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Observations

On the 31st of January ’14, I screened these films in Mapusa market, it was quite an experience. Because, I was showing a kind of art film, people there may or may not see it as art. Expectedly, everyone asked me, what is the point of this? I explained, well I found this machine and its ringing attractive so i decided to make a short film, it is also kind of a study of just this machine and its movement. Some people weren’t amused so I added, I see this film as part of a process and an instrument to have a conversation with you, so in a way the point of the film is to create an interaction. Some folks seemed to appreciate this but a man I spoke to in the end wasn’t satisfied. Eventually, with some desperation it occurred to me and I resorted to saying well why is there a wheel in the national flag, to justify this film by adding a popular reference and therefore a dimension of purpose. This somewhat quelled his curiosity, although I cannot be certain, perhaps he had enough of me.

I screened these films back to back for nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes, starting at 6:00 pm on till 8:15 pm and amazingly, at any given point, there were 6-7 people watching the films at the minimum and at some other points, a good 15-20 people watching it. A lot of people watched it and didn’t ask any questions. I can only wonder what went through their minds.

Unfortunately, I must say the star of the show was, the Dell P-65 LED mini projector. The first time I saw it, I was amazed at how small it was. So it was no wonder everyone was also amazed in the market. About 6 out of 10 people asked me if this was a demo and how much the projector costs etc. I immediately realised, that indeed I am in a bustling market, people expect to see things selling. And it was Friday, which is market day. The market massively increases in density, and many big sellers come here. ( https://mappingmapusamarket.wordpress.com/category/friday-bazaar/ ) Eventually, I had to put up a ‘Projector not for sale’ note at the side. This way I could just point to the note and say, please watch the film.

A sixteen year old, DVD selling, migrant boy called Akhtar, hailing from U.P. asked me, since you make films, well, why don’t you show the big bridge in Calangute, the Western Ghats and people parasailing on the beaches? To which I said, yeah I could even show pictures of the USA but the point is that i have to stay local, Nayim, his friend, unexpectedly then said something in my favour, he said “jo cheez dikhti nahin woh dikhate hain yeh” (he is showing stuff that doesn’t necessarily get seen man). I thanked Nayim in my head and said yes thats more to the point. During the process 2 people even asked for my number, a certain Mr. Prasad and Mr. Vishal with whom I had intense conversations, they said they like the film but do not know what to make of them but they seemed impressed and to me they seemed like thinking inquisitive folk, unfortunately I left 4 days later and I never got a call from them.

This was the first public art project, I have done, I have seen public art and deeply appreciate how the works on display prompts passers by to ask questions and try to understand what is going on. I like the fact that the average person, is not connected with the popular discourse of art, his mind is not conditioned to make stereotypical connections, it fascinates me as to what such a person would take from something like this. Often they make comments and ask questions, that would have never occurred to myself. Interacting with people in the market and trying to communicate the idea, clarifies my own perspective and therefore I see it all as part of the process. But perhaps, next time I will show films that people here can relate more to.

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Here are photographs of all of the eight, machines. I could only get one image of the one near the old fish market because he refused to co-operate. Put it this way, I wasn’t able to start a conversation. Following are observations I made through out the process of filming and talking to the people who ran the shops, these are a mix of factual, trivial and anecdotal observations as random details became more apparent in the process.

  • 7 out of the eight machines have the same basic design. All machines, have 3 fixed gears between the motor and the grinder. Ram-Milan’s (Vikas Cold Drinks) machine is of a  different design, it has one less belt and a cog instead. His machine lost on power and I remember it kept getting stuck, and squeezed out less juice. Although, his machine had a very pretty fly wheel and its bell rang at the highest beats per minute.
  • The machines ran at slightly different speeds, they ran at 108, 99, 108, 100, 94, 96 and 178 beats of the bell per minute.
  • 4 of the machines used a single bell, 2 of the machines used 2 bells and 2 others used a bunch of 4-5 bells, these ones had a really nice ghungroo like sound to them.
  • The strings that Mr.Naik (Krishna Cold Drinks) uses to tie the bells to the machine, breaks every 4-5 days. I suggested a metal thread to which he said “aise hi chalta hai”.
  • All machines were painted in variations of a sky blue shade. This trait is somewhat specific to Goa.
  • It was common knowledge among the others that Ankush Juice Center outside the flower market is the biggest seller in the market. This is because of where his shop is placed, it receives the most foot fall. The one man running it, worked ceaselessly with his rather powerful machine, juicing and serving continuously.
  • Only 2 sellers, sold just sugarcane juice. Others resorted to keeping cold drinks, snacks and even agarbattis.
  • 5 out of the 8 had a guard, on the fly wheel, where as 3 ran without any safety measures. These naked machines, looked great as you could see each of the individual moving parts, although this came at the cost of safety, but no one reported of any accidents.
  • All machines were operated by one man, except 2 who ran a two man operation,  here, one man kept juicing and serving, the other, skinned the cane and cleaned the shop.
  • I also learnt from Ram-Milan, that juicing is the easy part since the machine does all the work of squeezing out the juice, cleaning and skinning the cane prior to the juicing is where the bulk of the labour is.
  • 3 shops were run by people who are employed and paid a wage to run the shop. In these cases, the goan landlord, most likely owns a few properties. 5 of the sellers owned and ran their own shops.
  • Like everything else, the business changes with the seasons, so just after spring, April through to September is their busiest time. As its hot and a cold glass of sugarcane juice becomes that much more desirable.
  • Served with a dash of lemon and crushed ice, a glass of sugarcane juice is tasty and refreshing. It has a lot of flavour and is surprisingly less sweet than most other beverages like Pepsi or Coca-Cola.
  • The sugarcanes come from the neighbouring state of, Maharashtra.
  • In an ironic reversal of the crucial allegiance between Krishna and Arjun in the Mahabharata, Mr. Naik of Krishna Cold Drinks and Mr. Sandeep of Arjun Cold Drinks, are infact the only two direct rivals in the market, simply because they are neighbours. Mr. Sandeep said, tension mounts when a customer comes midway and both of us are vying for his/her attention because of the tension this causes we hardly ever speak to each other. (note last picture in gallery)

A few shots, from one of the bigger buildings surrounding the market. It was interesting to overlook various happenings in the market in one sight,  as I stood there, I saw a good number of people simultaneously buying stuff, casually strolling, trying to sell goods etc. You could hear an ambiguous talking, buses honking far away, the sound of traffic and to my surprise, you could also hear the bell ringing of one of the sugarcane sellers in the market, I am in the process of making a short film on the 8 sugarcane machines in and around the market.

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