Friday, April 30, 2010

Folk Flock to Beaches

With just about a month of summer remaining, a rush is witnessed at the beaches of Goa by Goans for the annual ritualistic and traditional dip in the sea waters. It is believed by locals that the venturing into the seas in the month of April and May cures one of prickly heat, rheumatism, pain in the joints and limbs etc.

"The sea is a gift to human kind and not only because of the fish that we get to eat and other riches but also because it is blessed with many other wonderful things that we may not even know about". My land lady tells me. She also adds that the annual bath includes staying or visiting the beaches for 3 or 4 days continuously can have a good effect on your body.

This is a age old tradition in Goa. These days the concept has changed into a picnic where food and other necessities are carried to the beach and families laze around for the whole day in the beach by just sleeping, reading, listening to music, singing some songs together etc. While the young have their own activities like games and sports which are played on the beach. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cash Deposits for Vindaloo

I recently so a commercial on TV of ICICI bank about how the employees go out of the way in delivering a personal touch to the services they provide. I though it was all a gimmick. Some commercials really do touch you but not this one. The farce in the add was way to evident to me, having experienced the bank many times. I have always found the bank to be very chaotic though they have brought in some good changes the way Indians bank. On the other hand I find more at home at our own SBI Bank where at least the staff is not trying to ape some MNC's. ICICI on the other hand I feel is trying to put up a face of genuine care and concern but is as chaotic as any of our local banks would be.

My routine bank visits include a trip once in a while to our local village corporation bank. There is no reason for me to be there but I have to be for the sake of some delicious Vindaloo or some other delicacies which Antao aunty trades in favor for her cash to be deposited. The offer is too tempting for me to consider. The bank in which her account is has 04 employees including the manager and the office boy. Everything moves at snail pace here. depositing the money is an affair of half an hour to fourty five minutes.

This week as usual Aunty entrusted me with the job of depositing some cash, she caught me well on time just as I was trying to sneak away. Her pass book and cash comes in a very neatly kept plastic cover which is the same for the past 3 years. As usual she reminded me to enter the deposit on the pass book, which she is extremely particular about. Not updating the passbook means going though the same ordeal the very next day and this time without any incentive of vindaloos or bebincas. Over the past 3 years I had very clearly learned my lesson.

At the bank as I was waiting I could not miss the expression on one of the employees who is getting transfered next week to a branch closer to her home. She was telling every known customer walking in at her counter about the transfer. Each customer wished her good luck and said they would miss her. There was happiness as well as a sense of loss in her expression. I am very sure she would miss the present branch along with all its customers. She had been there for the past 5 years and had personally known most of its customers. Being a village branch there were very few close customers as well. The whole emotions around the bank was eating into my time but some how I did not mind it. There were various concerns raised during her conversation with her beloved customers.

Most of them wanted to know who was replacing her. She was happy that she was moving closer to her home but worried that she is being transfered to a city branch in Mapusa where there would be some added pressure compared to a village branch. There was a genuine concern in everyone involved in the conversation.Finally when my turn came which was after about fourty five minutes she asked me about Antao aunty and asked her to convey the news about her transfer.

I wished her all the best at the back of my mind was the commercial of ICICI Bank.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The summers and the Jungle Juice

The summers are here and so is the aurrack, the favourite drink of Goa. It is the juice of the cashew fruit which is mildly alcoholic. There are various ways to have it but the best one is the way my friend Denniss makes it - Loads of crushed ice, 180 ml of the juice, lot of lime squeezed into it with a dash of salt in a tall glass. It doesn't give you a kick like the other drinks thats why we have 180 ml in a glass instead of the standard 60 ml or 30 ml.

From March if you get a chance to travel through the hinterlands of Goa, I bet you will not miss the sweet, fruity striking smell of the ripe cashew fruit. One of the greatest imports by the Portuguese, this fruit has influenced the way I beat the heat about 350 years after the first fruit was born on this land. These fruits are seasonal and starts riping from February to April.  It is a richly flavored fruit so it is had lightly sugared or salted. Another way to have it is with the recipe mentioned above. Which I think is much better.

Come February the state is waiting for its favorite drink. It just cools the body down and sleeping after a couple of drinks is strongly recommended. This is for sure a summer drink, there is a reason why mother nature produced it during this season. The drink tastes even better with of course some fried mussels or the heavenly juicy Bhangada.

It is in-fact worth a trip to Goa only to explore more about this juice. It is famously called Jungle Juice in Goa. I guess the name suggests alot. At least it is natural compared to some of its other bottled counterparts. It is also good for health, It is played a big role in the small jungle juice belly that I have. In the traditional method of making cashew fenny, the cashew apples are manually crushed in a rock on the hill which is carved or shaped like a basin with an outlet for the juice, called a coimbi. The juice is collected in a huge earthen pot called a Kodem, which is buried in the ground. The juice is then distilled in earthen or copper pots. Recently Cashew Fenny got its GI registration as a specialty alcoholic beverage from GOA.