February 2, 2009 3:20:09 am
Because you cant take Goa out of a Goan,a series of clubs offer them a home away from home
It is a Saturday afternoon and the world is busy making weekend plans. But in a tiny,nondescript structure a stones throw away from St Xaviers College and Metro Cinema at Dhobi Talao,40-year-old Custodio Gomes from a small hamlet in Goa is already in a relaxed mood. He is in his home away from home and he has for company his favourite musician,Goas nightingale Lorna,crooning Tuzo Mog,a famous Goan classic.
Tucked away from the prying eyes of Mumbaikars is a slice of genuinely Goan flavoured life,at Jer Mahal,a Goan club right above music instruments store Furtados. I have been staying in the club for almost 30 years now. Thanks to this place,I feel like a part of Goa is still with me. You can take a Goan out of Goa,but you cannot take Goa out of him. Everything around this place is Goan whether it is the neighbours,food or even the music, says Gomes.
This club does not include expensive lounges,drinks or gymnasia. In fact,at the first glance one might dismiss Jer Mahal as any other ordinary chawl. But take the rickety steps and peep into one of the rooms and you will find signs of Goa all around. At this club,Goans can put up for as long as they want for rates cheaper than a vada pav.
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Goa is divided into villages; each village has its own club. Anyone who wants to become a member of this club should have be a Goan. They can come here and stay for as long as they want. The rent starts from Rs 2 to Rs 50 for a month, says Gomes. Jer Mahal is part of the North Goa Club and houses members from that part of Goa. The residents point out that there are around 210 such clubs across the city in Dhobi Talao,Sion,Mazgaon and even Andheri.
The clubs all have similar interiors: wooden or steel boxes called pattis that line the walls,shoe stands,huge trunks and TV sets. Each room also has a kitchen where the residents can cook their own food. Another interesting feature of the club is that each club will have a special altar,housing the patron saint of that area of Goa.
Since Goans love for music is well known,Jer Mahal has that covered too. In a little corner,Lazarez Rodricks sells Konkani music CDs from his shop CF Rodricks and Sons,bringing home Konkani artists like Junior Rod,Jacinta Vaz,Alvares and others. I could not have chosen a better place to put up my business. Not only can I discuss local music with my people but also get a homely touch because of their presence, says Lazarez. His business is doing well not only thanks to his natives but also other people around the area who cannot help but get drawn to the foot-tapping Konkani music. Konkani clearly rules the air waves here. Coming here and doing business each day is a true blessing, adds Lazarez.
Privacy might take a beating,but no one cares. It might not be that private like a hotel but it sure is so homely where you can meet your people all under one roof and share their passions,dreams and stories, says another member,Audray Periera (32). As the evening comes to an end,old members of Jer Mahal are readying themselves with their prayer books and a rosary while the younger ones are busy contemplating on what to discuss over drinks. Old habits die hard. We will now congregate and discuss which sport to watch over the evening. The feeling of being away from home does not arise when you are here, adds Audray passionately.
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