Of times gone by

October 18, 2009


When I was growing up in Kerala I distinctly remember my mother exchanging old clothes for new “eversilver” vessels and plastic buckets. This barter ensured that there would be no throwing away of much ravaged shirts, trousers and sarees. My mother quite revelled in these negotiations and invariably succeeded in getting an extra tumbler or an additional mug from the hapless vendor. As my dad’s job took us to increasingly urbanised India, I could gather that my mother was missing these interactions. Over a period of time, my childhood memory of these exchanges faded away. It was only a few days back here in Curtorim, when I saw a “vessel seller” offering vessels in exchange for old clothes that my memory of these episodes was revived. But for my inability to speak Konkani, I was game to closing a transaction for old times’ sake. I was also curious to understand how the vendor was converting his sale proceeds to cash at the end of the day.

When we were in Bangalore, empty milk sachets were consigned to the dust bin and I presume there was a system for garbage disposal which would take care of waste management. All I can say is that although it did not particularly bother me at that time, t did not work very well. For a start there was no proper system of segragation and on the odd occasion one could see the bins being emptied across the street and being set on fire. Here in Goa, the “raddhiwala” makes it a point to ask for empty milk sachets which he is keen to acquire for a price. The stint in Goa has made me parsimonious if not anything else and my eyes have been opened to responsible garbage disposal. There is communal responsibility for managing individual and collective waste. Any individual irresponsibility in this regard is looked down upon by the rest of the community. This is not to say that the perils of urban waste management have not affected Goa. Newspapers are rife with how Panjim and Margao are struggling with the realities of urban sprawls and it is there for all to see. For the time being at least, up country Goa seems to be managing this relatively well by adopting age old traditions and practices.

Although Panjim is close to 40 kms from Curtorim, in terms of time, the journey does not take more than an hour by private transport. The most redeeming aspect is the absence of traffic lights anywhere along the way. I am yet to come across the much reviled traffic signal anywhere in Goa. For someone from Bangalore whose life has been traumatised by stop-start traffic (I had to navigate my way past 14 traffic signals to reach my place of work from home, a distance of 12 kms) the last few years, this is nirvana. The driving etiquette of Goans is also a huge step up from the vulgarity of what is dished out by drivers elsewhere in the country.

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