadhi, a lightly spiced drink made of coconut milk and mangosteen extracts; making notes of similarities in our lives and at the same time intrigued by the novelties of the people, excited with epiphanies; listening to their stories, their adventures, their dreams... One lady proudly declared that her husband had been to Delhi on more than one occasion and even managed to give a petition to none less than Indira Gandhi. He was representing the fisherman's cooperative association which seemed to have a strong presence in the town. Another worried that there was no worthy match for her worthy son who managed guests with a smile always and looked after their needs. So we conversed on the travails of everyday life between swapping recipes.
|Boat In A Courtyard|
A radio blared somewhere floating melodious notes of local music. A pan hissed over the fire in a kitchen tossing up the afternoon meal for a family. A happy boat rested in a courtyard under a couple of young coconut tree catching the sun and the shade. A few shy girls ran away giggling from their hopscotch game, on seeing the camera aimed at them. A cat crouched on a gate eyeing the pigeons...and life went on in Malvan...