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A Baker from Goa
According to the writer, this unit is a character sketch of a Baker.
Our ancestors often talk of the good old days of the Portuguese rule in India and their love for loaves of bread. The Portuguese might have vanished, but the bread bakers are still there. They remember things from the past such as strong and powerful furnaces, the fire of those furnaces, bread baker and moulders, the jingle of an arriving baker in the morning. The bakers are still known as Pader in Goa today.
Our ancestors used to be friends with the baker. He came twice a day. Once in the morning for his selling round and once after selling all his bread. Our ancestors in their childhood used to run toward the baker to meet and greet him. They ran to him not for bread loaves but for choosing bread-bangles.
The baker came in the morning. He carried a basket full of bread on his head and a bamboo stick in his hand. The Bamboo stick’s purpose was to make “jhang, jhang” sounds. The purpose of the sound was to aware the people of his arrival. The house servants used to collect bread. The customers rebuked the children for making noises. The baker used to greet every customer.
The children never gave up. By hook or crook, they peeped into the basket from a side parapet or whatsoever was there. The ancestors can still remember the fragrance of those fresh loaves of bread. The loaves were for elders, and bread-bangles were for the kids.
After eating the bread-bangles, the kids would never brush their teeth as they thought it was unnecessary. Hot tea, according to them, would wash everything from their teeth.
The presence of a baker in the village is necessary. People included special cakes known as bol in the marriage gifts. They also made cakes and bolinhas on the occasion of Christmas.
Those days’ bakers had a peculiar dress known as Kabai, a single frock like shirt reaching down to the knees. Someone wearing such a dress even in these times is known as pader.
The bakers collected his bill usually at the end of the month. It was indeed a profitable profession. A baker’s sturdy and muscular body was a witness to that. A baker’s family never starved.
Between Mysore and the coastal town of Mangalore is a place that, according to the writer, must have come from the kingdom of god long ago. Beautiful women, sturdy men, and wild creatures inhabit this area.
Also known as Kodagu, this area contains evergreen rainforests (which cover 30% area), coffee and spice plantations. The perfect season starts from September to March. Coffee trees are everywhere with beautiful looking Bungalows.
The inhabitants of Coorg are probably of Arabian or Greek descent. Some stories suggest that a part of Alexander’s army moved along the coast and settled there when they could not return to their homeland.
The Coorg people marry locally, and the traditions are a bit different from mainstream Hindu traditions. Their dresses are a testimony to the fact that they are not pure Indians. They wear a long coat with a belt. It is known as Kuppia, and it resembles Kuffia worn by Arabs or the Kurds.
They are very hospitable and recount the stories of bravery and courage shown by their forefathers. Coorg regiment remains the most decorated units of the Indian army. The first even general of the Indian army General Cariappa, was a Coorg.
The river Kaveri gets its water from Coorg hills. Mahaseer (a large fish) inhabits these waters. Kingfishers, squirrels, and elephants also roam the forest. Adventurous activities such as river rafting, mountain climbing are also done here.
Brahmagiri hills add to the beauty of this valley. A walk from the rope bridge gives us a breath-taking view of sixty-four islands of Nisargadhama. A Tibetan settlement of monks at Bylakuppe is also situated, which adds to this area’s beauty and diversity.
Tea from Assam
Pranjol is from Assam, and Rajvir is his friend/classmate in a school in Delhi. Pranjol has invited Rajvir to his home.
A tea vendor was selling tea at the railway station and asked Pranjol if he would like to buy a cup. Pranjol ordered two cups. Rajvir told Pranjol that almost eighty-crore cups of tea are drunk worldwide in a day. Pranjol was surprised to know.
The train started to move. Pranjol started to read some detective stories. Rajvir was also a fan of detective stories, but he was busy gazing at the beautiful scenery outside. Tea bushes were attracting Rajvir’s attention.
Rajvir exclaimed, “Hey, a tea garden!” but Pranjol, who spent his childhood near tea gardens, did not look so excited. Pranjol told Rajvir that Assam has so many tea gardens that it would take Rajvir’s entire lifetime to see them all.
Rajvir told Pranjol that he has been reading about tea lately and could not find who discovered tea. Rajvir told Pranjol a story about the possible discovery of tea. The story was about a Chinese emperor who always boiled water before drinking. One day, while boiling water under a tree, some leaves fell into the pot, giving the water an excellent flavor. These were tea leaves, and hence, he discovered tea.
Pranjol, in a mocking way, told Rajvir to tell him another story. Rajvir told him about an Indian legend about the discovery of tea. It was a story about a Buddhist ascetic who grew tea leaves from his eye-lids. Rajvir told Pranjol that tea was first drunk in China in 2700 B.C and Europe as late as the sixteenth century.
The train reached Mariani junction. They both crossed the platform along with their luggage. Pranjol’s parents were waiting for both of them. They left for Dhekiabari (Pranjol’s father was the manager here).
Upon entering the garden, Rajvir saw many acres of land having tea bushes symmetrically. He also saw tea-pluckers wearing aprons. Rajvir asked Pranjol’s father if this was the second session of plucking leaves and if it starts from May and ends in July?