Not long ago Goa had some of the finest fresh produce in the world, sustained for hundreds of years by the traditional farming methods of the hardy Gaudo community. The Gaude were among the first settlers in Goa and are thought to be Austric in origin.
Today the situation for Goan farming is dire and the Gaude face a grim future. Fertile fields are being wiped out overnight, taken over by builders in collusion with local politicos. Delicious local produce has now made way for mass imports from outside the state. The Gaude have no clout to resist the forces leading to their demise. As can be seen in the photos below, the tenacious few that persist have been pushed to the periphery – literally – of the market in Panjim (and other towns).
Casa Dempo, built c. 1850, is located in the heart of Panjim. It was the first home of the Dempo family when they moved to Panjim. The Dempos are among the oldest of the Goan Saraswat Brahmin clans. Built in classic Goan style, the interior layout features traditional Goan Hindu elements such as a raj aangan.
Casa Dempo also has an uplifting past. For several decades, the Dempos have thrown open its premises to thousands during lunchtime and served free vegetarian food – annachhatra, as this old Hindu practice is called. In particular, generations of needy students of all religions and castes have benefited from this largesse of the Dempo family.
Beyond Casa Dempo in the photograph below, the old building with the yellow facade houses the government printing press. (Aside: the first printing press in India was set up in Goa in 1556.)
Take a look at the next item – a photograph of an old photograph (c. 1880) from the Central Library archives. Seen are the homes on what used to be the Afonso de Albuquerque Road (now the Mahatma Gandhi Road). The red arrow points to Casa Dempo. I took my shot above standing only a few feet right of the man seen in the middle of the street.
Also see: Panjim Promenade – 1.
I was having breakfast in the alfresco restaurant at Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur when I caught sight of this amorous couple a few feet away on the steps of the palace. Fortunately, I had my camera with me with the appropriate lens already mounted.