The familiar drive from Dabolim Airport to Caranzalem. By now, even Udai knows the shortcuts and landmarks. Every single time I stare enthralled by the beauty unfolding with each turn. Monsoon is a particularly good time to come to Goa. The beaches are not on priority, but the verdant rich green seeps through me; a healing green, a soothing green, a green that spells prosperity, hope and life. I love it! I miss it, this particular green of the Konkan coastal belt. The sheer variety of hues, with the fresh green of standing paddy fields and the darker hue of the coconut palms highlighted by the greys of the overcast skies.
Of course, my associations are strongly influenced by the warmth and love of family, the feeling of coming home. I am happy each time to see the marshy backwaters. And fervently hope they remain. That the fate of this blessed land might (is, cynically speaking) be in the hands of the greedy is a heartbreaking thought. I wish it were possible to hold up Goa as a model of sustainable development. Utopian thought perhaps, but certainly one fit for the future.
Some captures from the drive home. Enjoy the green!
Haryali Teej. The festival that celebrates the rain in the Hindu month of Saawan. When we appreciate the renewal of life, celebrate fertility, thank God for rain and pray for continued prosperity and abundance.
Green dominates. Women dress in traditional attire. Bangles, bindis, jewellery. And Mehendi.
To me, any excuse is a good one to put Mehendi (a henna tattoo) on my hands. A tradition that perhaps came to the Indian subcontinent from central Asian cultures, today henna marks auspicious occasions across North India. Thanks to the influence of cinema and tv, the Mehendi ceremony is a standard feature of weddings in many parts of the country. In Delhi, you can get a henna tattoo in most city markets on any day of the year, sitting by the roadside while a young man (yes it’s mostly men) adorns your palms with intricate traditional patterns.
I have been as fond of getting the tattoo as of making it come alive on another’s palms. Tonight, it was a most excited Aadyaa who demanded Mehendi from me. She sat there patiently and got both palms patterned over, appreciating the art, giggling at the cool sensation the henna creates, truly happy. Then she watched me adorn my left palm and promised to decorate my right palm tomorrow after she returns from school! Next in line was Amma, my mother in law, who patterned her left palm on her own while I did the right one.
While I would often get henna tattoos in the markets before, in recent years I have been happier doing this little ritual at home or among friends. The designs may be imperfect but the shared bonhomie, laughter and warmth is incomparable.