Mormugao, Goa, India

                                                                        Modern Architecture

March 13, 2010

Goa is the smallest state in India, and apparently also the richest.  What gives it that distinction is the natural resources it has.  They mine iron and manganese for export; they also mine bauxite (aluminum ore), but they do not export that.  Goa has a long history as a Portuguese colony, and although all the Portuguese people left in the 1960s, their influence is still seen.  The major influence is seen in the presence of the Catholic church; about 30% of the population is Catholic.  Some of the architecture also shows the Portuguese influence.  We saw a lot of new construction and modern buildings in our drive around the area, as well as older style homes.  

Although much of the area is developed, the towns are fairly small and there is a lot of open land, much of which is used for agriculture.   Most of what we saw was rice paddies.  We visited the Savoi Plantation, where they grow all sorts of spices, plus bananas, pineapples, and cashews.  The plantation has a special area set up with examples of the major things they grow, like nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, piri-piri chilies (very small & very hot), and vanilla.

We also had lunch there, a buffet of Indian food, including rice, shrimp, vegetables, fish, chutneys and sweets.  Our plates were flat baskets lined with banana leaves.  They also served us an alcoholic drink called “frani”, which is 35% alcohol, and is the result the second distillation from the cashew-apple juice (the apple is the fruit - not well developed in this photo - from which the recognizable cashew hangs).  The drink made from the first distillation of the fermented cashew-apple juice is called “urac” and is about 15% alcohol.  We did not taste that.  

Our first stop of the day was at the Menezes Bragança (or in a more familiar form, Braganza) home which was built over a period of hundreds of years; the newest part is 250 years old (photo below).

The lady of the house, who showed us around, is 93 years old and still going strong.  She showed us her antiques, which are mostly from China, and which seem to have a minimum age of 250 years.  There is beautiful stenciling on many of the walls.  The walls are thick and punctuated with many windows, which are kept open to let the air cool the house.  It is a pleasure to see a house so solidly built.  They served us tea and snacks, too.  We appreciated the wonderful hospitality.

When we were driving away from the house, Susan saw a kingfisher sitting on a wall, a variety known as a zebra kingfisher.  Later on, after leaving the plantation, our guide Santos stopped the bus and let us get off to take photographs of a kingfisher sitting on a power line.  This one was one he sees every day, and it is a different variety.  When it flew off, the flash of its turquoise wings was very bright.

There is poverty in Goa also.  We saw makeshift homes as well as the nice ones.  Some were made of corrugated metal; others were just tents made of tarps.  Apparently these homes belong to the migrant workers.  We saw several places where they were making bricks.

Many of the homes seem to be built with the big square bricks like these red ones.  Another industry we saw evidence of was furniture making, with open shops by the side of the road.

We were told that although there are laws against child labor, one does see children working (we did see some on a road-side project).  These are not Goan children, but rather the children of people from other states, who go to wherever they can find work.  Another disturbing thing was to learn that the Portuguese forced conversion from Hinduism to Catholicism.   In our experience the Hindu religion seems to work very well for people who have to deal with extreme poverty.  Those people seem to be much happier with their circumstances than we’ve seen with other religions.

There is a lot of advertising visible, some on billboards, a lot on buildings, such as the Kingfisher beer ad on this building.  Much of their advertising is hedonistic in nature, something our own American advertising is finally getting away from.  We saw a few pigs running around, one herd of goats, many cattle, and even some water buffalo, like the one pictured here.

It was nice to see a part of India that seems to be less extreme than what we’ve seen in the cities.  Many of the nice houses are painted in bright colors, and even the shacks and tent communities have bright color.  Goa is definitely a part of India worth visiting.

You can find more photos from this excursion in the album.

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© Susan L. Stone 2015