[A column about the printed word * Gomantak Times, July 23, 2007]
In mid-July, one ran into Ingrid Valles Po of Parra. She’s part of one of the alumni networks (St Mary’s) at Mapusa. Currently, Ingrid is the Assignments Editor at Motivate Publishing in Dubai. Check it out via the web at motivate.ae.
Ingrid has an interesting story to narrate about her workplace. This firm, set up in the late 1970s, by a Brit in the Gulf, and has since grown into an ambitious venture employing 250+ persons.
She explained about the large number of magazines the firm brought out — with names like What’s On, Hello!, Gulf Business, Middle East MICE & Events, Society Dubai, Emirates Woman, Emibrates Bride, Open and a number of inflight mags for various airlines.
Not surprisingly, besides Mangaloreans and South Indians, there are quite a few Goans working in that publishing firm too. Obviously, this is a field where we, in this State, do have a lot of skills. This gives us an opportunity to enter the filed, and to consolidate our potential in it.
Book publishing is booming across India. Literacy is growing, so are markets, and English-language skills. But are we in Goa encouraging our youth to get access to the professions of writing, publishing and all the related fields? To be good writers, they need to be eager readers too. Else, as the saying goes, it’s just the case of garbage-in, garbage-out.
MAGS FOR KIDS
Talking about the reading habit, one has long been impressed by the initiatives coming up from other parts of India. Once, while travelling to Chennai, it was a pleasant surprise to notice the number of magazines for children available even on railway stands.
Malayala Manorama is impressive with its 48-page all-in-colour mag for primary and nursery kids — called Magic Pot. There is an addition from the Chandamama group, for younger children, called the Junior Chandamama. Unfortunately, it’s available only via subscription but not via the news-agents.
Manorama, again, has a new magazine for children called ‘Tell Me Why’, and each hundred-page issue is priced at just Rs 15.
Once again, you need to get it by subscription! Send your DD of Rs 150 (per year) favouring ‘Tell Me Why’ and payable at Kottayam to The Senior Executive-Subscription, M M Publications, P B No.226, Kottayam-686001 Kerala with your mailing address.
BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS
The other day, my four-year-old Aren got his first letter in his life. He was very excited about it. This letter was also addressed to his elder sister, but somehow Aren’s name was mentioned on the envelope.
It didn’t bother him too much that the letter contained bad news. It came from BookWorm in Porvorim, the innovative place that is meant to encourage children to read is closing down. The people running it — Elaine, Sujata and team — tried hard to keep it going.
On the other hand, all is not lost. Panjim’s BookWork continues its activities. And it’s a very lively place. If you want to get there, just ask anyone around the Sant Inez Church locality. Or look for the big board outside the flat.
For one, I would not hesitate to recommend their Rs 100-per-month fare that gives your child stories, activities, toys and a safe place to keep busy at between 3 to 7 pm on weekdays. Apart from that vital nourishment for the mind, of course.
Another bit of good news comes from Saligao. Late ad-man Frank Simoes’ widow Gita has taken a lot of trouble to support the work done by Giselle Lobo and team at Saligao.
The local Institute at the Arrarim locality of the village has a brand-new reading room for kids, tastefully done up. A good example of what philanthrophy can do when merged with good intentions… and a vision. More villages could learn from such examples, specially the 5 pm ‘story hour’ for kids held there on Wednesdays, and the daily library activities (again, for children).
OF GODS AND MORE
I first ran into Umesh Kakkeri because of his interest in Portuguese stamps. This Goa Engineering College-educated civil engineer, born in Bombay and linked to adjoining Karnataka’s Belgaum district as his name suggests, has an unusual combination of interests.
His recent book is titled simply ‘Shree Mangesh’. Hardbound (ISBN 81-7525-683-4) and with an enclosed VCD, is all about one of Goa’s most famous temples. Kakkeri’s earlier book was ‘Postal History of Portuguese India’. Google for it, and you would find some details online.
In its 115 pages, his new book touches on the history of the temple, its campus, its daily schedules and religious services. Kakkeri also details the Monday religious day, festivals round the year, deities, temple attendants, the monastry, and managing committee. Some of the provisions on the devastan rules and regulations, passed as they were in colonial times, seem quaint when seen from an early 21st century perspective.
His three page glossary, explaining terms from ‘aarti’ (burning oil lamp pot shown to the deity) to zanj (cymbal) is a useful explanation in understanding across the cultural divide.
If you were curious, Kakkeri is a region or village near Belgaum. Umesh takes on his village-name as his surname, as is the practise in nearby Karnataka. This book is devoted to his grandfather Raosaheb Mangesh Krishnaji Kakkeri (1880-1945) who retired as a deputy superintendent of police in Belgaum.
“GOAN” HARRY POTTER
“Do you have a book about the Goan Harry Potter, or something of that kind?” I head a curious parent enquire at the bookshop the other day.
Though I’m no addict of the idiot box, I chanced upon news item on the one of the cable TV channels about the release of Odette Mascarenhas’ ‘Alfie Alphonso: The Search for the Mystical Crystal’.
Of course, when the parent in question enquired, absent-minded me had clean forgotten the title. The bookseller tried to be helpful, searched all over, but infact couldn’t locate a copy.
That’s the tragedy of Goan books. Hardly noticed when published (the cable TV report for this one was an exception), and usually out-of-print or unavailable by the time the demand picks up.
Part of the problem is the scattered nature of the Goan market. The other part is that the printed word doesn’t make news. But isn’t the most severe part of the problem is simply the fact that, as a society, we don’t believe too strongly in investing in the printed word?
So, can we change things, even if in a very small measure? If you’re interested in reading this column, I’ll write it….
Feedback welcome: fred at bytesforall.org
Latest 10 Goa-related books on the stands [List as made available by Broadways Book Centre, Sant Inez]
- Tales from the Attic (Savia Viegas) Xaxtti Foundation, 2007 Rs 200
- The Mahmai’s and Goa’s Neighbours: Commercial LInks and Allied Interests (Dr S K Mhamai, ed). 191 pp. Rs 300. 2007
- Domnic’s Goa (Domnic Fernandes) Pp 247. Rs 350, April 2007
- My Journey (Tomazinho Cardozo) Pp 261. Rs 200. 2007
- Fragments (Darren Christopher Pereira) Poetry. Pp 56. 2007.
- Careers: The Complete Guide (Plus Publications) Rs 150, pp 178, 2e 2007
- The Goan Catholic Wedding Guide Pp 84 Rs 100.
- Snapshots of Indo-Portuguese History 1: Pangim (Vasco Pinho) Rs 350, pp 132. Hb
- Guardian of The Dawn (Richard Zimlers) UKP 5.95 (Rs 450) Pp 371 Fiction, set in Goa and the Inquisition 2005, recently received in Goa
- Walking with Angels (Heta Pandit, photography Tushar Rao) Pp 152, Hb, large size. Rs 2400
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