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A walk through Arrarim – II

[Fr Nascimento says: It is so interesting to walk through Arrarim in the company of erudite and knowledgeable Yvonne Vaz Ezdani, author of the book 'Songs of the Survivors'.  She describes this walk in her own inimitable style.]

by Yvonne Vaz Ezdani

Another pleasant evening. The walk today is through different wards in another part of Arrarim. This quaint and winding road branches off from CHOGM Road at Calangute Police Station. I pass Hillside Restaurant which serves delicious Goan cuisine and also caters for parties and functions. A little further on the flour mill advertises itself with the racket of the grinding machine which can be heard from a distance. To my left two small stores and a telephone booth have come up and serve as a meeting place for the people of Bairo Alto. Previously this ward was also known as Marod.

On my right is the Bairo Alto chapel with a tiled floor and the interior too done up with donations from the people of this ward. The Cross feast is celebrated in this ward with great pomp and fervour. Just next to the chapel is the famous educational institution ‘Mater Dei’ High School. The wooden structure facing the road is the same old building that functioned as a famous school in Portuguese times. The founder Anacleto Lobo is no more but his two  daughters have established a school under the ICSC Delhi Board.

Mater Dei Institution

Mater Dei Institution

As I walk along I notice that many houses have been renovated and extended.  Many of the tiled roofs have given way to concrete slabs, perhaps with plans of upward mobility.  There is a grills and fabrication workshop named ‘Ninoshka’. Some of the spaces which previously looked like a jungle have been cleared of trees and shrubs and walls have come up around the property.  With the prices of real estate soaring beyond the means of most Saligaokars I assume that some outsiders are going to put up large constructions which will change the scenery.  There are some old houses visible lower down the slope.  On the right too is a row of old houses in good condition, Brigadier Ian D’Costa and Vincy Cordeiro are two prominent residents of this area.

As I continue walking I come to another little roadside chapel/shrine.  The house next to it, belonging to the Britto family, is one of the modern looking houses. On the opposite side of the road are two bars, a few metres away from each other, in Mes vaddo.  According to the old timers there were about ten or more families living here who used to make dolas (ladles made of coconut shell nailed to a bamboo handle) and sell them in the surrounding villages. Perhaps some were carpenters too; hence the name. Just before I get to the road junction I pass the house of the late Hubert D’Souza, now occupied by his grand-daughter Giselle Lobo and her husband Ashley. And on the right is Gustav D’Souza’s family home, with a full-length verandah.  It houses many antiques and interesting old photographs. Next door is the house of the late Albin D’Souza who held the post of Administrator of Communidades some years ago.

Now we are at the junction. The road left is the route the Mapuça-Calangute buses take. A sensible driver would slow down and blow his horn at this sharp turn.

I am now going to wander through my favourite part of Arrarim, the shaded winding road through Abreu Vaddo and Salmona. Gladstone Rebeiro Sa’s house designed by Dean D’Cruz has a modern look but the stone blends so well with the environment, the compound wall and the lawn enhancing its beauty. Another house that makes one stop for a second look is Ralph D’Souza’s well maintained house with an old world charm. Next door is a four-storey building and the other houses after this are all modern structures. At the end of the road I stop to see the compound walls of two new beautiful houses sprawling across a vast area of land which merges into the woods beyond. The owners have settled down here recently.

I walk down past Luis Demello’s house. Two foreigners have bought old houses on this road and repaired them. There are also two recently constructed big houses here. I decide to walk up to the fountain. Vole-ghor (big house) is still known by that name but it’s not so vole now in comparison with the huge ghors that have come up in this lane. And it is also sad to see this lovely house so neglected now, with vines and weeds covering the once impressive balcony. Further up on my right architect Dean D’Cruz’s beautiful old house looks so serene in its peaceful environs.  The shrine a little lower down perhaps adds to the aura of peace. As I walk on I am amazed at the huge constructions that are coming up here in the midst of what used to be quiet little cottages at almost the tail-end of Salmona. I wonder who the new inhabitants of Salmona will be.

Closer to the fountain, on the higher slope by the roadside, some Hindu families have built little houses. I see the ladies returning from the fountain carrying kosos of water. I am glad that at least some people are consuming this precious spring water. With the PWD providing so many water connections in this new colony, not many people depend on the water from the zor. The controversial building that came up recently blocks the view of the fountain. I have to go closes to see the cross and the cool fresh water gushing out of the pipes.  It is in full glory during the monsoons.

Salmona fountain [Sketch by Mel D'Souza]

Salmona fountain. Sketch by Mel D'Souza

I attempt to cross over the stream that is flowing down.  It is a slippery walk down the rough hewn steps and across the stones and log placed over the water. Then up the slippery path and I come out behind the temple.  The number of houses in this colony has doubled and tripled in the past few years. Extensions have been made to many of the older houses too and some have been painted in different shades of purple, green and yellow. The tranquil atmosphere has been sustained, or so I think, till suddenly a little further on there’s lot of activity and noise. Construction workers are putting up the slab for a three-storey building coming up on a small piece of land. It looks as though the building will go higher and is meant to house a number of families in separate apartments. The workers from the Industrial Estate above are eager to rent rooms in Arrarim and many families in this area have let out small rooms. It is a source of income for many.

Another high wall surprises me, making me wonder what’s behind it and what the reason is for attempting to have so much privacy. There is a fork in the road and I take the road going left.  There are a few houses down this lane by the side of which is the voa and its retaining wall. There is a lot of water flowing down because of the recent rains but it disgusts and saddens me to see such a load of bottles and plastic and other garbage piled up at the bend. It looks like a garbage dump rather than a channel for the rain water to flow out of the area. I emerge between the houses Claude Gonsalves and Valentine Vaz.  The Sailen chapel used to be in an open space before.  Now there is a purple house built close by, almost touching the side of the chapel wall. I stop to chat with a group of ladies sitting on the red cement benches in front of the chapel.

But I have to complete my walk so I walk on across the small bridge and now I am facing Sarpanch Jack Coelho’s house. The house on my right is Derrick Durant’s holiday home. I decide to walk down the tarred lane next to Jack Coelho’s house. His brother has built a big house behind and named it ‘Sailors Paradise’. There are two foreigners who have bought houses on this lane. Lawrie, the owner of ‘Ferns Bar’, has built his new house opposite his family home. A little turn, past a well and some houses one of which is Dilip Kamat’s family home and now I’m at the road, with Padmanab’s building on my left.  I turn right past Ferns Bar and a few feet down the road I turn right into Cruz Vaddo lane. According to octogenarian Seby D’Cruz, previously all the houses belonged to D’Cruz families hence the vaddo name.  Now besides him there is Libby D’Cruz and the house owned by Alfred and Albert D’Cruz.  A few Hindu families live at the end of this lane. There are lots of children around here, some playing cricket on the road.  Now I’m back on home turf as I turn left to go home.  I say ‘hello’ to my neighbours who are out tending their gardens.  I catch up with some news of their families and also get some tips on gardening. Back home after a delightful evening, I decide that I must do this more often.

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