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Sunday, July 26, 2009


Cathedral of
ST. ANNE de Beaupre
Quebec, Canada

Church of St. Anne
Parra, Bardez, Goa - India
Chapel dedicated to
Guirim, Cumbiem Morod,
Bardez, Goa - India.
(where I grew up)

Thursday, July 23, 2009



This is a sign that comes in various forms, sizes and designs, pictures, drawings, carvings in many homes. It can be purchased in many stores. By having a sign that reads 'God Bless Our Home' we are asking God to bless us and our families, by keeping us in peace and harmony, safe and united.

Catholic homes in Goa, India, have little a wooden niche with hinged glass doors called 'ollont-tor' (Konkani, ollont: wall; tor: tower or spire), placed into a recess made in the wall of
the prayer hall, in the houses of the rich and poor alike. There is also a provision of a stand where candles, an oil lamp or vases with flowers can be placed. The 'ollont-tor' is almost a miniature representation of a church or chapel facade, with a graceful and artistic hand-carved ornamented gothic spire topped with a cross and columns on either side of the glass door.

Inside the niche, statues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, St. Francis Xavier, St. Anthony and others saints are placed. The miniature high altars come in various shapes, colours and sizes. The front of the base bracket is usually draped with a decoratively embroidered cloth with the caption "GOD BLESS OUR HOME". In addtion to this many homes have plaques or pictures with this invocative phrase calling for blessings of the Lord Almighty.

As a child I remember these niches were sold at the Feast of Nossa Senhora de Milagres in Mapusa and at the Feast of Nossa Senhora de Candelaria in Pomburpa, Bardez, Goa. India.

In the old houses of our ancestors, we could see as many as 15 large framed pictures of our favourites saints above, and on both sides, of this miniature high altar. Hiding behind one or more of these icons would be the lizards making brief appearances at intervals during the evening Rosary time, preying on insects or moths that were drawn to the burning candles.

In many homes a separate bracket complete with candles and a lamp is dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour with special devotional prayers and novenas recited every Wednesday.
The above pyrographic drawing is made
on pine wood plaque size 7" x 5"
by Tony Fernandes

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The Last Crab says
to the
as it leaves for a safer environment.

(For an enlarged view please click on the drawing)

Monday, July 20, 2009


(Strange sounds in the wee hours of the morning)

A short story by Tony (a.k.a. Felicio) Fernandes

It was a cold and dark night. Shortly the blooming and fragrant flowers of the 'Onvoll' tree will start to fall. This lone tree was located about half a mile away from Felicio's house, on the raised short pathway that connected his village to the main road at Guirim, Bardez, Goa. It was not attractive to look at during the day, but the fragrance of its flowers that blossomed in the night was enthralling, albeit contrary to its appearance.

Felicio tried hard to keep awake. It was midnight. In a short while he and his cousins would have to accompany his mother to pick the flowers known as 'onvllam' in Konkani. The sweet and enchanting scent of these flowers could easily be sensed half a mile away. They were prized, tiny, star-shaped and aromatic flowers. They looked beautiful and smelled good when made into garlands, and fetched a premium price at the local flower market in nearby town.

Felicio glanced at the imported 'JAZ' alarm clock on the table. It was 1.00 am. 
Times were hard. During those days in the late 1950's in Goa, many folks were going through days of an economic embargo imposed on this tiny colonial enclave by a mighty nation. Young Felicio and other children had to endure great hardships through no fault of their own. Felicio's father worked in Bombay, while Felicio and his mother were in Goa - Estado da India under the Portuguese.

An enterprising way to sustain was selling flowers. This involved picking flowers in the very early hours of the morning, making them into garlands and then wholesale them to retailers in the flower market in the nearby town of Mapusa. This was one of the innovative ways to survive through those bad times.

It was Yuletide, late December. The 'pontti' (lamp) in the bamboo 'star' shed a dim glow around the entrance to Felicio's house. The captivating fragrance of the beautiful flowers of the 'onvoll' tree had just started to permeate the air. It was also getting chilly. Felicio donned his old oversized  'vaddtea angar' (for the growing body in the literary sense) sweater, while in the back room his mother trimmed the wick of the hurricane lamp and filled it with kerosene, getting it ready to take along with them, to light up their way to the magnificent 'onvoll' tree.

With small baskets in hand they were now on their way, walking towards the 'onvoll' tree located on the outskirts of their village. Young children were always made to walk in front of elders in the night. So Felicio being the youngest - he was leading - while his young cousins and his mother, holding the hurricane lamp, followed behind. Felicio turned his head and looked towards his house as he walked. The light from the Christmas 'Star' that he had made glowed faintly in the distance. "Never look back while walking in the night", his grandma would have said, but Felicio's grandma had passed away the previous year. He had often thought about her and momentarily remembered her.

They soon approached the 'onvoll' tree and saw the white flowers which had just fallen, lying on the ground as if sprinkled by a divine hand. Without delay they stooped down and started picking them up from the outer-most edge. And as they picked the tiny flowers, more fell, twirling as they spiraled to the ground. Felicio glanced towards his right shoulder. Far towards the south, were the faint lights atop Monte de Guirim. In the east, the rising moon cast an yellowish glow. The lights of Mapusa town glimmered faintly towards the north. The three clearly visible bright stars that formed the Hunter's belt in the constellation of the Orion shone brightly above. His grandmother was an expert of the night skies. She would lecture Felicio about the night skies on warm summer nights. She had often pointed and shown him the Seven Sisters - the cluster of the Pleiades which she called 'Sath Zanni Bhoinni'. She had also told him that the nickname for the Evening Star was 'Bebdeanchem Neketr' which apparently guided tipsy men walking home from the local tavernas.

During these interim thoughts of Felicio, the pace of the falling flowers seemed to have intensified. There was no time to admire and think about stars or the night skies. Felicio, his mother and his cousins continued to keep up with the pace of the endlessly falling flowers while he hummed a 'Yuletide' tune under his breath in the dense and cold night air. The owl hooted in the distance as his cousins huddled closer to his mother, but Felicio had to be a brave boy - a young guardian of support in the night. Nevertheless, thoughts of 'shimeilo' (the phantom of the night and other spine-chilling stories that his grandmother often related crept up. At times like these, he tried hard to keep such scary ideas at bay. Would the fabled phantom of the night be passing by any moment now, Felicio wondered. Would he hear the stomping of this legendary man's feet at any moment now ? And the thumping sound of the staff that he is supposed to carry?

Two baskets of 'onvllam' were almost overflowing already after about an hour of picking up. Felicio tried to guess the time. It could be about 4 a.m. perhaps, he thought. No sign of the sound of the 'shing-shing' of the fabled 'shimieilo', the phantom guardian of the village, yet. Perhaps it was past his time.

The third basket was already overflowing. Lot of garlands for sale the next day, Felicio thought.

Then, just as they were about to wind up picking up the flowers, they heard faint sounds of rhythmic thuds in the distance, almost a slow staccato beat of 2-2-1-2-2, followed instantly by a distinct but a soft 'shi-shing' sound similar to a clash of mini cymbals. Was the 'shimieilo' late on his nightly rounds along the perimeter of the village? Felicio guessed it would soon be time for the 5 o'clock morning matinee church bells for the Angelus prayers, and also the time when the cock would crow. And no self-respecting 'shimieilo' should be around at this time, Felicio thought. The morning star would soon be rising - 'Stella Matutina' as grandma would say.

"Let's go home," said mother, "these should be ample for now," as she picked up one of the baskets of flowers with one hand and raised the lamp with the other. Felicio noticed one of his quiet cousins making the 'Sign of the Cross'. The distant sound persisted without abating. They were now on their way home. A thin blanket of fog had just start to form around them as the quartet walked hurriedly homewards nudging close to each other.

A short nap and they would have to rise again to make the flowers into garlands.

Felicio still has one lingering thought on his mind, and that is to solve the 'mystery' of the night. What could that constant thud that kept on repeating at an unfailing and unfaltering rhythm be? He would leave that thought to be unraveled in the morning. He had an interesting story to impress and regale the village folks. Perhaps grandma was right about the 'shimeilo' after all. The distant thumping sound still persisted, the steady beat continued while Felicio soon fell asleep to the rhythmic sounds of 'duh-dum-shing-duh-dum'.

It was dawn. The fowls, the pigs and the crows joined all the other birds in making a huge cacophony around the periphery of the house. There were dew-drops on the grass and on the flowers in the garden. Felicio woke up a little later than usual. He had missed the usual daily early morning round of the 'poder' (travelling bread-man), who had already delivered loaves of bread. He sat in the 'balcao' waiting for his mother to call him for breakfast. He would then discuss with his mother about the strange and rhythmic thuds they had heard in the small hours of the morning.

As he sat sipping tea his mother had some good news for him. Firstly, the garlands were ready; apparently she had not slept. Secondly, she had already guessed and found out what he was more anxious to know. Apparently their neighbours had heard those sounds too. The mystery about the strange sounds they had heard was solved. It so happened that the folks who lived at the far end of the village had risen up very early that morning, to pound and husk par-boiled rice that they had decided to take to the local market for sale that morning. The mysterious percussion 'Duh-Dum' was the sound created by a pair of womenfolk, each one striking with precision into the hollow in the ground known as 'vaahn', using long and thick wooden poles. But what was the faint, eerie and puzzling sound of 'shing, shing' they had heard?  well, they happened to be the sounds produced by the clashing of the bangles on the hands of the women who were working hard, pounding with thick wooden poles on the par-boiled rice producing a rhythmic 'Duh-Dum, Shing, Duh-Dum' sequence - the eerie and mystifying sounds in the wee hours of a very cold morning of late December 1957. And I know this story is true. I was that boy Felicio.

Tony (a.k.a. 
Felicio) Fernandes

Author of: GOA - Memories of My Homeland

"Shimeilo" : according to legend, myth and superstition - a phantom guard, held in much awe and wonder - a protector of the night, believed to have been protecting every village in Goa. He is a  fabled well-built, broad-shouldered man, walking with a staff in his hand, and is supposed to have been making his nightly rounds along the perimeters of the villages at night.
Shim or (Xim): (Konkani) Village Border, hence 'Shimielo' or 'Ximeilo' (personified) meaning: 'man of the border'.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Goans have always had a penchant for travel far and beyond the borders of our homeland in search of work. Some traveled to the eastern shores of British and Portuguese Africa in the days of colonial past.
Those were the days.

The Voyage of Destiny
Beneath my feet
The timber deck  rumbled
And leaving in its wake
A surf trail
Its way out

It gently nudged
From the quiet and serene

Marmagoa harbour.

The legendary “Kampala” 

So white and sleek
In the hot afternoon sun gleamed;
From the grand pier’s edge
My folks waved tearful adieu;
More then a thousand score
From the aft deck I waved out too
Till my arm was sore
And could see them no more.

Fifteen days and nights

Seemed like a year
On the ocean waves

We pitched and rolled
Into the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea;
A plain horizon eventually

Yielded to landfall finally
And amid apprehensions aplenty
I set foot on the golden shores
Of the East African country.

Familiar faces
Friends of my family
At the docks I recall

They came to greet me
‘Jambo’ they said, ‘Habari’,

‘Ashante’, ‘Karibuni’,
The very first words

I heard in Swahili.

Hard work and good times,
picnics and safaris galore
Under a canopy of skies so azure;
Wildlife from lion and zebra,
Parrot and sparrow,
To hills, glens and lakes 

And the snow-capped peaks
of the Kilimanjaro
I still reminisce and adore.

While history took its course with uncertainty,
To embark on yet another voyage
Must have been life’s destiny;
I rejoice today as I look back and see
How we still dwell in great harmony;
I thank God for this great country
That welcomed me and my family,
While for a better future I pray
For one and all

Now and beyond this century.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Days of the Passenger Ships

'Navigating through the River Mandovi'
Passenger Ship berthed at the Panjim Jetty
Goa - India
(Line Artwork by Tony Fernandes)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Hibiscus Flower

A Common Flower in Goa
In various colours, in every home garden.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), a tropical flower, belongs to the family Malvaceae. It gets its name from the Greek words Hibiscus meaning "mallow" and rosa-sinensis meaning "rose of China". Also known as 'Shoe Flower', it is an evergreen flowering shrub native to East Asia.
Photograph by
Tony Fernandes

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Pyrographic Drawing
by Tony Fernandes
on pinewood block size 10 in x 8 in.


"ECCE HOMO" (in other words: 'Behold the Man')

The Latin word composition 'Ecce Homo' is a standard component of cycles illustrating the Passion and Life of Christ.

It is also used as a title of Drawings of Jesus used by many great artists, depicting the time prior to His Crucifixion. Generally, in the art world, the words represent the scourging of Christ in a painting, in a statue or in other representations of Christ crowned with thorns.

These were Latin words meaning "Behold the Man" used by Pontius Pilate when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ, bound and crowned with thorns to a hostile crowd shortly before his Crucifixion.

'TonFerns Pyrography' - technique of burning images permanently into wood by hand using various types of styli at variable temperatures) Pyrographic Drawing by Tony Fernandes on pinewood block size 10 in x 8 in. - 3/4 in thick.

~ 'TonWoodburns' ~

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Se Cathedral, Goa, India

The Magnificent Se Cathedral,
Goa Velha (Old Goa), GOA, India
(View from the East)
Picture by Tony Fernandes

The original structure was erected in 1510. It was dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. In the following years it was extensively modified at various stages, the final one completed in 1652. It is an imposing structure, an archictectural marvel, displaying exquisite craftsmanship; breath-taking, both from the outside and inside.
This cathedral has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

GOA - Over the Centuries

Se Cathedral - Old Goa

Over the Centuries
Over the centuries
The people of Goa are known
For many things;
Their mando and dulpod
Their dekhni and zothi
Zatra and fugddi
Corridinho and waltzes.

Their folkloric stories.
Temples and churches,
Rivers and beaches,
Lighthouse and forts
And the magnificent waterfalls.

Serenades and promenades
And river ferries
Doce and bebinca
Sorpotel and chouriço

Laudainhas and little tavernas.
Their caju and cocunut fenni
Their tiatr, shigmo,
zagor and carnaval.

With proverb and saying
With wit and wisdom;
Warm is their welcome
And peace is their emblem

Goa, once known as Rome of the East
With legendary skills
In many a thing
From pottery to painting.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


A day set aside
to CELEBRATE our Goan Cultural Heritage.
Express SOLIDARITY with Goans
world wide on

20 AUGUST 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009


An intricate art of Goa
(Line art-work drawing by Tony Fernandes)
For an enlarged view please click on the drawing.

        Along one of the major and busiest highways in North America, called the 401, is a mind-boggling inter-woven set of road network system aptly called the 'Basketweave' that feeds the collectors/feeders into and out of the major highway, north of Toronto in Canada. If you miss negotiating in or out of the appropriate lane leading to your destination at one these weaves, it would mean something else to get back on track and a different story altogether.

        But this basket weave in the drawing above is just an another version of the interesting bamboo basket-weaves that are made in Goa, intricate in its unique structure and construction itself, and just as crafty and artistic, painstakingly hand-woven into varied patterns in different forms, shapes and sizes.
        In Konkani (language of the Konkan in Western India) these functional baskets are known as 'panttli' or 'panttlo' in the singular, or 'panttleo' in the plural form, made professionally by a certain class of people for generations. The 'panttli' is bigger, shallower and has a wider bottom, whereas the 'panttlo' is taller, narrower and smaller.

        Interesting to note though, that in Konkani, the language of the people of Goa, the former is referred to in the feminine gender and the latter in the masculine. The plural for 'panttli' is "panttleo" while the plural for 'panttlo' is "panttle". Mind-boggling? Yes, perhaps, just like the highways of North America.
        The portion of Highway 401 passing through Toronto is one of the longest (817.9 km/508.2 mi) from Windsor to the Quebec border, the widest and busiest in the world just like the special tribe that weave the complex basket patterns in Goa.

In the aerial view shown above, the basket weave roadway facilitates the switch-over of traffic from the Collector Lanes to the Express Lanes (and vice-versa) of Ontario Highway 401, for both eastbound and westbound lanes. This is just east of the Jane Street overpass, west of the Highway 401/Keele Street Interchange, in North York (Toronto).