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Wednesday, December 31, 2008


As we bid adieu to each year on the last day of every year, this year is no exception. As we witness the last few hours of 2008, we reflect on the good and the bad, happiness and sorrow in our lives, strife, war, floods and earthquakes, births and deaths far and near.

One may say that the times that have gone by
are things or events of the past. True, and in a few years we will refer to those days as the good old days and ways, but those will be the days we will not forget.
Some may live till they are very old,
and then will come some youngster
who perhaps we will hear
into our ear whisper:
'now tell me about the good old days'.

We cannot forget what has happened, or change the past, but we can definitely hope for the best in 2009 and in the years ahead. Personal resolutions that we usually make and don't keep - that's fine, but one resolution we can definitely keep is to pray for the sick, the bereaved, the injured, the afflicted and the poor.
And most of all, as we usher in the New Year let us hope for love, not hatred, and pray for Peace throughout the world.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Born: 30 November 1930
Died: 28 December 2008

It is with great sadness that I learned about the death of my father-in-law, Mr. Freddy Barboza, after a long illness. He passed away in Parra, Goa, today, at 78 years of age. He has been a loving husband to his wife, Benedicta, father to 4 daughters, 1 son, grandfather of 11, and a great-grandfather of one.

My first meeting with him was in the U.A.E. in 1974, having been introduced to me by his eldest daughter, Edna. I guess he liked me because he let me marry his daughter one year later! And I instantly felt without any doubt that here was one good man.

I remember the days when my wife and I worked in Dubai and our children were in boarding school in India. Mr. Barboza tirelessly made all the travel arrangements during the 1980’s to drop and pick our kids from the airport when they came to spend their Christmas Holidays with us. He was very fond of all his grandchildren.

Actor, composer and lyricist in Konkani tiatr in Bombay, Mr. Freddy Barboza retired in Goa 18 years ago. Besides being an actor in Konkani tiatr in Bombay at an early age in the fifties and sixties, he also acted in the Konkani film 'Boglant'. He has been an inspiration to many younger singers and actors of Konkani stage of today. I once witnessed at a 'tiatr' when he personally handed a cash reward to an upcoming singer, soon after this singer had finished singing his own composition on stage. Such was his love for the Konkani theatre.

Whenever we went to Bombay or Goa on a vacation, he would invite us to see tiatr along with him, and during the interval would always take me back-stage to meet some of his fellow artists like Prem Kumar, C. Alvares, Jacinto Vaz, M. Boyer, Remmie Colaco, Shalini, Antonette and Ophelia, proudly introducing me to these actors as his ‘eldest son-in-law’, and very often giving me the undue credit of being a great photographer, artist and a hi-fi and sound expert.

He owned Fredrick Travels in the 1970’s and 1980’s in Bombay, from where he recruited people for employment in the Gulf. He also owned a Car Rental Company.
Besides having a full-time business of his own, his love for Konkani never ceased. He dedicated most of his spare time acting in Konkani dramas, composing Konkani songs, writing lyrics, producing and successfully releasing 2 music-cassette albums in the early 1990’s, titled 'Juliana' and 'Maria' which were big hits. In the late 1990's he did roles in tele-films like 'Mogachi Faxi' and 'Suttka'.
Incidentally, he had often been seen and it was also known to his family, relatives and friends that he wrote lyrics on a small note-book that he always carried with him while he travelled by bus to work at Firestone in Bombay in his early years.

I always remember him as a very busy man and a methodical worker in Bombay and in Goa. He was never idle. An early morning riser, he meticulously made notes of everything that he had to do during the day. Sometimes I would see him writing lyrics, and at other times I would hear him hum a tune or sing a verse into a portable mini tape-recorder. He was so talented and versatile that he could compose impromptu and dedicate a song at the drop of a hat to any one celebrating a big day or any occasion.
After having chosen to live a semi-retired life in Goa, he frequently staged Konkani 'tiatr' (plays) in Mapusa, and had one especially dedicated for charity towards St.Anne’s Church, Parra, in the early 1990’s.

I have seen him hiring a taxi and then attach the bill-board advertisement to the back of it, fit loudspeakers on its roof, and go around Mapusa town and the by-roads and lanes through the country-side announcing: 'Tiatr' 'Tiatr' over the portable PA system and distributing flyers. I had once the opportunity and pleasure of tossing out these bright multi-coloured leaflets to passers-by through the rear side window of the taxi, making brief stops at the various 'tinttos' (market places) in Siolim, Anjuna, Arpora, Saligao and Parra for refreshments. After all was done, he would treat me to a beer for helping him toss out the flyers and for accompanying him on his publicity rounds.

He worked very hard bringing up his family, and spared no pains to put food on the table. From humble beginnings when he used a bicycle as a means of transportation and later graduating to a motor-bike, he moved on successfully in his business through mere perseverance, and succeeded in owning a fleet of cars that included a Chevrolet Impala in Bombay.

One of the things that I remember is that he loved to ride his motor-bike which he always kept in a pristine condition. In his younger days he was full of adventure, having ridden his bike from Bombay to Goa via Pune and Kolhapur. His driving ability and judgment always impressed me, specially negotiating and maneuvering through traffic. My first trip in his car from the airport to his house in Bombay, with his daughter - my wife, Edna, is one to remember!

 He rode his bike
 and drove his car
 until the age of 74.
 Just like a pro!
Words are not enough to express our grief in his passing away. But we will keep his fond memories forever to cherish.

Tony Fernandes


Friday, December 19, 2008


Village folks including children waving out to the soldiers on armoured tanks, trucks and jeeps passing through Guirim on the evening of 18th December 1961 - heading for the capital, Panjim.

A Childhood Memoir : 18th December 1961

Tony Fernandes


I recall that cold morning. I had risen early to study for my second tri-monthly examinations. Mother was in the kitchen, preparing tea. It was then that I heard ear-deafening noise of what seemed to be low-flying aircraft.

A little later, I put out the kerosene chimney lamp. My mother and I cautiously peeked out of the window, but saw nothing.The sun had not yet risen. The pre-dawn sky in the east cast a faint scarlet glow. I could feel mother's fear, as the preceding days had been quite tense. We were aware of the trouble that had been brewing up. A statue at Mapuca had been blown up a few days earlier, causing anxiety among the populace.

Suddenly we heard a knock on our door. We remained still and silent and only opened the door upon realizing it was our neighbours, calling out to us in low voices. They had come over to ask mother whether she had any idea what was happening around us. Mother told them that she thought that the noise came from fighter aircraft, as a result of the political tension prevailing at the time.

We all went out when the sun had risen. We could see smoke billowing out from the town in the distance. By noon the word had spread that the Indian Army had reached Mapuca and that Air Force jets had bombed the army barracks and some government buildings in town. We also learned that the barracks there were in fact empty at the time.

The Portuguese soldiers had probably left the previous night on the orders of the Governor General. He was subsequently considered to be a wise man in ordering a retreat and a surrender that followed. It was the talk in our village that he did not want the Portuguese soldiers to put up a fight, as human lives would have been lost in the crossfire - in the event of bombing and fighting between the armies.

I realized that my mother's appearance was one of sadness. I felt sad too as I could not go to school. The Indian Army had occupied my school, pitching their tents on our football field. My father had always said that we would one day be liberated, but my mother thought otherwise.

I remember running on the winding path leading to the red mudroad, that passed through our village in Guirim, along with other boys, to see the Indian army proceeding slowly, heading for the capital, Panjim. Certain sections of the main road from Mapuca to Panjim were not usable. The bridges were destroyed by the retreating Portuguese soldiers.

I saw young boys, accompanied by older folks of our village, waving out to the Indian soldiers sitting on top of their tanks in full battle gear. I waved out as well! The boys shouted "Jai Hind" and I followed doing the same.

I was fascinated with the artillery comprising of huge tanks, armoured cars, jeeps and trailers, gun carriages with canons of different shapes and sizes towed by trucks, proceeding towards Panjim. They created clouds of dust as they rumbled along. Most of the soldiers had moustaches, beards and turbans: all were smiling. The line of army vehicles continued long after dusk and trickled into the night.

The situation remained tense for many days and nights. A sudden hush seemed to hover over our lives. We returned home playing football in the fields long before sunset.

One evening, as we wound up our usual play at our improvised football ground, I overheard some of the bigger boys saying that we now 'Indian subjects'. But the only 'subjects' that I was concerned about were those of my curriculum like Geography, History and Religion, that had to be postponed into the New Year.

It seemed like everything had come to a halt. School football tournaments were cancelled as both our football fields remained occupied by the Army for some time. Our juniors volley ball finals were disrupted. There was no midnight Mass in my favourite church or at any other chapel in our village that Christmas, and no New Year's Eve Dance. Perhaps it must have been the only New Year's Eve when Johnson & His Jolly Boys - the hot favourites of the time - did not play.

That was 47 years ago today. It was long before mid-night that the lamps and candles burnt themselves out in the lanterns and Christmas stars in frontof the houses in my village during the Yuletide of that year. Everything was calm, quiet and dark with the exception of the brilliant star-lit sky. Everything was silent except for the intermittent hooting of the owl - heard but never seen, along with the dogs barking most of the night in the neighbourhood, and the occasional howl of the wolf in the wee hours of the morning.

May happiness reign in your home this Christmas and may the New Year continue to bring good health, love, joy, peace and prosperity.

At this very special time of year let's pray for peace everywhere in the world - for all families, relatives and friends. That the entire world may live in peace, love and harmony between each one and all nations.

At this Yuletide let us remember the innocent who lost their lives in the terror by mankind towards mankind in Mumbai.

Please take care and caution wherever you are and in whatever you do

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To Secret Santa

Father Christmas

Tony Fernandes

Dear Father Christmas,

Today I sit back and ponder of days when I was very young. Children referred to you then as the all-giving Father Christmas. And if I were lucky I’d get just two gifts:

– 1 new trouser and 1 new shirt for the midnight Mass.

As a child I was fascinated with undiminished enthusiasm at the sheer joy that prevailed at Yuletide. I made a new miniature crib every year, fabricated a "star" out of a frame-work of bamboo, lined it with translucent craft-paper and lit a candle in it, and had it hung high up on a 20 ft. bamboo pole in the front of our house.

Very often during Yuletide I dream about Santa Claus. I am also intrigued by the number of names people called you: St. Nicholas, St. Nick, Father Christmas,Pai Noel, Papa Noel, Papa Natal, Santa Claus, Pere Noel, Papai Noel, Sinterklaas, Baba Noel, etc.

Then, Santa, I don’t know why all these good folks have now started calling you ‘Secret Santa”. Is it because you've been secretly hiding or stashing away some gifts? Are they meant for me? Anyway, as for me, you will always remain just the same jolly good merry old soul, no matter what - whether you are secret or whether the gifts are.

Santa, by the time when I was just about touching my teens, the number of gifts received had grown to three – a pair of new shoes got added to the list! Those days all apparel, stitched or ready-made, had to be what we Goans popularly call as 'vaddtea angar'. Literally, this means 'for the growing body', and economically, rightly so.

As a teenager, many months prior to the onset of Advent, I used to drop loose change in a piggy bank (made of red clay). This self-subsidy was put aside as a little pocket money, part of which I used to buy something for my mother at Christmas time. This continued for many years until I finished my studies and started to work, and forgot about the piggy bank. That's when my wish list started getting shorter and giving list grew bigger. The child-wonder was slowly beginning to lose its hold.

In turn I wondered whether Santa was turning away and getting less fond of me as I grew older. I felt ignored. What did I do, where did I go wrong?

Of course, dear Santa, there's no doubt, that over the years you have worked tirelessly and your generosity has kept on growing tremendously, snow or no snow. Today's young men have got to be ashamed of them selves.

But Santa, what I would like to bring to your notice is that this year is the first year ever that I have been asked to participate into a Kris Kringle procedure adopted at the convention held at my place recently, also known as 'Secret Santa'. If I’ve got it right, names of the family members to whom the gifts are to be presented, were drawn out of a hat. As I was new to this modus operandi, forgive me Santa, for I may have bungled at this game from the very start. (I'm not good at games. I don't get them quick enough. Very slow learner. Am getting old too, you know). Also making my 'want list' public surely wasn’t intended. Please don’t take it seriously as you must be already aware that those items on my list are very expensive indeed. Jokes aside, but Santa I still love this new idea. Don't get me wrong.

But on the other hand, I have every thing that I've wished for that includes a wonderful wife and three charming children and a modest roof over my head (with a chimney of course - you know why). At this point in time I would like to mention that the dryer is not working too well and the cooking range looks battered. Would you be passing by Sears or Future Shop by any chance? But would that be beyond the admissible range, would it Santa? Specially now that that whole world is on the brink of a huge recession? But on second thought... what about the new super-slim wide, no, no, don't worry. I need a new lens for my camera! Also all my colleagues in my age group are now using iPads!

But Santa, I do understand. The word ‘recession’ is on everyone’s lips. Most of us are hearing it for the first time.

So, Santa, in view of the hard times being forecast, anything inexpensive (or even nothing at all) will do, as I believe the primary purpose of Secret Santa is to restrict all the unnecessary gift-giving. Moreover, this year older people are not supposed to receive gifts any way, more so because of the recession, even though it amazes me that you are still so rich after all the gift-giving for so many years. One good thing you still use your sleigh to deliver gifts- so there, you save such a lot of cash as you don't use any gas. Fortune List or Forbes List? No way, you are beyond that.

Have a Merry Christmas.

In Santa, I still believe!

Tony Fernandes (a.k.a. TonFerns)

Friday, December 12, 2008

THE CRIB - The Joy of Christmas

Christmas season has always been a wonderful time in Goa. No decorated malls or anything on a scale like those in the West, but it has its own unique charm. Happiness in the households and vibrant atmosphere prevails in the cities and towns during this time. The story below depicts the joy and wonder of Yuletide in Goa from the perspective of a child back in the late fifties. There may not have been many string lights those days. But a ‘star’ made from bamboo and coloured craft paper was a must and it had its own aura that said it all. As soon as the sun set, these hollow body 'stars' would be lit up by incandescent bulbs in the cities while in the villages they would be lit up by candles or oil-lamps, accompanied by bright lanterns all along the balconies. The highlight was attending the midnight mass on Christmas Eve and visiting neighbours after that. It was truly the happiest night of the year in many a home for the rich and the poor alike. It has perhaps not changed much since then.

THE CRIB – The Joy of Christmas
It was October with December, Christmas and New Year still far away. It was the time for the little boy to visualize the setting of the crib. Every year he would try to make it different than the previous year.

The boy wondered what Bethlehem must have really looked like so many years ago when Jesus Christ was born. So he shuffled through some old Christmas cards of the previous years which he kept for references in the old wooden chest, and came across a card depicting a Nativity Scene with the hills in the background and manger which was in the foreground. The Star of Bethlehem was high above in the picture. He had one long look at it and put it back where it was. So he set about with the immediate task which was to paint a back drop of a star-lit night with faint hills as silhouettes in the background. So he put his thinking cap on. He walked to the nearby town to buy a cardboard for the backdrop. He would use the existing colours in his collection and hoped they would last to paint the entire scene. He would make a small star using translucent foil with a light in it and NOT a painted one, and attached it to the backdrop itself. He would bring the soil from the fields and would grow grass in it about a week in advance on a large flat piece of wood on which he would place the crib itself. He would then 'construct' a "bridge" with water underneath and a winding path that let to the entrance of the crib. He would transplant little yellow flowered plants, which he would scoop with a trowel along with the soil that held on to the roots, from the fields nearby, trying to make it as realistic as he could, embellishing the area around the crib with some tiny shoots of flowers that grew in the garden adjoining his house.

December drew near and soon it would be Christmas time. By that time he thought he would have saved enough pocket money to buy a new Nativity Set that he would go and see every time he went to the near-by market town. He hoped nobody would buy it before he got there.

Two weeks before Christmas the boy told his mother that he would like to open his piggy bank and count the amount the small coins he had saved, so that he could go and buy the Nativity piece set. So one day he collected whatever he had and headed to the market town along with his mother to buy the set from the shop where he had seen the crib set.

"That's the shop", he told his mother, pointing to the shop as soon as he reached the shopping street. "I’ve seen it in their showcase that last time I was here", said the boy. "It’s a lovely piece, come on mother, hurry", he said, leading the way and tugging at his mother's hand.

He looked into the shop window and to his great grief the set was not there. The boy’s heart sank. They went in and enquired. It had already been sold. So they requested the man in the shop behind the cash counter to show them another set if he had. “See over there," the man said looking over his bifocals, pointing his finger to a shelf on far side of his shop. The boy turned and saw in the direction the man pointed. There it was, a set better than the one had seen before. Happily, he asked the price. Sadly, it was expensive. It was not something he could afford. "We will go to another shop and see" the boy's mother said. The boy was silent. The second shop did not have any either that suited to his little collected savings. "We will see another set in another place", his mother said.

After shopping around in the market place for groceries they returned home, but without the Nativity set.

Soon it was Christmas Eve. The whole crib was ready and lots of people from the village would come to see it after the mid-night mass. But he did not have any nativity pieces to place inside and around the crib.

Then a brilliant idea flashed past the boy's mind. Why not make a figure in the form of Baby Jesus in a cradle with outstretched hands like the one he had seen in the various Christmas cards he received the previous year. Good idea! he said to himself. But where's the clay? Too late for clay.

The boy's mother was busy in the kitchen making some last minute sweets from kneaded flour. Why not use flour instead of clay, he thought. So he asked his mother for some kneaded dough and started to make a rough form, and then slowly handcrafted a form of Baby Jesus which he himself could not believe that it turned out so well. He then let it dry and painted it and placed it inside the crib. He switched on the crib lights and there it was.

The boy joined the village folks who walked to the church to attend the midnight Mass with lanterns in their hands. Walking home after the service they sang many songs and carols. People from the village came to see his crib as usual after the midnight Mass. No one else knew his little secret about Baby Jesus in the crib except his mother. After another singing session along with the other boys and girls from the neighbourhood, the lad finally went to sleep.

As soon as he woke up the next morning the first thing he did was to see the Crib and found that 'Baby Jesus' was missing from there. He was puzzled. Did somebody steal it? Was there somebody else like himself who needed it so badly?

The puzzle was finally solved when he found out that the real culprit was the pet cat in the house. The boy decided to make another one and placed inside the crib.

A few hours later the cat was caught "red-pawed" trying to take it away the second time. So finally the third time he decided to craft one out of real clay. And uses it every year to this day.

And I know this story is true. I was that boy.
Excerpted from my book: Goa - Memories of My Homeland

Tony Fernandes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Flanders Fields

This is one of my favourite poems

by Lt.Col. John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

World War I - Ypres, Municipality in Flanders, Belgium.

In the poem by John McCrae 'In Flanders Fields' poppies are referred to, but why poppies?
The answer is simple: poppies only flower in rooted up soil. Their seeds can lie on the ground for years and years. They will sprout only when someone roots up the ground. Battlefields during the war, churned up the soil while dead soldiers laid on the ground and the poppies blossomed.
Canadian Lieutenant Col. John Alexander McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario. Poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the battle of Ypres, he is best known for writing the above war memorial poem.
Remembering the War Dead everywhere.
Lest we forget.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Yes, we are still in Mapusa, but today we are just still dreaming of the good old days. Peaceful, with its unique charm, and rustic ways of yesteryear. This picture was taken from the first floor of the historic Camara Municipal de Bardez building, but today in our dreams we are facing south-west. In the foreground is the old praça - stand for taxis plying on north-east routes of Goa, namely Tivim, Colvale and Bicholim. Just a little behind the taxi-stand is the beginning of the winding road that proceeds to Nossa Senhora de Milagres Church, Suisse Chapel, Reis de Costa Photographers, Bairao Hall, Bairao Hardware and the line of Coffin-Makers. The buidling that housed the once famous Institute Saldanha, Cosme Mathias Menezes and Bhobe's Shop and other merchants are visible below the praça. In the fifties Dentist Germano, who lived in Guirim, had his clinic there. The street very next to the left of the building leads to the once beautiful market place designed and built in the late fifties. Now totally in shambles, it is barely recognizable from its former pristine glory.

Visible in the distance are the verdant hills of Verla on the right, and Saligao in the centre. The attached picture is scanned from an original photographic print taken in 1976.

Year : 1976 (the date can be clearly seen on the left side of white-bordered prints of that era. Printed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Camera: Asahi Pentax Model S1a, fully manual camera with screw-type interchangeable lenses.

Lens: Pentax f2 55mm standard lens

Film : Kodak 35mm 100 ASA

Print: Kodak

This picture is scanned from an original print. Tony Fernandes

‘Sonhos de Mapuça Antiga’ – Dreams of Old Mapuça

Monday, October 20, 2008


Mapusa, Tranquil No More
(Photo: 1976 : Mapusa Town Street, Bardez, North Goa, India)
During the seventies the merchant town of Mapusa in Bardez District of North Goa was a peaceful place. Demonstrations and 'bundhs' were unheard of. The traditional Friday bazaar was unique, with usual hustle and the bustle, but much less crowded than nowadays.
In sharps contrast to the old days, it is very distressing to hear what is happening now in this once peaceful town.

Today it seems as though every day is a Friday bazaar day with hawkers squatting everywhere. It is difficult to walk through without stamping on some trinket pedlar's wares.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Written by Gene Autry and Jimmy Long, 1932

Sung by : Jim Reeves
RCA LP 1961

Year of Grand Ole Opry Membership: 1955
Year in Country Music Hall of Fame: 1967

Dedicated to Daddies Everywhere

In a vine-covered shack in the mountains
Bravely fighting the battle of Time
There's a dear one who's weathered life's sorrow
It's that silver haired Daddy of mine.

If I could recall all the heartaches
Dear old Daddy, I've caused you to bear
If I could erase those lines from your face
And bring back the gold to your hair.

If God would but grant me the power
Just to turn back the pages of Time
I'd give all I own if I could but atone
To that silver haired Daddy of mine.

I know it's too late, dear old Daddy
To repay for the heartaches and care
But dear Mother is waiting in Heaven
Just to comfort and solace you there.

If I could recall all the heartaches
Dear old Daddy, I've caused you to bear
If I could erase those lines from your face
And bring back the gold to your hair.

If God would but grant me the power
Just to turn back the pages of Time
I'd give all I own if I could but atone
To that silver haired Daddy of mine.

All Photographs in Video Adaptation
by Tony Fernandes
Please press play and turn up the volume

Monday, October 13, 2008


Together someday we will all surely share
in the joy of eternal bliss......

Beyond the Sunset

Words by Virgil P. Brock
Music by Blanche Kerr Brock © Word Music, Inc.
Sung by: Mary Jo Stafford & Gordon MacRae

Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning,
When with our Savior heav'n is begun;
Earth's toiling ended, O glorious dawning,
Beyond the sunset when day is done.

Beyond the sunset, no clouds will gather,
No storms will threaten, no fears annoy;
O day of gladness, O day unending,
Beyond the sunset eternal joy!

Beyond the sunset, a hand will guide me
To God the Father whom I adore;
His glorious presence, His words of welcome,
Will be my portion on that fair shore.

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion,
With our dear loved ones who've gone before;
In that fair homeland we'll know no parting,
Beyond the sunset forever more!

Main Picture: Sunset at Fisher Lake.
Near Kearney, Ontario.
Photograph by: Tony Fernandes
Farewell, Mr. Erasmus Viegas
on behalf of all the family members, relatives and friends
(please click on play and turn up the volume)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


2 June 1927 - 11 October 2008

His wit, his wisdom and his voice.

It is with great sadness that I learned about the passing away of Mr. Erasmus Viegas.

My first meeting with this truly great man was in 1973 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he happened to visit the offices where I worked. From then on we were good friends - I met him often at parties, heard his flawless tenor voice, laughed at the gut-shattering humour in his jokes and often took his advice in many matters. A great man himself, he hardly took any credit for his good deeds, but instead showered praises on the young and old alike including myself which I did not probably deserve more than he did for his exemplary life.

What is touching me most is that he passed away clutching my book "Goa - Memories of My Homeland", which I had presented to him two years ago, in his hands. Though far away from his homeland, yet perhaps so near, through the poems and stories about Goa, its culture and folklore, which he must have kept close to his heart.

I would like to express my deep sorrow and convey my sympathies to his loving family.

The verses below have been excerpted from my book which, as a tribute, I dedicate to this truly great and wonderful man.
Summarizing our own mortality while we grieve for our loved ones, at such times we comfort those who have lost theirs, but have to contend with the fact that we might leave others to grieve for us when our days on earth are done.


When the final summons
Beckons at my door
To leave for another shore
I know it’s God’s call I can’t ignore.

It will be my life’s journey’s end,
Sudden and abrupt
Unannounced and undecided
I will have to leave in haste.

This departure I cannot
Adjourn, defer or halt
No luggage to cart
No time to prepare
Or say good-bye
Before I acknowledge
My final roll call.

Today I lament for loved ones
That I have lost long ago
But in turn will have to obey God’s command
When I have served my tenure and
And my time on earth is done.

Let me therefore do good,
Pardon my friend or foe
For it may be too late to do so
When God knocks on my door
And I am unable to look back
I have got to go.

When I am gone
My friends and family
May in turn
Grieve in pain and sorrow
And remorse so deep
So help me God to be good to others today
In what ever I do or say
So that I may be remembered
when the chapel bells toll tomorrow.

From up above I will only silently see
Unable to communicate or respond
Direct , guide or tell
But perhaps I could only wish
And hope there is at least one good thing
That I will be remembered by
If at all.

Mr. Erasmus Viegas, we will miss you.

Tony Fernandes
Remembering Mr. Erasmus Viegas
Circa 1983 - Sharjah - UAE
It was Yuletide. We had Erasmus & Olivia Viegas over at our place in Sharjah, U.A.E. At that time I was a beginner on the Yamaha Electone Organ. Mr. Viegas asked me whether I could play 'One Day at a Time' - one of his favourites. I said I'd try and I did play. When I had finished, he said: "That's wonderful". It was far from being perfectly played, because I knew I must have made more than a dozen errors. But then, that was his way of encouraging others.
Year 2007 - Ajax - Ontario, Canada (24 years later)
Mr. Viegas telephoned personally to invite Edna and myself well in advance to celebrate his 80th Birthday. As a modest surprise I thought I'd play for him his favourite song 'Love is a many-splendored thing' on the violin. So I started to practice in right earnest well in advance. And I did manage somehow to play it for him on his birthday. My rendition might have had plenty of flaws - the melody was too huge for a novice only 3 years into learning the violin. When I had finished, he said: "That's wonderful". Even though I must not have done justice to his favourite song there was encouragement from him once again.
'Love is a many-splendored thing' was his best song that I loved - a timeless classic among his other hits of all time. No tune was tough for him to sing. He sang them like a breeze, hitting the crescendos that shook the walls of many halls without the necessity of a microphone. Incidentally, the song has an arrangement of 22 chords and 67 sequential chord changes. 'Ave Maria" and 'Jezebel' that he sang equally well, must rank next up there in the charts in the heavens.
For Mr. Erasmus Viegas - Love for singing, and life for giving were really a many-splendored thing.
Tony Fernandes

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vintage Cars in Goa

Vintage Cars in Goa

Vintage Cars have always been of interest to me ever since I was a kid. I would stop in my tracks if I ever came across these fine gems of yesteryear just to watch them pass by. Eventually time passed by and I finally owned camera. Added with my general interest in photography, it let me have the benefit of having at least a picture of these taken, if not own one.

During my annual vacations to Goa in the sixties and seventies, I often visited my relatives who lived far away. It was during one of such enjoyable trips when I travelled through the countryside that I came upon these cars in the market place or far away in distant districts where my relatives lived. Sometimes when I spotted them on the way, I would request the driver to stop, and after having immediately slowed down and eventually coming to a halt I would shoot and proceed on my way. Photographing these really made my day. Some old ruins of ancestral Goan homes provided a perfect setting.

The photograph of the Austin shown above was taken by me in 1976 at Mapusa. I often saw it parked then at the Praça, opposite the petrol station.

Tony Fernandes

Camera: Asahi Pentax S1a, with f2.0 55mm standard lens
Film & Print: Kodak
This picture is scanned from an original print.
© Tony Fernandes
4th October 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Margao, Goa. India. 1964
Picture by Tony Fernandes
(Guirim, Cumbiem Morod, Bardez, Goa - India)

This picture is converted from an original Kodachrome slide, lying dormant for so many years among the other pictures in my collection of slides of that era. So to bring it back to life on the computer I used my old Asahi Pentax close-up lenses with Hansa bellows slide-copier coupled with Nikon D401X Digital Camera. And voila! I thought now we are getting somewhere, although the result is not super, I guess it will be acceptable, considering the numbers of years that have passed by, being stored in its immediately identifiable Kodachrome trademark yellow box and a transparent lid of that time!

The attributes of the picture worth noting without a doubt are the obvious ones: the clean Margao streets, the good old Caminhao is seen in the distance, Volkswagen Beetles, left over from the years prior to 1961 from the Portuguese era, are seen in front of the imposing building that bears a sign that reads: THE GOA STATE COOPERATIVE BANK, upon a close macro view of the original slide.

Generally, in the overall picture very few people seem to be out on the streets. No hustle and bustle. Everything appears to be calm, simple, rustic and no one seems to be in any apparent hurry as is evident in the leisurely walk of the 2 guys in the foreground. In the bottom left of the picture I surmise that it may be a short-trousered Goan perhaps, befriending someone in a 'lungi' for the first time on the streets of Margao.

Barely three years into the Indian take-over of Goa, when the photo was taken, it seems the 'lungiwalla' has already made his initial foray into looking at business opportunities or possibly in his earnest interest in looking out for a job!

The lone cyclist also seems to have his way – he is riding right in the centre of the road, which is unimaginable and simply not possible today.

It seems that the Caminhao is empty. Were the passengers on strike? I wonder.

See the 'Glycodin' for cough hoarding in the back ground below the hill and the 'No horn please' sign in the foreground? Simple, rural and rustic charm.
Kodachrome colour reversal film from Eastman Kodak was a process-paid film available in the 1960’s in Indian sub-continent and in the Middle Eastern countries. During my years in Goa and Bombay, I sent my film to the Bombay Film Laboratories at Dadar in Bombay for processing in slides; and when I worked in Dubai, I sent them to Hemel Hempsted Labs in the United Kingdom. In later years I got the slides developed at the United Film Laboratories in Ajman, U.A.E.

The trend of colour slides declined over the years, and finally disappeared from the scene.

The added joy of taking pictures using colour slide films was that one could have a slide show for family and friends to watch at home by using a 35mm film slide projector. Thus one could not only have personal projection of slides at a evening get-together with family and friends, but could also have prints made from the slides as well if required. Though the cost of making this choice was expensive, it was fun as a hobby. The reason behind this extra expense was due to the fact that the colour labs had to first make a negative from the dia-positive slide, and then make a colour print from the negative.

The advantage of using slide film was the clarity, a balanced skin tone and general fine picture quality. The benefit of using medium speed 35mm 64ASA was less grain, resulting in exceptionally sharp pictures.

Tony Fernandes
Guirim, Cumbiem Morod,
Bardez, Goa - India

Monday, October 06, 2008



Now let's go to Mapusa! Let go to the fish market, and the great Friday Mapusa Bazaar of once upon a time!

The attached picture is scanned from an original photographic print that was taken from the first floor of the Camara Municipal de Bardez Offices in Mapusa in 1976. The view shows the road up the steep slope of Mapusa, Altinho, proceeding towards Duler. The steep incline posed a real challenge for a cyclist to make it to the top without alighting. My bicycle had no gears.

My friend and I often competed when we used to go to watch football matches in Duler. And once we got to the top it was a great feeling to just let go of the brakes and enjoy the cool breeze blow in your face. Very often I thought about the good old saying "Dukh kaddlear, sukh meuta" which was very applicable and true in this case.

On the right of the picture are the offices of the erstwhile Banco Nacional Ultramarino, later State Bank of India. Further up to the right is the building where the famous Kamat Studio was located.

On the left of the road going up (opposite Kamat) was Registo Civil of the Portuguese era and even later. The offices have now been moved to a dreadful place, a poorly maintained building, where all the old hand scripted record books and registers are simply going haywire. These old manuscripts are not stored properly and before any action is taken these important data will be lost forever.

Year : 1976 (the date can be clearly seen on the left side of white-bordered prints of that era. Printed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Camera: Asahi Pentax, with f2.0 50mm standard lens.
Film & Print: Kodak
This picture is scanned from an original print.
© Tony Fernandes

Friday, October 03, 2008


Photograph by: Tony

View from the Causeway
Ponte de Linhares
Entering Panjim from Ribandar and Goa Velha

Photo by Tony Fernandes, May 1972
converted from Kodachrome Transparency

As one can see in the picture this bridge had many supporting spans,
but unfortunately it was one that had a very short life span.
A Bridge No More

“Ajeeb hai he Goa ke bridge”. Equally more “ajeeb hai contract award karnewale aur bridge bannewale”.

          The foundation stone of the first bridge over the River Mandovi was laid by the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. This bridge, called Nehru Bridge was completed in 1970. The waters of the Mandovi were lucky but just for a few years to pass underneath it. This bridge collapsed in 1986. The concrete spans did not mysteriously take a dive in the Mandovi; in fact it was primarily due to a faulty design and lack of maintenance work.

          Having taken 9 nine years to complete and another equal number of years till the pile-drivers found bedrock to give the bridge a footing, the teenage generation of that period that I belonged to patiently watched the seemingly slow process of its construction, seeing the bridge pylons from a distance while crossing the Mandovi river on the ferry between Betim and Panjim. It was not completed till I was in my early twenties when I had started working in Bombay and then in the Arabian Gulf.

          While I watched this bridge being built, it always gave me the impression that everything that went around the construction area seemed to be at a stand-still. I waited in vain for many years. On every vacation to Goa I said to myself: “You know, Tony, you are going to take the taxi straight home over that bridge the next time you come down to Goa”. The next time did come though, but not soon enough. It came many years later after an endless waiting period. And before I was in my forties, that ‘ajeeb’ bridge collapsed. And for many years again, we had no bridge. And the scenery around that area was not looking good either.

          Indeed ‘Ajeeb hai Goa ke bridge’ but not its people. Today people from other parts of India and from all over the world flock to this enchanting place lured by its fascinating beauty. It remains as a favourite tourist destination to many, and almost everybody I meet nowadays seems to wish to buy property there.

Tony Fernandes

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Major Days of the Morris Minor,
the Doctor, my Bicycle and ME.

As I grew up in Goa during the 1950’s and 1960’s it was quite common to see American and European cars on the roads then. Although no one in my family owned a car, I was very happy to receive an occasional ride in a Morris Minor that belonged to our family physician.

On a side note, I was happy with a new adult-size bicycle that my father gave me. (By the way, I think it was as though even the bicycle was bought keeping in mind the usual 'vaddtea angar'* principle that prevails until today (*literal meaning: for the growing body) to benefit a fast growing body of a teenager!). 
My bicycle played its part alongside the Morris Minor.

The Morris was quite a popular car among other 'foreign' cars in those days - fine medium-sized piece of English automotive engineering of that era. They were seen in many colours: black, dark blue, grey or white, and were mainly privately owned by landlords, doctors, lawyers and merchants.

As a young lad I ran errands for many households in the village other than my own. One of these errands, on many occasions, was to fetch a doctor to the village in an emergency. Sometimes I would be summoned by a neighbour at a short notice for a quick brief: name of the town, name of the doctor, street address and directions, not forgetting to let the doctor know that’s it is urgent and that he has to come as soon as he possibly can.

One of these doctors who often visited our village had a clinic in the town of Mapusa, Bardez - a district in North Goa - a distance of about 2 km from our village. And, of course, he happened to own one of these fine cars of yesteryear – the ‘Mighty’ Morris Minor of yesteryear.

Having made it to the doctor’s clinic on my bicycle, the first thing I would do was to make sure I locked my bike. Then briefly speaking to the nurse with a request for the doctor’s visit, I would wait outside for the doctor to conclude examinations of his remaining patients in the clinic, if there were any. Leaving my cycle there after making sure that I locked it, I would ride along with the doctor giving him the directions.

It was customary in those days for the errand runner to carry the doctor’s medical kit bag as a courtesy, walking and leading the way from the car to the patient's house, and I must say I humbly did my duty. As for me, it was a great experience doing that. For a brief 3 minutes’ walk to the house, from the winding road that ran through the village, I felt as if I was actually the doctor. I momentarily also got carried away in my thoughts: “Some day if I ever decide to be a doctor, then someone else will have to carry this bag” I thought.

After examining and having been convinced he had successfully diagnosed the illness of ‘The Goan Patient’ the following is what the doctor would usually say to the folks of the household in Konkani: “Binaka re. Tum zatlo boro. Rexeth boroun ditam. Hem vokot, hea burgeak Mapusa thaun porot hetanam, adduni. Ani koxem dista tem porot maka faleam gomon dilea puro.’ (Here a translation of what the doctor said: ‘Don’t worry. You will get alright. I’m writing a prescription. Tell this lad to buy this medicine on his way back from Mapusa. And tomorrow let me know how you feel.’)

Having said this, the doctor put the sphygmomanometer and stethoscope back into the bag, washed his hands with new soap set aside solely for his use on the window sill while I poured water on his hands. The doctor smiled and wiped his hands on the clean towel. Suddenly my thoughts wandered off, thinking as though I was in the village chapel doing the duties of an altar boy before coming back to reality.

As a courtesy the doctor then asked about the general health of the rest of the family members before heading for the door. Simultaneously, it was time for me to pick up the doctor’s bag and accompany him to the Morris car. Meanwhile he was kind in inquiring as to how I was doing in school.

After getting a 'jolly good ride' in the well-kept 'Morris Minor' to the doctor's clinic, I would unlock my bicycle and quickly pedal to the pharmacy and hand over the prescription to the pharmacist (a.k.a. 'compounder'). I would wait till the medicine was ready, and watch him cut out notches that indicated the doses on a strip of paper and paste it on the side of the bottle.

Sometimes, along with the benefit of enjoying a ride in the doctor’s Morris Minor in running this errand, there was also a major reward for me in accomplishing this task. A cold drink or a ‘falooda’, sometimes tea and patties or a 'limboo-soda' (fresh lemonade) in the interim period while the medicines got ready. Then I happily hurried back to my village on my bike, reaching home safely with the medicine bottle intact, at times just before sun-down. Wishing the patient a quick recovery, brought to an end yet one more major day for the Morris Minor, the Doctor, my bicycle and me.

Tony Fernandes

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bombay to Goa - The Little Odyssey

Panjim Jetty


Bombay (now Mumbai) has been a second home to many Goans who have lived and worked there for generations. Nevertheless, they have not lost touch or their love for Goa. During the months of April and May, entire families will flock to Goa for their annual summer holiday along with their kids, soon after school final examinations. These two months have traditionally been the most enjoyable months, full of fun and frolic for everyone. The purpose of visits are many-fold; some of them are to get away from city life, holiday for parents and the kids, while other reasons are to carry out necessary repairs to ancestral homes and visit their loved ones. In the old days, many of us looked forward for such holidays. It would be an unforgettable experience. For most people the modes of transport to travel for this holiday was by steamer and bus, and to some by rail and air. Of all these, traveling by ship was the most popular and full of excitement. It was as though one large Goan family of more than five hundred members traveled for one mega holiday to one common destination: GOA. Here is my own experience.

It was the month of February
Not losing count of any single day
In quite a hurry
I seemed to be;
Thoughts of getting away
From life in the city
Of bright lights
Bus, tramcar and train
Far away from the hustle
And bustle of Churchgate,
Fort and Flora Fountain.

Endless waiting
Thoughts of school days
And final term examinations
Seemed never ending;
Memories of mangoes
Jack fruit and cashew apples
Were in the offing
Their aroma I imagined
And was for a while lost
In far away thoughts
And awakened by the sudden screech
Of a rain speeding.

“Just one more month, son”
Mum and Dad seemed to comfort;
Dad has his suitcase
And holdall at the ready;
Mum has been shopping
For summer wear
At the local market fair.

Tickets are booked
Dad has made sure of that
“We will be going by steamer” he said.
“Aunty Pam and kids will join us too”
Said Mum in the summer
of nineteen seventy-two.

The day to leave for Goa
Has finally arrived
The Ambassador taxi
Is waiting down by the kerb-side;
Off to Ballard Pier before dawn we head
And on board our place we finally get.

The steamer’s deck is full;
There seems to be quite a din,
Each in their own place,
The great journey is about to begin,
The ship sounds its siren,
With a mighty roar
As it lift its anchor.

There’s slight rumble on deck
As tugs pulls it out to sea;
In the distance
The majestic grandeur
And awesome structure
Of this landmark
Gateway of India
Grew smaller and smaller.

Soon we head south
Along the hazy coast on our left,
On the right we see the huge expanse
Of the Arabian Sea;
While for some at the start
Of the twenty-four hour journey
Seems to be to quite dizzy,
Slight pitching of the ship
Only a short-lived agony;
Others are quite at ease and jolly
Perhaps having traveled
So many times before
That they lost count
In their memory.

It is midday out at Sea
Ship’s canteen is busy;
Gathered on the aft deck
It’s a hot summer’s day
A bunch of teenagers
Have already got started
With their guitars tuned;
Joined in shortly with some new friends
They have a go with the first round
It’s the beginning of our summer holiday
With the popular hits of the times
Of Cliff Richard and the Shadows
Bachelor Boy and Young Ones.

Its evening
With breeze from the south-west
There is a slight lull on deck;
The ocean’s waves are high
It seems the ship’s constant roll
Had its toll
For many are now relaxed
After a short snooze.

Silhouettes of seagulls at sunset
Formed flying patterns,
As the passing ship heading north
On our starboard side
Seemed to bellow
With its siren a huge hello;
Promptly acknowledged
By our ship that woke up
Many a tired fellow.

It was supper time
The silvery moon
Seemed to smile
With its reflection
On the starboard side
Leaning on the rail
We took it all in
And young men sang
Lilting melodies of moon songs
As we sailed along in the splendid night.

Astern the moon lit up
A white trail of surf in its wake;
Aft deck above the horizon
The Pole Star
Posed as a direction finder
Amidst the seven bright stars
Spanning the northern skies
In the mighty constellation
Of the Great Bear.

Fishing line cast out into the sea
A lone sailor
Joined us later
As he stared into the dark horizon
And before everyone fell asleep
Narrated mariner’s stories,
Great travel adventures and life at sea.

Dreams on the upper deck that night were plenty
If fact a huge string of them,
Happy and lengthy;
Thoughts of Calangute,
Colva and Miramar beach
Friday Mapusa Bazaar;
Visits to Goa Velha
And Dona Paula.

After a marathon journey and a long night
The sun seemed to be in no hurry to rise,
The landscape seemed familiar
Something I have seen in the years earlier
Dad pointed out to me
The distant forts of Tiracol and Chapora
And the oldest lighthouse of Asia
At Fort Aguada;
He seemed to hold court
For almost everyone on
On the ship’s portside
As we to our destination
Were getting closer .

The ship glided gently
Through the delta and sandbar
At the mouth of the Mandovi River
Edging towards the quay
Some admire the beauty
Of the city of Pangim
To our left other admire
The beauty of the hills of Betim.

Dreams will shortly turn into reality
Uncle Seby will come
To fetch us hopefully
In a reserved ‘Opel Rekord’ taxi
Taking us to our ancestral home finally
With an experience of what seemed to be
A little odyssey.