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Monday, May 31, 2010


Cross in front of the Chapel of
St. Francis of Assisi.
Facing the Arabian Sea,
View from Monte de Guirim,
Bardez, Goa, India.


It had been a beautiful day. It was now evening and the sun seemed to be in a hurry to dive into the horizon. Felicio had to get home somehow before sunset. His mother would be worried as it was the first time his mother had let him out on his own to walk such a long distance. It had been a long trek from Guirim. He was barely 12 years old. He was a student of St. Anthony’s High School, Monte de Guirim. Naturally, he travelled all the way to support and cheer up the big boys of his school’s mighty football team, who were to play against the team of St. Britto’s High School at the Duler football grounds. 

It had been a good football match; he thought to himself, his team had triumphed. He trudged towards home up the slope of Duler hill along with the other Guirim boys who had also travelled all the way from the village. The Guirim boarders were also marching along. 

Felicio was a day scholar at Guirim, so he had to hasten his steps as his mother would be very worried if he arrived after dark. He was keen to make it home before sun-down. It was quite a relief as he reached the Tribunal Building at Mapusa hill-top. Some respite, he thought, as he would now find it easy to hasten home downwards on the Mapusa side of the winding road. He was sweating from the climb. He reached deep into his hip pocket to see if the money that his mother had given was still there. Very shortly, around the bend of Camara Municipal de Bardez, and straight past the junction at Café Zuzarte, he would keep walking along the Jardinha and would soon come across his favourite cold-drink house Aram Soda.

Felicio made it to Aram Soda at last, what a great relief. At first he thought of asking the man at the booth for a soda. The soda man stood high in his wooden cabin leaning over the wooden counter top, but on realizing that he had ample amount of loose change in his pocket Felicio changed his mind after finding out that he could easily afford a limbu-soda. Spurred on with extra energy and extra change, he gulped the soda hastily and proceeded on his way home past the other cold drink shops on the road towards Guirim. 

Felicio had grown up in Guirim. He was very young during the time when St. Britto’s High School was located in Duler, Mapsa. He walked a little distance towards home and looked back. Looming high at the hilltop was a massive building coming up. It was St. Britto’s High School. As the boy briskly hastened his footsteps, he was almost home. On reaching the outskirts of his small vaddo, Felicio looked back towards the town again just after sun-set. It was getting dark. Felicio increased the tread of his stride and overtook the bullock cart on its way home. He could hear the nearby chapel bell calling for the Angelus prayers. The powerful construction floodlights of St. Britto’s site had come on and lit up the skyline and almost the entire southern part of the town. Concrete was about to be poured by a strong labour force through the night. At last he reached home. His mother was waiting for him in the balcao to pray the Angelus together. 

One could see the new school progressively taking shape. Like St. Anthony’s High School on the Guirim hill-top, St. Britto’s High School on the Mapusa hill, was gradually making its appearance, and would soon make its mark as an important centre of learning among other stalwarts of the time like St. Joseph’s High School, Arpora, Sacred Heart High School, Canca, St. Thomas, Aldona and Don Bosco, Panjim. 

As a student of St. Anthony’s High School, and having a mindset of a competitive student, Felicio viewed it as a strong competitor as he grew up, both in education and sports among the other reigning champion schools of Goa at the time.

As a student of the sixties, Felicio admired the new Britto’s school building when it was ready, towering atop the hill range of Mapusa. It looked very strong in structure and in general layout and planning.

Felicio in his senior days continued to join the other boys from his village forming the long bee-line of Monte de Guirim boarders trekking all the way to Duler over the hill to support and cheer up the Monte football and hockey teams. The competitive spirit of the students never diminished, was strictly academic and maintained a very high level of discipline. Inter-school tournaments were a great treat and enjoyable. 

It was not uncommon those days to come across one of the Jesuit priests thundering down the streets of Mapusa town on a shaft-driven BMW motorcycle known for its distinct and easily recognizable low thud. Felicio could not keep from turning his head as the priest sped by every time he was in town. This motor-bike was a legend in its time in Goa of the early sixties. 

At one time there were 12 students from Felicio's ward in Guirim who were dayscholars and walked single-file through other wards and fields all the way to school up the slope to St. Anthony’s every morning. They gathered at the cross-paths in the centre of the village opposite the chapel. The big boys led the way starting at 7.30 am sharp and Felicio was the second-last in line.

Time passed on and soon bigger boys turned into young men and Matric boys. The young boys took their place to become into big boys in turn. Some bigger boys found jobs as teachers in the School at Monte, some found jobs in nearby towns, some went to Bombay to pursue further education and others went abroad to work. 

Now it was Felicio’s turn to be a big boy. He was soon to lead the rest of the smaller boys in the village. He missed the big boys of the fifties that led the way through the monsoon season, carrying him over their shoulders while crossing the flooded streams, keeping him close to them when strong gusts of wind threatened to take away their umbrellas, and lending their helping hand up the steep slopes of Monte. He tried to help and impart the same leadership of his predecessors through the years up to his SSCE.
However, there were a few boys in his village who were students of St.Britto’s. They travelled to Britto’s on bicycles. Whenever both their schools played at Inter-School tournaments they would of course cheer and support their respective schools, but the rivalry ended on the playground, when the referee blew the final whistle. At other times, mostly during holidays, they would play as one team for their ward in inter-village football tournaments. 

Prior to 1961 Matric exams were held in centres at Poona and Karwar among others. But Felicio was extremely lucky in 1964. He did not have to travel to Poona. The new building of St. Britto’s High School at Mapusa was chosen as one of the Examination Centres in the district of Bardez by the Education Board.

It had been during the afternoon recess that Felicio had stood atop Monte de Guirim and looking northwards had watched the school gradually coming up long before he had reached his teens. 

The imposing new building superstructure has been a prominent and integral part of learning and of the Mapusa scenery as a whole, reigning supreme for the last 5 decades. 

Perhaps it was destiny that a landmark of the landscape that Felicio grew up with during his school life should be the centre of the final test of his learning, which he passed. As he answered his SSCE exams, sitting at a desk overlooking the southern part of the picturesque town of Mapuca, Felicio saw his Alma Mater in the distance from a classroom of Britto’s. He considers this as a rare event in his life.

Like all major institutions of a by-gone era and present education centres in the district of Bardez, Felicio has always been proud not only of his own school, but all other institutions in Goa, who have excelled in their contribution towards education.

This is as I saw it, and I know this story is true, because I was that boy Felicio, a.k.a. Tony Felix Fernandes - a Monte boy. Thanks for reading.

Tony Felix (Felicio) Fernandes 


St. Anthony’s High School, 

Monte de Guirim 

Bardez, Goa.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Viva Goa Souvenir

Photo: Anjuna
Photo Laminated on 1/4" thick white PVC
Photo & Art by Tony Fernandes
Anjuna Beach, located along the northern coast-line of Goa, on the west coast of India, gained its popularity through the 'Hippy' years - the Sixties -with a mixed blend of spirituality, music and culture between the East and West. Setting up in the psychedelic scene of those days, beach parties were common, but were not welcome by the locals.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Picnic for the Monte Boys

Enjoyable Christmas and New Year holidays were over. Studies had now to be taken very seriously. It was our final year at the school. Prelims were fast approaching. Then there were S.S.C.Exams, as they were known in those days, to worry about. They were just around the corner too. But a final scholastic year would not be complete without a full day’s outing.

Generally around that time of year the boys looked forward to their final school picnic. Students volunteered to help the Capuchin Friars and class teachers in organizing this one day event and making it a success too. Preparations towards this day trip involved a lot of thought in planning. Probable visits to places of interest were thought and mapped out in advance. There were lot of places to see and explore but we had just a day to fit it all in. Since it was just one day’s excursion it had to be carefully worked out.

A good number of places to be seen and covered in a day’s time were a big dilemma. Returning back to school before nightfall would have to be considered. Also of concern was the fact that it would be still more difficult to make it back in time if we ventured too far down south of Goa. The reality that we may to cross at least one or two rivers by ferry, depending upon the route we took, had also to be taken into account. This was long before bridges over the Mandovi and Zuari rivers could become realities. We were still in the early sixties. Other bridges destroyed during the Indian take-over were still being repaired while temporary ones built alongside served the purpose of crossing the several rivers.

Then there was a time aspect. We would not have much time on our hands to spend at each particular place of importance or significance if we increased the number of places in our list to see. Everything had to be take care of – the bus we would ride in, the route we would take, the places we would possibly be able to see set in the framework of a single day, and catering for the midday meal, and other related matters. All this was done for a nominal contribution of Rs.10/- from each participant.

The final countdown had started and the boys enthusiastically looked forward to this day. They were anxious to know the places they would be visiting on this tour. They also wished if their own suggestions and views could be heard. And some of them did manage to get a few ideas and proposals across.

The grand picnic day had finally dawned. We rose earlier than usual in order to prepare ourselves and donned our ‘picnic best’ attire. A good chance to do away with the usual school uniform!

In true Monte protocol, practice and tradition, any event of this nature has to start with a Holy Mass Service, followed by breakfast! And only then does any sort of fun, amusement or entertainment begins!

As we were hastily having breakfast we could hear a high whining sound - a typical high-pitched whine created by the revving of the bus engine up the steep road. By the time we were done with breakfast, the driver had already successfully maneuvered to reverse and park it on the slope facing the grotto. As was mostly done, stone blocks wedged in front of tires served as additional improvised chock devices to the parking brakes.

It was a sunny day, pleasant and cool for the time of year. The gentle breeze hissed through the tall trees swaying gently on the western side of the imposing main school building. The students from the junior dormitory were already up by now and watched us from above, perhaps wishing for a dawning of their own lucky day!

Soon after breakfast, all the boys swiftly clambered aboard the bus. Snacks and huge vessels containing pre-cooked food were loaded on at the back of the extended bus. We departed after making sure that everyone was on board. The bus gradually made its way down the spiraling slope of hill. The early morning sun lit our faces through the windows. How refreshing and uplifting, I thought. Everyone was happy and smiling, looking forward to a day of excitement and fun. We had a lot of places to see and explore. Anticipation was building up.

The bus gained momentum and so did the joyful mood of the boys in the bus. Turning left at the junction on the main highway, we passed through Mapusa town, over the hill, down through Duler proceeding towards the north east of Goa via Tivim toward Bicholim. We visited the candle factory there, the cashew processing plant, ventured in the hills to see the ancient caves, and drove through the hills to get a general idea of mining operations within that area. The subsequent stop was at Arvalem Falls where we spent some time amidst spectacular surroundings. We also made a brief stop at the picturesque Mayem Lake where we had snacks and tea. We then hurriedly jumped on board once more and proceeded towards the south.

As the bus continued on its way, it was time for singing and none hesitated to join in. We stopped at a convenient site for lunch on a vast scenic plateau between Bicholim and Sanguem districts. An “outdoors grace before meals” preceded a sumptuous meal.

A group of boys at the rear of the bus unleashed another singing session soon after lunch. There was accompaniment on a guitar by one of the talented boys and later someone joined with a harmonica. One of the students read out a prepared tribute of thanks dedicated to the school Friars, Brothers, teachers and to all those involved in organizing the outing before we got on the bus yet again. It seemed we were almost running out of time and a little behind schedule. We had a lot of catching up to do by way of distance. So we immediately hit the road yet again continuing on our onward journey.

We passed through picturesque hills and villages proceeding through Ponda via the temporary bridge at Borim to Dabolim aerodrome on a fleeting trip. This sector was in fact a tentative segment as it would preclude further intended visits due to any delay. So it seemed there was some concern that we may not be able to make it to the rest of the places on the list of our itinerary.

Then there also appeared to be a delay in the ferry services. But somehow we were lucky and made it to the Agassaim side just in time.

Soon after crossing the River Zuari from Cortalim to Agassaim by ferry we diverted for a brief transitory visit to Fr. Agnel’s Seminary on the Pilar hillock. Passing through serene greenery, flora and foliage, it was sing-song time again. The megaphone thoughtfully carried along by one of the students had come in handy.

As estimated we still had enough time on our hands before sundown to go on a sight-seeing drive to Dona Paula, Mira Mar, and a brief visit to the Bishop’s Palace, erstwhile Portuguese Liceu School and Emissora de Goa (All India Radio) at Altinho in Panjim from where were witnessed a beautiful sunset and a breathtaking panoramic view of the river spanning from Reis Magos to Betim.

After crossing the River Mandovi over from Panjim to Betim by the ferry at dusk, we were now homeward bound. Homeward bound, I say, and perhaps fittingly so. St. Anthony’s High School, our alma mater at Monte de Guirim, had been a home away from home, in more ways than one, to many of us, for many years and in many ways, during our learning period there.

The boys were full of admiration and appreciation for the driving skill of our bus driver and his knowledge of the route. We thought he negotiated well through sharp bends and had brought us back safely. He also had a lot of patience with us. He put up with a lot of ruckus we created. So, as was customary, towards the end of our excursion we did not forget to sing an improvised composition to him, namely – “Our driver is a jolly good fellow”.

Yes, we did make it back safely to Monte a little beyond the sunset. It had been a great and very enjoyable day indeed. Everything had gone well, without any major glitch, hitch or incident.

Those were the good old days as we might say today. They were not anything like the modern times, but we did the best with was offered or available at the time. And the day was not complete without singing the timeless lyrics: “We’re the boys of Guirim” as the bus climbed the steep slope of the hill again with the distinct drone of its engine that I remember to this day. As we got off of the bus, we felt sad because a grand and immensely enjoyable day had just ended. And suddenly a grim silence prevailed - an inexplicable moment, a moment that we try to come to terms and deal with when all good things come to an end.


Tony Fernandes

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MOON PHASE by Tonferns

"Moon Phase"
Photo by Tony Fernandes
This is no trick photography. All the 8 shots of the moon are captured on one picture frame on 35mm film using a Nikon FM2 SLR Camera. This picture was taken as the moon, on the clear night sky, descends into western horizon in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, circa 1996, from the fourth floor the "Tax Free" centre building, where we lived, in the vicinity of some prominent landmarks of the day, like for instance the India Club, Al Nasr Club, the old Dubai Go-Kart Race Track, St. Mary's School and Church.

Each shot is taken 5 minutes apart. Open lens total time 36 mins, 35 sec. Lens cap on and off for 5 sec. I seem to have lost count after the 4th shot, with an extra minute added to that interval. One may notice the gap in between the waning crescents - I guess I must have gone inside for a sip of beer! Break time! The moon didn't wait for me though - it kept on proceeding on its path.
In the foreground is the India Club and far in the distance is the majestic Dubai Trade Centre. The streaks of car headlamps and tail lights indicate the length of the exposure.For a bigger view please double click on picture.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

GOA - Memories of My Homeland - Poems and Short Stories by Tony Fernandes

© Tony Fernandes
© All poems, stories, photographs, illustrations  by Tony Fernandes

Designed, formatted and printed by:
Eclectica Publications Lindsay, Ontario, Canada.
April 2004

A nostalgic collection of poems and stories that transport the reader back to blessed times. Evocative glimpses into a blissful era that has aged perhaps with time, but not forgotten.

Contents: English Poems, English Short Stories, Illustrations, Goa in Pictures, Goan Proverbs, Sayings and Glossary.

Simple, rustic life captured through descriptive renditions via narrative poetry, drawings, paintings and photographs.

Excerpt from Poem:

An evening stroll
in my tiny old village I took;
saw the old folks
once so young,
now so frail and weak.

Aged with time at nature’s quest
they stared at me in total disbelief;
they seem to think I too
have aged along with them perhaps
yet neither of us could fathom
what time and years
had done to us in tandem.

Excerpt from Story:
As he neared the chapel in the misty early morning dawn, a girl dressed in her best approached running to the young lad, and picking a tiny paper flower from her small and neatly decorated basket, she pinned it on his shirt. Reaching in his pocket he deposited a coin in her basket for which she thanked him.

Simple, rustic life captured through descriptive renditions via narrative poetry, drawings, paintings and photographs

About the Author: Tony was educated at St. Anthony’s High School, Monte de Guirim, Bardez, Goa, and subsequently at Kareer Polytechnic, Bombay, studying Commercial Art, where he excelled in Painting and Photography.

It has always been his endeavour to write poetry about his childhood memories of Goa. Although he has been away from his homeland all these years, he has constantly kept in touch with his roots by visiting Goa every now and then.

Born with a natural flair for writing poetry and fuelled with a nostalgic craving and love for his native land, he has now compiled a collection of his poems.

Tony presently resides in Mississauga, Ontario - Canada, with his wife and three children.

To order copy of this book please e-mail:

Brief Notes about Goa

Known around the world for its serene beauty, GOA is located south of Mumbai, India. It gained full-fledged statehood on 12th August 1987. Prior to that, it was a Union Territory for 26 years, after four and a half centuries of Portuguese rule. It is 1,022 metres above sea-level with an area of 3700 Its capital is Panaji. Goa coprises of districts like Ilhas, Bardez, Salcette, Ponda, Marmagoa, Bicholim, Satari, Pernem, Quepem, Sanguem, and Canacona. Its captital is Panaji. Its other major cities are Margao, Mapsa and Vasco da Gama and Marmagoa which has a natural harbour .

Goa’s main rivers are the Zuari, Mandovi and Chapora. It has beautiful palm-fringed and scenic beaches like Colva, Candolim , Calangute, Vagator and Arambol with golden sands all along its western coast line. Spanning across the eastern part of Goa is the magnificent mountain range called the Western Ghats. Nestled among those hills are the famous 3-tier water-falls called Dudsagar.

With a total population of approximately 1.2 million, it is bustling with activity. It is a world famous tourist destination with excellent air, sea, rail and interstate bus connections. Besides having the first lighthouse in Asia, it has numerous archaelogical sites like ancient forts for the connossieur to study and explore besides ancient temples and churches.

Goa is famous for its architectural grandeur – its ancient churches, temples and mosques. Goans are a peace-loving people with a strong sense of community, taking pride in their own distinct culture and heritage.

In a modern cosmopolitan world, Goa has managed to preserve its old world charm.

Book Review by Ben Antao 
Author of Images of Goa and other books

GOA Memories of my Homeland, a collection of poems and stories, could only have been  written by one born and raised in the red soil of Goa. It’s a work of pure joy by
Tony Fernandes, 57, who trudged up the hill of Monte de Guirim, where he was born and educated.      

His narrative poetry hits the right note as he evokes nostalgic memories of life in his
village--litany, vespers, homecoming, harvest day, Intruz, Palm Sunday, wedding,
first rains, and home leaving. 

A sample:

        Then as darkness fell
        and homewards I walked,
        seeing a score of people together pray
        by the wayside cross I stopped;
        the light of the candles
        reflected in their faces,
        they sang in perfect chorus,
        their gaze at the cross
        fixed as if by magic,
        hearing them sing the litany
        And unable to resist
        I joined them in harmony.

The stories are narratives of his growing up and dwell on such traditions
as a new shirt for New Year, Christmas crib, and village feasts.

The book also contains 150 'oparrio' or Konkani proverbs that will bring a
smile of recognition on the faces of native Goans. But for those living in the
diaspora, who may have forgotten their Konkani, a translation into English
would help to convey the folk wisdom incorporated in these sayings.
Perhaps in the second edition!

The illustrations and photographs in the book reflect the talents of
Tony who studied commercial art in Bombay. The self-published book
is available from the author who lives with his wife Edna and three
children, Mississauga ON L5V 2C2, Canada.

Book Review by Lino Leitao
Author of Gift of the Holy Cross and other books

Tony Fernandes' poems in this collection are lovely; and their
aesthetic  merit lies in their simplicity. They are like a cluster
of graceful flowers in the soft glow of twilight, in the garden
of his memory.

I remember, when young, memorizing a poem: The Village Blacksmith
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and another one: We are Seven by
William Wordsworth. The pastoral magic of those poems had touched
my youthful emotions, then. Tony's poems in this collection have
stirred my soul, once again. Each memory, or each flower (poem),
has its own unique brilliance of that Goa's soul (rural Goa) - the Goa
where the poet grew up.
As I was reading his poems, I felt as if, I was taking a leisurely stroll
with the poet in the memory garden of his youth. I tarried to admire
at some of the stanzas and visualize.

One of them is this:

Then as darkness fell
and homewards I walked,
seeing a score of people together pray
by the wayside cross I stopped;
the light from the candles
reflected their faces,
they sang in perfect chorus,
their gaze at the cross
fixed as if by magic,
hearing them sing the litany
And unable to resist
I joined them in harmony.
Another stanza:
The night all of a sudden
Seemed quiet and tranquil,
In the darkness
Holding a candle
In the hollow of a coconut shell
Lit and led us on our paths;
And folks on the way home
From the houses on the wayside
Wished us a pleasant night.

These reminiscences are etched in the soul of many a Goan, mostly elderly,
brought up in that Goa. But only inspired poets or artists like Tony can
transport us from snow-laden Canada to the homeland of our youth.
In this collection there are also pencil sketches of Goan scenes and artifacts,
stories and coloured photos of Goa. Tony Fernandes besides being a poet is
also an artist. He also presents us a tidy bundle of Goan sayings and proverbs
in Konkani.

GOA, Memories of My Homeland, is a source to unfold the poignant beauty
of that Goan soul, mainly to those young Goans born in diaspora.
Lino Leitão

Lino Leitão was born in Goa, a former Portuguese Colony in India. He studied
in Portuguese and English schools and attended the University of Karnataka
in India and Concordia University in Montreal. His stories have been published
by Goa Today, Gulab, Gomantak Times (Goa); Afro-Asian Quarterly, Journal of
Asian Literature (Michigan State University), The Toronto South Asian Review,
Massachusetts Review, Short Story International (New York),The Antigonish
Review and others. His articles on Goan issues have been published in Herald,
Gomantak Times, Navhind Times (Goa), and in South Asian 
Studies Papers, no. 9 - Goa: Continuity and Change - University of Toronto,
Centre for South Asian Studies, 1995.Selected Publications:
The Man and His Writings (Translated from Portugese). Goa, India: Xavier 
Centre of Historical Research, 2000.
The Gift of the Holy Cross. Leeds, England: Peepal Tree Press, 1999.
Six Tales. Cornwall, ON: Vesta Publications, 1980.
Goa Tales. Cornwall, ON: Vesta Publications, 1977.
Collected Short Tales. New York: Carleton Press, 1972.

This book can also be ordered on line through

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GOA CHAIRS - The art of 'caning'


Standard Wooden chair with 'fleur de lis'
pattern in 'bas relief'.

Drawing by Tony Fernandes

(Line Drawing by Tony Fernandes)

Back in the old days, people took pride in good house-keeping. Painting the exterior and interior walls of houses for Christmas, and having them repaired before the onset of monsoons were major chores. This was also a time when old chairs were varnished and given a new look and their seats re-caned. This craft of 'caning' or stringing chairs using cane (and nylon in later years) particularly belong to the men and women of the 'Mahar' caste, who were also equally adept at other occupations like basket and mat weaving. When I was young my mother used to summon a woman to our home to have our chairs strung. It was interesting to watch her artistic ability as she skillfully entwined a mesh of intricate patterns with her deft hands.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Goa of the Sixties

Part 1
It was a way of life, and a good and simple way of life back then. I would modestly say we were not rich, but I felt we were a little better than the poorest around us. In spite of hardships, I admired my Dad and Mom’s acumen in putting food on the table for us, and sometimes it made me wonder what life would be for me when I grew to be their age. But honestly little did I care about it at all then as I thought probably all things would automatically fall in place in due course.

While life mostly revolved and centered around going to school, there was always time on our hands for other activities like for instance organizing our annual inter-village football tournament and our annual village picnic to the springs. We had a formed a recreation club in our village by kind courtesy of a benefactor who always encouraged us and had let us use their house in the evenings and on holidays. This couple lived in a huge house with a very large “sala”. (a Portuguese word for “hall”). This place gave us the opportunity to pass our time during the long monsoon evenings. They also had a very large courtyard where we would play badminton on other days. The monthly subscription for members was four annas. We played carom, draughts and other board games. This was also a place where we would exchange books that we took turns in reading. Arthur C. Clarke’s, 2001:A Space Odyssey was quite a popular novel.

Part 2 
The beginning of the sixties saw the liberation on the chilly morning of 19 December 1961. Emissora de Goa, Pangim - the old radio station fell silent for a while and then came to be known as All India Radio, Panji. The take-over was quite an excitement with the fighter jets flying overhead. By the time we ran out of the house to see them in the sky, they were gone and left only the noise behind! We were barely into our teens and ran toward the main road to greet the Jawans on their way to the Capital, Panjim, from Mapuça.

The nights of Yuletide that year were dark, sombre and frightening for a youngster. It was long before mid-night that the lamps and candles burnt themselves out in the lanterns and “stars” in front of the houses in my village during the Yuletide of that year. Very silent nights prevailed except for the intermittent hooting of the owl – heard but never seen, the dogs barking in the neighbourhood and the occasional howling of wolves in the wee hours of the morning. With the people expecting and praying for peace to triumph all was calm, all was dark.

A few days after the liberation a grand display of the Indian military hardware, machine guns, canons and tanks was held for the public at Mapuça Praça and people flocked to see it there. Then it was the time when Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Goa and laid the foundation stone of the Mandovi Bridge. For years we ferried across the river from Betim to Panaji and vice-versa while we patiently watched the bridge pylons gradually rising above the horizon. The first span barely taking shape in the distance east of the ferry crossing was quite exciting, while towards the west the passenger ship heralded its arrival with its loud booming siren while negotiating through the waters and the dodging the sand bars at Reis Magos. Longing to see the completion of this vital connection was the prime hope and expectation of the people, while the aging ferries withstood the test of time. The Zuari bridge must have still been on the drawing board at the time. Its construction began sometime later and we spent the rest of yet another decade helplessly looking up to the pylons, while being ferried across at a snail’s pace, one of them tilting precariously and balanced with counter-weight to straighten it out. We also saw the reconstruction of the various great old bridges destroyed by the retreating Portuguese. Lt.Gen. Candeth was appointed as the first Governor of Goa and village panchayats sprang up all over this Union Territory. Banco Naçional Ultramarino became Reserve Bank of India. And I became an Indian citizen!

Part 3
The sixties brought in two memorable Konkani movies, Amchem Noxib and Nirmon. These movies were Black & White but the songs from those two movies have been immortalized and sung even to this day. Goa’s famed orchestra Johnson and His Jolly Boys reigned supreme at weddings, feasts and dances. The mid-sixties saw the popularity of rock music groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Goa became notoriously known for the influx of the hippies from all over the world.

On the educational front the mid-sixties also saw two new colleges namely, Dempe in Panjim and St. Xavier in Bastora. The opening up of Examination Centres in cities came as a great convenience. During the Portuguese regime students had to travel to Karwar and Pune to appear for S.S.C. Examinations.
The dawn of the early sixties also saw two new Indian cars on the roads – the Fiat and the Ambassador, and of course Tata Trucks and Leyland S.T. Buses. The Austin, Ford, Volkswagen, Chevloret, Morris, the Caminhao and the Bedford truck would slowly diminish in their popularity by the end of the decade. Though some of the roads were as narrow as they are now, vehicles and motorcycles were far less in number and very few accidents. The population was just over 600,000.

Part 4
Tragic moments for us all was the shocking assassination of President John F. Kennedy and passing away of the First Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Great and fascinating events were space exploration and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon by the end of the decade.
My best friends and colleagues lived barely a wave, a gentle shout or a stone’s throw away. Others friends were my classmates from surrounding villages. We assembled in the centre of the village, opposite the village chapel at 7.30 am before we proceeded to walk to school together led by the oldest or the tallest. I trudged far behind in the line. During the monsoon season the incessant rains flooded our usual winding paths through the fields. It was then sheer joy and fun to take the long way home.

We rushed home after school, had tea, expecting some sweet dish that grandma would make and then played football in the improvised grounds on the outskirts of our little village. These were actually rice fields of one of our neighbours. We waited patiently till the water and earth dried after the monsoon harvest. We played till the village chapel bell rang for Angelus when everybody was expected to be home for prayers.

Part 5
We had two cages on both sides of our “balcão”, hanging on the beam across the two pillars that held the roof of the entrance. There was a myna in one cage and a parrot in another. They could speak three languages, and had a remarkable memory and extensive vocabulary that included certain Konkani words for which I would have definitely been punished if I ever dared to utter or repeat them. These birds entertained the people passing by who paused at our house for a while. The cat slept most of the day but justified its laziness by catching the erring naughty mice in the night. The dog was well behaved, got its regular feed and barked most of the time.

Sunday was a typical day with attendance at the very early first morning Mass so that we could be on time to hear “Binaca Hit Parade” at 8 am. at our neighbour’s place who had a powerful Grundig valve radio that used huge external line antennae above their house. The programme we used to listen to was broadcast on shortwave, 31 metre band, by the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. I remember meeting my Mother going to church for the second mass and passing us on the way as we returned home from the first Mass in order to listen to the songs on the radio. Jim Reeves, Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley reigned supreme with their hits. Seven or eight of us would be listening with paper and pencils in our hands and voila! - in one sitting we would have the lyrics of the song that we liked. Hank Locklin’s ‘Send me the pillow that you dream on’, Jim Reeves' 'He'll Have to Go' and Paul Anka’s ‘Diana’ were popular and often-requested songs. Songs by Ricky Nelson, Nat King Cole, Peter & Gordon, Everly Brothers, Doris Day, Bobby Darin, Brian Hyland, and Bobby Vinton would definitely be remembered by kids of those days till the present day. Pat Boone's 'Speedy Gonsales' was quite a hit then with ‘the plaintive cry of the young Mexican girl’ piercing through the stillness of the evening air on the evening's daily request programme.

Film epics like Guns of Navarone, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. No, My Fair Lady, The Singing Nun, Dr. Zhivago and actors like Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, David Niven, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Charlton Heston, Sean Connery, Omar Sharif, actresses Audrey Hepburn, Sofia Loren, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor were much-talked about.

Part 6
In the months of April and May, all of us in the villages would go together to Calangute beach. Famous music groups from all over Goa would converge and compete for the title of best band. These were also the months when we would have the Goans from Bombay on a holiday in Goa and it was a very happy time indeed. Before they returned to Bombay, they would have the sung litany. We would get together practically every night playing in our balcão. We sang all the songs of the day, not missing on the mandos, along with the accompaniment on the guitar and the harmonica. Those were the days when the passenger ships like the 'Konkan Sevak' and 'Sabarmati' sailed the coastal areas especially from Bombay to Goa with stops at Vengurla and Devgarh. The sea voyage took 24 hours and impromptu singing sessions were the norm.

The feast of St. John was celebrated with all the young boys jumping into the wells, on the eve of which bonfires were lit and the fire was put out by beating it using the flat bases of the stems of the palm leaves while singing a certain chorus. And so were the village feasts. Ganesh, Diwali, and Shigmo festivals were celebrated with equal fervour too, brotherly atmosphere between the Christians and Hindus having prevailed at all times.

During the three days of “Carnaval” all the boys from the village got together. We dressed up in different costumes and went from house to house singing songs. As was expected, whatever we collected as gratis for our efforts went towards purchasing a new football for the use of all.

Part 7
Being a teenager of the sixties I grew up with very practical and extremely loving parents.
Dad getting ready to go to Mapuça Friday bazaar - I still try to imagine seeing him now - in his favourite khaki trousers, shirt and a hat. And Mom at home attending to different chores, sometimes broom in one hand, dish-towel in the other, while Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera of the 1950's was still going strong into the early sixties on the afternoon’s radio program “Your Favourites and mine” broadcast by All India Radio, Panjim. Patti Page sang the Tennessee Waltz while my aunt sang along in high seconds!
For my mother in the afternoon it was the smaller house chores she would pay attention to like a hem in a dress, a quilt she would stitch on 'installment basis'! Or the ongoing process of a sweater she would knit, a lost button on my school uniform or the missing lace she would replace, or lengthening of my shorts as I grew up almost by the week. Any garment purchased readymade, or stitched by the local tailor, had to be at least one size larger! They have apt 2 words in Konkani for that: “Vaddtea angar”. (Meaning in English : For the growing body!) Very true.
My mother, who waited up for me while I studied for school exams late into the night, was too afraid to find me asleep on my book before the oil lamp burnt itself out. We had a name for her, our very own Florence Nightingale - she cared about each and every thing everyone did. She tended lovingly to our neighbour’s sick child, and often accompanied neighbours who were ill to see a doctor. And on a cold night took a cup of hot soup to the elderly man who lived alone nearby.

Part 8
My father had promised me a bicycle when I passed fifth standard. He finally gave it to me two years later! “The roads are far too narrow and dangerous, son; the cars and trucks are speeding” he said, while I waited for my own bicycle for some time. He had his own, but it was a bit too big for me. But Dad was nice. He let me learn to ride on his, though never letting me or the bicycle out of his sight! For him, it was always the time for fixing things, not only his own bike, but also the “foreign Raleigh” that one of our neighbours had. I don’t ever remember seeing him idle. He always had to find something to keep him busy with - fixing the kitchen stool, a curtain rod, the rake handle, the replacement of the broken tile on the rooftop, repairing the pedal on my bicycle or the gate of the front garden. He believed in getting our ancient cupboard doors fixed himself rather than buying a new one! It was amazing that there wasn’t anything that he could not fix. We had a name for our father too – “the handyman of the house (and the whole village)”. He always would lend a helping hand around to anyone who wanted help. That was his forte. A remarkable man of his times, he tried his very best along with other members of our ward to have road access to our village.  

But then before I knew it, I completed my higher secondary studies. And I could not fit into my “Vaddtea Angar” trousers any more. In order to pursue studies for my chosen career it was necessary to leave home for a city far away from home. During holidays I visited my folks every year who seemed a little older by then – and happily re-lived days of my teens in their midst and the folks around for a month or two. And then a few years later after being employed abroad returned as a working man to have a great vacation in Goa. We were by then in the early Seventies. The sixties were over and out. So were the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits. Bell-bottoms, maxi gowns and platform shoes, slim-fit shirts and butterfly collars, ABBA, Silver Convention, Bee Gees and Night Fever, Baccara and Boney M. would be the next in.

Football was my passion. Simple things as pastime and the rustic lifestyle gave me and my friends pleasure. We enjoyed the little things we had and silently wished for greater things for our future. Just like any other kids. The players in my team were not only my class-mates, friends and neighbours, but everybody that I knew and those I held as special including teachers at my alma mater. They helped shape what I have today – an inner spirit that will forever reside in Goa.
Tony Felix Fernandes

Vaddtea angar - a term used in the Konkani language suggesting, indicating or recommending a slightly over-sized clothing for a growing child or a teenager.

Excerpted from my book 'GOA - Memories of My Homeland' (Poems & Stories) ISBN 097355150X.
Published and printed in Canada by Electica Publications Ontario 2004. Reprinted in Goa by Pilar Training Institute 2005. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010


The tragic news about the Air India crash in Mangalore came as a great shock. More so because the flight was from Dubai where I lived and worked for many years in the past. Everything else here seemed to have a connection. Air India, national airline; Dubai, where I spent more of my life, and Mangalore where my in-laws hail from.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


By Tony Felix Fernandes (Student 1953 to 1964)
A nostalgic tribute to my Alma Mater,
St. Anthony's High School,Monte-de-Guirim, Bardez, Goa

Nestled on an idyllic hilltop known as Monte de Guirim, St. Anthony’s High School still sits firmly perched on it, in all its glory. It has been a model institution imparting education in the English medium for more than half a century. It is an Alma Mater to thousands of students that have passed through its portals, have been successful in their chosen careers and have spread far and wide all across the globe. They have perhaps their own stories of nostalgic moments to relate. The school was well-known for the prowess of its students not only academically but also in sports like football, field hockey, volley ball and basketball.

It is still competently run by the Capuchin Friars of the Order of Franciscan Minor. During its heyday, among the other things it was famous for, it was perhaps the only school that had its own bakery and its own power generator. It had its own fine doctor, a Friar, well-known for his medicinal cures for snake bites. Over the years it has continued to set a fine example in school management. Known for its excellent teaching staff, it produced results of a high rank in the final examinations at the Higher Secondary Level. The Friars were strict and maintained a high degree of discipline.

The school has been well-known all across Goa, others parts in India and abroad as a prime centre of education. It had at one time over 700 boarders. Other students, called day-scholars, walked up the hill to the school along the various meandering paths through the cashew fruit trees from all sides of the hill. Boys from around the nearby villages of Guirim, Sangolda, Canca, Parra, Verla, Saligao, Porvorim, Succorro, Perxet and Bastora attended this school. Other commuted on cycles from as far away as Anjuna and Siolim. They would usually keep their cycles at the quaint little shop or one of the houses down at the base of the hill and walked up the rest of the steep way to the school. From the north and west side we could use the staggered steps. And from the east we could use either the spiraling road or the steep straight short-cut to the top. Day-scholars usually carried their packed lunch with them, known locally as “buthi” and kept them in a special lunch room. The man in charge of this room would lock it at the start of morning session and open it at lunchtime. He was also in charge of the general cleanliness of the school premises. The day-scholars took their lunch boxes and headed up to the taller parts of the hill-side to eat under the cool shade of the cashew trees with an everyday picnic atmosphere!

Those were the days when it was a boys’ school only. Co-education was introduced much later. As I recall my days as a student there from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties, this school had classes beginning from Preparatory Junior, Prep.Senior, followed by Standard I to XVIII. The High Secondary Examination Passing Class was then known as Matric. As I admire and reminisce its glory today far away from home, it seems that schooling was fun and hard work too at the same time. The school year began on the 6th of June, ending the last term in early April.

The day began with an early dawn Angelus followed by Mass at the Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi at the apex of the sylvan surroundings. After breakfast the classes began with the Assembly in the corridor of the main building. One of the students would lead in singing of the school hymn “Come Holy Ghost” with all the boys joining in. The boys then quickly proceeded to the respective classes. During the first subject period which was always invariably English, mild amusement and distraction was provided by the late-comer who sometimes arrived panting for breath, with a school bag slung over his shoulder. 

With the usual subject periods of English, History, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, General Science and Religion, it was soon time for the midday recession time with lunch in the refectory, followed by recreation time. Imagine the clatter of cutlery during the lunch-hour created by over 500 boarders all dining at one time! The din produced by this clash of utensils could be heard as far away as the classrooms on the eastern side of the temporary classrooms. The day-scholars who brought lunch in tiffin boxes (or 'buthi' as the boxes were fondly called) went to the "Buthi Room" to retrieve their stored lunches from there and then proceeded to have their lunch under the shade of cashew trees. During this time, the boys carried on with various extra-curricular activities some of which included playing table-tennis and carom. One of the fine moments that I still remember is the stackable six 12-inch LP record-changer, that was connected to the public address system and classical music was played at this time. Familiar tunes heard at this hour were 'The Blue Danube', 'Tiritomba' and 'Funiculi Funicula'. This system was also used for reciting the Holy Rosary in Konkani at eight o’clock in the night over the loudspeakers. This could be clearly heard in the stillness of the night for over a distance more than two kilometers.

Recess time was also the time for music and other activities like quick sketching drawing and painting still life for the art students under the guidance of the amazingly brilliant artist Brother known for his phenomenal masterpieces adorning the walls of the chapel and the sacristy. At this time of the break boys gathered and sang songs, playing the guitar on the benches under the famous and gigantic nunerca tree overlooking the huge expanse of fields extending to the borders of the villages of Calangute, Arpora and Parra, with a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea, the hills of Arpora, Parra and in the distance northwest the hills of Anjuna, while the music students would be practicing on the piano and violin in the music parlour. Incidentally, this room also served as a waiting room for the parents of students who visited the boarders. The Friars saw that they would always be offered a lunch. Prior to the after-noon session there was study time. Total silence reigned during this time as the “Boarding Father” constantly patrolled the corridor with his downcast gaze probably reading and concentrating on the Holy Book, but not losing any track of the odd erring student either! At this time of the after-noon we would on some days be interestingly distracted with the trucks supplying firewood as their engines whined climbing up the steep hill. Also the occasional BSA or Floret motor-cycle that revved up the hill was a novelty. I still treasure the moment when the Volkswagen Beetle first made its debut appearance at Monte in the late fifties. On the spur of the moment and in a sudden show of energy, a bunch of robust boys lifted the front end of this car about a foot of the ground! (I believe those boys were later reprimanded for their behaviour!) Others like myself admired the novel engine placement at the rear of this vehicle as a great achievement of the time. It was my first fascinating look at the VW Beetle up close, inside and outside.

During the noon break we could clearly hear the blasts at the iron-ore mines in Sirigao. Making a rare and entertaining appearance to the school during noon was the highly erudite but eccentric Sacrula de Saligao who provided us with his astonishing speeches. Most students gathered around him to hear him. His trademark was his cycle, a Franciscan habit and an umbrella with an insignia. He was never afraid of heights. He liked to stand above the rest when his delivered one of his amazing speeches, and the parapet facing the school refectory posed no challenge for the extraordinary and unforgettable man.

With the afternoon school session drawing to a close it would be tea time. A conventional bell rung by the school clerk next to the headmaster’s office announced subject periods and recess times. Incidentally, I still recall that it was not an electric bell that summoned the boys to the refectory. In fact it was about a three foot long piece of a railway-track that hung next to the refectory. Struck repeatedly with an iron bar announced the call for lunch, tea and playtime breaks. After that the boys would run down the steps or take a winding path to the playing grounds on the west side of the hill. Football and hockey being major sports the old playing grounds could no longer hold the growing number of students. So a second ground was added which also served as the main venue for the annual sports and special events days. Incidentally, these grounds served the Indian Army to pitch their tents in December 1961. During this time the school remained closed for a brief period.

There was a time when Typewriting was a recognized subject by the Poona Board of S.S.C.E. and many students availed of this opportunity. So it was not an uncommon sight to see the students pounding away at the keys of Remington and Underwood typewriters in the afternoon soon after lunch in the typing room which was located adjacent to the Clerk’s office. The clatter from these typewriters could be heard far away. So the reason for this chosen time for typing practice was that other students should not get disturbed during the afternoon study period.

Although the years seem to have drifted away I cannot but help reminisce the bathing time after playing at those grounds when the “Boarding Father” assisted by volunteer students would shower students with buckets of water drawn from the well near the grounds. Then upwards on the winding path through the cashew fruit trees up the hill we trudged again for days, months and years on end. When we at last made to the hill-top just before dusk, far down below we could still the farmers tending to their vegetable patches and rice crops in the fields.

All the electrical work was done and maintained by a dedicated Friar. Tube lights were first installed in the chapel in the late fifties. The generator, or dynamo as it was popularly known then, was used only in the night up to 11 pm. and sometimes when the skies darkened in the daytime during the rainy season. A new “dynamo” with more wattage was installed in the late fifties to cater to the additional demand created by newly added classrooms. As the old one could no longer take the full load it was then put on stand-by in case of an emergency.

An interesting and nostalgic moment that I remember is being fascinated by the pump house with its engine turning a long belt that in turn pumped the water from the square shaped well – a remarkable engineering feat those days. As young boys we would put our ear on the pipe that ran up the hill to hear the faint murmur of the engine and the water gushing through it. The school also had a lightning conductor installed on the side of the steeple of the chapel. This provided safety not only for the school premises, but also protected to the surrounding villages from severe lightning strikes.

The Fathers saw that the students were physically fit and healthy. Periodic inoculations were done and records of height, weight and general growth of students were strictly kept. General hygiene and cleanliness was maintained to the highest possible level. Inspectors from from the SSCE Board were very pleased with the overall standard of the school and met their criteria and expectations. The boys were well instructed, well looked after, well-fed and passed as being robust and in good general health. For the physical training exercise, boys lined up for the “drill” under the giant old nunerca tree. This tree was a legend in its life time. It was like a mother that sheltered and protected her children under her huge arms from the hot sun and rain. Its own branch roots were very cleverly nurtured back into the earth with soil around it round tin pipes, thereby providing support for itself. Though botanists tried to save it, the old tree is no more. But a new one that was immediately planted in its place soon grew to its full sizes and provides a nostalgic reminiscence to the visiting scholar of the old days.

During the Portuguese regime there used to be what was called “Mocidade Portuguesa”, the regime’s youth organization. These cadets were dressed in full khaki uniform and all other smart gear that went along with it - like badges, socks, shoes, belts and caps. At this time when we had this gathering of students the school looked like a battalion especially when the Inspectors from Panjim visited our school and met the “Commandantes de Castela” of our school. The school had the honour and distinction of having one of its students chosen to participate in the Mocidade Convention in Portugal in 1955. A contingent from this unit was also chosen to maintain an orderly queue during the exposition of the body of St. Francis Xavier. Being students of this school at a transient time in the political history of Goa saw us standing to attention and singing the Portuguese national anthem, and later sang the Indian national anthem from January 1962 onwards. 'Mocidade Portuguesa' was transformed into the National Cadet Corps that followed after liberation which was an youth development movement adopted as a tool with enormous potential and incentive for nation building, with a sense for their all-round development for duty, commitment, dedication, discipline and moral values so that they could aspire to become future able leaders and useful citizens if they so wished with no liability for active military service.

Pre-liberation days also had one of the Fathers at Monte compiling his very own Chemistry Book especially for our School which was found to be exact and precise in meeting the standards prescribed by the S.S.C.E. Board, Poona.

Equally timeless were the days when movies were screened at Monte. The school had a 35 mm sound projector that used an arc lamp as its light source on which cinemascope movies could be run. This projector had a separate cinemascope lens. It is also called a spreader lens used to screen wide-screen format films. Adjustment requires special technique. We looked at it with awe and wonder. “Ten Commandments” was among the great epic films shown at Monte. Other great epics on celluloid shown were 'Ben  Hur', 'The Robe' and the 'Longest Day'. The projector was maintained and safely stored in the Projector Room. The movies were shown by Bro. Salvador assisted by a young technical wizard called Camilo, who was a naturally gifted master of everything - from typewriter repairs, printing (cyclostyling exam papers), binding, electrical and various other things. He was a genius born before his time. He taught some students how to make Holy Rosaries using beads and wires. This was the time when devotion to Our Lady of Fatima was in full swing in Goa in the mid-1950's. The glow-in-the-dark bead rosaries were much sought after. Among the school’s other possessions was a full-fledged Science Laboratory for Physics and Chemistry, a microscope, a telescope and a real skeleton in one of the cupboards for Physiology students. When I was a younger student there, I must confess that I used to be afraid to go near that cupboard! One of the other creepy moments at the school was when as a young lad I refused to turn my head towards the cremation grounds on the southern side of the football grounds on the way up after games at dusk.

I enjoyed a particular togetherness on the long walk to see the football or hockey game that our school participated in at the famed Duler grounds in Mapusa. A couple of “four anna” coins in our pockets would see us through a soda and an “ice-fruit”, quenching our thirst after a long trek up and down the Mapuça hill, and returning to the school at dusk.

Although those times have long gone by, things seem to have happened just yesterday, when come rain or shine we held our heads up high and cheered our Alma Mater through it all. In those days nothing was impossible for the great Capuchin Friars. They would instantly declare half a day as a holiday and transform the Senior Dormitory into an auditorium for the concert, and the classrooms into temporary sleeping areas for the two nights. And that was one of the greatest highlights, the Annual Concert, with the Portuguese Governor General as the chief guest. It was held for two consecutive days. The senior dormitory had a full-fledged permanent drama stage at its southern end fitted with a rather unique front curtain. Rehearsals were held well in advance and directed by our very own in-house Music Father and excellent driver on the western coast - none other than Bro. Salvador. The renowned musicians of Johnson & His Jolly Boys from Siolim provided fantastic melodies of the day. The first day was for the school students. The second day was especially for the parents of the students and the general public. I still remember “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” as one the best plays acted out by the students, besides other items of songs in English, Portuguese and Konkani. The famous French student and later a teacher - Thomas Mendonca - acted in school plays. Students played classical recitals on the violin on stage to the astonishment of all. An interesting feature in this concert by one of the Brothers was the mesmerizing creation in the movement of the ocean waves in which a boat pitched up and down from end to end of the stage to the strains of the familiar tune singing: 'Merrily, merrily, row the boat ashore.' This display was second to none at the time, a masterpiece of a creative illusion that was a talk of entire Goa. It is my guess that it still remains to be duplicated. An Arts and crafts exhibition was also held on these two concert days. Another innovation of this Artist Brother was the direction of a painting done on stage by three young artists each with three sets of pails and three sets of colours, done in succession to music and voila! the scene was ready in three minutes. Equally impressive was the crisscrossing march on stage by students in uniform which apparently looked like an endless line of soldiers marching on to battle! On the second day a very early morning Mass service was held for boarders, day-scholars and teachers, followed by a grand breakfast in the auditorium-cum-dorm. Also before the starting of the concert on the second day prizes were distributed for best students in studies, good conduct, general proficiency, art and athletics. The school was also well known for its gymnastics that were held on the Annual Sports Day with the exciting cycle race as a grand finale.

The school also organized a fun-packed day-long Mission Sunday. All the Fathers, Brothers, teachers and students were involved in this annual event. The students held different types of stalls with try-your-luck games, wheel of fortune, feed the tiger, etc. People from all around the surrounding villages patronized this function. The purpose of this occasion was to create an awareness of giving among the students. The proceeds generated from this program were sent to the poor.

One of the proud moments of the school was acquiring a brand new four-wheel drive Land-Rover in the late fifties. As a young student at Monte I remember admiring it with extreme awe and wonder at this automotive marvel. Prior to that the school had a brown-colour Austin Van that was used to get food supplies and other necessities on a daily basis from the Mapsa Market for the boarders. It also served as a mode of transportation for the foot-ball and hockey teams to Mapuca and Panjim during school tournaments. On a lighter and humorous note the old brown van was fondly known in Konkani as “gongurlo” (meaning beetle in English) probably referring to its slow motion up the hill. It had perhaps seen better days in its past and hard days in its later life trying to make it up and down the hill. It was easily recognized by the distinguishable drone of its engine. Towards its final days before being put into retirement it was not an uncommon sight to see the very football or hockey team it provided transport for, in aiding by pushing it up the hill. Also many a time the “Matric Class Big Boys” would quickly be summoned up at very short notice, even when class was in session, to help it up on its way or put a stone to chock the rear wheels and prevent it from rolling down. The big boys would always be proud of having been called to try their strength.

The school had its own bakery. It was also well-known for the wine produced by the Friars. On the south-eastern slopes of the hill overlooking Sangolda and Porvorim there was a pig farm – not of the local kind – these were white and imported. Monte de Guirim had some beautiful trees and flowers grown in the garden overlooking the monastery.

Once upon a time there was a flat wooden covered bridge that joined the senior dormitory to the refectory and junior dormitory buildings. But whenever a delivery truck loaded with firewood or other supplies came up it could not pass under it to drop the load on the upper terrace. So brilliant were the fathers of Monte – they were architects too and never ran out of ideas – that they had an arched RCC bridge constructed. But still somehow it seemed to be difficult for some trucks to pass under. Nothing could pose a challenge. So then they made a slight dip in the road at that point. And the trucks passed through happily ever after. Living up to the school’s motto: “Ad Ardua”, the Fathers, Brothers, Teachers, workers and students met with the challenges before them.

A small grotto existed before 1953 next to the bridge. Modifications were made in later years. In the mid 1950's the front facade was upgraded with the artistic input of Bro. Vitalis using natural rocky boulders and a recessed altar was added along with a decorative parapet and plants adding to its overall appeal. This improvement also further stabilized the retaining wall and the Music Room above it. A grand celebration with a solemn Mass was held annually at the grotto in the evening of 8th December - the feast day of the Immaculate Conception - with a beautiful candlelight procession to St. Diogo's Church attended by folks of Guirim and Sangolda which was a beautiful sight to behold. As a young lad I attended this occasion accompanying my mother with a paper lantern that I had made especially for the occasion. 

Late in the fifties, an orphanage was added to the school, with separate quarters down on the west side of the hill, near the old well and pump-house.

During our final days at Monte, my classmates and I stood by and watched the new huge 3-floored building gradually rise on the north side of the chapel, supervised by one of the Architect Fathers. Other general improvements were made too during this time. In the late 1950's there was a sudden rise in the number of boarders due to the school's popularity - boarders especially whose parents worked in East Africa and the Arabian Gulf. And the class-rooms were bursting at the seams, each class with nearly 4 divisions  and each division of nearly 30 to 35 students. So a remarkable and ambitious temporary project was launched in order to accommodate this sudden rise while the new concrete building was getting ready. It was the construction of a giant thatched hall with coconut leaves and huge bamboo poles - with over 8 classrooms on the eastern side of the main building. Today a beautiful and modern structure stands in its place.

Also worth a mention is the first Ordination at Monte of one of the students to priesthood held in dormitory of the main school building.

The school was well-known for its Students Choir. A hymn very often heard on the Medium Wave Radio Panjim at seven o’clock in the morning was sung by St. Anthony’s Choir which was recorded at Emissora de Goa Studios.

The school provided employment to all, but specially those in the immediate vicinity around Monte de Guirim in their respective trades like masons, carpenters, cooks, helpers, gardeners, cleaners and launderers. Milk for tea was supplied by various local dairies.

There was one special day when students were allowed to attend classes dressed in their Sunday best, and that was on their birthdays. Some students distributed holy pictures to the Fathers, teachers and class-mates on such occasions with a typical hand-written message :

 "In remembrance of my birthday.
 Please pray for my success in my exams."

Below the above typical message was the individual's name and the date.

But time for us at the school was fast running out. It was our final year at the school. We would soon appear for S.S.C. Examinations and be no more at the school. But only return to cherish those wonderful memories whenever we paid a visit, eager to see how the school was progressing.

Daily life and routine between the boarders and day-scholars at the school were varied and quite different by comparison. I knew this well from day-schooling friends of mine. They had different stories to relate - from helping their parents in the fields to others who had food placed at their table. Some told stories of how they helped, in the fields and at home, drawing water from the wells and going to the nearby mill to have the rationed wheat ground into flour, while others shied away from telling even if they did.

But, I knew a day-scholar who became one of my best friends through the years. He lived in Guirim, commuting on foot every day all through my years at Monte. He always had a smile on his face and was liked by all. I admired his endurance and resilience to any given situation, come rain, floods or sunshine. He was a very hardworking student and did well in most subjects and steadily ranked among the top ten in our class. I used to see him hurrying with his books and his lunch tin, headed towards the special buthi room. What I did notice was that at times he did not carry his buthi, and came in straight to the class. I hoped to find out and solve the mystery some day. As it turned out, before we knew it, our final schooling year was about to end. In just another couple of months days at Monte would be over.

Finally, just before our S.S.C. Examinations, I gathered all the courage I had, and asked him as to why on certain days he had not carried his buthi during his last many years at Monte. What he then related to me was something that I definitely was not prepared for. And it shocked me to the core hearing his story. I wished I had known this all along. To my astonishment he described how on most days his mother somehow had managed to cook and provide the lunch in a tin; and how sometimes when she had fallen ill and had not been able to prepare it in time in the morning. Some times she had left home very early at dawn to work in the fields. And there were other times when they had nothing to cook at all. And those were the days when he had not brought his buthi. But, he would carry a four-paise coin that his mother gave him safely tied to a hand-kerchief lest should he lose it and go hungry. During the afternoon break this four-paise coin would see him through with a loaf of bread from the school’s kitchen and some sweets from the shop down the hill at the “T” junction. But those kitchen servers who worked there were nice and kind. They never took money from this boy. Nor did they know that one loaf of bread was all that he would have for his lunch. And I had not known this fact at all, all the previous years either.

Years went by since then. We did keep in touch at times in the subsequent years after SSCE. I met him once in Mapusa in the early seventies. He was shopping for provisions along with his mother. He still carried his trademark smile. It was a busy Friday market day as usual in the month of May. We both happened to be vacationing in Goa at that time, returning from work on our annual leave from different parts of the world. He insisted that I join him and his mother for drinks and snacks at Café Xavier which I gladly did. We chatted about the good old days for a while. When we had finished he even persisted to pay as well, and I relented. Drawing his wallet out from his pocket he paid. Then he looked into my eyes, slightly moist – perhaps thinking of his old days - the four-anna coin and the loaf of bread! But he did not say anything. For a while time seemed to have stood still. We both probably kept our thought to ourselves, reminiscing about a past that was. Only this time it was different - a sumptuous lunch would definitely await him today, I thought. Almost reading my thoughts he asked me to come over to his house for lunch, but I had to decline as I had to take provisions home myself to my mother who would be waiting for me. God bless him wherever he may be today.

In the fascinating and enchanting, peaceful and serene surroundings of Monte de Guirim, still stands high the mighty school of St. Anthony. While on these memories I always fondly dwell, they will forever give me a reason to relate to my children the wonderful stories of the great times at Monte, chat about it with my classmates of long ago and in wishing so as a finale, I would sum it all up with the following epilogue.


Through the fields
And foliage so verdant 
Up the hill I walk once more;
Yet again I trudge as an encore.

Standing on the portal
Of my sweet Alma Mater,
Once again in the cool shade I pause
Just as I had done in the summer heat
As a young lad long ago.

Beneath the old nunerca tree,
On its trunk our names I still see,
That we long ago had carved
As young lads so carefree.


Some of the Fathers and Brothers that I remember through my time at Monte. 1953 - 1964

Fr. Pacificus, Principal
Fr. Diogo, Principal Excellent English & Konkani Preacher
Fr. Ambrose, Headmaster Excellent English Teacher
Fr. Patrick, Headmaster History / Good Hockey Player
Fr. Ephrem, Boarding Excellent Math Teacher
Fr. Chrysostom, Physics & Chemistry
Fr. Fortunato, Geography
Fr. Columban, English Excellent speaker
Fr. Ireneus, Religion / Excellent English & Konkani Preacher
Br. Vitalis, Art Director Excellent Artist / Brilliant Innovator
Br. Peter, Infirmary Well known throughout Goa for snake-bite cure
Br. Peter, Religion
Br. Polycarp, Infirmary
Br. Titus, Electrical Engineer
Br. Salvador, Music Director / Transportation / Very Good Driver