Quite recently we drove down to Goa with our cat. As we passed across the border between Goa and Karnataka, I began to ponder on what were the interesting sounds that welcomed me home. Odd right? You would think that the sounds in each part of the country are the same. I thought so too but I quickly realized that I was wrong. There are some sounds that may repeat and be heard across the country and even across the world. Growing up in Goa meant that no matter where I heard those sounds I would be drawn back to the place where my roots lay. That place is none other than Goa.
I digress. Let me get back to the point and introduce you to the sounds of Goa that make me long for home.
1. THE HONKING OF THE PODER
The Poders standing at the city center in Margao.
For those of you who don’t know Konkani, ‘Poder’ means ‘Baker’. He plays an iconic role in almost every Goan house hold where ‘pao’ or ‘bread’ is delivered home. The Poder makes his round twice a day: once early morning and once in the evening. The sound of his horn sends people scurrying out of their houses because no one wants to miss him on his rounds. When I was younger the Poder used to make his rounds on a cycle with a humongous woven basket strapped on its back. The basket was usually covered with a large cloth to keep the contents from being exposed to the dirt around. Today I’ve heard that the Poder moves about on a motorbike. The iconic sound of his horn however remains.
If you ever hear the honking of the Poder through the villages of Goa, you will also hear shouts as neighbors call out greetings to each other. Buying your bread can also be a social event. Nothing like catching up over the day’s events as you select the type of bread you want.
2. THE RAIN AND THE WIND
Stormy sounds captured on a day trip out recently. I love the rains!
The rain in Goa is not the usual drizzle that people in many parts of the world. At the start of the monsoon strong gusts of wind rip through the streets. Loud sounds of banging doors, rattling sheets and a stray plastic items warns that the first showers are imminent. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in a village, you will hear the wind play musical notes as the branches and leaves of the trees quite literally dance in tune.
The next part is something that brings back memories. You can hear the rain coming towards you. It starts at a point and the sound of it drumming down becomes louder and louder till it engulfs you. I miss the rains in Goa. Sure people associate it with power cuts and fallen trees. Me… I reminiscence of hot tea, buttered toast and slices of hot cake from the oven! Courtesy my grandmother of course!
3. THE CRASHING OF THE WAVES
My best friend Natasha on a day when we took a long stroll on the beach so we could have a heart to heart talk.
A lot of people come to visit Goa because of its scenic coast line. For a person who has the vast majority of her life in Goa, the coast line is not something new. I had access to some of the most coveted beaches in the world ever since I was born. Going to the beach was always a treat as a child. Now as an adult I make sure that we visit the beach as often as we can when we go back to Goa.
The crashing of the waves in is one of the sounds of Goa that is embedded in my soul. They may sound the same to someone from another part of the world but the sound of those waves brings back memories. Picnics on the beach when we were younger, a short vacation with the family and even living by the beach for a few days after we got married. The sound of the waves crashing sure is linked to so many good times.
4. THE CHIMING OF THE CHURCH BELLS
Happy Church bells on the day we got married.
Goa has Churches in almost every corner. That is why it is not surprising that the chiming of the church bells is one of the sounds of Goa that I remember. As a child we were taught how to interpret the different sounds that the church bells made. The cheerful chiming of the church bells that signifies that something good has taken place. This usually takes place after a wedding or a feast. It’s a rapid succession of chimes.
Then there is the slow and sorrowful way in which the chimes are sounded. This signifies something sad and is usually rung during a funeral. The time of the day signifies also tells a different tale because the church bells are rung for the faithful to say the Angelus. A couple of decades chiming of the church bells were used to communicate with the people around. That’s why there were different kinds of chimes for different occasions.
It’s odd how you tend to ignore common things around you that your senses invariably pick up. I’m sure that if I ponder a bit longer I will be able to add more sounds of Goa to the list. Are there any sounds that remind you of your hometown? I would love to know what they are!
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