August 19, 2009

Fishing in Legoland

Long leisurely drive through the backroads of Porvorim in Goa one evening. A rutted road is marked "House in Woods". What might this house be? Turns out it's a minor colony of homes, huge ground-and-one extravagantly architectured homes with enormous balconies and roofs much like the fins on a '56 Chevy, flamboyant to a wholly unnecessary degree. And multicoloured. The first edifice is blue, the next yellow, the third a screaming red, the fourth orange ... like being in Legoland.

Just for fun, we stop outside Orange and ask a gent playing badminton in the yard who built these homes, are any for sale, what do they cost, that sort of thing. He answers in a mutter. We understand nothing. From the back seat, my son complains, "I can't understand him!" We shush him, turn back to the man and say "Pardon?" and "What?" and "Could you repeat that please?" and the like. But he mutters on. Eventually, no wiser than before we asked, we nod and smile pleasantly, say "Thank you", and drive on, past Red and then Blue.

On our way out a few minutes later, the man steps onto the road and flags us down. More muttering? But he actually says, loud enough to understand, that Yellow is for sale. We nod and smile pleasantly, say "Thank you".

Then we look again at Yellow. The colour is bilious. Hideous. Ridiculous.

Later, a lane winds gently downhill, past small houses (this time) with brightly painted Nandi bulls on little pedestals. Then suddenly arrow-straight through rice fields to a meandering river. On a bridge, we get out and watch a teenager in bright red shorts angle for fish. So many bright colours today, I gotta wear shades.

In a small bucket, several fish that he has already caught swim around perplexedly. Two-inch silvery creatures with long whiskers. "Catfish", he says. He catches them with yellow bait made from maida and haldi. Yep, bright yellow.

"You eat them?" I ask.

"No, I put them in my pond for my dogs."

"Your dogs like catfish?" There's a first.

"No, no, not dogs, ducks!"

"Oh. And why do you step on them like ... that?" I ask.

"Because they stink."

"Stink? Really? These small things?"

"No, no, not stink, sting! If one of those whiskers stings you, it will itch for 20 or 30 minutes! So I put my foot gently on them to keep them still while I remove the hook. Like this, see?"

"Oh," I say. I need to get the wax cleaned out of my ears as soon as possible. What colour will it be ... never mind.

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