vegetable vendor goa

Kombol Shirvoikar: The Woman Who Never Gave Up on Her Hope to Support Her Family

Kombol Shirvoikar sells vegetables and fruits door to door to help augment the finances of her family.

If you have lived in a village in Goa, you will be familiar with the vegetable and fruit sellers who come to your doorstep every day carrying a basket full of vegetables on their heads. During the olden days, households would wait for these vendors to come every morning so that they could pick what they like from their baskets. They would shout from a distance to announce their arrival and often carry some of the freshest produce grown. Even today many of them still weigh the vegetables and fruits with their old-fashioned scales bringing a feeling of nostalgia to the older generation of Goans.

At Goan Insider, we decided to have a candid conversation with Kombol Shirvoikar, a familiar face in Chimbel and Merces, at least to those who buy fruits and vegetables from her. Kombol, who is currently in her late 40s, always had the desire to explore and work hard ever since she was a child. No matter what unfortunate circumstances life threw at her, she faced them with courage. She decided to make her own opportunities and set up a stall at the Panjim market selling fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, around 20 years back, she had to give up her stall at the Panjim market due to health problems. She believed she had the power to change her fate and hence after the recovery began to sell produce door to door.

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Read about Kombol’s story of hustle and hard work below.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Kombol Shirvoikar and I am originally from Corlim, Old Goa, Currently, I stay at Chimbel Goulem Bhatt. Before marriage, I spent my youth doing odd jobs at people’s houses, in the fields, and working on my family vegetable plantation on the hills.

How long have you been doing this? What made you get into this profession?

Around 20 years back, after marriage, I owned a small vegetable stall at the Panjim market. Due to health problems and one major operation I had to give up my stall and stay at home to recover during that period of 20 years. Sitting at home recovering, I obviously felt useless considering I was actively involved in doing odd jobs before. Hence I decided to start selling vegetables and fruits door to door to help augment the finances of my family. My family has been very supportive of my decisions.

I have also been getting a small pension from the Government ever since they started the scheme.

vegetable vendor goa

How do you source the produce that you sell?

I source it from other vendors in small quantities of value of 50s and 100s for resale.

Do you enjoy it or would you see yourself doing something else if you had the chance?

I enjoy selling vegetables from door to door and I also get to interact with so many individuals which makes me happy. I look at what I do better than any Government job because I have been able to support and sustain my family only by selling vegetables and fruits contained in my one big “pantlo” (basket).

Usually in India, after marriage or at a certain age, women stop working. What motivated you to continue?

The support of my family and the need to be financially strong for my family kept me motivated to do this over the years.

What is a traditional Goan culture that you participate in? What can we do to make more Goans aware of it?

I participate in Dhalo. This is a popular ritual folk dance from Goa. The dance is mainly performed by women and is a prayer asking for the protection of our households. The songs are sung in Konkani or Marathi. I have been performing Dhalo before as well as after my marriage. Dhalo is performed during the Pausha period according to the Hindu. The dance is performed for five to nine days the theme of the dance is mainly religious and social.  

By Goan Insider just talking about it is one way to make more Goans aware of Dhalo. Older generations of Goans who know about the culture should also educate their children about it.

dhalo goa folk dance

What positive message do you have for the world?

When I started this work, with one basket I was and am still able to support my family. The message I have for everyone out there is to not let your circumstances decide the path you want to choose. And as a woman. even after marriage, you can still work and also be the breadwinner of the family. You have the power to control your future and your fate if you choose to.

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