CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
It is a well-known fact that the synonym for Goa is ‘susegad’. And indeed, while terms like ikigai, the konmari method, hygge, etc, have become hugely popular in recent times to help one improve the quality of one’s life, down in Goa, locals have for years perfected their own style of qualitative living.
Derived from the Portuguese word ‘sussegado’, the Konkani term ‘susegad’, with no exact translation in English, is used to convey a sense of contentment and feeling of fulfilment with one’s life.
And now Clyde D’Souza is ensuring that this oft-misinterpreted term gets its much-deserved place in the sun with his new book ‘Susegad: The Goan Art of Contentment’, published by Penguin Random House India.
The author of the hilarious ‘Ghanta College: The Art of Topping College Life’ and ‘Kissing Ass: The Art of Office Politics’, D’Souza who works as a creative director in Mumbai tapped into his Goan side for his third book, which still finds traces of his entertaining tongue-in-cheek writing style.
“This might sound cheesy but it seems like I was destined to write a book on Goa. Twenty years ago I made a Goan documentary with a handycam featuring my family members and our annual trip to the Camurlim Church fest. Last April, when my editor Roshini Dadlani at Penguin approached me with this idea it felt like this was meant to be,” says the author, who penned the book during the lockdown, and admits that writing this proved to be therapeutic for him.
“Writing the book gave me something to look forward to on a subject that is close to my heart. It was like my very own time and place machine,” he says. “Writing about Goa, talking to Goans and coming up with my own short stories transported me to blue skies, sunny beaches and village lanes of Goa.”
In the book, D’Souza takes readers on a journey through Goa’s beautiful beaches, lush greenery, exquisite cuisine, mix of Portuguese and Konkani culture, its history, festivals, music, architecture and more, while also giving a sneak peek into how Goans have created habits and routines that lend happiness and calm to their lives.
The book also includes interviews with prominent Goans like Remo Fernandes, Sonia Shirsat, and ‘Goemcho Festakar’ Marius Fernandes. “Marius, who has organised 49 traditional Goan festivals, was kind enough to show me around his lovely home on Divar Island where I also had the best ‘sungta bhende’,” recalls D’Souza. “Subodh Kerkar, the founder of Museum of Goa fascinated me with this line about Goa: ‘The ocean is the sculpture of culture’, which is really true about Goa.”
In the process of writing the book, the author also learned some new things about his homeland. “I found out that there’s such a thing called ‘cajutel’, a vegetarian version of sorpotel made from cashew or jackfruit. There’s an old traditional feni made from a root called ‘dukshiri’,” he says, adding that he also noted that even though people now have fridges, the tradition of ‘purument’ stocking and preserving everything from dried fish to raw mangoes, especially during the monsoons, still lives on in traditional Goan homes.
But he admits that for him, cultivating the ‘susegad’ spirit is a constant work in progress.
“‘Susegad’ is a way of life that requires living along with nature, and being conscious of seasons while being at peace with a situation. Many traditional, older generation Goans seem to have that as a habit in their everyday life,” he explains. “For people like me who live an urban lifestyle, it is something that we have to consciously do on an everyday basis. It could be simple things like grinding your own recheado masala or making a bebinca from scratch (it’s on my list).”
And while modern life has meant that life has become fast-paced, and things like afternoon siestas are much more difficult, D’Souza believes that while change is constant and that some traditions will give way to the new ones, it is vital that we find a balance between modernisation and traditional ways. “The funny thing is all the urban folks want to live a quiet life and the village people want faster lives. Striking a balance is the key to finding our own ‘susegad’,” he states, while once again reiterating on the unique beauty that is Goa.
“There are few places in the world that have a magical quality to them. Goa is one such place and we must do what we can to preserve and share the concept of ‘susegad’,” he says.