Stepping Back In Time With the Fishermen

Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Blue Corner

Flag of India  , Goa,
Monday, February 16, 2009


 In 1961 the Indian army marched into Goa and simply claimed it from the Portuguese. Portuguese President Salazar demanded that Panjim, the capital, be burned as the Portuguese left. The Governor, who was said to have loved the quaint capital refused and was therefore ostracised. Two days in Panjim was one day too long for me. I might have gone along with Salazar. 
The Blue Corner consists of a restaurant and nine thatched cabinas on Benaulim Beach in south Goa. I asked Sanjay, our maitre'd/waiter, why it's called Blue Corner.
He looked proudly towards the Arabian Sea, then up at the sky. "All blue, sky and sea."
"But where's the corner?" I asked, looking up and down the endless beach that hadn't a turn in sight.
He looked at the small forest of palm trees beside our cabinas and simply pointed, as if to say 'Palm, corner, what's the difference?' 
Despite a smattering of tourists Benaulim remains what it's been for five-hundred years, a simple fishing village. You really get a feel for the past when they haul in the nets. The nets are more than a mile long and it takes twenty men about an hour to haul one in. They pull the nets in by attaching strong wooden poles to a length of rope which is attached to the net. Then they walk backwards, two abreast, in a column of ten, urging one another on with chain-gang type song. It's reminicent of the movies where the Roman slave driver sits at the front of the ship banging on a drum, demanding the slaves row to his beat. 
There's a Naanery at the Blue Corner; a tandoori oven actually, where a man named Karate makes fresh, made to order naan bread, to go with our prawns, seabass, or sometimes shark dinners. To make the naan Karate first beats on a baseball sized piece of dough, adding a variety of spices as he hammers away. He then flattens the dough and applies it to the inside wall of the oven which is basically on old oil drum. The inside of the drum is covered in a coating of sand, tiny shards of glass, pebbles and mud. (to make it all stick together) The bottom of the drum is covered in white-hot charcoal. As the naan bakes, Karate throws in a couple of tandoori spiced chickens, skewered on metal rods. The naan takes three minutes to cook, a chicken twenty.
Fishermen from another century; the calm Arabian Sea at our doorstep; and an endless supply of fresh, tasty Indian seafood. Maybe none of this is real. There's a whole lot of India we've yet to see. Ellen hasn't said a word, but she's got that 'Do we really have to leave?' look in her eye.
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