Wednesday, February 1, 2017

From ‘Reflected in Water. Writings on Goa’ Edited by Jerry Pinto

Aum Saiba Peltorbi Voitam

Aum saiba peltorhi voitam
Damulea lognank voitam

Paiantulim painzonn’m ditam
Tariry voichi vatto dakoi

Atantuleo pattuleo ditam
Tariry voichi vatto dakoi

Golleantuli gollsory’ ditam
Tariry voichi vatto dakoi

Nakantuli noti ditam
Tariry voichi vatto dakoi

Maka saiba vatto dakoi
Maka saiba vatto kollonam
Damulea mattvant kolvontantso fell vo
Damulea mattvant kolvontantso fellu

Sir, I am going to the other bank
I am going to Damu’s wedding

I will give you the anklets from my feet
Do show me the way to the ferry

I will give you the bracelets from my wrists
Do show me the way to the ferry

I will give you the necklace from my neck
Do show me the way to the ferry

I will give you the ring from my nose
Do show me the way to the ferry

Show me the way to the ferry, please
I do not know the way

In Damu’s pavilion
There is a dance of the temple girls.

Lie No. 1: That Goa has always been a part of Maharashtra. This is wanton assassinations of elementary history …….

Lie No. 2: That the language of Goans is Marathi.

……wherever two Goans meet, they converse in Konkani or Portugese or English, never in Marathi. This is, by and large, a profound truth ……..

Catholic Goa is divided into two halves by the great Mandovi river – on the right bank lies Franciscan Goa, and on the left Jesuit Goa, and as you might expect Catholicism is richer and superficially stronger on the left bank. Here are the iron ore mines, Margao with its elegant square lined with great house ……..

Hindu houses never kept pigs. They were a Christian matter entirely, Christendom from its earliest days having been encouraged into swine-husbandry that emphasized the distance from Judaism (and later from Islam). Auntie’s house piglets – in Goa ‘piglings’ – were born edible, and before they could move on to faecal food they were discreetly killed by Pedru out the back …...The village was mostly animals and very clean. Scavengers in order of size processed round the house, and after a decent interval for the arrival of scraps from the kitchen window, round they came again. ……First, pigs. Then hairless identical dogs, timorous, with pointed snouts, a far cry from the butcher’s professionals. Then chickens oppressed by cockerels, miniature cats, evasive rodents, roaches and teams of ants, and back to pigs again. Then on their way home at five the cows would make a galumphing appearance, and stop the show.

Quiem viu Goa, escusa de ver Lisboa …. If you’ve seen Goa, you don’t need to see Lisbon

For several hundred years my maternal forebears have lived in Bandra, the predominantly Roman Catholic suburb of Bombay. An uncle once explained the culture of Bandra to me: ‘If you go climb to the top of Mount Mary and throw a stone, it is bound to hit either a pig or a Pereira’

Bandra became a Portugese possession in 1534 and records suggest that most of its inhabitants converted to Christianity by 1603. Bandra is best known to many Bombay residents for Mount Mary’s Church, which commemorates the Virgin’s birthday with a weeklong fair every September. Thousands of people – mostly Hindu – flock to the church……This isn’t surprising: thanks to Hinduism’s pantheistic genius …..Christians light candles in front of the statue of Mary while Hindus leave offerings of bright marigold flowers as they would in a temple.

In Goa’s upper-class Catholic households, the eldest son usually became a priest, the second usually became a doctor, and the third usually left to seek his fortune in Bombay or Africa. For working-class Goans, Bombay offered employment in the ‘ABC’ jobs they are known for today: ayahs (maids), butlers, and cooks.

Macau seemed to have as many liquor shops as Goa, all owned by Chinese named Fernandes or Pereira or D’Souza. …….I asked Dr Amorim how the Portugese felt about losing the last outpost of their once-mighty empire….. The British, he said, will always be remembered in their colonies for exploitation and plunder, and their failure to nurture social and cultural links with their subjects. Portugese soldiers, on the other hand, were encouraged to wed local women. ‘That’s one of the reasons people in Macau don’t resent us the way Hong Kong people resent the British,’ he said.

Today, Goan culture is an absence of culture. People don’t return your calls. They don’t keep appointments and don’t bother to call you in case they are not coming. Chivalry and courtesy died long ago and there wasn’t even an obituary. Goan culture is a culture of braggarts. Pea-brained officers leaning on the pillars of their double-barrelled surnames and strutting around as if they were presidents of the companies they worked for.
Behind the veneer of stuffed sofas with lace back-covers, Macau furniture and cupboards filled with miniature bottles of alcohol, you will find filthy toilets and pillow-covers pale green from a marriage of hair oil and fungus.
And as for the much-touted Goan warmth and hospitality, it took me several lonely months of uninterrupted stay to discover that such a thing does not exist.
Thank God for some cultured non-Goans who have come to stay!

Goans are so sentimental about Goa, yet they are always leaving to work elsewhere. But it is not their fault; they have to find work and make a better life. Goa is like a widow who lifts her veil only once or twice. They send money home to support their families and sometimes return to get married. Without this money, who knows: Goa would have vanished into the Indian Ocean.

……music, for which we Goans have a natural talent…..All Indian music has been beaten out of our systems, although we love to see Indian musical films.

Goa is a country of old people, waiting for death and for the young to return. ……Here in America, there are no ghosts. Maybe the polluted air has driven them East. Everything sounds rational. But in Goa, the air is full of spirits.

The ladies’ tug-of-war ended with a quarrel over unfair refereeing and the men’s hockey, East End versus West End, ended in a fight after ten minutes. I felt so homesick then!

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