And then there was Arco

December 28, 2008

Arco Iris

Arco Iris

This is an old article of mine that appeared in an online newsletter called the Goanet. Was written and published nearly 24 months back. The best part about it was that we got a fair number of responses from subscribers to the newsletter and who were also looking at acquiring property in Goa, specifically in South Goa. They were looking for assistance in identifying available properties in the area. Over a period of them, some of them have become good friends of Beni’s. In a way this was what got me interested in writing and blogging and kind of gave me the confidence that the brickbats would be manageable. So here goes:

It was a joyous moment for me and my wife when, after a search operation that lasted for over 6 months, we became proud owners of a piece of Goan land. But, I guess I am jumping the gun and ignoring the chronology of events as they unfolded.

My wife, Beni, is a Goan and ignoring trivial details like my place of birth and the fact that I prefer vegetables to meat and I can’t stand the smell of fish being cooked, I believe I am as much a “Goan” as anyone else fortunate enough to be from that place under the sun. It was around a year ago that both of us decided that we’d rather be in Goa than in any other place for the rest of our lives. This was not withstanding the fact that we have two daughters, aged 5 and 3, and the general consensus being that the increasingly unlivable Bangalore, where we reside currently, is a much better place, from an academic and other extracurricular activities perpectives, to bring up children than resplendent Goa. After thinking this over for all of 4 minutes, we decided to go ahead and take the first step towards relocating to Goa. The first step for us was to identify a piece of land where we believed we could spend the rest of our lives without being affected by the pulls and pressures of all that would be happening around us. During the period, I was lucky to be exposed, for the first time to the splendors of Goa, beyond the sandy beaches and the placid sea. Given our financial constraints, it did also help that most of the properties overlooking the sea were well beyond our reach.

Arco Iris then

Arco Iris then

Arco Iris now

Arco Iris now

During the search period we were disappointed a couple of times when supposedly “sealed” transactions evaporated due to a variety of reasons, not the least being the better deals offered by the land grabbing mafia that seemed to have suddenly descended on this Utopia. As they say, all is well that ends well and I can say that finally purchased something which, on the face of it, satisfies most of the requirements that we had in mind (including a 110 year old house) a couple of weeks back. The house has not been occupied for the last more than 25 years and is in an unbelievable state of disrepair. However, we are confident that given some time and effort, we should be able to bring it back somewhere close to its former glory. This heaven in earth is located in the quaint village of Curtorim, in the south, nothing more than a one horse town so to speak. I was also given to understand by Beni that our travails are not over and au contraire have just begun as we embark on the ardous journey of making the place habitable. But what the heck, nothing worthy of possession, came without a fight.

PS: My elder daughter, Trusha, saw the place and for reasons best known to her kept referring to the place as Rainbow City. And hence the name “Arco Iris” which translates to rainbow in Portuguese. During the last nearly 22 months, Beni has been able to make significant progress with the restoration of the place and all going well, we intend ringing in 2009 from Arco.

Carvalho’s Nest – II

December 22, 2008

In continuation of my earlier post on Carvalho’s Nest, I would like to specify some of the reasons for my falling in love with the place:

1. Mr Carvalho himself comes to the table with the bottle and serves his patrons. And he is very generous with his portions. Not only does the measure runneth over, he adds a few more dashes of each one’s poison. Compare this to the neighbourhood watering hole in a city like Bangalore where I am sure customers are deprived of the quantities that they end up paying for.

2. The bonhomie in the place was wonderful. Really makes one realise the role of the social lubricant that alcohol plays. People, who know each other well, come, discuss the events of the day, football, or whatever else may be there in their minds and go back a little wiser, or a little less sad or a little more happy. Shorn of all the bells and whistles of a city bar, I think the place does a lot more for keeping the catchment society happier and more cheerful.

3. Last but definitely not the least, the pricing makes one realise that Mr Carvalho is a romantic socialist at heart. A “social entrepreneur” in my book

Carvalho’s Nest

December 18, 2008

One of the highlights of my last trip to Goa was discovering Carvalho’s Nest. This is a quaint little “bar” about 200 metres from Arco. It is a hole in the wall and the odds are you would miss it completely if you were to drive past. Thankfully, I had the good sense to take a walk this time around and stumbled onto the place.

Having seen it from the outside, I was curious to check the place out. On the way back from Arco, Beni and I decided to drop in there. When we walked in at around 7 PM, the place was more or less empty. The place itself is no big deal. It is essentially two rooms of a house converted into the neighbourhood watering hole. Mr Carvalho himself stays there and personally serves the patrons. Carrom boards mounted on four legs passed off for tables (at least that was the case with our table). People had to sit on backless stools. I was disappointed when Mr Carvalho announced that he did not stock my favorite Old Monk. Romanov was available and I decided to go back to my one time favorite. The way he responded when I asked him if he had Sprite or Fanta for me to mix the drink with made it apparent that he had not yet been spoilt by the Cokes and Pepsicos of the world. He served an orange drink which was good enough. By this time, the place was slowly filling up and the locals were walkling in for their customary tipple. There was a sense of familiarity and bonding amongst the patrons. There was a stern sounding “No Smoking” board near the cash counter and I hesitated to light up. Also not being familiar with the local language, I was not confident about communicating with Mr Carvalho. When the urge to have a puff became irresistable, I mimed my question to Mr Carvalho. He thought I was asking for a light and promptly proceeded to pull out a match box from, of all places, the refrigerator !!!. This was a first for me and if anyone can throw light on this, I would be much obliged.

What was also apparent was that Mr Carvalho and most of the other patrons knew that we were the people who had bought Arco. A couple of them came up, shook hands with Beni and I and proceeded to say a few words about the place and the earlier owners of the property. I was surprised at how news spreads in a small little village. By this time, I was on my fourth drink and was very keen to ask Mr Carvalho to serve everyone a drink on me. Since Beni was there, better sense prevailed and we decided to head back. When I asked Mr Carvalho for the bill, he did some complex calculations and announed the total bill to be Rs. 76. For Rs. 76, I had four drinks of Vodka and two bottles of soft drinks. And the rest of the country is worried about inflation and the economy. We paid the bill, said our good byes to the people around and left, me with a heavy heart. On another day, I would have had a few more and would have had to crawl back home. I am sure that day shall also come soon. There are several incentives for me to move to Arco ASAP, and Carvalho’s Nest is the latest addition to the list.

Three cheers to Mr Carvalho and his heavenly Nest !!!

PS The place itself is nameless. A board at the gate says “Carvalho” and for the sake of simplicity, we decided to call it Carvalho’s Nest.