Bor: Cecil Pinto

Cecil & Beatrice Pinto explore Goa with, and teach Konkani to, a young couple from the Isle of Wight in UK – Andrew and Justine.


Justine: I just love the atmosphere here. It's such a mixed and colourful crowd.
Beatrice: Yes, Café Xavier is a very popular eatery. You will see the bhatkar as well as the nistemkarn, fish is nistem, frequenting this place. People of all economic and social backgrounds are comfortable here.
Justine: Why has the waiter placed these mixed snacks on the table? We didn't order them.
Beatrice: That is one of the unique services here. You eat only as many snacks as you want to and will be charged only for those. The rest will be taken away and served to others.
Andrew: But isn't that rather unhygienic? I can see the kid at the next table touching all the patties and choosing only one.
Cecil: Hygene fygene! That's all you foreigners are obsessed with. I'm digging in anyway. I've been eating at this place since I was a small child and I'm probably healthier than you.
Justine: I'll try a patty.
Cecil: We call it a pattis, the plural of which is patissan. Most nouns ending in 's' are made plural by ending a 'an' or 'am', pronounced 'aanh'.
Beatrice: I like the chicken xacuti here. Xacuti is a uniquely Goan dish with a thick coconut gravy. Grated coconut is called chun. You should also try the sungtan balchao here. Sungot means prawn and sungtan is the plural. Balchao is a sort of pickle made of sungtan or nistem. Normal pickle made of vegetables like tendlim, limbu, etc is called miscut or lonchem.
Andrew: On the way here I saw a small shop selling what seemed like different coir ropes.
Cecil: Aha! That's another uniquely Mapusa shop. The thick rope made of coconut coir is called a razu. The thinner rough cord also made of coconut fibre is a sum and the softer cord from jute fibre is called sutli. The saron or broom is also unique as the broom sticks are from the coconut fronds, called chuttam, and they are tied together with sum. And of course we have the doughnut shaped neuni that is used to place hot cooking utensils on. They are made of tightly wrapped sum or sometimes tightly wrapped tond, or hay. The coconut tree or maad is the mother of all trees and every part of the maad is of utility value in some form or the other. From the narl, the actual coconut fruit, to the chuttam that are weaved together to make mollam that are used as protective covers, etc. The broomsticks that are used to make sarons are called veer.
Andrew: Can I get a beer here?
Cecil: Sure! Oie patrao, ek vhodli beer haad.
Justine: Beatrice, could you explain what Cecil just said?
Beatrice: Ek is one. The basic numbers starting from zero are zer, ek, don, teen, char, panch, sou, sath, aat, nov and dha is ten. Eleven is ikra followed by bara, tera, chowda, pondra, sola, sotra, otra, euknis and vis. Thirty is tis, forty is challis, ponnas, saat, sottor, oyshim, novot and xembor is hundred. Hozar is thousand and…
Cecil: Enough already! In any language you only need to know enough numbers to play housie! Now I called the waiter patrao, which actually means proprietor, owner or boss. It's just a polite term and is useful to get good service. If you can't tip big at least you can be respectful! Vhodli means big and vhodlo also means big as does vhodlem. Depends on the gender of the noun that the adjective it qualifies. There's feminine, masculine and neuter genders for all nouns. Dhakti or Dhakto means small as does dhaktem and dhaktulem. In general feminine adjectives end in 'i', masculine in 'o' and neuter in 'em'. For example you will say vhodlem zhad for a big tree. But vhodlo maad for a big coconut tree.
Andrew: That's very confusing. How do I know what adjective to use for objects of indefinite gender?
Cecil: That my friend is the vhodlem hozar hozar dollar question. Live and learn. After some time gender recognition will come naturally – as will being unhygienic!
Beatrice: Haad is bring. So what he asked was for a big 750 ml beer as opposed to a small pint.
Cecil: Oie patrao, khavpak kittem asa?
Justine: Now what?
Beatrice: Khav is to eat whereas chab is to bite. Since the snacks are already here to bite or nibble, he asked what's there to eat. A meal is called jevon. Jeu is eat and used specifically for meals. So if he wanted a meal he would ask jeupak kitem asa. Kitem means what.
Andrew: Actually I knew that already, but the other night I asked a waiter 'Chabpak kitem asa?' And he grinned and replied “Chabbpak zuari asa!”. All the other waiters laughed. I didn't get it. What has the Zuari River got to do with it?
Cecil: He got you! Zuari means mosquitoes. So what he meant was that if you want something to bite there are always mosquitoes. Ha!