November 10, 2008

Making Rice (And Hay) While The Sun Shines!


In Goa, the monsoons finally come to an end in the month of September/ October. This year, it was mid-October when we experienced the last rains. With the rains gone and the sun out, this is the season for harvesting rice.
Harvesting rice is still done in Goa (and most other parts of India) in the traditional way and this is highly labour intensive. Very little mechanical means are involved in harvesting.

The rice is cut using sickles and the rice stalks are then either threshed (to separate the grain from the stalks) by using a wooden pole to beat the rice stalks or by beating the stalks against the ground (or a hard surface) to loosen the grain. This has to be done properly, or the grain could break resulting in broken rice and inferior quality of grain.

After this, the stalks are shaken well, to dislodge the grain. The grain-free stalks are left on the sides of the fields and roads to dry out into hay.
The grain (called paddy) is then sun-dried so that it can be de-husked later. Paddy is taken away to have the outer husk removed after which it is used as brown rice, or polished to produce white rice or else processed to produce par-boiled or boiled varieties of rice.

People working on the fields or fishing are everyday sights if you live in Goa. We are lucky to see a lot of this on our regular drives to work, into town and to the railway station or airport even though we live on the outskirts of Panaji, the capital of Goa.

I took these pictures (one of the rare occasions when I had my camera in the car) on my way back from Margao, one Sunday morning in October. Margao is 37km from Panaji (also known as Panjim), and like most roads in Goa, this road also snakes its way through some beautiful countryside.


Threshing on a small field on the side of the highway.


Beating the hell out of the grass?

Some part of this road is flanked on both sides by agricultural land and during the harvesting season, the roadside is the scene of harvesting activities. During this time, even the sides of the major highways become threshing grounds for grain, even as the traffic whizzes by! Some of the less busy roads are often used to sun-dry the grain!! At these times it is harvesting activites which get precedence over traffic on the roads.


Threshing on the side of the highway!


On this sunday, this highway was shared by the harvesters and the traffic alike.



Separating the grain from the chaff.


Motorists, Beware!!

I came across Francis on the Velha – Curca stretch (home stretch) of my drive, that same day. Francis is a “render” (toddy tapper) and was pouring out the coconut toddy he had just collected, into a plastic jerry-can.
Toddy is obtained from young flowers of the coconut tree. This sweet sap contains yeast. On fermenting, the sap is converted to an alcoholic drink. Coconut vinegar is also made from toddy. The famous coconut feni of Goa is made by distilling coconut toddy.


Francis and his jerry-can of coconut toddy.


Pouring the stuff in!


Photo session over, riding his cycle away.


Francis (which he told me was his name) didn’t know English and I managed to communicate using sign language and some broken Konkani to ask if I could take some pictures. I think he understood because he was kind enough to pose for my camera. After which he got onto his cycle and rode away, probably wondering about the strange woman, who obviously wasn’t Goan yet not a tourist (you can recognize this species of the human being very easily in Goa), who was wandering about with a camera!

23 comments:

deepu said...

Hello Aparna
You have a very nice blog with great recipes. Have been visiting your blog often and with today's post I had to tell you that you brought back fond childhood memories of my hometown. Especially the smell in the air of the first crop of the season, the beauty of the fields in caranzalem and just the feeling of being there from your post. Thankyou.

Cham said...

Lovely post of harvest! Thanks for the free Goa field trip !

Mishmash ! said...

Beautiful post, aparna....very interesting.....i have never been to goa ..... from ur pics, it looks more like kerala itself :)

Sunshinemom said...

Beautiful post!!

Bharti said...

Enjoyed the post very much Aparna. Lovely.

anudivya said...

What a neat post! Loved reading it... and seeing all the pics you so patiently have taken.

jayasree said...

Beautiful post. It took me back to my childhood days, having grown up seeing all these activities very close.

Rachel said...

The tru beauty of Goa captured...and you just brought back the memories of my stint in Goa.....

Maya said...

I can so well relate to this post. Am from Karnataka and Goa was a every year visit for us. Even in my native, this scene is very common. Brought back nice memories Aparna :)..

Pearlsofeast said...

Hey Aparna, nice to go through ur post and thanks for showing.The road side coconut trees are just awesome.

sra said...

This is the kind of post I would like to have on my blog, someday, sometime ...

Vij said...

Hey Aparna
Lovely post girl! enjoyed reading it.

Jayashree said...

Nice post.

Sia said...

lovely, lovely post aparna. bk in my uncle's place they have very big rice farm where some part of the field rice is harvested in a traditional ways. ur pics bought bk lovely memories...

Curry Leaf said...

Lovely post and grest pictures.The scene is similar to the one we see in Kerala.I wish I were there when you were talking to Francis,in broken Konkani.:D Cheers

Usha said...

Nice post Aparna, I have been to Goa only for a short vacation but remember that it was a beautiful place...

PG said...

A wonderful post! I found your description of the encounter with the toddy tapper so cute !
I have had toddy, I think. Once when we had gone to Kerala. I would think it is the same. Loved it. A wonderful taste.

DEESHA said...

that was a nice read aparna

Andhra Flavors said...

Hey You know, it look like same my village

Raaga said...

why does my message not display?

Nice article and I think that's your Alto there?

Mansi said...

that was thoroughly entertaining, and informative!:)

Cynthia said...

The last 4 photographs in particular reminds me so much of the country-side of Guyana. They brought tears to my eyes. I must make the time to visit...

Aparna said...

It was truly my pleasure to do this post.
These scenes would be similar to those in any part of India where rice is grown.

You're most welcome, Deepu.
There aren't too many fields left in Caranzalem, what with so much of construction activities going on there!
But there is the road from Caranzalem to Taleigao which is flanked by fields on both sides. And this is the season when they're full of vegetables. Its a pleasure driving on that road on a misty morning and seeing the plants all heavy with vegetables being plucked for sale.

Shn, the Goan countryside is indeed very much like Kerala. The ambience is somewhat different though.

I know, Jayasree. The last time we were in Palakkad, it was rice harvesting time. :)

Sweatha, I can assure my spoken Konkani is not very good. Of course you might have been entertained! :)

I have no idea, Raaga. But this message seems to have popped up.
Yes, that's our Alto.

Cynthia, ther's a lot in many of our countries that's similar. That's why I say that we are really not all that different. :)
I hope you can go visiting home really soon.