Picturesque Goa

Picturesque Goa
NOSTALGIA - Articles,Poems & Photos

TONFERNS CREATIONS

TONFERNS CREATIONS
TONFERNS CREATIONS - Tony's Art & Hobbies

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Maritimes

'The Maritimes'
Near Magnetic Hill, City of Moncton
New Brunswick
Canada

Wood-burning
Pyrography drawing
by Tony Fernandes

Encouraged by the success of my first 'wood-burning' I proceeded to do my next project above. I am not sure how many strokes of the pyrographic pen were involved, but they must definitely be in thousands!

From the beautiful hills of Fujeirah, United Arab Emirates, we move on to the serene beauty of the Maritimes in far away Canada, where once again, it was a pleasant trip for my wife and myself, sponsored by our 3 children.

The above pyrographic pen drawing is burnt into a bass wood block size 13" x 9". From a picture taken on our enjoyable trip to the amazing and mind-boggling 'Magnetic Hill' in the city of Moncton, New Brunswick, the Maritimes, where we had a merry time indeed!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

THE FUJEIRAH TREE - A Pyrographic Drawing

'The Fujeirah Tree'
Wood-burning
by Tony Fernandes

In fact I am new to this art. This is my first 'Woodburning' drawing done with a 'pyrographic' pen - a very kind and thoughtful gift from my three children on 'Father's Day', 21st June, 2009. Having received it in the mail, I immediately put it to the test. After a few initial strokes I got to 'wood-burn' some scenes on a scrap piece of wood. And then by the third day I had already successfully 'pyrographed' the above drawing.

I have always been fascinated by silhouettes of trees. And photographing the forlorn acacia trees of Fujeirah (U.A.E.) were no exception, especially against a backdrop of the spectacular Hajjar mountains. This first project was inspired by the encouragement from my youngest daughter, after browsing through the photographs of these trees that I had taken a long time ago. My children were very young then. In those wonderful days we drove to picturesque Fujeirah (East coast of the U.A.E.) on enjoyable picnics more than 140 kilometres from Sharjah.

The size of the end-grain wood block (bass wood) is 13 x 9 inches approx. and the drawing is burnt into the wood using a single standard supplied pen. Various shaped tips and pens are available for achieving different textures, contours and designs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

FATHER'S DAY


THE TOY SOLDIER

Article and drawing by Tony Fernandes
Once upon a time there lived a little boy in a small village with his mother. His father worked very far away and wrote home every month on a regular basis. "My father will return home some day", the boy thought, as he longed to see him. He looked at his dad's photograph everyday on his study table, a picture that was probably taken many years ago.

Then one late afternoon the postman came along with a letter from his father. The letter was addressed to his mother. He noticed there was a smile on her mother's face as she read the letter....it was a letter letting mother know of his arrival date. The little boy’s joy knew no bounds when she told that his father was due to arrive in a few days.

It was one fine day in mid-April. In the distance he saw him trudging along his suitcase with a bag slung over his shoulder. Smiling away he ran towards him. His father put his suitcase down, lifted, hugged and kissed the boy, who noticed a tear running down his father’s cheek. Wait till I tell mother about this, only children cry, he reflected. By then a neighbour had already hurried and reached up to them as well and helped his father with his suitcase.

Lifting his son and carrying him in the crook of his arm, and holding the bag with the other, he started to walk on the pathway leading towards their house. In the meantime his mother was on her way to greet him. He noticed his mother wiping a tear away too. “Why is everybody crying” the boy thought to himself, “when today is the happiest day of my life.”

“You have grown so big” his father said to the boy, who slid down as he stepped into the balcão. He sat down on the wooden bench while he laid the bag on the ground, wiping the sweat off his face with his handkerchief. Or were they again tears too, the boy wondered!

In the meantime, some of the neighbours had gathered to meet his father. Almost everyone went on to ask him something or the other. “How was the journey?” “Was the sea very rough?” “Will you be here with us for two months at least, Uncle?” “Why was the steamer delayed?”

The boy’s mother then lifted the suitcase to haul it inside while the rest continued talking outside in the small balcão of their house. Seeing her trying to lift the luggage, a village youth instantly ran to help her, saying: "Leave it to me, Aunty, I will take it inside. Just let me know where I should place it".

“We will go to the ‘praia’ today,” somebody suggested from the group of village folks who had assembled there in the courtyard. “Yes, yes, we must go to the sea-shore, uncle, you must come with us” said another. “Uncle is very tired and fatigued from the journey, let him rest today, we will go to the beach tomorrow or some other day” said an elderly man. And invariably they all agreed. The little boy did not say anything as he foresaw this was a good opportunity to have some time alone with his Dad.

Fun-filled days, that the boy had so anxiously looked forward to, would now follow, he thought. There would be many happy days ahead for him and for everyone else in the village. And other folks in his small village hoped the same too; a father, a husband or relative who would arrive in the following week or two to spend their holidays with their families. The entire village would then be vibrant and filled with joy. He had a lot of things to look forward to: picnics, weddings, litanies in homes and in village chapels, litanies at the crosses by the trodden paths through the fields and at the road-side crosses too. As darkness fell, during some evenings shortly after the Angelus prayers the young folks got together singing mando, durpod and all the popular hits in Konkani, Portuguese and English.

But soon those happy days would end too. Soon his father would have to leave and sail again to return to his job. The boy immediately tried to cast these thoughts away from his mind. But they kept on coming back to him. "My father has just arrived, but why am I thinking about this, there are lot of good times I have to think about", the little boy thought, sitting alone quietly in a corner with tears in his eyes.

But he soon realized that the holidays seemed to have passed by so quickly. Finally the day had come, a day that was so different from the one when his father arrived two months before. This was a sad day - this was the day when the ship set sail. The taxi driver from the adjoining village had come to fetch them early in the morning. The boy, his mother and a fellow village couple, who had always been their best friends, accompanied his father to the pier by the riverside of the capital city to bid him adieu. Looking into his father’s eyes he had sensed his reluctance to board. But his departure was inevitable and soon the hugs and kisses were brought to a halt with the booming siren of the ship.

The time had finally come for his father to board the ship. The boy saw him looking back and waving out to him as he climbed up the ramp leading to the ship and then again from the deck as the gleaming white ship set sail. The ship started moving gradually away from the pier. He waved back continuously till the ship grew smaller and smaller in the distance. Lost in his thoughts, he felt a hand over his shoulder. Then suddenly he was startled when he heard his mother’s voice say, “Son, don’t cry, your father will come back soon.” “He cannot be with us all the time, he will return shortly”. The boy remained quiet and still kept looking towards the ship on the horizon till he could see it no more.

It was evening when they returned to the village. The house was very quiet, somber and still. It was then that the void grew more apparent. Everything in the house seemed to be at a standstill.

“When I grow big, I too will go to work and bring you lot of things” the boy told his mother just after the evening Rosary prayer before supper time, as he glanced towards the toy on the shelf his father had brought for him. It was a wooden toy soldier. He realized he had not cared much for it during the preceding hectic two months when his father was around. He was unaware of the significance of this wooden toy soldier would bear in the years to come. The evening wore on slowly and seemed endless. The church bell rang the eight o'clock nightly call for prayers. And finally after having their supper they sat in the balcao for a while. And later saying his daily night prayers the boy fell asleep.

He woke up rather early the following morning and the first thought that came to his mind was whether his father had reached Bombaim. His mother was already up preparing tea by the fireside. She was looking into the fire as she tossed small pieces of wood into the burning embers. She seemed very quiet and sad. He wondered what she might be thinking of. He saw the fire reflected in the glint of tear in her eye which saddened him. Perhaps she was also thinking about his father. Now, it was his turn to give some precious advice: “Don’t cry, mother”, the boy said. “Dad will return. He has gone to work far away, but he will certainly be back soon.”

The long shadows of the trees on clear ground in front of their house grew smaller as the sun rose. Everything seemed quite and serene around in the village. That morning sitting on the front porch, sipping his tea, the boy reflected on the previous two months when the whole village had been so vibrant.

He wondered how he could ever forget the good things he enjoyed and how much he would miss his father. He remembered that some time ago his mother had told him that his father would return home one day for good. When would that day come?

His father had taken him everywhere, visiting new places to see and explore, to the beach, to the market place every day to buy fresh fish and groceries, to his favourite restaurant in town for ice-cream, to the hills for walks, to pluck 'canttam' and 'cashew apples', to the lakes and springs for picnics, and to nearby streams for a swim. He had made for him his very own first mini 'robond'. He had also taken him fishing to the salt-water river, for football games in the nearby town, and to distant places visiting friends and relatives, by bus, taxi and ferry, all of which he had enjoyed immensely.

The boy’s father had also taken him along when he had gone to meet the Capuchin Friars at his school, nestled high up on the hill among the verdant surroundings. They had walked their way up. On their way back they had stopped to pluck ripe cashews from the trees that grew on the slopes of the hill. It had been a great fun-filled day although the climb was very tiring. They had made a brief stop at the shop down the hill for a soda, a real thirst-quencher. They had walked back home on the winding path through the picturesque village. His father greeted the people he knew along the way. He also waved out to the people who worked in the fields. "My Dad knows everybody, or so it seems" the boy had thought.

Almost lost in his thoughts, sitting there he realized that soon his summer holidays would end too, and he himself would shortly be busy with his school studies again. He would have to leave all the thoughts of the good times of fun and play behind him. As he sat there he could see his alma mater in the distance, right on the top of the hill. All the boys from his village walked up to study there. Very shortly the great times that he had enjoyed and shared with the people in his village would only perhaps be a nostalgic memory. A holiday that was filled with fun was nearing its end.

In the following years as the boy grew up, his father had come home on leave every year and brought him more toys. Similar enjoyable holidays had followed, but for years the wooden TOY SOLDIER stood silently on the shelf, like a sentinel guarding a town, occupying that space on the shelf with its fixed gaze towards the opposite wall and seemingly looking through and beyond it, into the distant hills, staring into a future he never knew, while conveying an important message.


As the boy grew older, he often reminisced about his father, and through his own uncertainties and obstacles, he found strength in the thought of the wooden toy soldier his father had given him, motionless yet hardy, strong, protective and inspiring. As he grew up, he realized that he had looked at that toy soldier more than he had played with it, perhaps in an unconscious effort to preserve it, and in turn replace the absence of his father. There were many times when he would take it down from the shelf, dust it and put it back in its apparent rightful place.

But unlike that idle wooden toy soldier on the shelf my own dad was a real life soldier. He worked hard in his life, cared, loved and did the best that he possibly could for his family. He stood tall against all odds and provided me with hope and inspiration, successfully setting an example to march on through my own.

Tony Fernandes

*Canttam*, a berry-like black-coloured local fruit found wild on Goa's hills.

*Robond*, a locally-made catapult, which children would play with in Goa, made from a v-shaped tree branch and waste automobile or cycle tubes.

*Praia*, Port. (beach)

*Mando*, *Dulpod* (Konkani Folk Songs)

*balcão*, Port. (balcony)

The above article is published in my book 'Goa - Memories of my Homeland' - Poems & Short Stories, Photographs and Illustrations. (2004)
First published: Canada 2004, Second edition: Pilar Training Institute, Goa - India.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA



ST. ANTHONY'S HIGH SCHOOL
MONTE DE GUIRIM, BARDEZ, GOA



MONTE CHRONICLES
by Tony Fernandes

FINDER OF LOST THINGS
PATRON OF SAILORS, 
TRAVELERS AND FISHERMEN


St. Anthony is the patron saint of sailors, travelers and fishermen in many countries like Portugal, Italy, France and Spain. He is also a saint of the poor, the sick, the homeless and lepers, the paralytic, the blind and the deaf. His statue is sometimes placed on the masts of ships. And of course he is well known for his miracles all over the world. Incidentally, St. Anthony was actually Portuguese and from Lisbon, and not Padua, where he died.  And by the way, St. Francis of Assisi, was an Italian Roman Catholic friar, deacon, preacher and founder of the Franciscan Order that St. Anthony belonged to.

But to us folks in Goa he is well known too, honoured and respected, petitioned for his blessings, and attributed in religion and in legend in various aspects.


Besides being the patron saint of my alma mater, the good and miraculous St. Anthony has churches and chapels dedicated in his honour. His statues, framed pictures and paintings in all shapes and sizes are prominently displayed in every Goan home. Buses have his name printed in large bold signage on both sides, like for instance – “St. Anthony’s Travels” is not uncommon, while the front and rear of many buses and taxis read: “St. Anthony, Pray for Us”. His statue or his picture is almost everywhere – inside buses and in taxis and in restaurants. Would it not then, be remiss not to mention that so many of us are baptized in his very name, like myself for instance.

Restaurants bearing his name may be acceptable to some extent, but what has bewildered me most, since a long time ago, is that big tavernas bearing his name serve liquor – such as “St. Anthony’s Bar” to quote one. Having been unable to either transform or change that fact, I have finally come to reluctantly accept it. And that too, in a way perhaps, justifies - it may be well meant from the point of view of the owners of such establishments. Though I’d like to think so only on the lighter side, without offence or ridicule meant or referred,  only to simply say that I would like to believe that the intentions of the tavernas’ owners are good and sincere after all.


In as much as they would like their business to prosper in the Saint’s good name and patronage, I think they all mean well otherwise. Perhaps they assume that after their guests have consumed their quota of spirits and departed (I mean for home), it is then up to St. Anthony to have pity, forgive and guide the intoxicated or tipsy men safely home!


We are lucky to have St. Anthony as our patron too. Personally, I have invoked his intervention many times and he has obliged. I guess he has been a guiding light and a source of inspiration to students of Monte.

St. Anthony is also the one who is invoked for his intervention in recovering lost articles. I remember I did that as a teenager. Even now I often ask for his help, perhaps because of my own fault and bad memory, but nevertheless he always obliges by bestowing his blessings.

As a young lad I remember praying to St. Anthony for rain. My grandma was worried and distressed with thoughts of crops failing. So, on a beaten path making a bee-line through the fields my grandmother led our family and the rest of the folks in the village carrying a little statue of St. Anthony, treading their way to the Holy Cross to sing to her favourite saint a Litany. While praying and singing in harmony, everyone had trust in the miraculous cross and of course in St. Anthony. Invariably it rained that very night. When we woke up the next morning the fields were soaked to the joy of everyone.

There are many more legends that prevail about St. Anthony in our beautiful land, Goa.

The most well known is one of Saint Anthony and Child Jesus playing on his prayer book, as portrayed both in statues and in holy pictures. The account of this legend is that Saint Anthony was once passing through the region of Limoges in France, and as night fell, a rich businessman in that area had offered hospitality, rest and silence to Saint Anthony in his country estate. He was given separate room to meditate and pray in peace. But it is believed that during the night his host passed by his lighted window. There in a brilliant light he saw a little infant of great beauty playing on a prayer book that the Saint was reading. The witness trembled at the sight, and in the morning Saint Anthony, to whom it had been disclosed that his host had seen the visitation, called him and requested him not to disclose it to anyone as long as he lived. That little infant was Child Jesus. Appropriately so, there is a very touching hymn in our very own Konkani language that is sung and dedicated to him. Here is it below.


Sant Antoni ochoreanchea Santa,
Portugal tuzo onod vortouta,
Tujea livrar ballok khelta,
Menin Jezu Razancho
Raza.


(Miraculous St. Anthony,

Portugal is proud of your glory,
On your prayer book plays
Child Jesus King of Kings)

An imposing life-size statue stands to this very day in the very same spot for more than half a century at the entrance to our school in old stone building which portrays St. Anthony carrying Infant Jesus in his left hand and bread in his right. But more on St. Anthony’s bread later.

Saint Anthony of Padua, born 1195, died 13th June 1231. Incidentally,
Tuesday, dedicated to him, is the day of his funeral.

“HAPPY FEAST” to all.
13th June 2009
Tony Fernandes
Class of 1964
ST. ANTHONY'S HIGH SCHOOL
MONTE DE GUIRIM
BARDEZ, GOA, INDIA.

Above is the picture of the rare life-size statue of St. Anthony of Padua, holding bread in his right hand, and the Christ Child seated on his left arm. The statue, placed at the front of the main school building situated on the hill known as Monte de Guirim, faces North with his benevolent serene gaze over all those who pass through the portal of our great Alma Mater and beyond the vast stretches of land and fields that extend up to the hills of Mapusa town.

To read about St. Anthony's Bread, please click on the following link:
http://tonferns.blogspot.ca/2012/06/blog-post_10.html

Friday, June 05, 2009

View from the 'River Princess' 2009 - 2015

To enlarge please click on picture

THE WRATH OF THE RIVER PRINCESS

Circa 2000

The waves lash gently on the seashore. Pure white and wide sandy beach. Sea shells and cockles. Tiny crabs scurrying to their holes. Perhaps they are scared of the strange tourists. Cool breeze blows across the seashore. Palms sway side to side heralding the arrival of the new tourists on a budget and other back-packers who have never seen a beach in their lives with grains of sand so white. The fishermen have returned ashore in their boat. They will soon be hauling in the nets. People strolling on the shore stop and watch. The tourists too join in lending a helping hand. They are seeing a net, let alone touching it, for the first time. The sea gulls dive to survey the fisherman's catch.

2001

In the distance a lone fisherman is tending to his nets. What a glorious sunset, he thinks, as he glances towards the horizon. The skies are red. Promises of a good catch. He has plans for the next day. He has neatly piled his mammoth net on his boat. Other folks prepare the boat, check the oars and the ropes. Children are running around the boat. The fisherman is surprised and worried to find a huge ship 'River Princess' dangerously close to the seashore that is stuck in the sand, hoping it would be towed away soon. Tourists flock to see rather amused. Some of these tourists have never seen a ship before in their life as they have been living far away from the sea. The ship's owner - a king, has abandoned his daughter, a princess.
2004
Politicians rally with promises to refloat the 'Princess'. The king still does not care about his princess. Salvage companies themselves float away along with their tenders unable to keep their promises. Chief Ministers come and go. Governments change. Lot of talk. No work. Can we save the ship? No, we can't.

2009

The water line has now reached dangerously close to the house of the aging fisherman who has been living near the seashore for years. He is concerned and worried. He has doubts whether he would live to see the day when the "River Princess" would be towed away. He prays that this is not its final resting place. The empty seashells and crabs are much less now than before. The seashore has narrowed in width. Erosion has set in. The waves have washed off the sands around the roots of the coconut trees. The 'River Princess' is still there, and in distress. The world-famous letters on the side of its prow: R-I-V-E-R P-R-I-N-C-E-S-S are still visible from a mile away. Millions of pictures. Cameras click away. Never have so many pictures been taken of a beached ship before by so many. She was was beached when film cameras were common. Now almost everyone's gone digital with cameras and other things. But can we still save the princess? Yes, we can. There is hope. But no much time.

2011

The fisherman has shut down his business. His boat is missing. And so are the number of shacks nearby. The coconut trees have gone, beaten by the ravages of the seas that have closed in. The myriad seashells and cockles have been washed away too. The habitat of the crabs has been ruined and the 'River Princess' has still not yet been moved.

2013

The fisherman's house has collapsed. The sea has closed in much more. The white sands have turned rusty red. Stumps of fallen coconut trees clutter the coast. The 'River Princess' still awaits salvage plans. The king is quiet and relaxed not far away from the sea. He has made his money.

2015

The sea is furious trying to cut through to the king's bungalow a little away from the beach. The sea has joined forces with the Princess. To re-float itself once more and glide through a river that will named after her.

That river will be called the 'River Princess'.

Tony Fernandes

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

THE FIRST RAINS IN GOA, India






April and May are very hot months in Goa. Come end of May the folks long for rain to soothe the parched earth. The farmers get ready to cultivate the paddy fields and expect rain by the first week of June. In the old days the rain was not forecasted using weather satellites. The elders merely followed their sixth sense, instinct and past experience, and accurately forecasted the much awaited and longed-for first rains, judged by cloud conditions, colour of evening skies and wind directions, not forgetting to heed the cry of the rain-bird as it flew over the trees in the villages.

These are some of my childhood experiences.

THE FIRST RAINS
As evening fell
Patiently waiting while we prayed
Expecting the first rains
Brilliant rainbow arched across the sky;
Towards nightfall
While cattle and fowl turned homeward
The rain-bird flew eastward
Making its last call.

And finally when the showers fell
Thought our prayers were answered;
Bounced with joy in our hearts
Our thirsts quenched
We sang and played
Fully drenched:

"Pausa, pausa, heo, heo,
Tuka ditam poiso;
Poiso zalo khotto,
Paus heilo motto".

"Hope it rains some more"
So we wished, as little boats from paper we made
Saw them glide through winding streams
Just enough rain for the wells it seemed
To make them fill to their brims
And yearning and hoping to have fun
On the day of the Feast of St. John.

The first showers soothed the earth
So parched from the summer drought,
Roaring thunder, brilliant lightning;
The skies darkened
And the gentle wind
Blew across the land a whiff,
An earthy smell
That till today
I cannot unravel, describe or tell.

At dusk for prayers we heard a call
"Time for Angelus" said grandma
At the distinct chime of the bell
From the steeple of the village chapel.

Intriguing luminescence,
Kaleidoscopic patterns,
The dance of the fire-flies,
Lit up the dark night skies.

As the church bell rang sharp at eight
Grandma said a prayer for the souls in the purgatory,
Then soon gathered us all in the hall for the Rosary
The frogs in the fields with their endless cacophony
Seem to drown our prayers that we said so loudly,
And in the end for her blessing we lined up innocently.

We did later have a reprieve,
A respite from the heavy showers,
An extended interval perhaps;
Then, for many days it did not rain at all,
"God's way to "scare" us all,
That's what my granny thought.

The stretches of rice fields
Once so plush, verdant and green
Almost seemed to beckon the skies
For rain with their silent cries.

While in the breeze the rice stalks
Swerved from side to side
Grandma sensed the horror
That could prevail
Should the crops fail.

So the folks in the village were much concerned too
Grandma had them summoned without much ado
"We have to pray" she said,
"There is nothing else we can do".

On a beaten path
Making a bee-line
Through the fields she led the folks
Carrying a little statue of St. Anthony
Treading their way to the Holy Cross
To sing to her favourite saint a Litany.

While praying and singing in harmony,
In the miraculous cross
And in St. Anthony
Everyone had trust.

The light from the candles
Through the dark night flickered
In a blackened niche
Carved in its pedestal
So lonesome it seemed
While there as a sentinel it stood
The test of many a season,
Time and year.

That same night
Incessantly the rains fell
Had all the wells so swell
Grandma said it was a miracle
Her prayers were answered
God had at last cast His spell!

"The lads would be happy now"
She uttered under her breath
After they had their jumps in the well
And as tradition would have it
She made a vow
To give the boys
A basketful of mangos and jack-fruit
On the day of the feast of San João.

When we woke up the next morning
Everyone was full of glee
The rice fields seem to smile
In all their glory.
There was no doubt,
That it did rain after all;
And as Grandma had said
It pays when you say
At least a short prayer
Or a Hail Mary -
I could surely tell.

Monday, June 01, 2009