Those Good Ol’ Days
Stories From Two Schools and A College in Mapusa, Goa
Price (in Goa) Rs 150. Pp 84 (large size)
“Must be ink fell on it,” commented three-year-old Aren, struggling to get his words right after gingerly asking permission to see the book. Touching the wrong book can mean big trouble, as the kids have by now learnt. “This looks like my school notebook,” Riza (8) commented earlier in the evening, pointing to the cover. “Can I write on it?” she went on to boldly ask, when shown another page with the same texture.
I was thrilled. Obviously, the artist had done a good job in getting across his point!
The ‘artist’ in this case is Britto Old Boy Alex Braganza, the Patto-Panjim based commercial artist better known for the music he and his late brother August created through the many bands they were linked to. The way he and his Broadways team slogged to package this book (if one could call it that) over a ad-busy Christmas season was inspiring. One saw it at close quarters, and learnt a lot more about Alex in those days.
The blue-green-red BMX logo (for three prominent educational institutions in Mapusa) stands out on the cover. The top half of the
page looks like an exam paper, and the title is scribbled across it with a neat schoolgirl’s handwriting. Under the BMX logo is the
Konkani saying, “Mog Assundi”. Particularly untranslatable (like other good Konkani sayings), it could mean anything from “Hey, don’t keep any anger (as we leave)” to “Go with only good memories”.
The “ink” Aren noticed was a blotch of blue on the front cover… meant to depict ink. Which it did. Effectively.
About the book, one can say little here. My name figures as being responsible for editing it… after reading a few pages, I realised
where exactly the errors had crept in! Ouch! But let’s leave that to some others to talk about ….
This “book” (inverted commas, because it has a souvenirish appearance, and a number of ads from alumni and their networks) has some 32 “chapters”. Some are brief, less-than-a-page essays, and other span as many as four pages. Giving that alumni tend to be people in their fourties (if not older) with failing reading-vision, a larger point-size might have made sense. But, being an ‘insider’, I know that money, paper and time factors were more important.
Chapters focus on college and school memoirs from Mapusa. By young students, by students who passed out half-a-century ago. Or teachers and lecturers. By a historian, ex-priest who gives an interesting insight into life during the post-1961 times with the Jesuits. By an engineer who tells a great story of life in Mapusa and Britto’s, warts and all, during the ‘fifties. By an ‘Africander’ boy who moved from Britto’s to the Jesuit novitiate, to political commitment and then working in a prominent global tech company in Britain. And by many more.
There’s also a tribute to ‘Pop’, as Fr Nicolau Pereira, St Xavier College’s longest-serving principal, was known. Interestingly, it
comes from the free-to-share Wikipedia online encyclopedia…. That’s the power of sharable information recycling. You create a Wikipedia entry. Then print it somewhere. When people notice that, the Wikipedia entry will probably grow in quality and depth. Or will it? Let’s be optimistic….
But to know more about the book, check it out. Without publicising it (or building up expectations) further, one could say that two
realisations stuck in my mind while putting this together. Firstly, there are so many people waiting to tell their “story”, if only asked.
They need some convincing that writing is applied commonsense and a discipline anyone can inculcate, hardly rocket science. Secondly, the sharable-content Creative Commons model works — specially when profits are a secondary issue, as for these alumni networks.
Content for this (and an earlier book, ‘Britto Retro’) were largely generated through online electronic mailing lists. This being the
case, it would be unfair for any “publisher” to claim copyrights over the resulting material. All of it (in this book, and most in the
‘Britto Retro’) was put out under a CreativeCommons.org license. It implies a sharable, some-rights-reserved approach (rather than the ‘all rights reserved’ approach of Copyright).
Not only did it make the content sharable (two publications are out, more could result… at least in terms of e-books… ). But it also
ensured that the price of the resultant publication — because of the ‘not for profit’ clause, and also the fact that it could be repackaged anytime more affordably — was itself reasonably priced.
That, to me, was a satisfying experience.
Contributors to this volume include Arlette Azavedo, Cecil Pinto, Benny Faria, Joyce Heredia Fernandes, Charmaine Abreu Lobo, Avelino D’Souza, Caroline Andrade, Alex Pascoal Silveira, Clara Fernandes, Lea Mathias, Jose Da Gama Paes, Ingrid Vallesl Po, Constantino “Tino” de Nazare, Anna D’Souza, Lydia De Souza, Anne Vaz, Sr Margaret Correa (a nun en route to Bamako in Mali when she wrote her piece), Dorothy Desouza Almeida, Dr Teotonio R de Souza, Daniel DeSouza and James Fernandes (both profs at Xavier’s formerly), Aureo De Souza, Lumen de Souza (nee Pereira), Oscar Correia Noronha, Nadia Isabel Miranda Fernandes, Sidney Mendes, and poet Brian “Mr Xavier” Mendonca.
Obviously one shouldn’t be reviewing a book one has himself been closely involved in… On the other hand, the option is that, Goa
being Goa, most books published here never ever reach the reviewer’s eye. (Very few reviewers exist anyway. Neither is there space for locally published books in most publications.) So, while confessing about this confict of interest, I won’t stop myself from keying in these few words.
Believe them at your own peril….