First Flight -Glimpses of India – A Baker from Goa, Coorg

Glimpses of India

A Baker from Goa ..

Bakers have been part of a Goan’s life since the time of the Portuguese. The Portuguese have left long since, but the practice of making and selling fresh breads everyday to loyal customers still persists. Most villages in Goa have these legacy bakeries with their age-old furnaces still baking the loaves. Sold old bakers have died, passing on their skill to their sons. So, the tiny family businesses have thrived the onslaught of time and technology. The bakers are known as paders – a terminology that dates back to the colonial times.

During the childhood days of the author, the baker used to come calling every day. He used to announce his presence by a bamboo staff that had a contraption attached to its top end. When banged on the ground,, the staff made a characteristic jhang jhang sound. Everyone knew the baker was coming.

Women made their purchases selecting the right variety from the assortment of loaves in the basket. The author, remembers how as a child, he would climb on something to get a glimpse of the items inside. He used to pick up the favourite ring-shaped sweet bread from inside the basket. It was a very exciting ritual that he never got tired of.

The author remembers how lazy he was to not brush his teeth even after being coaxed by his mother. Plucking a mango leaf for brushing the teeth was to much of a bother for him. He used to drink tea in the same mouth. It was all childhood fun.

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Questions and answers …

  1. What are the elders …….. The Portuguese have long left, but their way of living is still not been forgotten. There are symbols like the paders (bakeries) that remind old people. When the elders think about these, they become nostalgic.
  2. Is bread-making still …. Answer .. Bread-making is still in vogue in Goa’s villages.  There are bakers who use the furnaces that their fathers used for bread-making. The same practice of selling the bread door to door is alive today.
  3. What is … Answer .. Pader
  4. When would the bakers come … The bakers used to come in the morning with their freshly baked loaves. The children were curious about the items in his basket, and the round sweet breads that they relished a lot.

      Next part ..

A type of sweet bread called bol is a mandatory accompaniment of marriage gifts. This makes the baker a central figure in a village. When a daughter gets engaged, the mother prepares sandwiches. On Christmas and other festivities, it was customary to offer cakes and bolinhas. For all these, the baker’s services are essential. This makes the baker so important. The bakers wore a certain type of costume called kabai. It is a frock-type dress that reaches up to the knees. Later, this dress changed to half pant and with a loose shirt. 

The dress is so typical that any one wearing a half pant was jokingly called a pader.

Customers paid their bills once a month. The bill details were scribbled on a wall. Bakery was a lucrative trade those days. The bakers family and his servants looked well-fed and comfortable.

Oral comprehension check .. 

First question ..

  1. as marriage gifts … sweet breads called bol
  2. for a party or feast .. bread
  3. for a daughter’s engagement … sandwiches
  4. for Christmas …cakes and bolinhas

Second question .. During the Portuguese days, the bakers wore a frock-type dress called kabai

During the author’s childhood days, the bakers wore a half pant and a shirt.

Third question .. Who invites … Answer .. Whoever wore a half pant reaching below the knee was called a pader, because that was the typical dress of the bakers.

Fourth question … Where were the monthly accounts ……. Answer .. The monthly accounts were jotted down on a wall.

Fifth question .. What does a ‘Jack-fruit’ …. Answer .. It means a fat, well-fed person.

Thinking about the text…

  1. Which of these ….. Answer .. (i), (ii), (v), (vi)
  2. Goans eat bread daily. Special type of breads are a part of marriage gifts, and people eat it on occasions of engagement of girls, Christmas and other festivities.
  3. (i) hopeful    (ii)hopeful    (iii) nostalgic   (iv) funny   (v) matter-of-fact    (vi) matter-of-fact

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Coorg..

Coorg or Kodagu is a place along the route from Mysore and Mangalore. Being situated on the eastern slope of the Western Ghat, it offers very picturesque view of sprawling coffe plantations, greenery, forests and waterfalls. Nearly 40% of Coorg has evergreen forests. The inhabitants are ethnically different from the rest of the people of Karnataka. Their clothes, food, and festivals are quite typical too. The people of of this ethnic group have a long and proud martial tradition. In the past, they have fought countless battles winning glorious victories. The first army chief of India Gen. Cariappa was a Coorgi. Respecting their age-old love for arms, the government has waived the need for gun license for the Coorgis. 

Heavy downpours, landslides etc. are common in Kodagu. The place is dotted with large bungalows where people remain ensconed during the rains. After September, the place becomes ver scenic. Tourists pour in during September -December. 

The place abounds in myriad species of birds, insects, and butterflies. One can see Macaques,  Malabar squirrels, langurs, and slender lories here. Climbing to the top of the Brahmagiri mountain might prove exhausting, but the panoromic view of the landscape fills the heart. There is a rope bridge that connects the place to Nisargadhama which has provided a safe haven to Tibettan Buddhist refugees for decades. 

Historians relate the Coorgis to Alexander, the Great’s army who stayed back in India, inter-married with locals. Others trace the Coorgis to the land of Arabs. On the  whole, Coorg may be a small place of just about 4100 square miles, but it is a jewel in the microcosm of India. 

Questions and Answers 

Thinking about the Text …

  1. Where is coorg?.. Answer .. Coorg comes midway between Mysore and Mangalore.
  2. What is the story about …. Some say, a part of Alexander, the Great’s stayed behind in India when they found it too difficult to make the return journey. Other experts say the Coorgis are of Arab descent. These people intermarried with local inhabitants. 
  3. What are some of the things you know (i) about the people of Coorg? .. AnswerThey have strong martial traditions. They are renowned coffee growers, and live in spacious bungalows. (ii) the main crop of Coorg .. Answer .. Coffee (iii) the sports it offers to tourists …  River rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, trekking etc. are the main tourist sports  (iv) the animals you are likely to see ….Answer .. Langurs, Macaques, Malabar squirrels, and slender liries are common here.  (v) the distance from Bangalore and how to get there… Answer .. Bangalore is 260 kilometers away. One can get there by bus, air or train.
  4. Here a the six sentences ……. (i) keep them away  (ii) As one story goes  (iii) more than willing to recount (iv) the most laid-back individuals  (v) draws support from  (vi) keep a watchful eye

 

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