Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Of the three top attractions of Goa, two are secrets. Beaches are the only commonly known feature …but the quaint villages and the forests remain ignored by most.
The continuous stretches of villages stretching along narrow 2 metres roads, dotted with white portugese chapels at every turn, yellow & white houses, crosses or tulsi plants in every compound, dogs that make the centre of the road their permanent home, cashew and coconut trees, streams, honking pau-walas, and little congregations of village folk staring at the passers by – all hold immense charm.
The following account talks of a day at such a village:
Have arrived at the villa that will complete its hundredth year in 7 years. Majestic high ceilings, wooden beams to support the tiles that leave an occasional gap for a rain-drip. Gorgeous hand made tiles on the floor. Oyster shell arched windows. Skylights in the roof. Large by city standards – it housed 25 people in its youth.
Two wells – one in front and one behind the kitchen – that now serve more as artistic accents, than as sources of water. The yellow and white exterior, stands out against the hill – covered with a thick green forest. Even in its weakest season, the forest is formidable, and now in the midst of monsoon, it is thick and impenetrable. Full of mystery and secret creatures that I will never discover.
The clouds have joined us (me and the house) and a light rain has begun, creating more sound than wet. The noise of the rain as it grows intense, obliterates all other inputs and all that I can do is to sit and stare. Mindlessly. The wind in the leaves and the rain falling on the roof, washes out the mind.
My otherwise overactive mind can now only process basic visuals like glistening bougainvillea leaves, and rivulets falling off the roof gutters. The road outside, 3 meters wide, is lined by two red muddy streams on each side, in which I could have sailed paper boats, had this been happening in my past. The gradient of this hilly landscape provides natural forceful drainage almost as though there were pumps at one end.
The forest has finished bathing. The clouds turn off their taps. Large droplets form at the ends of branches – like a freshly shampoo-ed girl’s hair. The moss- decorated white walls of the chapel next door rise upwards and extend into the gray sky. Birds fluttering and drying themselves on the wires. The noise of the wind and rain is now replaced by the piercing sound of a stream falling on some metal plate. That will soon be replaced by the deafening sounds of silence.
Tonight, I will spend, in the forest home. Trying to drown out the awareness of the creatures that lurk on my property. Unfortunately my neighbours – the large black spiders, the beetles, the froggies and the snakes do not recognize the laws of the human property ownership, and co-habit this place with full rights.
Will walk to the little stream in the evening that rises out of a natural spring considered to have medicinal properties. Will harvest a few jackfruit to sell in the open market tomorrow. Will perform the dance of the narrow village roads – where a bus and my car come face to face and both must silently cooperate and collaborate thru repeated reverse-forward moves to allow for passage. Will have tea at the road side stalls at the end of the road. And eat chilli vadas for dinner.
The sun is out now, making the leaves shine and glisten, as they wave to the passing winds. Birds that had been silenced by the wet, are now chattering – disturbing the siestas of the goan vilagers. The ozone in the air is rumored to be dense – leading to deep intoxicated afternoon naps. The feni helps too.
The village house brings me peace and fulfilment. Is it the high ceilings and the acoustics that casts this aura? Is it the beauty of the architecture that touches my soul? Is it the contrast with my city lives? Is it the solitude? Is it the love invested into creating it? Is it the setting – the hill, the forest, the green in every direction, the breeze, the birds and the clouds? Is it the nothingness of this place that is devoid of TV, internet and phones? Or is it the undisturbed, unlimited time for the inward journeys of the mind?
The night I spent there was enchanted and hard to capture in words. It was one night after full-moon – and I watched it rise – small and distant – very very distant – but full, over the grey monsoon clouds. Fireflies – numerous enough to keep me enchanted – but few enough to keep me hungry for more. And a dark forest. I stood and watched the moon and the flies for a long time from behind the pillar – to shield my eyes from the street lamp. No people anywhere. No sounds. No rain. No wind. The only motion was that of the moon rising slowly. No fear came to visit, in spite of believing that it would.
Watched a strangely colored sun rise today. Found a large beetle inside the house. Had met one of his relatives a few months ago. But today there was no fear at seeing it.
Celebrations are in order today…my first solo night in this majestic house – but am too exhausted by my thoughts and by my solitude!!
july 27th, 2010