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

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

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”

Backstage Battles… and the Sometimes Harsh Realities of Goa


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By Frederick Noronha

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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).

AUGUST 15

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.

BEST BANDS

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”