Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan

pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
On every visit to India, I follow a similar schedule. We head to Goa to pay our respects at the Ramnathi Devasthan in Ponda. From there we head south along the coast to Kumta.

Kumta is a sleepy township. The busiest part of town is Main Street, called paent, which is only a few blocks long. The place for any and all your shopping. Its where all the locals 'hang-out' too. There is not much else to do in Kumta. Rest and relax.

And best of all – I get to speak konkani all over town! My konkani is good enough, I easily pass off as “from Mumbai” (which is not incorrect)! Yes, every shop-owner, rickshaw driver, stall-wallah, lady selling vegetables, and their brother speaks Konkani. πŸ™‚ So even among strangers, I feel at home.

In the mornings, the local market is buzzing. It's only a few rows of vegetables and fruits. And not surprisingly, friendly folks and juicy vegetable and fruits everywhere.

Join me for a short tour of the Kumta Vegetable Market!

This pair of smiley guys seemed to have the biggest stall there.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
These brinjals (?) were mouth watering. Appears to be a hybrid between a “Gullaen” and the brinjal. Can someone shed more light on this?
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
Yes! MANGOES! BTW, this was from our May-June trip. Those little green ones are deceptively sweet. Called manik-bhat, a local variety and very popular all over the konkan coast.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
Who said, sucking up cannot be sweet!
Thats the way to eat the manik-bhat mangoes. Wash (optional), pinch the stem and make a small hole. Gently roll and squeeze the mango, so the pulp is ejected into your mouth. Suck, fast. Discard the leftover at a nearby cow who will glady finish it off πŸ™‚
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
As I negotiated my way around the market shooting pics and striking conversation with the shop-keepers, this girl selling a grab-bag of spices and colors was giggling. Not sure what she found humorous. When I turned my camera on her, … she was full of modesty.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

A tighter crop, lightening the spice girl’s endearingly beautiful features.


For every guy who ever wondered: What women really want?
The largest crowd was in front of this stall which sold bangles, earrings, nose-rings, bracelets, anklets and other trinkets. Note the women who have orange flowers in their hair (3rd from left; 2nd and 4th from right). Those are the traditional aboli flower strands, very common in the konkan. (see next pic).
What women really want? Pics from Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
On the market, a woman was selling these (l to r) drumsticks topped with woven aboli flower strands; dainty lady-fingers (a longer and delicate version of the Okra available in the US); a ripe pineapple; more drumsticks (these appear less fleshy) and a bowl with more flower stringers.

What women really want? Pics from Kumta by Arun Shanbhag


My question is this: Even if the women selling flowers, spices, and the small guys selling mangoes, were to sell all their produce by the end of the day (highly unlikely), how much money would they earn? Would it be enough to buy other food for their familiy, clothes, school tuition? savings perhaps? Something to think about!

My visits to Kumta are times for introspection. While M stays at home and rests and lazes around, I walk the markets, the alleys, the temples, and talk, talk and talk. With the guy selling mangoes, the vegetable seller, the woman here, the flower seller there, the shopkeeper elsewhere. I want to know them, see the world from their eyes. With all my education and training, what can I do for them? What can you do for them?



Other Kumta Related Posts:


94 thoughts on “Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan

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  1. Hi Arun, u must be tired listening to this over and over….but here it is again….”Ur blog is just wonderful”. I have been a silent reader of your blogs but today thought of commenting. This is a wonderful post man!!! Each time we visit Honnavar, my family makes it a point to pay a visit to Kumta, to take the blessings of Sri Rayeshwar Kavoor Kamakshi temple and Mahalasa Narayani temple in the “peant”. We visited this year, 2012 and you wont believe, the place hasnt changed a bit. Everything looks the same…same jaiiche phool, vali-bhajji, manik bhat aambo, aalambi….life in villages is easy and absolutely stress free. ur posts make me nostalgic….

    1. O Thankyou Kirti.
      No, I never tire of listening paens to our beloved Konkan. Theirs is a simpler life. Having been in the rat race, I am certain, they knew all along the value of life and how to enjoy it.

      Glad you had a wonderful trip. This reminds me to also pull out more of my Kumta, Honavar pics and post them. Perhaps after the Konkani Sammelan.

      BTW, do you know the Prabhu (Electric Store) family in Honavar, or the Bunder (kamat’s) or the RD/Raya Bhat family of the Ram Mandir?

      Devu Bare Karo
      Arun

  2. Hi ,

    While Googling I found this blog. “Kumta” name caught me. I’m from Kumta. Once or twice in a year I go there.
    Loved all your posts regarding Kumta. (I definitely read all the posts)The School Days photos reminds me about our school days. I studied in Gibb Girls High School.
    How come you haven’t written about Kumta beach?

    Regards,
    Ranjana

    1. Thank you Ranjana about finding Kumta anew. It is truly a beautiful place.

      You got me! Yes, I have been to Kumta Beach (BaaD beach) and will post pics some time.
      Namaskar, Dev barae karo,
      Arun

  3. hi!
    i stumbled upon your blog after googling Idli House of all things.
    my maternal grandmother is from Kumta and my mother was born there too. recently, she went back to see the hospital where she was born as well as to visit the neighbourhood where she used to spend her summer vacations. Alas, the family house has been demolished and made place for the temple to expand.
    i’ve been to Kumta once. you’re right, it’s so much fun to be able to talk to everyone in Konkani! what was even more fun was that the man who took us around in his rickshaw happened to be my grandmother’s younger sister’s classmate! They all went to Gibb High School.
    can’t wait to read your other posts.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences about Kumta.
      Isn’t it such a great place to step out of the rat race that has become our life?

      Heh, my grandfather studied at Gibb high School too and thus we support scholarships there. You can find out more here:
      http://shikshan.org/

      For other Kumta posts, just search for Kumta in the search window, or just pick the KUMTA Category in the drop down list.

      Best Wishes to you,
      Arun

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