In many ways, art and research are both cyclic processes that are continually informed by experiences with Place. As I experience Goan village life as a foreigner, I reverberate with pieces of the scenes I encounter – and become affected by their happenings. This post describes such a scene, and has found its way into my art projects with students at the school I am researching with. Using a “junk cycle” as their canvas and leftover house paint as their medium, the students re-imagined the ways in which they engage with waste. 


Riding on my bike, I explore the depths of Siolim

Excited, curious and hopeful as the wind in my hair

Humble, Goan villages –

Family homes of tin sheets, dirtied blue tarps, dried leaves of coconut trees

Barely held together by fishing ropes

Their floor is the earth – shared with dancing kittens and jungle bugs


The women have hair that is tightly kept, and eyes that are fierce with knowledge

– of the happenings of this place, of their duties to hold it together

they watch me carefully as I pass by, hanging laundry with firm arms of soldiers

Clothes dry with the salty air that breathes with the Arabian Sea

Bouncing about, children carry young siblings  

Cradled on bony hips, babies are naively thrusted into adventure 


Youthful boys pull two wheeled wagons stacked with heavy bags of rice

Wooden frames creaking in age, hoisted into movement by tired metal wheels


Comings and goings of local men

– dark faces dusted with sand, yellow teeth and blackened collars

Fishing poles in hand – long sticks with wire and squirming bait

Carried by bicycles from some ancient era

Rolling out of a time capsule

– rusted brown with an ear-piercing screech that announces their presence

Quickly moving, chickens squawk and scramble out of their way   


Life is bustling and the sun is high with the energy of a mid-Indian afternoon


As if strategically placed in the middle of this lively performance is a dusty, white dog  

The mismatched focal point of this scene

– skeletal

Sitting with the hunch of a hundred year old veteran

Staring at the ground, blankly as its bony carcass sways  

– slowly as the saliva that spills from its mouth

It moves as if it is underwater

drowning in a small pool at the center of a busy circus ring

– held up only by some gravitational miracle

Watching this animal suffer is what Death looks like, in its most unforgiving form

a body so vacant that even the flies acknowledge its time is up

but it sways on, holding a fragile place in the theatricals of this village


And seemingly unnoticed


The starkness of this encounter – the parallels of life and death – slap me in the face

squeezing the blood out of my stomach with the sensuous hands of a curious child


I look away

And drive on


What else is there to do?
जीवन  चक्र