Friday, August 5, 2016

From ‘From Goa to Patagonia. Memoirs spanning times and spaces’ by Alredo F. De Mello

‘Tuka suknni zai? Panzrem kadd, zaddam lai’ (If you wish to have birds, remove the cage and plant trees).

……..Shiva declares: “Thus do not cease from striving after eternal Knowledge of release, but honor the science of practical, earthly life: if you live your life, you will attain both.: the joy and pleasure of earthly existence and eternal release”

….Konkani proverb: “what you will, the world goes on.” “kitem-I kelear sonvsar cholta toso choltolo”

With regard to the cobras, we knew through experience that having dogs was no deterrent for these reptiles. However, I can vouchsafe that somebody sent as present to my father, three white geese, and ever since these majestic birds walked through our garden, no cobra appeared again in our premises. Was it that their loud quacking shooed off these snakes?

…..a Portugese noble lady, called Dona Isabel Carrom; folklore recounts that she was the inventor of the table game called carrom…..

My father was wary of cow’s milk in India because many cows developed tuberculosis, whereas buffaloes provided healthy milk

…..24th of August…..feast to celebrate the cutting of the tassel of the ripe rice …..The fact that the Hindus participated with Christians in this ceremony goes to show the tolerance of the Hindu religion, willing to embrace all within its fold.

The sanitary block…… One climbed a few steps, and there was a long throne, covered by a wooden top, which had round holes, exactly the shape of a W.C. Maybe there were six holes, each of them above a three high stone-and-cement shaft which led to the pigsty below. So moving the bowels could be a social event, just as one can see nowadays in Ephesus (Turkey), where the Romans sat on marble benches, with round holes. …..the Romans, who sent their slaves ahead, to sit and warm up the marble in order that their masters could sit comfortably and chat while they “did what comes naturally”. Below their feet there ran water on a narrow canal, so they could pick up water with their jugs, and make the necessary ablutions, using the left hand for washing the bottoms.
The same procedure took place in Osorio’s bathroom, as with everybody else. One could hear (and see) the pigs lapping up the droppings, and one had a tambio, which was a round metal jug with water, to wash up, after moving the bowels. There was a separation after three holes, as the next three holes were for the women of the house…..there was no need of toilet paper nor sewage systems. The black pigs who were fenced in, around the back area of the W.C. throne and shafts, grew up on this diet and other leftovers, and except for a faint whiff when the wind blew up from below, the bottom of the shafts was clean. In fact the pigs enjoyed the fare, because you could hear them grunting happily below, as soon as you sat on the throne.

In Goa, there were no ostentatious palaces. There were well-to-do families, a middle class, as well as poor, but never so dirt poor as I witnessed in British India. There were no beggars in Goa…..

At that time there were only three professions available or accessible in Goa, to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a priest.

The Hindus, both the educated by Western standards and the lower classes, kept to themselves; in the first place none of the Hindus would eat food cooked in a Christian home, and the Brahmans would not touch “polluted” western food. Secondly, none of their womenfolk spoke Portugese, even though their educated husbands did, for professional or commercial reasons. Furthermore, the women remained secluded in their homes because married women were not supposed to be seen by other men, save their own husbands and close male relatives. Whereas the Hindus of other castes, would feel out of place, especially their women, as far as manner of dress, eating habits and inability to speak Portugese……During my youth about sixty percent of the population of Goa were Christian. However, I noticed that all the trade in Goa was in the hands of Hindu merchants, like Dempo, Caculo, Desai, Sinai, Naik, whereas the Goan Christians concentrated on being jurists, doctors, writers, reporters, priests, teachers of the secondary and higher studies, public functionaries, and small shopkeepers, though there was a sprinkling of Hindu doctors and teachers too.
As far as the eating habits of the Hindus, it must be mentioned that they never sat on chairs, nor was the good served on tables. …….They did not use either a fork or knife. There was no such thing as eating together, male and female. The males ate before the women, and if the women were married, these ate from the dish used by the husband (usttem).

…….Benaulim, which village supplies the coconut trees to all the plantations in Goa.

…..Mrs. Ines Mascarenhas, the stout mother of our neighbor Diogenes….Local gossip commented that she could cast an “evil eye”! on something she envied. …..she stopped in front of the papaya tree, and commented how beautiful the tree was……My aunt Delfina…..commented to us that she had cast an evil eye on the tree, and we only laughed at her…….superstition….Great was our astonishment….when the very next day, all the papayas had fallen to the ground, and the leaves of the tree became yellowish. Within two days the healthy tree literally dried up and died!
We were awed, because we had never seen anything like it. Papaya trees never die suddenly, they just fade away like old soldiers.

Mama was always admiring the white teeth of the local population, and learnt that they brushed their teeth with twigs of the neem tree whose sap was medicinal.

…..Guernica in Basque language means “Oak tree”, and it was from time immemorial, the democratic custom of the people of a Basque village to gather under the oak tree, to discuss, vote and decide the problems of their village and environment. Thus the word “Guernica” acquired a far more important meaning: real democracy at work, and this the German High Command knew, and chose to smash the town which symbolized democracy.

“Aequam memento rebus inarduis servare mentem” …. “remember to keep an unruffled mind in difficulties”

….most of the Anglo Indians, were not interested in continuing their studies in College ….Their dream was to be a train conductor, or else to enlist in the Army.

The best tangerines and oranges I had eaten in my life were those in Zanzibar….

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