Village portraits, mostly expat achievers

Originally posted on MiGoa:
So glad that this book’s author’s granddaughter (Giselle Lobo) gave me one of the few copies left, and also allowed it to be reproduced for the reader one-and-a-half generation after it was written. The copy I… Continue reading Village portraits, mostly expat achievers

Ten of the best: novels about Goa

The Guardian of the UK recently published a listing of “10 of the best books set in Mumbai”. See Taking the cue from that listing, here’s a compilation of my own favourite ten novels set in Goa or her people. * * * Lambert Mascarenhas, Sorrowing Lies My Land Undoubtedly one of the most neatly-crafted novels written in colonial times, whose story still resonates. My edition dates back to the 1970 Goa Publications reprint (“Price Rs 15”). “The mountain far away, wearing a cloak of muddy brown, stood there against the azure sky, ragged as a tramp drowsing in the … Continue reading Ten of the best: novels about Goa

A hundred years young… almost!

Originally posted on The Goa Review of Books:
The young Jesuit Kelwin Monteiro promptly agreed and shared a copy of the latest issue of Dor Mhoineachi Rotti. It is now online and free to access here. Kelwin wrote: As assured, kindly find attached to this mail the January issue of the Dor Mhoineachi Rotti.  Feel free to put it on any website or  blog, so that it reaches to the maximum number of people!  I will send you the issues every month! This is the 99th year of its publication.  The year 2015-16 would be the Centenary Year of publication!… Continue reading A hundred years young… almost!

Rare, antiquarian, second-hand, and “loanable” Goa books

Originally posted on The Goa Review of Books:
Do you have any Goa books falling in the above categories that you might be willing to share and/or sell with other Goa Book Club members? If so, please list them. I have quite a few Goa-related book which can be referred to at my home (or borrowed, if duplicates are available). The single-copies of these books I’m reluctant to share for obvious purposes. Older Goa books tend to be hard to find and, often, impossible to replace. Continue reading Rare, antiquarian, second-hand, and “loanable” Goa books

Translations, typesetting… Konkani

Originally posted on The Goa Review of Books:
Just to put you in touch with a young lady (who did her graduation in Konkani and is now doing her Master’s in History), who’s open to doing translations (English-Konkani) and also typesetting in Devanagari:neelamtatkar499 at Neelam, feel free to join the Goa Book Club. There are authors here who might need translation services. It could also whet your appetite for books related to Goa. ADDENDA: Anwesha Singbal write: Hi. even i would be interested in translation jobs. I have been already empanelled on the government list too. Thanks. Email:… Continue reading Translations, typesetting… Konkani

The Wikipedia… Making it Happen in Konkani

As you might be aware, the Dalgado Konkani Akademi and the Centre for Internet and Society Access to Knowledge Programme (Bangalore) are jointly organising a two-day Konkani Wikipedia Workshop to promote Romi Konkani in cyberspace, and on the Wikipedia in particular. The workshop will be held on November 16/17, 2013 at the Krishnadas Shama Central Library, Pato, Panjim. But even if you’re far from Goa, you can help take this initiative forward. What you can do to help: Get in touch, pick up suitable articles to translate into Romi Konkani. Work to locate sharable articles suitable for Romi readers. Share … Continue reading The Wikipedia… Making it Happen in Konkani

The night when Goa’s port went up in flames

Some of us might remember it because of the ‘Sea Wolves’ movie, the 1980 war film starring Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven and shot in Goa. This film, as a quick Google search would remind us, is based on the book ‘Boarding Party’ by James Leason, which, in turn, is based in a real-life incident that took place is “neutral” Goa during World War II.

Dr Shirodkar’s book is called ‘Blazing Midnight’ Its longish subtitle reads: “World War II: German Remote Control at Marmagoa Silenced”. Continue reading The night when Goa’s port went up in flames

They came, they found, they imagined

Goa: Found and Imagined

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By Frederick Noronha

Young Swedish professionals and researchers who visited Goa recently came not as mere tourists, but to attempt to understand the place and imagine where this tiny region’s strengths could take it.

Students of a post-Master’s inter-disciplinary course in Urbanism from the Royal Institute of Art at Stockholm looked at how Goa was coping with its challenges of participation, its water-economy, and tourism. Their work has just been published as a book titled ‘Goa — Found and Imagined: Possibilities, Potentials, Tips and Tools‘.

“Although their richness was far too deep and complex for us to embrace and to claim that we had become more than just acquainted with, we were struck by the Goans’ love for and engagement with their land,” say the co-authors of this 100-page book.

The book itself looks at the planning process in Goa and its far-from-easy recent attempts to involve the citizen, the potential of Goa’s water resources, a possible kind of tourism “that does not destroy Goa’s unique landscape”, and how Goa’s infrastructure systems could perform to meet citizens’ needs.

Says the Swedish Professor of Architecture Herietta Palmer in the introduction: “Each story points towards something already present but not yet working to its full potential. Each story is trying to say — listen up, there is another possible route, which doesn’t necessarily follow 8 Introduction mainstream ideas of modernization and development.” Continue reading “They came, they found, they imagined”

The General Is Up, again

Last week, the third edition of his novel ‘The General Is Up’ was released at Des Moines, Iowa, US. This Goan writer with strong links to Africa, North America and ancestral links to Far East Asia, gives FREDERICK NORONHA an insight into his writing, his perspectives and the responses this book drew. Incidentally, The General Is Up is set in an imaginary African country, where a General comes to power and decides to expel Asians from that country…. Not surprisingly, the setting is the Goan community there. Continue reading The General Is Up, again

‘Erotic yet sensitive’

Actor, writer and director Karan Razdan who works for Bollywood is one of the creative talent who voted for Goa as part-home. He is famous for direct films with controversial themes like Girlfriend (2004), Hawas (2004), Souten: The Other Woman (2006) and also wrote and directed the hit TV series of the mid-1980s Rajani.

He talks with FREDERICK NORONHA about his new book Tantra and Tantrika, which could get a Goa release too soon.

Q: Your first book, so how difficult and challenging was it? Why?

It was difficult. I am so used to writing screenplays. A two hour screenplay is easier to reign in, control… But a book is a totally different ball game. It’s too vast and it takes time to get a grip over it. My editor Shubha Saha was a big help. She is a journalist and a realist. She would chop down some chapters and I would fight and put some of it back again. It was tough but a very fascinating process.

Q: Does your reputation as a scriptwriter, etc help or hinder being an author?

Obviously it helped. When I was in college and wrote short stories, I would send it to all the leading newspapers. But they would all come back with a rejection slip. So… yes, now that I am a established writer and director, getting a publisher was the easiest part. Shray Jain, my publisher was very supportive. Continue reading “‘Erotic yet sensitive’”

From brick and mortar to pages and ink

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By Frederick Noronha

THIS IS such an unusual, optimistic, upbeat story that it almost sounds too good to be true. But when Gerard da Cunha, the Godhra-born architect of Goan origin, sheds his inhibitions and tells you the story of his forays into publishing, the candour of his tale hits you hard. You had better believe it!

The other day, Cunha did the same at the PublishingNext 2013 conference in Goa. He’s a man who has achieved a lot in the field of architecture nationwide, and therefore it comes as a surprise that he’s covered so much ground in publishing too.

“Being an architect, practising in Goa, about 12-14 years ago, I felt it was my duty to come out with a book on Goan architecture. So very idealistically, I started writing the book. I got co-authors in place, and a photographer. Then I tried to look for a publisher. I had spent a lot of money already, a lot of effort. Others said it was not feasible. It would take two years to do, and if we could find some sponsors, then it might work out.”

Gerard came back to Goa, completely disappointed, as he puts it, and started contacting the printers. Gerard points to his slick coffee-table book ‘Houses of Goa’ that resulted from all this effort. But, we’re moving ahead of ourselves in the story.

Some 4000 copies would cost Rs 18 lakh, he was told by the printers. Co-incidentally, he got sponsorship for an exhibition on the same topic. He says he offered the book — “I didn’t even have a dummy at that time” — at the exhibition. While its price would be Rs 1400 after publication, his pre-print offer was a sharply discounted Rs 875 (or even less, for bulk orders). “With no book around, I sold about 300 copies of this book,” recalls Gerard, with a mild chuckle. Continue reading “From brick and mortar to pages and ink”

Understanding the book, and how it was shaped in the past

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By Frederick Noronha

The history of the book? What’s that, I can hear you asking. This might be a new term to many of us, given that the field is itself quite nascent. For instance, the academic journal ‘Book History’ was established only in 1998. In India, just two universities — Jadhavpur and Pune — seem to be seriously involved in work in this field. It has only recently been seen as an important field for study.

The history of the book is broadly defined as “the history of the creation, dissemination, and reception of script and print”. In a simpler language, it deals with the ‘back story’ of the book. What all was involved in making a book, into a book.

Recently, the University of Pune held an interesting seminar (in late September 2013) in this field. It was called ‘Journey of the Book: From Manuscript to Digital’, and looked at a wide range of subjects indeed.

Historians looked at ‘the book as history’. Others focussed on manuscripts in Puranic texts, contestations over the Bible in India, and Tamil texts from its Palmyra leaves times.

Dr. Rajan Barrett, a friend of Goan issues who traces his roots to Mangalore, spoke on ‘The Bible: Reception, Rejection, Contestations and Reformulation in India’. When we met up later, Dr. Barrett mentioned that he had started out life in academia in the field of Mathematics, but moved quite drastically to another field like English.

To me, the most interesting paper was the animatedly-presented one by Dr. Abhijit Gupta (Jadhavpur) called ‘Darogar Daptar, or the Strange Case of the Non-Existent Books’. Gupta looked at the fictional stories of a retired police officer of another (the 19th) century. The officer talks about some five book-related scams, involving a single unsucessful writer, in the Battala area of north Calcutta, once the heart of the book market in Bengal. The stories were fascinating; but more than that, it also reminded one how much certain parts of the country — like the Bengalis — love their books. Continue reading “Understanding the book, and how it was shaped in the past”

Makeover in a village hamlet — passion provides the punch

by GOANOLIMITS on September 20, 2013 By Frederick Noronha MUDDAVADDI, Saligao: From a demure salwar-khamiz to a gym suit in one minute. That’s the time taken for the transformation of Kanika, a young lady who entered a newly-renovated first storey in this residential hamlet of narrow lanes on a Tuesday afternoon. In one monsoon, meanwhile, Ramesh Ghadi has converted a significant part of the mind-set of his village of Saligao (Goa) into a surprisingly fitness-conscious one. Ghadi returned after 16 years from the Gulf, and spent some time managing health-clubs in five-starred deluxe hotels back in Goa. But, quickly enough, he shed the … Continue reading Makeover in a village hamlet — passion provides the punch

Understanding Indian diaspora’s complexities

Understanding Indian diaspora’s complexities

IANS Sep 17, 2013, 12.00AM IST
(Understanding Indian diaspora’s…)

Book: Indian Diaspora and Transnationalism
Ajaya Kumar Sahoo, Michiel Baas, Thomas Faist
Publisher: Rawat Publications, Jaipur
Pages: 442+xiv
Price: Rs.1,150

Like the parable of the Elephant of Hindoosthan, the Indian diaspora is indeed a strange animal; difficult to map, complex to comprehend and wide in its scale. “Migrants,” says this book, “no longer simply cross borders to live elsewhere but regularly turn this ‘crossing borders’ into a lifestyle of its own”.”

“Indian Diaspora and Transnationalism” sets out to “present not only an important overview of the state of the study on Indian transnationalism but also act as an important source of inspiration to think beyond the concept and the way it has been studied so far”.

Seventeen essays, three editors, and over 400 pages go into this effort. The range of approaches and diverse themes chosen make this an easy and fairly interesting read, even for one not directly connected with the subject itself. Some essays have been compiled from other sources, as the acknowledgements page makes clear, but the choice is interesting nonetheless.

Early on in the hard-bound volume, its three editors raise issues of “theoretical developments and practical implications” of Indian transnationalism. They point out that, with over 25 million people, India’s “is now one of the largest diasporas in the world”. Continue reading “Understanding Indian diaspora’s complexities”

Backstage Battles… and the Sometimes Harsh Realities of Goa

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By Frederick Noronha


In the midst of the monsoons, when Goa’s fair-weather friends and tourists have quite deserted the place, collegians and other youngsters reclaim the dance-floor. If you’re past a certain age, you might have never ever heard of this event, but in fact the Battle of the Bands has going great guns for the better part of the last decade.

The duo behind this event are artist-designer Bina Nayak (now based in Mumbai) and Keith Fernandes (an ex-Bombay Goan, now based squarely in Goa).


Each year, on August 15, convenient because of the national holiday, the day-long Battle of the Bands draws hundreds of young people, from Bardez and beyond. It is usually held in the Parra-Arpora area. Its aim? “To get back the lost glory of live music. To fight to be heard amongst all the DJs!” explains Bina Nayak.

In 2003, Keith Fernandes came up with the idea of the Battle of the Bands (BTB, for short) because there were then hardly any live music shows, especially in the Rock music space in Goa.

But at that time there were plenty of DJ shows happening in Goa and elsewhere. Like, for instance, the War of the DJs, which was huge then. The Battle of The Bands aimed to give a similar push to Rock bands, its founders suggest.

At that time, there was also a Rock band competition in the open air auditorium at the Kala Academy, which somehow had stopped in the 1990s. Incidentally, that was a college band competition and Keith and his group had even won it one year. Also, the popular entertainment-music space called the Haystack in Arpora (run by the late musician August Braganza of Mapusa), had been discontinued somewhere around that time.

Being a musician himself and the son of a Jazz musician, Keith felt the need to “do something” for the Live music scene. Things fell in place.


The Bands rocked the event from 2003 to 2006. “We got the best bands from Goa, Pune, Bangalore and even Mumbai. Bands like Infra Red and Mogh. But [over time] the quality seems to be deteriorating. We started getting DJs and dance groups from the first show itself. They wanted to play for free during the breaks or while the bands got ready. We never turn away talent. But once these guys got a foot in — they just got better and better!” says Keith. Continue reading “Backstage Battles… and the Sometimes Harsh Realities of Goa”

Tears of Salt

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adas2Salt has been an important produce of coastal Goa for centuries, and has been exported from here to countries in Africa and the rest of Asia. But today, the traditional salt sector lies decimated and threatened by extinction, says a new book on the subject.

“Goa once was a hub of salt making. Salt was the currency that allowed Goans to import essential commodities. Today, the very same occupation lies derelict, its spine truly broken by a century and more of official polices, governmental apathy, low social status…,” says a book authored by Benaulim-based sociologist Dr. Reyna Sequeira.

Sequeira, who did her Ph.D. on the salt making communities of Goa and is an associate professor at Quepem, says in the book that traditional occupations must be remembered “not as a tapestry in a museum merely to be viewed, but as a living part of our society”.

Her field work, spread over a couple of decades involving both her Masters and doctorate on this often ignored subject, looks at salt makers in three villagers scattered across diverse pockets of coastal Goa — Agarvaddo (Pernem), Batim (Tisvadi) and Arpora (Bardez).

Besides focussing on the salt making communities, she highlights the “geography, history and politics” of salt in Goa. In the first two, one gets a hint of how the area of salt extraction has shrunk particularly over recent decades, but also since the late nineteenth century and the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty. Continue reading “Tears of Salt”

Ore, and more

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By Frederick Noronha

cover-anarchitectofmoderngoaIt’s always fascinating to read about the movers and shakers in any society. More so when these stories come from the otherwise little-discussed world of business. Not only do these narratives give an insight into the lives and times of the people that were, but they give deeper hints into how society works, what makes it tick.

Here we have the story of a doyen of Goan business, Vishwasrao Chowgule. In tiny Goa, along with other big names like the Dempos, Salgaocars, the Chowgules, the Menezeses, the Timblos (and a handful of others) have shaped the world of business. And, one could say, in some cases, even politics, economics, news, and education.

This book was first published nearly a generation ago, around 1975. But those were times when reviews of new titles hardly happened — probably less than even now. So, the recent second edition of this title is an excuse to look at it once over again.

Amidst Mario Miranda’s typical drawings — even the dusty port of Mormugao looks scenic when seen this way — we get an image of Goa that was, and how it was “built” up. Between a plethora of figures, and facts, an interesting picture emerges.

We see colonial Goa growing on iron-ore, in times when the world was itself recovering from the ravages of World War II. Strangely enough, it was the losers of the war — the Japanese and the Italians, through Sesa then — that depended more on Goan ore to reconstruct.

Interesting tidbits emerge from the many stories included in this compiled volune. Did you know, for instance, that the first Japanese ore-carrier ‘Shozen Maru’ sailed for its first consignment exported by the Chowgules way back in 1950. Ore was brought in country craft from the Sirigao mines! The Chowgule brothers supervised the loading operations personally.

We hear shades of the debate which still continue till this day: Was Goan ore being sold cheap to Japan? If so, why? How did Goan ore compared with Australian? Should Goa have its own steel plant?

In times where only a handful of books, if at all, were published on Goa each year, this one takes on wider strokes. For instance, it has an essay by author, journalist and art-critic Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni, who talks of “the cultural heritage of Goa”.

In between the hard-bound covers, what we come across here are contributions from various persons who knew Vishwasrao Chowgule. They comment on his role in various spheres — the Goan (and Indian) economy, economic and capitalist growth in Goa, Goa-Japanese ties in the iron ore trade (from an era when Japan, not China, was Goa’s main buyer), and tributes from fellow industrialists, friends and admirers.

mscbThe last category includes individuals as diverse as former Lt. Governor S.K. Banerji, ex-chief minister (and mineowner herself) Shashikala Kakodkar, and ambassadors, judges, union leaders, ex-MPs and former editors. Few of our generation, for instance, would hear a bell in the name of V.H. Coelho — the Consul General in Goa between 1951-54, before the post-Independent Government of India imposed its economic blockade on this former Portuguese colony.

This is V.M. Salgaocar, the head of another business empire in Goa, talking about Vishwasrao Chowgule in 1975: “My association with Shri Vishwasrao has been both long and rewarding. We first chanced to meet on the train from Vasco to Mormugao, about forty years ago. He gave an impression of energy and enerstness. Later he built himself up into a leading industrialist and businessman. Since then several business and social occasions have brought us together. During such meetings I discovered that Shri Vishwasrao, who can be strong and firm, even tough, in business negotiations, can also relax and be full of human warmth.”

Beyond the kind words, it could be noted that here are two whose thoughts and preferences shaped the Goa that we know. Both played a key role, directly or otherwise, in shaping the language controvery of the 1980s, for instance.

One slightly confusing element is the inclusion of recent images and photographs in the generation-old book. So, it would appear, the picture of the now-plush Chowgule College (in Margao) and the Chowgule House, overlooking the waters, are more recent additions to the earlier book. Continue reading “Ore, and more”

Good gosh!

This is embarassing! I’ve not made a post here for months, and Goa Streets calls this one of the ten best in Goa. One of the first journalists to exploit the power of the Internet, Frederick Noronha blogs about Goa and books, and issues that concern both. The books that he publishes under Goa 1556 are profiled here, along with vintage Goa photos, videos of events in Goa, lists of useful links on Goa and loads of photos of everything under the Goan sun. Frankly undeserved! To be fair to myself though, I keep sharing content via cyberspace… but … Continue reading Good gosh!

BOOK EXTRACT: How Much Gold Does a Goan Need?

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smbTHE GUN, if that is what it was, was held to my third thoracic vertebra. I did not have the curiosity to look round into the gunman’s face. He may have noticed my heirloom earrings swinging rhythmically as I walked briskly ahead of him, but he made no attempt to snatch them. His attention was elsewhere.

That is how you may yet see me, on very special occasions, sporting my grandmother Luisa’s filigree earrings. Exquisitely worked gold chrysanthemum petals surround a tiny sapphire in the open flower which dangles an inch below the delicate bud on the lobe.

Nowadays even my middle class friends and relations go in for diamonds and platinum and bank lockers, but a few decades ago we all believed in gold: gold with pearls, gold with cameos, gold with corals, gold with the ubiquitous green stone, gold toned down with silver and revved up with marcasite chips. Goans have always been particular about their jewellery. Workmanship counts for much more than the material. It is not as elsewhere in India, “The dowry was three kilograms of gold.” Thanks to the brilliant Marquis of Pombal, women in Goa inherit a share of family land, so gold is almost only decorative.

In those days I was so fond of the metal that I carried my entire hoard of it on my fatimanoronhaonly visit to my brother in California. Two delicate bracelets, the harp-shaped studs my musical Aunty Ninette gave me, my parents’ gift of thick gypsy rings, Avòzinha’s sapphire-punctuated danglers, all accompanied me around the Wild West.

“Twenty-two carat, wow!” raved our American friends. “Here it’s all fourteen carat.” Many of the women wanted to know more about my gypsy earrings with the embossed money plant round the edges. They asked about the traditions that produced such ornaments. They wanted to know how much such jewellery cost. How would I know? Gold was always a gift, its price unknown. Like a jet black dress, it was always classy, regardless of price.

On weekends my brother drove me around the magical countryside or to a musical performance in San Francisco. During the week our lifestyle was austere. Since Des worked late at the lab, I used the Santa Clara County transit system and got to know Palo Alto and Stanford on my own. I admired the efficiency of the bus drivers who could count the fare as each passenger dropped coins into the transparent box, and hand out a ticket and a greeting without missing a beat.

It was cold and sometimes scary walking home from the bus stop those winter evenings. My way led down a bright street lined with pretty houses and gardens, then over a humped bridge across a creek and suddenly along a darkened lane. Struggling students and petty criminals could afford the rents in those apartment blocks on our side of the creek. Continue reading “BOOK EXTRACT: How Much Gold Does a Goan Need?”

Writing Green: A Guide to Handhold You

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Reviewed by Frederick Noronha

cover-eerJournalism is obviously an imprecise science. As has been pointed out: while science tries to be deliberate, precise and reflective, journalism is fast, imprecise and keen on drama. Yet, what would science be without the public outreach that the media offers? You could say the same for environmentalism, even if the latter is more of a social movement trying to influence the political process by lobbying, activism, and education so as to protect natural resources and ecosystems.

Many younger journalists (and a few not-so-young ones too), including media students, have their heart in the right place. They have a natural inclination towards the environment. But here is the dilemma: how or where do they get started?

The other day, I was pleasantly surprised to see two copies of Santosh Shintre’s handbook — published both in English and Marathi — reach by the post. Santosh had been in touch with me via email earlier, though one had all but forgotten our conversations.

Environmental journalism was one of the themes I too have had a soft-corner for during part of my journalistic career, in particular in the 1990s. Some of my employers encouraged my interest in this. But then, in post-Liberalisation India, the space for writing green simply dried up, thus putting subtle and not-so-subtle pressures on freelancing choices.

With Keya Acharya of Bangalore, nonetheless, more recently I co-edited a book called The Green Pen, where senior environmental journalists across India shared their experiences. Because of another of my interests, in cyberspace, I founded by happenstance the India-EJ mailing list for environmental journalists in India. Today it is run on Googlegroups by those still active in the field.

But contrary to the impression this all might create, I too would often be struggling to understand this vast field. More so, given that my background is not in the Sciences and my Green commitment stems from my heart and feelings about the need to go in for sustainable growth, whatever that might mean. Continue reading “Writing Green: A Guide to Handhold You”

Goa, The Army, and migration

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cover-bashonregardlessThis book comes from a prominent retired Armyman, “one of our Army’s foremost battlefield commanders”, and a soldier with his roots in Goa. It was for the last reason that I chose to borrow this book from the Central Library, when one happened to chance upon it.

We’re told on the back cover: “Lieutenant General W.A.G. Pinto’s experiences as a wartime divisional commander during the 1971 Indo-Pak war form the pivot of these memoirs….” Pune-based Pinto served the Indian Army during the not-so-peaceful times of 1943 to 1982, and retired as the General Officer Commanding in Chief, Central Command.

As one could expect, the story is often told in military (or militaristic) terms: “thrust into Pakistani terrotiry… the epic Battle of Basantar… decimated the opposition… knocked out one infantry and one armoured brigade…” (p. vii)

If you’re wondering where the title of the book comes from, we’re told early on, in the foreword itself, that Indian soldiers entering “captured Pakistani territory” were faced by “eye-catching signboards”. One said: “You are entering Pakistan. No passports required. Bash on Regardless.” Another read: “Pak Mines Only. Bash On Regardless.”

At the start of the book, Pinto talks about his Goan connect. His father was from the Gustavo Pinto branch of the Pintos of Santa Cruz, Goa. Like all Goan migration stories, Walter Anthony Gustavo’s sister was born in Pakistan, he had another brother (Major General Sydney Alexander) in the Army, and the loss of property back home forms a crucial part of the narrative.

He writes: “In the distant past, one of my early ancestors was a Hindu of the Nayak caste or class. All the property from Campal, Santa Inez, Mira Mir, Gaspar Dias, Caranzalem, Donna (sic) Paula, Vanganim, Taleigaon, Santa Cruz, Bambolim was all his, a mighty fortune and also a misfortune. What happened to it all and how did it happen?”

Pinto says says a receipt for Rs 20 shows his father sold his share of the Vanganim property to his brother. “The starred Hotel Cidade-de-Goa on the high ground overlooking the beautiful lagoon is now located on the property,” he writes.

It is tougher to believe that “the land on which the old Goa Medical College stands today was donated by one of my grand or great-grand parents”. (Didn’t the government simply acquire land of the politically uninfluential for such purposes?) But more amusing is the story his father’s lease of his share of the property called Mira Mar, where the estuary of the Mandovi River meets the Arabian Sea, “to a Portuguese gentleman, who put up a hotel called Hotel Mira Mar”. Continue reading “Goa, The Army, and migration”

‘Casinos in India are a faint shadow of what it is in the West’

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Dinesh Patel's bookAfter a book on restaurants in Goa and another on historical fiction, journalist-writer Dinesh Patel has come out with a title on casinos. It looks at the scene both in Goa and far beyond. This is the first book in India of its kind. He shares with FREDERICK NORONHA some details about the book, and his views on the sector here.

How would you briefly describe Indian Jackpot?

Indian jackpot is the first comprehensive book on casinos that throws light on various aspects of the gaming industry, right from its world and Indian history to the types of casinos, different types of games, what to expect at a casino, what not to do, house advantage, gaming superstitions, among other topics.

The book gives an overall view and also features the tycoons of gaming industry and showcases the top twenty gaming destinations in the world, gaming nations and India’s gaming neighbours, besides gaming in India itself. The book also warns about the harmful effects of the casino and explains the evils of going overboard.

Could you be seen as promoting casino gambling? If so, would you see this as an issue?

I have made it aptly clear in the preface — “Do not Overdo What You Must Do” — that the book should not be taken as an effort to promote casinos, nor an endeavour to denounce it. We get what we deserve and if casinos have come to our shores there is more than one reason, than mere economic compulsion. I think it is a good facility to have, specially if you are entertaining guests who have not seen a casino. Again, casinos now give tourists the night-life option that was missing.

What is the state of casino gambling in India today? Has it lived to its expectations (of promoters, governments, clients)?

In all seriousness, casinos in India are a faint shadow of what it is in the West, and thank God for that! The casino industry can still be seen to be at a fledgling stage and at the whims and fancies of government institutions. When the gaming industry took off in Goa in the 1990s, a lot of entrepreneurs were keen to strike gold and join the bandwagon of what seemed a lucrative business option, supported by the government.

Today while the big guns have managed to stay afloat, smaller operators have fallen by the wayside. Faced with government policies and high fees, many casinos are shutting shop or stalling operations and awaiting government announcements at the Assembly session in March. Continue reading “‘Casinos in India are a faint shadow of what it is in the West’”

Understanding India’s roots of Western classical

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By Frederick Noronha

P1120174Western Classical music first came to India as a extension of the colonial encounter, but over time it has become “an essential part of Indian culture”, says scholar Sebanti Chatterjee who has recently done her M.Phil on the subject.

Chatterjee’s study is a comparative study of the practices of Western Classical Music across three areas — Mumbai, Kolkata and Goa.

But while Western Classical has stayed a “marginalised presence” in India, musical elements of this genre “get comfortable absorbed in other musical styles — both in the realm of indigenous and Western music”, comments the scholar.

With the curiosity of the scholar and the soft-spokenness of a research student, the young lady plans to shortly take on her Ph.D. in this rather unusual field – Western music in India.

Tracing its history, she notes the importance to understand the Western Classical music scenario in late eighteenth century Anglo-Indian society. The 1760s and 1770s saw rise of all male musical clubs with limited access granted to the ladies, such as Catch club. In the 1780s there was a lucrative business of supplying Anglo Indians with music and instruments. Continue reading “Understanding India’s roots of Western classical”