CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
Having been born and brought up in the village of Velim in Salcette, Shaileshchandra Raikar remembers how traditional tradesmen would go from door to door every day. “Early in the morning the milkman would bring us milk. This would be followed by the ‘poder’ (breadman) who would bring us fresh bread and the fish vendor who would bring the fresh catch. We would also have people coming to sell us salt and jaggery. We didn’t have to go out and buy these,” he recalls. The barber too would come to the doorstep and would address the family members with respect. “They would all serve as if we were members of the same family,” he says.
However owing to the lack of educational facilities in the village, his father opted to move and settle down in Margao city. “But when we came to the city, these traditional tradesmen were not to be seen. Instead we had to go to the market to buy all the things,” he says.
And today, he says, the kind of traditional tradesmen that were part of his childhood are slowly dying out. “Earlier these people would do their work honestly, working for the welfare of the people,” he says, adding that this is missing today. “That relationship of treating each other as family is not there now,” he says.
And this in turn is causing an erosion of our culture, he believes. “We see India in villages. Even Gandhi when he returned to India started the Sabarmati Ashram in a field. He saw culture in the field. Such things seen in villages are not there in the city. And it is because of this culture that we remained united,” he says.
The children of these traditional tradesmen however are not interested in continuing in this same line. “They feel shy to do that work,” he says. Thus, for instance, even though there are coconut trees all around Goa, there is a shortage of coconut pluckers and toddy tappers.
Thus, Raikar believes that initiatives have to be put in place by the government. “If there are schemes for these people, it should reach them. Many a times the schemes are only on paper,” he says.
For his part, in a bid to educate the people about the variety of traditional tradesman that Goa has and or used to have, Raikar recently released a Marathi book titled ‘Goyeatil Paramparik Vyavasay’, highlighting 21 traditional occupations of Goa. And while there may be other books which talk about these occupations, Raikar, who took four years to write this book, states that what sets his book apart is that he does not just provide information but gives knowledge. “I personally went and met these traditional tradesmen and their families to understand their problems and what they expected from the government to survive. Some people even cried when I interviewed them. They told me that neither were they getting any money nor could they do any other work. Yet nobody paid attention to them,” he says.
Having published four books prior to this recent read, Raikar mentions that an earlier book that he penned, which provides 71 live sketches of various Goan personalities, was published by the Directorate of Art and Culture, Goa and is being recommended by school teachers for students to do assignments on.
He further mentions that a professor has already shown interest in using ‘Goyeatil Paramparik Vyavasay’ as reference material in school too.
“I want to add 21 more traditional occupations. This will be the second part of the book,” says the retired news reader of All India Radio Goa and Mumbai, who was also previously a school teacher.
Raikar is ready to come out with his next book shortly which will centre on how to invest in gold.