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Sunday, April 27, 2008


Ode to the Woe of a Dying Princess
Poem and drawing by Tony Fernandes
(click on picture for a larger view)

It seems paradoxical that a vessel with a name ‘River Princess’ gets so little attention while she still lies there motionless, waiting to be salvaged, after being abandoned off Candolim beach for more than half a decade. So far the government has done nothing serious enough to get it out. Fervent pleas by locals have fallen on deaf ears. The scale and magnitude of the damage to marine life, and pollution to the beach itself that could occur should this princess eventually fall apart, is unconceivable. Here’s an ode dedicated to the woe of a dying princess.


Abandoned by callous crew,
heartless owner, cruel master;
Helplessly I wander
And upon the sandy ocean floor,
I finally surrender.

An abandoned princess,
Now breathless,
Once the pride of the seas, a legend,
Here I now lie,
Weakened and orphaned.

Familiar faces of visitors every year on the beach I see
Happy folks stare at me, some with dismay, others with glee,
Tourists! Am I a butt of your jokes?
Are you laughing at me secretly?

Through no fault of my own I still languish here,
Yes, you there, I’m aware,
Did you not have more hair
When you were around here last year?

Saw you five years ago I do recall,
Seems you are having a ball,
Then you had one in tow,
Now you are back here with four,
Never mind but now you look much older though.

An old man, long ago, I must confess,
Seemed to share my distress,
Strolled everyday along the shore;
Where is he now I wonder, I see him no more.

Motionless as he stood there,
He wished me luck I could tell
With his eyes fixed in my direction
I guess he had for me a great affection.

He wished he could have me in tow
With his boat and float me offshore.
Something tells me
He must have once been a seaman
At the time he seemed frail,
Wherever he is now, I hope he’s well.


Tenders floated, pockets bloated,
Palms greased, work ceased,
Valuables plundered, hopes battered,
Money and time wasted,
Now no one is bothered.

Salvage companies: fleeced and vanished,
Negotiations, deliberations: went unabated,
World’s top holiday destination: Duh! I’m impressed!
But that a dying princess cannot be saved: I’m deeply distressed.

Tony Fernandes

Friday, April 25, 2008


Our Lady of Fatima Shrine
Monte de Guirim
Bardez - Goa - India
(Photograph by: Tony Fernandes, October 2000)
Our Lady of Fatima and the Goan connection
Many of us have our own childhood memories of devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.
Here are a few of my own.
Our Lady of Fatima is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the Queen of Peace, Love and Hope. She appeared to three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal, on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on 13 May.

The names of those children are Lucia dos Santos, cousin to brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta Marto. These are very common names in Goa. It was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years.

Also common in Goa are the names Fatima, Lucia and Francisco. Fatima was a name given to a village by the Moors who once occupied a part of Portugal.

My childhood memories often take me back to the years from 1953 to 1964. During this period the devotion to our Lady of Fatima was picking up at a rapid pace in all the parishes in Goa. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima circulated from house to house in the villages. The annual celebration and procession of devotees with candles and lanterns from Guirim church to the grotto at Monte de Guirim in the night was a sight to behold. As a young boy I accompanied my mother who made the journey to the top of the hill and still remember holding a lantern walking along with other children. Young boys and girls walked in front of the long line spiralling down the hill. Looking back at the curve around the Portuguese Aula (Escola Primaria) the variety of lanterns in the hands of the folks simply looked magnificent as we sang 'Pau Maie, Heo Maie, 'Ave Maria', 'Salve Rainha' and other hymns.

Grottos with life-size statues of Our Lady and the Three Children adorned the courtyards of many churches and still continue till today. Many homes have small grottos in their front gardens too.

The legendary Goan musician Antoninho Servitas De Souza composed the touching and beautiful hymn ‘Maie Kakutin Bhorlele’ (Mother, full of mercy) in the year 1949. This was the year when the statue of our Lady of Fatima was brought to Goa from Portugal. This timeless classic hymn in Konkani (language of the people of Goa) dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima is still sung at the slightest chance or suggestion, at feasts and otherwise, in churches, chapels and at Litanies that are commonly held in the chapels and homes in Goa. The melodic hymn is probably still sung at Goan occasions or institutions all over the world. Here below is the first verse and chorus:

Maie kakutin bhorlele
Rannie sorga sounsarache
Sodanch amchea mogan laslele
Sandumnakaim Maie mogache

Ch: Pau Maie, heo Maie
Ghe amkam tujea gopant
Pau Maie, heo Maie
Ghe amkam tujea gopant

The Fatima - Goa connection and devotion is still going strong as it has done in the past. The following events chronicled by the World Apostolate of Fatima bear testimony to the fact. These are a few, but valid indications that the devotion to Our of Fatima has continued since a long time.

1949 - Statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought to Goa from Portugal.

Oct 11, 1954 - Rev. Fr. Servulo de Piedade introduces the Blue Army in Goa.

Oct.27-29, 1978 - The 4th All India Blue Army Marian Congress held in Goa.

From 1954 to 1993 - The Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima visited Goa 6 times.

May 16-18, 1986 - All India Fatima Apostolate Meet held in Pilar Seminary, Goa.
October 1992 - February 1993 - Visit to Goa of the Pilgrim Statue of Fatima. During these four months, the statue toured many Parishes and Institutions in Goa and stirred up tremendous religious farewell –Eucharistic and Marian- as Muslims, Hindus and Catholics gave the common Mother and Queen a truly Royal welcome. In one such very stirring and poignant journey of the statue was, I am told, when people from the Catholic and Hindu communities stood on both sides of the streets, adorned their houses with coloured string-lights, lit candles and lamps along the streets of Parra leading up to the Church of St. Anne that has a shrine dedicated in honour of Our Lady of Fatima.

November 13, 1997 - Goa takes over as the National Centre of India of the World Apostolate of Fatima.

May 13, 1999 - Bishop Emeritus of Belgaum, together with 10 priests and around 500 faithful participate in a day long Seminar at Don Bosco’s, Panjim, Goa.

May 1, 2002 - President of the World Apostolate of Fatima (India), Archbishop Henry D'Souza (Emeritus Arch-Bishop of Calcutta) presides at the 3rd National Council Meet held in Goa.

May 2-3, 2000 - The First ever National Council Meet of the W.A.F. (World Apostolate of Fatima) was held in Goa.

May 1, 2002 - The 3rd National General Body meeting of the W.A.F. India was held in Goa.

May 13, 2002 - FATIMA DAY - The 85th Anniversary of the 1st Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima was commemorated at Institute Piedade, Panjim.

The Blue Army
According to the World Apostolate of Fatima, Washington, New Jersey, USA, the Blue Army is a worldwide movement of the faithful, responding to the requests that Our Blessed Mother made to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, to help save souls and bring peace to the world. It promotes Eucharistic prayer and the Rosary, as well as penance, especially the generous acceptance of the duties of our state in life.

International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
This is a world-famous statue that continuously circles the globe. It was sculpted by Jose Thedim, in the year 1947. The look of the Virgin Mary towards the heavens in prayer is depicted in the statue based on the description of Sr. Lucia, one of the three young holy children who saw Our Lady each month from May to October 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.

On October 13, 1947, the statue was blessed in the presence of over 150,000 pilgrims by the Bishop of Leiria at Fatima, Portugal, to be the pilgrim, the traveler of love, hope and peace, to the entire world.

Thursday, April 10, 2008



Poem by: Tony Fernandes
On my journeys the world over
I meet and speak to people about Goa,
At the slightest chance I sing praises
About our traditions and culture;
About our mando and durpod,
Zothi and grandma’s stories,
Endlessly I chatter;
Have they now heard about Scarlett?
I mean the crime or whatever, not the fever,
If so, what will I tell them now?

On my travels I show pictures of Goa
to people I meet
and a childhood picture of myself
standing in front of the chapel I carry.
Of our sun-drenched beaches,
white-washed churches,
And way-side crosses,
mosques, temples and green fields,
In words a picture I paint
of Shigmo and Carnival parades
that to visitors provide an exciting treat;
Incessantly I rant about our bazaars and feasts;
Have they now seen the pictures of faeces
Along the rivers and beaches? I wonder
Then what will I tell them now?

On my voyages to various distant shores,
In our ancestral proverbs I relate about the wit;
I harp about dedicated warmth in our pleasant welcome;
Proudly I insist that peace is our emblem;
That in harmony we dwell with no problem;
Have they heard about the priest being beaten? I wonder,
Tell me then, what will I tell them now?

Often my colleagues are held spellbound and awestruck,
“Sounds like a fascinating place” they often say,
Declares another: “I must go there on a holiday”,
“I am sure you will love it,
you will surely enjoy your stay” I firmly say,
“I was there some years ago” asserts another,
Have they seen the concrete jungles
that now mar the countryside?
I wonder, But what will I tell them now?

Performing like an ambassador
at the slightest option,
My friends to rapt attention
I hold with a history lesson;
Boasting about our land I depict
a picture of the lone farmer
In the fields with his plough,
Of fishermen braving rough seas,
hoping for an ample catch
And along the unspoiled seashore
pulling in the nets at dusk;
Have they seen the brazen,
belligerent, paunchy Russians
That roam the beaches now?
Perhaps not, I wonder what will I tell them now?

Latest events have inflicted on her a huge blow,
Left a scar on her brow,
White sands are now stained red,
My land once perfect and pure,
Unblemished and untouched;
Has now been tainted and corrupted,
Hatred in society has permeated,
My heart is torn, my pride is worn,
A guilty feeling I bear,
of myself to blame,
How will I face my new and old friends?
What will I tell them now?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It's Spring time again - the flowers will soon bloom

Tired of the long winter? Don't worry Spring is already here, and contrary to earlier rumours Summer has not been cancelled. It is still on the way.

Soon all the snow and ice will thaw, flowers will bloom and grass will grow; nature will be ours again and we will take lots more pictures of flowers; barbeques in our backyards will once again thrive and folks will throng the parks with family and friends on picnics or head out to the Cottage Country as Spring turns into Summer.