Early morning drives through rural Goa are among life’s great pleasures. Goan villages have a unique physical and aesthetic appeal. The template is more or less the same: life is anchored around the local temple or the church, a key village institution for matters spiritual as well as social. Then there is the village ‘tinto’ – a hive of activity dotted with a tavern, cafe, barber shop, store, and local gossips. This languid, bucolic world is now fast fading in the face of ‘development’ and out-of-control influx invasion from the rest of India.
At the end of a crepuscular photo excursion earlier this year, I stopped by the old temple of Ravalnath in the village of Mulgaon (Moolgaon). A lone figure in the courtyard greeted me, an elderly widow named Jayashree Gaonkar, as it turned out. When I inquired after her, she replied that hers’ had been a hard life but that she is now glad to have the opportunity to “sweep the courtyard for my God every morning.” We had a good conversation. When I asked if I could take some portraits, she was overcome by shyness. After some cajoling she acceded.