Saturday, January 13, 2024

A Baker from Goa by LUCIO RODRIGUES - Glimpses of India Q&A Solved and Explained

 Summary of A Baker from Goa by Lucio Rodrigues

In the sun-drenched villages of Goa, nostalgia weaves a fragrant tale around fresh bread and the bakers who bring it to life. Elders whisper of Portuguese times, when loaves were legendary and "paders," the bakers, held a central place. Though those times have faded, the spirit endures. Timeworn furnaces still glow, their flames fueled by generations of mixers, moulders, and bakers. The rhythmic "thud and jingle" of the pader's bamboo staff, once a morning serenade, still echoes in some corners, announcing his arrival. He may not wear the flowing "kabai" of old, but his presence remains just as vital.

For children, the baker wasn't just a tradesman; he was a friend, a harbinger of sweet treats. His twice-daily visits, laden with warm bread and playful "bread-bangles," were eagerly awaited. Hygiene routines blurred into the background as hot tea washed away crumbs and the joy of fresh bread took hold. In a time marked by simpler rhythms, the pader's role transcended mere commerce. His creations were woven into the fabric of every celebration, from wedding feasts graced with "bol" to festive tables overflowing with cakes and "bolinhas." His furnace stood as a symbol of the village's very heartbeat.

And the paders themselves? Their prosperity mirrored the bounty they baked. Plump and robust, like ripe jackfruits, they were a testament to a thriving profession. Even today, this roundness invites playful comparisons, a reminder of a legacy carried from father to son, generation to generation.

In Goa, the story of bread is not just about sustenance; it's about community, tradition, and the enduring magic of a simple loaf, forever echoing with the rhythmic "thud and jingle" of the pader's bamboo staff.

Oral Comprehension Check

1. What are the elders in Goa nostalgic about? 

The elders in Goa are nostalgic about the Portuguese days, specifically the Portuguese bakers and their famous loaves of bread. They fondly remember the bakers themselves, the age-old tradition of bread-making, and the role the baker played in their childhoods.

2. Is bread-making still popular in Goa? How do you know? 

Yes, bread-making is still popular in Goa. The passage mentions several details that point to this:
  • The "makers are still there," referring to the bakers, mixers, moulders, and furnace operators.
  • "Those age-old, time-tested furnaces still exist," indicating the longevity of the tradition.
  • The baker's son "still carries on the family profession," showing the continuation of the tradition across generations.
  • The baker's "jingling thud" can still be heard in some places, suggesting the practice hasn't entirely disappeared.
3. What is the baker called? 

The baker is called "pader" in Goa.

 4. When would the baker come everyday? Why did the children run to meet him?

The baker would come at least twice a day. Once in the morning, "when he set out on his selling round."  and again "when he returned after emptying his huge basket." The children ran to meet him both times; initially, not for the loaves, but for the "bread-bangles" they'd choose and later, for the "musical entry" and the excitement of his arrival.

5. Match the following. What is a must
(i) as marriage gifts? – cakes and bolinhas
(ii) for a party or a feast? – sweet bread called bol
(iii) for a daughter’s engagement? – bread
(iv) for Christmas? – sandwiches 

(i) as marriage gifts? – sweet bread called bol

(ii) for a party or a feast? – bread

(iii) for a daughter’s engagement? – sandwiches

(iv) for Christmas? – Cakes and bolinhas

2. What did the bakers wear: (i) in the Portuguese days? (ii) when the author was young?

(i) In the Portuguese days: The passage says they wore a "peculiar dress known as the kabai." It was a "single-piece long frock reaching down to the knees."

(ii) When the author was young: In the author's childhood, they saw bakers wearing "a shirt and trousers which were shorter than full-length ones and longer than half pants."

3. Who invites the comment — “he is dressed like a pader”? Why?

Anyone who wears "a half pant which reaches just below the knees" invites the comment. This is because the short trousers the bakers wore in the author's youth seem similar to these half-pants. People jokingly reference the old style associated with bakers.

4. Where were the monthly accounts of the baker recorded? 5. What does a ‘jackfruit -like appearance’ mean? 

A "jackfruit-like appearance" refers to someone who is heavy-set or plump, similar to the round shape of a jackfruit. This comparison again reflects the traditional image of bakers being well-fed and prosperous.

Thinking About the Text

1. Which of these statements are correct?

(i) The pader was an important person in the village in old times. (TRUE)

(ii) Paders still exist in Goan villages. (TRUE)

(iii) The paders went away with the Portuguese. (FALSE)

(iv) The paders continue to wear a single-piece long frock. (FALSE)

(v) Bread and cakes were an integral part of Goan life in the old days. (TRUE)

(vi) Traditional bread-baking is still a very profitable business. (FALSE)

(vii) Paders and their families starve in the present times. (FALSE)

2. Is bread an important part of Goan life? How do you know this?

Bread is an important part of Goan life. This is evident as the author describes bread as essential for celebrations and daily meals, with even sweets like bol and bolinhas having significant roles. Morover the text highlights bread's cultural importance in marriage celebrations and festivals, emphasizing the presence of baker's furnaces as essential.

3. Tick the right answer. What is the tone of the author when he says the following?

(i) The thud and the jingle of the traditional baker’s bamboo can still be heard in some places. (nostalgic, hopeful, sad)

(ii) Maybe the father is not alive but the son still carries on the family profession. (nostalgic, hopeful, sad)

(iii) I still recall the typical fragrance of those loaves. (nostalgic, hopeful, naughty)

(iv) The tiger never brushed his teeth. Hot tea could wash and clean up everything so nicely, after all. (naughty, angry, funny)

(v) Cakes and bolinhas are a must for Christmas as well as other festivals.

(sad, hopeful, matter-of-fact)

(vi) The baker and his family never starved. They always looked happy and prosperous. (matter-of-fact, hopeful, sad


I. In this extract, the author talks about traditional bread-baking during his childhood days. Complete the following table with the help of the clues on the left. Then write a paragraph about the author's childhood days. 

In Goa, childhood mornings often began with a rhythmic symphony – the thud and jingle of the pader's bamboo staff announcing the arrival of fresh bread. This baker, no longer adorned in the traditional long kabai, sported knee-length shorts, eliciting playful comparisons to the paders of old. Yet, his importance remained constant. Each month, his bills, meticulously listed on the wall in pencil, transitioned from chalky marks to gleaming coins, highlighting the baker's essential role in the village. His physique, however, spoke volumes about the profession's success – a testament to the bounty born from his age-old clay furnaces, reflected in his rounded, jackfruit-like figure. Before the day fully bloomed, children, not interested in the adult loaves, would gather, eyes sparkling with anticipation. Their prize lay not in the crusty goodness, but in the sweet, braided "bread-bangles" woven like edible bracelets. These mornings, painted with the fragrance of warm bread and laced with childhood laughter, formed an indelible portrait of Goan life, a legacy passed down from pader to pader, generation to generation.

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