English Language & Literature
Chapter 7: Glimpses of India
I. A Baker from Goa
‘A Baker from Goa’ is a pen portrait of a traditional Goan village baker who still has an important place in his society. The narrator is travelling through the memory lane thinking about the loaves of bread, a baker delivered every morning.
Goa is very much influenced by the Portuguese. Their traditional work can be still seen there. The Portuguese are famous for preparing loaves of bread. We can come across the bakers of bread.
The writer talks about his childhood days in Goa when the baker used to visit their friend. He used to visit the house twice a day. In the morning, his jingling sound of the bamboo woke them from sleep. They all ran to meet him. The loaves were purchased by the man-servant of the house. The villagers were much fond of the sweet bread known as ‘bol’. The marriage gifts were meaningless without it. So, the bakers’ furnace in the village was the most essential thing. The lady of the house prepared sandwiches on the occasion of her daughter’s engagement. In those days, the bread sellers wore a particular dress known as ‘Kabai’. It was a single piece long frock up to the knees. Even today, they can be seen wearing a half pant that reaches just below the knees. People usually comment that he is dressed like a ‘pader’. Baking was a profitable profession in the olden days. The baker and his family never starved and they looked happy and prosperous.
‘Coorg’ is a coffee producing area in Karnataka State of India. It is situated midway between Mysore and the coastal town of Mangalore. This land is famous for its rainforests and spices. The writer seems to be fascinated by the beauty of the place and says that it must have come from the Kingdom of God. It is the smallest district of Karnataka.
Coorg is a heavenly place which lies midway between Mysore and Mangalore. It is the smallest district in Karnataka and has evergreen forests, spices and coffee plantations. The best season is between September and March when the weather is perfect for a visit to Coorg.
The people are of Greek or Arabic descent. It is rumoured that a part of Alexander’s army drifted here and found it impossible to return. They married among the locals, so their traditions and rites may be different from other Indians. Some people say that Coorgis are of Arabic descent as many people wear a long black coat with embroidered waist belt which is similar to the kuffia worn by the Arabs.
The people of Coorg are known for their hospitality and recount many tales of bravery. General Cariappa, the first Army Chief was a Coorgi. The Kodavus are the only people in India to carry firearms without a license.
A variety of wildlife like the Mahseer– a large fresh water fish, kingfishers, squirrels, langurs and elephants can be seen here.
Coorg is also well-known for high energy adventures like river rafting, canoeing, rappelling, rock-climbing, etc.
The Brahmagiri hills give the climbers an awe-inspiring view of Coorg. A walk across the rope bridge leads to the sixty-four acre island of Nisargadhama.
Bylakuppe in Coorg, is India’s largest settlement of Buddhist monks. These Buddhist monks can be seen here dressed in red, ochre and yellow robes.
III. Tea from Assam
This is a very short description of Assam, a North-Eastern State in India. This state is famous for its tea plantations. In this extract Pranjol, a youngster from Assam is Rajvir’s classmate at a school in Delhi. Pranjol’s father is a manager of a tea-garden in upper Assam and Pranjol has invited Rajvir to visit his home during the summer vacation.
‘Tea from Assam’ is an interesting story about tea, its history and significance. Two boys Rajvir and Pranjol are travelling to Assam. Rajvir tells Pranjol that over 8,00,000,000 cups of tea are drunk every day throughout the world.
The train passes through green hills with a sea of tea bushes as far as can be seen. Rajvir is very excited but Pranjol, who has been brought up on a plantation, does not share his excitement. Rajvir then tells him about the various legends—Indian and Chinese—behind tea. He tells him how a Chinese emperor by chance discovered tea, back in 2700 BC. Another story was about how ten tea plants grew out of eyelids of Bodhidharma, a Buddhist ascetic.
These words ‘Chai’ and ‘Chini’ are Chinese words. It was only in the sixteenth century that tea came to Europe.
By now, they had reached Marian junction where they got down and set off for Dhekiabari Tea Estate. On both sides of the road, there were tea bushes with women plucking tea leaves. Pranjol’s father told Rajvir that he would tell them many more things about tea plantations.