Walks

THE MAPUSA WALK

This is a ‘slice of life walk’ that takes you through Mapusa’s famous Friday Market, the town’s historic houses and chapels and ends at the Other India Book Store.

Mapusa may look like a town that grew when no one was looking but it is a town that brims over with dynamism. Take this walk early in the day as the sun rises. Begin with a cold drink at Hanuman Soda after a peck at the 6-inch idol of Lord Maruti (Hanuman) in green onyx. Now start walking up the hill towards the Mapusa municipal Council building.

Soon after you pass Hanuman Soda on your left you will see some fine examples of Indian Art Deco and Goan architecture. Mapusa is a market town and most buildings here are commercial-residential composites. Shops typically occupy lower floors. Take a look in particular at the Indian Art Deco building named Dilkhush (Heart’s Pleasure) and Vaman Sadan (Vaman House). Turn your attention to Farmacia Menezes, a beautiful period building with delicately crafted Corinthian columns. This is one of Mapusa’s oldest chemises or drugstores. It stocks ayurvedic and allopathic drugs and branded cosmetics. It is not in the least surprising that the column executed in this building are of such superior quality since they were either direct imports from Europe or were executed by a Goan craftsman who had laid his hands on a good European catalogue at Bhobe Booksellers, General Merchants Stationers. This is Mapusa’s oldest bookstore the once kept a rich stock of pattern books and trade catalogues from Portugal and Germany Most blacksmiths and masons around the area owe their creative output to “inspirations” from one or the other of these catalogues. Sadly, the store does not have a single copy of these catalogues in stock today.

Come right up to the front steps of the Mapusa Municipal Council. Now look back. Notice the mouldings on the roofs of the buildings in front of you at eye level and also how the buildings swerve to make way for the streetline. It is not hard to imagine that this road was once used by animal drivers from the hills to bring livestock down to the market on Fridays.

Take a look at the sign DROGARIA MENEZES & CIA in Portuguese and its Indian Art Deco embellishments. Notice the indigenously crafted latches and Keyhole on the front doorway. VALENTINO F. PINTO, Liquors and Pharmaceuticals needs to be admired just for its contrasting colours of lime yellow and mango green. The Athaide Municipal Library is old as 1883. It is open from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and then from 4 p.m. to 7.3O in the evenings except Sundays, Public Holidays (of which there are umpteen in India) and for some reason. “Monday Mornings”.

You are now on Huratma Bala Desai Marg. Take a look at the Hotel Kashinath Rama Pavse for its Indian Art Deco lettering. The finely crafted cast iron grills on the upper floors and the moulded roofline is worth a second look. This is the time to stand and stare! Now turn around and take the few steps down to the chapel past the sign saying Laxman S. Desai Architects Interior Designers Surveyors. Architect Laxman Desai comes from a renowned Goan family and can regale you with stories and pictures of a past that you cannot believe existed.

You can now walk to the Holy Cross Chapel also called the Swiss Chapel, Angod, and Mapusa. Figurative grillwork is hard to find in Goa is it usually commemorated an event in British-Indian history .Most figurative grills had busts of Queen Victoria or King George V moulded in cast iron on them, a subject naturally inimical to Portuguese occupied Goa. This little chapel, however, has a royal bust moulded on the grill. Mass is celebrated here every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30 a.m. and on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The ritual at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is followed every Friday from 7.30 a.m. followed by the Ritual of the Benediction at 7 p.m.

You could walk into the lane opposite the Swiss Chapel and look around. There are some interesting indigenous houses in this lane with windows covered in mother-of-pearl shell (F.D. Costa Studio) and decorative mouldings over windows. Or, you could take a right after visiting the Chapel and head for environmentalist Claude Alvares’ The Other India Bookstore located behind Mapusa Clinic up the road to your right. The Other India Bookstore has a wide range of books on environment, wildlife, heritage and also stocks selected works of contemporary Indian fiction. Put your name and address on their mailing list after you have browsed through their come selection and then straight down the slope to participate in a shopping adventure, locals just call it the Friday market.