Anil Bhivaji and his daughter from Pernem Goa own Mangala nursery and were representing their establishment with a collection of fine fruit and flowering plants. The father sat behind the leafy arrangement while his daughter looked out for interested buyers. The variety of flora included coconut, breadfruit, mango, neem, lemon, anar (pomegranate), chikoo, bananas, cashew, ramphal (family of sitaphal or custard apple; similar pulpy sweetness without seeds). Also basumati, leaves of this plant are added to cooking rice to give it the flavour of the famous basmati variety of rice. Now thats an insight.
Siblings Anju Raputia and Satish are originally from Gujrat and have been in Goa for decades. Their collection of bed spreads and cushion covers have been carefully sourced and picked out, an effort that they are very proud of. After a friendly conversation Anju made me promise (with a wide grin and a sense of secrecy) that I would buy only from her should I need anything. Also, Satish was amused at our admiration of their innovative use of an old cistern as a stand for their makeshift canopy.
Vinod Kumar occupies a small floor area in the passage entry situated to the right of the main entrance (from the side of textile shops section). He is from Panjim and sells books such as a variety of children’s learning booklets, cook books in hindi language, mehendi designs and other interesting reads for the curious public.
Pushpavati Savant sits opposite Vinod with her home produce of Nachni (Ragi), broken rice, local brown rice and bananas. She is from Munang village in Assagaon, Goa.
She stood in silence unsure of our approach. From a distance I took in her quiet stillness amidst the movement of the passer-bys. Rajshree comes from Old Goa with her local home grown dried red chillies. One of our Goan companions quickly put her at ease with a query about why chillies from his own plants disappear. ‘Its the birds, she replied, you’ve got to save them from being eaten by the birds. They love red chillies’.
Abdul Rehman was surrounded by a bevvy of women and so it took a while to get his attention. Originally from Karnataka, Abdul has spent the last two decades living and working in Goa. His choice of business is t-shirts for the fashion conscious ladies of Goa and travels twice a month to Chennai where he gathers export surplus from the garment factories there.
Maria from Thivim had a modest display of offering for interested patrons. Most eye catching was the small pile of lethal mini green (slowly turning red) chillies that promise to deliver their potency should you be ready and willing. Or not. There were keen buyers in our group. Hmmm. Her other products were plants namely; money plant, Exora (cluster of red flowers), betel leaf, pepper and a variety of dried bitter herbs (She gleefully offered a taste) called Kiraitem, that is prescribed for stomach ailments. All of which grown in her garden. Nice.
We bumped into a friend and realized it was time for refreshments so we headed to Cafe Aurora. Cafe Aurora is a charming square expanse of a room. Charming because it retains its simple Art Deco architectural details unlike others that have unfortunately succumbed to the attraction of modernism.