Picturesque Goa

Picturesque Goa
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TONFERNS CREATIONS

TONFERNS CREATIONS
TONFERNS CREATIONS - Tony's Art & Hobbies

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Goan Balcao (Balcony)


Goan Balcão (balcony)
A place for everyone and everything

One of the prime features of a Goan house is a Balcão (Portuguese) or balcony. In the summer months one could spend more time in the balcao than inside the house. Balcões (plural in Port.) are constructed in different shapes and sizes. Some have stone/red cement benches with reclining rests to rest on, while others have wooden benches. It is a place for everyone, everything and every occasion - a place for serious or idle conversation, for local gossip, a place to rest after a long journey before entering the house, for a thirsty stranger asking for a glass of water, for the spill-over of late comers at a sung litany or a impromptu singing session of the Goan mando (folk songs). In the old days of the 1960's we brought the portable transistor out and placed it on the cement bench, and neighbours came over to listen to the popular evening English request program broadcast by Radio Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and to All India Radio Goa.


When we were young, sometimes on rainy days of the monsoon season, the village boys and girls could not play outdoors after school in the evenings. So, we played carrom, draughts, games of cards, ludo, and at times, one of village elders would relate stories in the balcony of his house about to hear him relate old stories. He regaled us with colourful accounts of his younger days and other short stories of wit and humour. It was getting dark as he still went on. Then as we heard the chimes of the Angelus bell of our village chapel, we would all rise as he recited the Angelus prayer at the end of which everyone wished him 'good evening' before we walked to our individual homes.