“I have to go home this summer! Fail to do so and my mother will disown me for sure!!!” I told a concerned client, as the reason why I won’t be in my clinic for a whole ten days (longest vacation I have taken in last 2 years). My yearly summer trip to Canacona, Goa– my home town was overdue.
Cut off from the internet and sometime even mobile network, my tiny village –Sheli, Loliem Village is located 2 km away from Karnataka border in south Goa. Growing up collecting cashew nuts, drinking Kokum sherbet (Garcinia indica) eating countless varieties of mangoes, jackfruits and constantly working alongside my father and sister in our orchards; village living runs in my blood! I immediately tune into its rhythm the moment I reach home. This time I had the pleasure of sharing this experience with my better half and my 7 year old son.
Our first trip to our cashew orchards and my husband was surprised to see that cashew nut actually has a fragrant and yummy fruit attached
to it! Commonly called a ‘cashew apple’, (actually a hypocarpium, psuedocarp or false fruit) the fruit comes in a spectrum of bright colors ranging from bright red, orange and yellow. We relished the sweet, slightly tart fruits and carried some home to be made into a delicious coconut based curry!
Village life teaches many essential survival skills. For example, identifying venomous and non-venomous snakes! Thriving very well in Canacona are hundreds snake species. Our trip to the cashew orchard brought us face-to-face (foot to face rather!!) with an extremely venomous viper- the saw scaled viper! My quest for finding cashews hidden under fallen leaves, led to the find of this shiny, beautiful viper resting under the leaves (probably after a meal!). My maternal grandfather had succumbed to this very vipers bite, hence I am extremely apprehensive regarding this species of snakes. After I recovered from the initial shock, I called my husband to take a look at the viper who seemed unperturbed at our intrusion. We left it alone and took our cashew hunt to other parts of the orchard. Not only did we gather good number of cashews that day; we also identified many important Ayurvedic medicinal plants like Aragwadha- Cassia fistula (used for detoxification and in skin diseases)which thrive naturally in the wild.
Eating homegrown vegetable delicacies is yet another important thing on my to-do list when I go home. Malabar spinach curry, raw jackfruit curry, raw and ripe mango curries, watery kokum curry, mixed vegetable stew-‘khatkhate’ (recently feature on Twist of taste- season 2- Coastal curries by Chef Vikas Khanna) etc. are some of my favorites. My Mom is a terrific cook and can whip up an elaborate vegetarian as well as a non-vegetarian spread in a jiffy.
Visits to the nearby beaches is like a pilgrimage when I go home. Canacona is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline like most of Goa. The only difference is unlike the famous north Goan beaches, most Canacona beaches (except the famous 2 or 3) are devoid of tourists and very peaceful. When we went along with our family to the nearest Polem beach (about 1 to 1.5 km form Goa- Karnataka border check post), it was just us on that almost 800-900 mts long beach, along with a few local fisher folks!
Arabian Sea is unpredictable especially at Polem! It can have very strong currents even in seemingly shallow waters. As there are no lifeguards on this beach, we had to be extra careful. Numerous hours spent on this magnificent beach as kids had definitely taught us 2 things -never to underestimate the sea and always show respect to its tremendous power. With a beach so inviting and a sea known for its mood swings, managing even three kids proved to be quite a handful! We took the kids to far end of the beach, where we knew that the water was shallow and safe enough to let the kids play. It was deeply satisfying to see our kids have so much fun with the waves, completely
in tune with the sea, just the way me and my sister did in our childhood!
One morning, we went to Polem beach at 7.30 am with my father to bath in the sea water and to get a glimpse of local fisher folks bringing in fresh catch. We saw crabs, prawns, red snappers and varieties of smaller fish. Fish doesn’t get any fresher than this!!
We also spotted a small cuttlefish in the fishing nets. I was awed to see this magnificent fish change it’s a colors as I held it in my hands. As it is a non- edible fish, with the permission of the fisherman, we set it free in the sea.
Sitting in our porch and just lazing, after stuffing ourselves on all the yummy food seemed like a dream come true. It was a good change from constantly running about, trying to keep up with time and schedule in Bangalore. Also, no excess to the internet made our vacation was completely rustic!