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Monday, December 31, 2012


However long the night
 of 31st December,
the dawn
of 1st January
will break.


We have said this before, but then we shall say it once again. 'Adieu' to another year that seemed to have just passed so quickly, or so it seems, and it is time now to usher in yet another.
Every year we wish and pray for peaceful days ahead, free from turmoil, shooting and killing of innocent people, war, economic and natural disasters.

Some folks happily attend parties, family get-together, large social gatherings in communities irrespective of caste or religion to celebrate the New Year. Some may be thinking of their loved ones who were with them in the last year, and this day sadly are not with them.

We can, however cherish the happy memories of our dear one and think of the good times we shared in the happy time of yesteryear.

Perhaps the good old days when we attended New Year’s Eve Ball and house parties that followed. That was the norm. We were young then. Today as we are much older as we reminisce about the good old times that we shared with our friends, some of whom sadly are not longer with us.

Sometimes I tend to ask myself why we refer to those days as the good old days. Conversely, I believe that the days are the same, the only difference being that we are getting older.
Poignantly though and quite aptly, some of us may reminisce once again in forming a circle with our friends at the Ball, waiting for the count-down at the stroke of midnight and singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
At the same time, in true fashion of “Old Long Ago’ we take time to re-kindle cherished memories of our loving dear departed relatives and friends.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of old lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas time in Goa 1965

Picture converted to digital from
Kodachrome Transparency 35mm 64ASA

On the left of the window is a sign
that reads 'Happy Xmas' - this was
painted on all houses using a cut-out stencil
by us - youngsters of the generation - on the eve of
Christmas Day in the early morning hours.
High above in the picture is the
traditional 'Noketr' (Star) in every home
(except in the year when a family grieves for a lost one)
 - made from expanded set of a double star-shaped
bamboo framework, translucent paper,
guruth (glue made from flour and water)
tassels for the five pointers,
'pontti' to illuminate,
pulley and coir rope
to haul the 'star' up into the sky!
The bicycle is 'Atlas'
with horn, bell, lamp, rear view mirror and bracket.
On the sopo (seat) on the right is
a Philips portable transistor radio
tuned to Radio Ceylon.
Seen by the length of the shadows
the picture was taken early in the morning. 

I collected as many as possible discarded standard size 1.5 V batteries from old radios in the village, in advance; checked and kept only those that had some life in the them. I made a plywood box to hold 8 batteries of 1.5V each and wired them in series to give about 12V or less, then used 2 bulbs of 6V each in series - 1 for the manger and the other for the star.

At other times of the year I fitted a salvaged reflector from an old torch and fitted it to the front end of the wooden box mentioned above. This was the most powerful torch in our village.   

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

THE MANGER - Yuletide in Goa 1965

Converted to a digital picture
from a Kodachrome Transparency 64 ASA 
My house in Goa, Christmas 1965
Above the Nativity scene on the left is the altar (Konkani: Olontor)
On the right of it is a picture of
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

Lighting to the manger and to the star above it,
 is powered by batteries.

Please note the antique chair on the right.

Friday, December 21, 2012



  Yuletide scene - St. Anne's Church, Parra, Bardez, Goa.
December 2009

  'Ye shall find the babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.'

Thursday, December 20, 2012


A touching, appropriate and thoughtful caption
on the pylon sign at the entrance to the parking lot of the
Church of St. Catherine of Siena, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


 Yuletide on Wheels

It was a typical joyful evening of the season. As usual during this particular time of year happiness abounds everywhere in the countryside. During one such late evening I happened to visit my relatives in the quaint little village of Cumbiem Morod, Guirim, Bardez, Goa, where I had spent my childhood.
The sun was about to disappear over the horizon and call it a day. The cool late December evening breeze blew across the village. Cars, trucks and scooters whizzed by the winding narrow road, quite unlike the old days. The sunset had cast a reddish glow over the evening skies. The day was bidding adieu.

I gently swung back and forth on a rocking chair in the ‘balcao’ of my cousin’s elegant home, admiring the two beautiful ‘stars’ that glowed beautifully on both sides of the entrance of the house facing the hills in the distance.

Then suddenly as I turned my head towards my right I noticed a bullock cart approaching from the eastern part of the village. My curiosity led me to rise from the chair and proceed towards the road to try and get a closer look of the bullock cart.  A hurricane lamp attached to the arch made out of coconut tree leaves gently swayed to and fro. The bullock cart slowly drew nearer. It was then that I heard a chorus of children’s voices singing. I could hear the timeless and most melodic eternal carol  ever of Yuletide, Silent Night. The children’s voices gradually grew louder as the cart drew nearer. Soon the cart passed by us. It was then that I realized that it was a tableau on wheels of the good old and humble bullock-cart. It was a simple nativity scene created on the cart’s deck as seen from the rear.

This rare and beautiful treat for one’s eyes, nativity scene of the Holy Family was extremely touching. It was innocently portrayed by young kids. The scene touched the core of my heart reminding me of my own younger days. I was so overcome with admiration and joy that I instinctively followed the cart till the border of my village towards the west. People came running out of their houses and followed behind. The cart then slowed down and made a full turn heading back toward the eastern part of the village. The children singing Christmas carols followed dutifully behind the cart. All the kids following, including one in a garb of Santa Claus in this mini-tableau continued with their medley of carols, from one to another, in quick succession. The lone rider in front of the cart was quite careful and adept in leading them safely on the slow journey through the village.

One could say that the bullocks pulling the cart played their part too in presenting this tableau on wheels – with the bells in their necks chiming aptly just like Christmas bells. Their hooves kept time with their staccato while the grinding of the iron rims of the cart’s wheels over the paved road provided subdued percussion.

Bringing up the rear accompanying, guiding and helping this moving “holy young bunch” was a smart young lady, who I undoubtedly guessed, was in charge of this movable feast to everyone’s awe and wonder. The scene with all the strings of bright lights and typical ‘stars’ adorning the balconies of homes along the way added to the joyous spirit.

It was then that I realized that I had forgotten something. And what could that be? It was my camera of course, that I had left at home - a little distance away in the adjoining village of Canca. I regretted for not having carried it along with me as I usually do. So I approached this lady and asked her to let me take a picture before proceeding to get my camera. Permission granted, I raced back home on my scooter to get my camera for a picture of this tableau. I finally caught up with the exuberant group of youngsters as they proceeded on their way home a kilometer away to their own village of Vancio, Guirim, where this spirit of Yuletide was made with a simple, rustic and uniquely designed and a well presented tableau. A tableau on wheels. I felt awkward to stop their carol singing, but they were quite eager to pose for a picture.

Seeing me approach them in the twilight, the leader of the pack beckoned the bullock cart to a halt. The kids gladly posed for a picture that I requested. They carried on through the rest of their journey on the winding road back home wishing me a good night. That made my day, a photograph that bears testimony to the spirit of Yuletide.

Tony Fernandes
Author of: Goa - Memories of My Homeland (Poems & Stories)
This article first appeared in Goanet-News

[Goanet-news] Goanet Reader: Yuletide on wheels... a Christmas in Guirim (Tony Fernandes)

Goanet Reader Mon Dec 18 14:46:23 PST 2006    


Thursday, December 13, 2012



Our friend Carol in her booth at a Craft Show was serving sample of her favourite wine jellies.

Says Carol, after handing over a sample to her customer:

“Can you taste the GINGER in there?’
Customer: “Oh, sure I can.”
Carol hands over another sample saying: “Can you taste the GINGER in that too? Isn’t that great?
Customer “It sure is. Lovely zippy GINGER flavor”.

Carol herself later finds out that the samples that she had mistakenly handed over were in fact LEMON-flavoured.

So you see, our Carol could easily even sell APPLES as ORANGES (or vice-versa)! Couldn’t she? After all, it’s all what is in one’s mind.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012



Customer at
the sampling station:      “What flavour is this?”

Vendor:                         “Hazelnut Chocolate”
Customer:                      “Are there nuts in it?”
Vendor:                         “Yes”.

Customer:                      “What kind?”

Vendor’s silent reply:    “The kind of the one who’s standing in front of me."

Sunday, December 09, 2012



And then just recently at a craft show, there was this couple who walked into our booth. They browsed around and then they started to read all the labels on the jars loudly. After they had finished reading them all, they said the labels looked very nice, but couldn’t take a jar home because the wife just can’t stand turmeric, mother- in-law is allergic to vinegar, and the husband’s system cannot handle garlic.

The only one who simply adores pickles is their son. And he is out of town.


Thursday, December 06, 2012


Today is 
St. Nicholas Day
The Original St. Nicholas
Bishop of Myra, Greece

O good holy Nicholas, 
you who brought joy to children, 
put in my heart the spirit of childhood 
about which the Gospel speaks. 
Teach me how to sow 
happiness around me. Amen.

— Prayer to St. Nicholas

From the Franciscan Media

Monday, December 03, 2012


A customer admires my work and stares at every object for about an hour.
Then as he is about to leave my booth without a purchase, asks:

Q:  Are they all hand-made?

A:  No. They are all home-made by hand. I also have a machine
      that is connected to my wrists. Want to take another guess?
      Go ahead. You might as well. Or do you think  I use my
      feet?  And what do you mean “all hand-made”?
      Are you suggesting some are while others are not?

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Q:  Oh! Hand-made! Do you make them here?

A: No! We manufacture them in outer space.
      Then we hire aliens to ship them out here!

Friday, November 30, 2012


Customers questions at Craft Shows

Q:   Did you write this poetry book yourself?
A:    No! I just put my name on it for fun!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Hilarious questions by customers at Craft Shows

Q:   Do you make these 'Woodburnings' yourself?

A:    No! They just fall from the sky on weekends early
       in the morning on the outskirts of this town. All you have
       to do is be there early to pick them up. Then, all you do is
       load them in your mini-van and drive! Then wait your turn
       to set up  and try to sell them here!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



A customer stares at my work with admiration for about 2 hours,
 ...and after an unsuccessful purchase, quotes:

Tony, you’re doing an excellent job!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


HOLDING HANDS       by   Tony Fernandes     
My wife often says to me at the Malls: “Look, that couple there, see how lovingly they are holding hands and walking along”. And then I am prompted to retort: “As if I love you any less if I don’t do what they do. You know I love you nevertheless, don’t you?”

As we walk further down through the mall we see more couples holding hands as they leisurely pace along the aisles.

Now, that is precisely the situation that prompts or suggests in my own few personal notions about this trait of holding hands through normal human behaviour.

Though holding hands is not new, it is definitely an expression of love as old as time and love itself.

Looking on the humourous side here are a few of my own observations why people, married couples, or just lovers, hold hands in public places and especially in the Malls.

· They are afraid of losing their partner – literally.
· There’s a mad rush.
· Huge crowds everywhere.
· The aisles are packed.
· They could be feeling insecure.
· They just got back from a recent spat.
· They first met at the Mall.
· Today is their first meet’s first anniversary.
· Re-living the moments of the first date.
· It’s their 20th wedding anniversary.
· It’s better than paying alimony.
· They just can’t keep their hands to themselves.
· They staunchly believe that united they stand;
   divided – and if they let go, they might fall.
· He is definitely not her husband, or she is not his wife.
· One of them must be very rich.
· She must be after his money.
· He’s about to include her in his will.
· She has discovered a secret locker of his diamonds.
· They could be both big public show-offs.
· They are trying to make us feel jealous.
· They just got married.
· Who knows? They may have just met a while ago.
· It’s just a force of habit – and old habits die hard.
· It’s their first date.
· They just got back from the beer garden.
· They recently re-married (a la Liz Taylor/Richard Burton style).    
· They discovered that love can be re-kindled.
· One of them wants to know the other’s secret.
·  She’s using her hand today instead of a leash.

So, having given a few reasons that are, in my mind, positive, I look forward to better days ahead. We are of course still young, 37 years married, and in the rat-race of today’s world we haven’t found the time to hold hands seriously often enough. Perhaps we will do so in the distant future or whenever we visit the Mall. Holding hands, then, will just come to us. Naturally. It’s difficult to do that otherwise!

Friday, November 16, 2012


St. Anne's Church, Parra, GOA - India

Poem from my book "Goa - Memories of My Homeland'

Some Goans have traveled far and wide all across the globe.
Nevertheless, with strong family ties
 to their folks and friends back home,
 some sort of a prayer for the well-being
 of those they left behind
may have automatically come to them.
Here is my own.


Into your hands O Lord
My loving family I place
Take good care of them
With your fondest grace.

Shelter them while I am gone
Guard them while I am away
Shield them from troubles and ailment
Grant my humble request, I pray.

Let happiness always reign
In my humble abode when I am not around
Their smiles preserved
And laughter ever abound.

Thoughts about my family
Forth I will always carry
With your blessings O Lord
Keep us all in unity.

Guide me well on my voyage
O Lord to you I pray
And bring me back safely
To be once again with my family.

Should from my voyage
I be destined not to return
Then to Your will, I will surrender,
But remember Lord,

Look after my folks, have concern.

Sunday, November 11, 2012



          Lest We Forget - three words renown across most countries to show remembrance of those who have fought, and those who have died fighting for freedom. It means that we will never forget.

          In Canada, the day is honoured by wearing poppies, a flower that bloomed throughout the fields of battle grounds in France and Belgium during World War I.

          The wearing of the symbol of the poppy was made popular due to the poem, Flanders Fields, written by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after witnessing his friend and fellow soldier struck down in the midst of battle in WWI.

Friday, November 02, 2012


"If we had no care
for the dead
we would not 
be in the habit
of praying for them."

(St. Augustine of Hippo)

Photograph by: 
Tony Fernandes
Cemetery - St. Anne's Church
Parra, Bardez, Goa.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


"The Feast of All Saints
honours the obscure
 as well as 
the famous - the saints
 each of us has known"

Picture above:
Main Altar of
Canca, Verla, Bardez, Goa

Monday, October 29, 2012


This is a picture of a building which was originally the summer palace of Goa's 16th century interim Muslim ruler. His name was Adil Shah. With the onset of Portuguese rule in Goa, the above building was converted into a rest house the Governors of Goa who were appointed from Lisbon. It was later used as the Secretariat/Legislature of the State of Goa, and now referred to simply as a non-functional 'Old Secretariat Building'.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


In front of the Chapel
of Our Lady of the Rosary

"Take a load off Annie, take a load for free
Take a load of Annie, and you put the load right on me".

In the old days our Goan folks walked long distances from villages to the towns and vice versa. They also walked great distances to visit their relatives and friends. But some of the folks who grew vegetables, bananas and other produce, carried them to the market place in huge baskets placed upon their heads.

Very often these folks would be waiting at one of the structures called 'Dovornem' by the side of the road. These were constructed in laterite stone that enabled these hard-working folks to place the load they carried on their heads on these square-shaped structures and take a breather before proceeding on their journey either to or from the market.

By design, the height was intentionally finished off at an average person's height, so that there wasn't any need of another person either to lower or lift the load up back on their heads. What they merely had to do was slide the basket on the top flat surface of the 'Dovornem'.

Often, people also waited for others to join them at such spots, so that they would have company to travel in a group, thereby risking a lesser chance of getting themselves mugged or robbed of their jewelry or cash as they walked through lonely forests and hills.

When I was a young lad I have, on many occasions, accompanied my mother on such walking marathons, visiting my grandmother from Guirim to Siolim, and have comes across people who took some rest at such places, after from carrying the heavy load on their head for hours, so that they could give themselves a break or cool themselves off from the long walk and over-powering heat, especially in the summer. 

These trips were often scary, and the merchant and ordinary folks tried to hurry home through the hills before nightfall, specially through a slightly frightening, eerie and sinister area called 'Sonar Khett' well known in the old days for thieves hiding in the forests, and preying on lonely women making their journey through these hills.

In the old days these simple laterite structures perhaps beckoned the passerby to lessen his burden, but nowadays some of these structures lie abandoned and neglected, a few of them barely visible among the overgrowth of bushes along the sides of some roads.

These structures are found in many places along the Goan countryside roads. I wonder who constructed them long ago - was it the local 'comunidade' or government? It  is my opinion that the word 'dovornem' is derived from the Konkani word 'dovor' meaning 'to keep' - hence 'dovornem' - meaning: 'a place to keep'. I hope the panchayats will try to maintain these old 'masonry platforms' as a heritage artefacts.