Nostalgia for the Goa of her childhood and years away from her homeland spurred Maria Conceicao Pereira, an Administrative Assistant in a law firm in Bahrain, to pen a few lines about the days of yore. For the almost child-like quality of the poems, the collections highlight the disappearing occupations and traditions of Goa, much like most of India, as the old gives way to the new.

From toddy tappers to grave diggers, from Goundo the mason, to Poder the breadman whose cycle bell was a source of joy heralding the arrival of the morning's fresh bread and butter breakfast, Maria has covered simply yet evocatively the essence of Goa as she knew it. When the kuroikar (postman) called, it was celebration time, for there would be a Money Order from her father, who was with the Indian Navy. Written in first person, the verses have a personal feel to them.

Voir thavn kitem zait dekun yetam soklla
Konn nhata konn khata konn jevta konn khellta
Fulu manak khobor nam hanv madar asam mhonn
Rosalin xezarnniche narl chorun aplea durgant marta

The view of the world as the Render or the toddy tapper sees it (in the verse above) is particularly worth a mention for the thread of humour that runs through it. He has a clear view of the goings on below from his treetop perch, be it minor pilferage or love blooming among the palms! Toddy was then much in demand for use in Sannas, the rice cakes used in feasts extensively but not so much anymore.

For the almost child-like quality of the poems, the collections highlight the disappearing occupations and traditions of Goa, much like most of India, as the old gives way to the new. The Sanskistanv, for instance, or the Church aide who assists the padre in the altar decor and various other duties, is a profession few in Goa want to take up today. Maria fears the beautiful sounds of the church bells pealing may fall silent if there is no one to pull the ropes in coming years. Thus we have Ghantt, an ode to the ancient gongs.

Vojin, the midwife, whose services are no longer required, Posorkar, the grocer in the little shop round the corner who had to yield to supermarkets and Chouriskar, the uniquely Goan spicy sausage maker, are all recorded for posterity in the collection.

With 12 in each book, Maria has 36 poems to her credit in three booklets. She has priced them reasonably and the entire proceeds of the sale go to a local church charity.

Sadly Maria, who left Cansaulim 20 years ago, does not think she will ever return to her homeland permanently. She holds a Portuguese passport now and will probably head for Scotland to make a home with her husband, two girls, and a host of cousins already there. "My heart will always be in my dear homeland," says a wistful Maria.

Guess you can take Maria out of Goa, but not Goa out of Maria!

(Gita Krishnan, a former Mumbai journalist, is currently a freelance writer in Bahrain where she's also a community worker actively assisting migrant labourers )