The Goan Sala
The Goan Family Room - 1950's
I have tried to depict in the illustration above one of the beautiful living rooms in our village of Cumbiem Morod in Guirim, Bardez, Goa. This type of a house generally belonged to an average well-to-do family. This household was full of life, and light, with windows on 3 sides complimented by the large clock with Roman numerals and hourly chimes, the round center table with a flower vase, the chimney lamp that hung suspended from the ceiling and caned wooden chairs all around. Everything and all action happened here when I was a young lad. Parties, get-togethers, litanies, singing sessions, board games - ludo, draughts and carrom, card games of all sorts and much more. Wedding prepartions, celebrations and sit-down dinners.
But to top it all up, there was something special that I associate and admire about this house, and that is a Music Box-bass that we used as accompaniment to our singing sessions as teenagers. This box, which is shown in the foreground on the left of this drawing, was made out of 15 x 15 inches tea chest from the Mapusa market. It consisted of a thick twine pulled through the top centre of the box and tied to the top of a wooden or bamboo pole held upright in any corner. One had to play this 'instrument' by ear in the real sense by placing one's right foot on the corner of the box diagonally opposite to the pole, and plucking on the string with the right hand just like one would do on a double bass. The pitch, which was 'more or less' or near enough, could be obtained by adjusting the pressure on the pole with the left hand. One side of the box had a sound port-hole. Clever invention. Isn't it? It even had the bass and treble clef painted on its sides to give the additional visual effect. Wow!
But the beauty does not end there. There was a play ground next to the house - where we played from soccer and 'fouio', and hopscotch to 'lobio', with the benevolent blessings of the typical white-washed Cross in front of the house that has stood the test of time up to this very day.