banglanatak dot com has about 2 decades of relationship with Goa. A lot of work had already been done before setting up an office in 2014. I have been the resident representative in charge of our Goa set-up since 2017. The office has been shifted thrice during my four years. The 1st was a villa in Benaulim near beach was taken in 2014, 2nd was a big apartment at Campal and the 3rd one since Dec 2020 is the current one, an old heritage house in Merces which is one of the finest heritage cultural space that I have seen in my life. It is called Sadhana Dell ‘Arte also referred to as Casa Jaoa Fransisco, a big property, very well maintained by the owners, Mario & Esme Lobo. Now Sadhana Dell ‘Arte is managed and operated by banglanatak dot com. It’s a matter of pride for me to be a part of this journey.
Sadhana Dell ‘Arte is located in a peaceful area near Panjim called Merces. There are 2 sections– main house, where cultural space is located and residency space. Main house comprises of exhibition hall, performance space, workshop area as well as film screening space. There is a beautiful sitting area in an open space adjacent to the main house which is a perfect sunset view point. The backyard of this house filled with greenery is my favourite spot. Sitting here with a cup of tea, feeling the soft breeze and listening to the chirping of birds is pure bliss!
It was 16th November, 2020 when my colleague Nando and I stepped into this house and initiated the journey at Sadhana Dell ‘Arte. As soon as we entered we realised how big the responsibility is. Besides important documents, we received a long inventory list which I found tedious initially but useful. Cultural space maintenance and preserving the antique furniture was unknown to us. We faced some challenges initially like complaints from neighbours, owners as well as unwanted presence of insects and snakes. But now we are quite set.
Later, Nando and I were accompanied by Bundu & Savan from Rajasthan. Bundu is from a Langa musician family and lost his mother at an early age. This had a major impact on his cognitive abilities. He was part of our Goa chapter for a very brief period but he left behind some fond memories. Savan who belongs to the Manganiyar community, did a good job and is currently based at Krishna Niwas, our cultural centre in Jaipur.
25th December, 2020 onwards, the exhibition started here in full swing. Post pandemic, this initiative was with a bit of risk and experimental. We followed proper Covid19 safety protocols. The exhibition commenced with 6 handicraft artists – 2 from Rajasthan & 4 from West Bengal. Later we introduced local Goan handmade products. From mid of January, presence of performing artists added further value to the place. From 25th December, 2020 till 20th March, 2021, a total of 6 handicraft artists (2 Jutti, 3 Durrie& 1 Applique) and 1 Langa musician group from Rajasthan, 11 handicraft artists(2 Kantha, 2 Handloom, 1 Dokra, 1 Bamboo Mask, 2 Madur, 1 Patachitra, 1 Shola, 1 Basketry) and 2 Baul groups and 1 flute artist from West Bengal, 2 Madhubani Handicraft artists from Bihar and 5 Goan handicraft artists participated. That is quite a lot of variety! The place never got a big crowd but genuinely interested visitors made this journey successful. Handicraft artists earned a handsome amount from their direct sale proceeds, which has been a major boost for them in this difficult time and made us happy.
A short visit by the Director General, India Tourism was great for the place and also for me, because this is the first time I got an opportunity to interact alone with a dignitary of her stature. As this place is open to all cultural activities, a dance performance and a board meeting of the Goa Heritage Action Group also took place here.The Print Media in Goa have given us ample coverage to make it a success.
Music lovers, celebrities, architects, interior designers, hotel owners, wholesalers, fashion designers, dancers, writers, filmmakers and people from various interesting backgrounds visited the place. Most of the visitors were locals and as the number of tourists has been fairly less. The footfall dipped suddenly from the 3rd week of February probably due to the heat.
Folk Safar Goa, a 3 day event was held across 3 venues in parallel from 6th – 8th March, 2020 at Sadhana Dell ‘Arte, Museum of Goa and The International Centre Goa which was very exciting for us. Folk Safar Goa also filled the void of Sur Jahan and The International Music Festival for the people of Goa which could not be hosted this year as a result of the pandemic. From promotion to logistics, coordination to execution, I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the process. I have learnt so much.
A funny story that I must share! It’s said that, ”uparwala sab dekhta hai”. I truly experienced it here as we are continuously scanned by 15 CCTV cameras. We made Susen (my teammate in Goa) believe that Moumita (our office coordinator in Kolkata) keeps a strict vigil via the cameras. Susen desperately tried to communicate with Moumita via the cameras. We were later kind enough to let him know the truth! We are all away from our families and we try lifting each other’s spirits with lot of fun and laughter.
Due to sudden drop in footfalls, when the artists felt a little low, we engaged them in different recreational activities to boost them morally and tried our best to make it as homely for them. Many of them had tears in their eyes while leaving because of the wonderful times we had all shared together. Their simplicity touched my heart.
I am thankful to my office for believing in my abilities and giving me this opportunity.
We have now stopped our activities at the cultural space for this season and will resume in September. After spending 5 months in Goa, I have returned to Kolkata and look forward spending time with friends and family and will be back to Goa again in September, 2021.
(About author: Rajyashree Mukherjee is a graduate in Sanskrit with Honours, with 6 years of experience at banglanatak dot com. She is also the great grand-daughter of famous Baul poet (Mahajan) ‘Bhaba Pagla’.)
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