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Summary: ‘A Baker from Goa’ is about the importance of bakers in Goan culture, which dates back to when the Portuguese ruled over the city of Goa. The Portuguese may have left, but the breadmakers’ status remains unassailable. The author recalls his childhood days and their excitement at seeing the baker in this story. They were so excited that they would rush to him as soon as they awoke, without even brushing their teeth.
A Baker from Goa begins with the narrator’s elders frequently recalling the time when Goa was under Portuguese rule. They discuss how the importance of bakers has persisted in their villages even after the Portuguese left. In Goa, they are referred to as ‘Paders.’ The mixers, moulders, and time-tested furnaces continue to provide Goans with their famous bread loaves. It is possible that the originals no longer exist, but their profession is carried on by their sons. In some parts of the village, the thud of their bamboo stick can still be heard. During their childhood, the same jingling thud would wake the narrator and his friends, who would rush to him without brushing or washing their teeth properly. The loaves were collected by the maid-servant of the house, while the children sorted the bread bangles for themselves.
Goa’s culture and traditions place a high value on bakery products. Bol, or sweet bread, is given as a wedding gift, cakes and Bolinhas, or coconut cookies, are eaten at every festival, and the lady of the house makes sandwiches for her daughter’s wedding. Previously, bakers wore a unique knee-length frock known as ‘kabai,’ but during the narrator’s childhood, they wore a shirt and trousers that were slightly shorter in length than usual. They usually paid their bills at the end of each month. The bakery has remained a profitable profession, allowing them to keep their families happy and prosperous.
Oral Comprehension Check
1. What are the elders in Goa nostalgic about?
Answer: The elders of Goa are nostalgic for the good old Portuguese days and their famous loaves of bread.
2. Is bread-making still popular in Goa? How do you know?
Answer: Yes, making bread is still popular in Goa. Because the writer claims that the fire in the furnaces has not yet been extinguished.
3. What is the baker called?
Answer: Pader is the Goan word for the baker.
4. When would the baker come every day? Why did the children run to meet him?
Answer: Every day, the baker would arrive in the morning. The kids dashed over to meet him for ‘bread-bangles.’
Oral Comprehension Check
1. 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 engagment?||bread|
|(iv) for Christmas? -sandwiches||sandwiches|
Answer: (i) as marriage gifts – sweet bread called bol.
(ii) for party or 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?
Answer: (i) Bakers used to wear the “kabai,” a single-piece long frock that reached the knees, back in the Portuguese days.
(ii) They wore a shirt and trousers that were shorter than full-length but longer than half pants when the author was young.
3. Who invites the comment- ‘he is dressed like a pader? Why?
Answer: A person who wears a longer half-pant that extends past the knees invites such a remark. Because the dress resembles that of a baker.
4. Where were the monthly accounts of the baker recorded?
Answer: The baker’s monthly accounts were written in pencil on the wall.
5. What does a Jack-fruit-like appearance’ mean?
Answer: A ‘jackfruit-like appearance’ indicates a large body.
Thinking about the Text
1. Which of these statements are correct?
i) The pader was an important person in the village in old times.
ii) Paders still exist in Goan villages.
iii) The paders went away with the Portugese.
iv) The paders continue to wear a single-piece long frock.
v) Bread and cakes were an integral part of Goan life in the old days.
vi) Traditional bread-making is still a very profitable business.
viii) Paders and their families starve in the present times.
Answer: i, ii, v correct. [ iii, iv, vi, vi) incorrect ]
2. Is bread an important part of Goan life? How do you know this?
Answer: Yes, bread is an essential part of Goan culture. Different types of bread are required for various occasions such as engagement parties, Christmas, feasts, and other festivals.
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)
Answer: (i) hopeful, (ii) hopeful, (iii) nostalgic, (iv) funny, (v) matterof-fact, (vi) matter-of-fact.
Extra/additional questions and answers/solutions
1. What did the baker do first when he arrived at a house?
Answer: The baker would begin by greeting the lady of the house with “Good Morning.” He’d then place the basket on the vertical bamboo and hand the loaves over to the servant.
8. ‘During our childhood in Goa, the baker used to be our friend, companion and guide.’ What does this statement imply about the baker’s personality?
Answer: According to this statement, the baker was a highly respected member of Goan society because he taught children about good behaviour (when he mildly rebuked them for peeping into his basket) and respect for elders (when he wished “Good morning” to the lady of the house), among other things. He was very casual with the children, so the author thought of him as a friend and companion. He wasn’t just a vendor looking to sell his wares. As a result, he was a significant figure in Goan society at the time.
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