Sunday, May 18, 2008

Calizz …Mojee Mog

The hoarding states…The Past is Present. We had passed the same on numerous occasions, but a special outing organized by the Rotary Club of Panjim Midtown and Mr Kudchadkar, for the Residents of the Old age home in Ponda had us driving down the Chogm road for lunch, to relive several centuries of Goan life, woven along a winding path by the Candolim Beach.

‘Remember,’ Joe warns me sternly, ‘this is a history tour…not an eating one. Moreover, it is too hot to eat, so we must go slow.’

I nod demurely, was that warning for me? He did tell me just yesterday, that with all this eating out he had put on a few more inches around his midriff. But most husbands are like that. All self made warnings are normally directed at their wives. You know the ‘we must not do this thing…’

Calizz….this up market venture showcases a vast assortment of furniture, utensils, paintings…a veritable treasure trove of artifact and antiques, all packaged together, meals included, to tell you the story of Goa’s rich architectural heritage.

The Restaurant, this seems to be the meeting place…part of the original mansion of Dona Bertha, has been lovingly restored, its laterite finish and hand painted frescoes, defying the scorching heat of the October afternoon. The trendy barman has a well stocked refrigerator, to set you into the mood for the hour long tour around the property.

‘Don’t forget to carry your drink along, I am doing so,’ jokes Joe, ‘its pretty hot out there.’ Well he has got a point, the best time to go around would be in the evening. But armed with frosted glasses in our hands, we followed the tour guide faithfully towards the Post colonial House, built around 200 years ago. Take note however, drinks are not allowed in the private chapel or the temple that is beautifully restored in the premises.

We walk through Dona Bertha’s mansion, resplendent with its frescoes, chandeliers and a veritable Alladin’s cave…sorry wrong word…this is no cave. The grandeur of the place leaves you breathless…as you feast on the antiques…the private collection of Shri Laxmikant Kudchadkar.

Elegant halls, quaint bedrooms..including an old rocking horse in the children’s bedroom, this elaborate Portuguese mansion, with its colonial architecture embodied the grandeur of the past. There is a black ball on the bed of the long departed priest, which is supposed to contain all the evil spirits of the past, and we are challenged to touch it if our minds are pure. I am tempted to ask Joe to touch it and state that he will not partake in the food which the waiters are now busily laying in the restaurant.

We now move towards the pre- colonial houses, too late to challenge him….to the humble mud houses with thatched roofs of the Hindu Goans, well maintained and showcased.

But I am digressing. Any journey to discover Goa is incomplete without sampling her cuisine. Tour over, we trudge back to the restaurant where snacks were laid out…old favourites like chutney sandwiches, crispy fried Talle’s, fish fingers,(an excellent choice for the drinkers), chicken paste canape’s, and spicy masala squid. A mini feast for a king.

But it does not stop here. I am given to understand that every day of the week, a local family cooks the meal… one has a chance to sample either the local vegetarian Hindu cuisine or the rich Goan Portuguese.

Well today was the turn of a Goan Portuguese menu. Attractively decorated salads, and local bread are laid against the white satin. And then from steaming hot chaffing dishes, we piled our plates with Chicken Cafreal, fried fish..crisp to the bite, Vegetable Caldin, Prawn curry rice…..the heat did not deter my reflexes. The serving spoons dipped in endlessly piling up my plate with generous helpings of the food. Looking around superstiously , I realized that I was not the only one. Many followed suit, including Joe…well I had a bone to pick with him when I reached home, I promised myself. But then looking at my own plate, I decided to call it quits.

Whoever stated that on hot days, a liquid diet is the best bet, was wrong. There was no complaining from anyone in the group.

The advertisements to this heritage museum says…discover the soul of Goa at Calizz, the heart of Goa. Can we stomach that boast? Yes siree…..with a replete stomach, after that wonderful tour around the museum of Goan life through the ages, I can firmly state…Calizz, you have stolen away my heart. Calizz mojee Mog.

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