Picturesque Goa

Picturesque Goa
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Altars of St. Anne's Church, Parra, Bardez, Goa

Beautiful Altars of St. Anne's Church

I have fond memories of this church. It awesome architectural grandeur, the paintings on the ceiling and its gold painted altars have always fascinated me ever since the time when as a child I accompanied my aunt and cousins of various feasts and functions their were held at this church.
It is one of the churches famous for its facade and the steps leading to it. Konkani dramas and other functions like outdoor masses are held there. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back in Baga, Goa, India

Baga an extension of Calangute Village in the state of GoaIndia. It comes under the jurisdiction of Calangute, which is 2 km (1 mi) south. Baga is known for its popular beach, Baga Beach with is brown sands, and creek, the Baga Creek. It is visited by thousands of tourists annually. - Wikipedia

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Girim Church

Guirim/Sangolda Parish
Bardez - GOA - India
Photo by Tony Fernandes

The church was founded in 1604 and catered to the villages of Guirim, Sangolda and the valley of Porvorim. It was repaired in 1703, when two belfries were added to it. Finally, in 2004, on the ocassion of its fourth centenary, a significant volume of renovation work of the church and of the parochial residence was carried out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Common House-hold Grinding Stone - Goa,
for grinding spices in paste (masala) used in making curry and vegetable dishes

Monday, January 16, 2012

'Dantem' - Grinding Grain into Flour

House-hold Grinding Mill - Granite Stone - Goa.
(Line artwork by Tony Fernandes)

It is used for grinding grain into flour for making flat-bread (chapathi/roti) pastries and traditional sweets and other delicacies.
Many people in villages owned a 'dantem'. Those who did not have one, borrowed one from their neighbours who gladly lent it to them. As it is very heavy, people prefer to go over to the neighbour's house to get the job done.

The pair of stones are placed are centrally pivoted. Rotating of the top stone is aided by a spindle fixed on the top stone that is used as a handle to grasp in turning it over the bottom stone which remains stationery. The mill is preferably place on a thick white cotton cloth or hessian on the floor. Two people with their fists placed one over the other on the spindle/stick, makes turning easier. One person with strong arms can turn it with some difficulty at the start, but it gets easier as one gains momentum after a few rotations. The left hand is used to turn and the right hand is used to feed the grain into the twin receptacles at the top centre of the grinding mill. The ground flour comes out and falls around the perimeter of the bottom stone which is collected and placed in a container. The ground flour may sometimes need two or more passes to attain the right consistency.

Traditionally, such hand-mills were used in the preparation of various sweets and other foods for Christmas or for weddings in the villages. Traditional 'Ovio' (wedding songs) were sung as the women sat on a large mat turning the wheels of such mills while other village folks accompanied them in their chores getting the traditional sweets like neureo, bebinca, doce, dodol, bol, etc. ready for such occasions.

Now get ready its time to relish some fresh chapathi or roti.

'Vaan' - Threshing of Parboiled Rice (Goa - India)

(A must in the back room of every rustic village home of a bygone era)

The 'Vaan' consists of a hole in the ground of about 6" in diameter and 8" deep along with a set of two bamboo poles. This is mainly a chore for two women alternatively beating into the hole where paddy or par-boiling rice is placed and then threshed using the ends of the bamboo poles. Based upon judgment the hollow is then emptied. The rice and husk is separated using sieves and techniques using using a unique bamboo contraption called 'sup'.

The poles are usually smooth as someone suggested, but the one that I have shown above in my drawing are bamboo poles. My father was a very innovative and ingenious man.  He polished thick bamboo poles himself, to be used as a replacement very cleverly and with originality well suitable for the purpose of a replacement.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

GOAN 'PONTTI' BY NIGHT - by Tonferns

Known locally as 'pontti', it is a lamp made of red clay, average size about 3" x 2", and extensively used during Diwali celebrations. Arrays lit 'en masse' are seen in the balconies and courtyards of homes. It is lit mainly as a religious offering using oil with a cotton wick in Hindu and Christian homes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Retraced  Footsteps
Goa Revisited (Part 1)

It was a long flight over two oceans and three continents. The plane circled once around the airport, made a smooth landing and finally came to a halt. The air outside was distinct, but slightly humid for the time of year. The airport building had changed quite a bit since his last visit. Felicio’s holiday in Goa was about to begin.

The taxi took on the sweeping curves along the river bank. As they were about to turn homeward to the north at the T-junction at the base of the hillock Felicio saw the famous bridge looming over the Zuari river. The barges transporting the iron-ore slowly maneuvering their way under the bridge brought to mind a familiar sight of the past that had not changed.

The breeze hit his face through the open window of the taxi bringing some relief from the heat of the afternoon sun. Scooters were plying about almost everywhere. It seemed that everybody on wheels wanted to overtake Felicio’s hired taxi. Everyone seemed to be in a rush. “Who said we were susegad?” he mused to himself, “or could it be the scooter riders were not Goenkar?” he wondered.

Along the way the friendly cab driver casually gave Felicio a news brief first at state level, and then in a subdued tone a weather forecast followed by a general look at the prevailing situation of the land. As the taxi slowly came to a halt Felicio was surprised that he was home earlier than he had expected. He was quick to realize that it was due to the fact that new bridges were now built where none existed before, and so he did not have to wait at the ferry crossings, although he was rather perturbed to hear from the driver that the pride and landmark bridge over the river Zuari has some new problems.

The drive home was an enjoyable and also quite an experience. Apartment buildings now dotted the entire landscape. Felicio was surprised to see the pace of construction going on in places where in the past rice crops were cultivated. Huge factories and their smoke stacks emerged high in the distance north-east of the Zuari.

Felicio’s village was bustling with great activity. It appeared to have undergone a metamorphosis. The footpath that ran beside Felicio’s house had now become a street and the once narrow lane in front had become a major thoroughfare. At first sight everything around seemed strange to him. He would somehow try to handle this unexpected situation and take the change in stride gradually, he thought.

His good old neighbour and childhood friend, Manu, waved out from the balcao of his house across the street. He hollered a warm and enthusiastic welcome over the din of traffic. Felicio was glad to see that Manu had not altered the façade of his house. Manu had now retired from his job as the compositor at the printing press in the city after a service of 35 years.

The afternoon swiftly transformed into evening. The road in front of Felicio’s house was full of hustle and bustle. It seemed as if it had now been converted into a major highway by a popular vote. Forty years ago this was a footpath, then a convenient road, now a highway. Felicio remembered how he wrote application after application to the Panchayat for the necessity of a road. Should he write now ask for the old footpath back, he thought. People were speeding home from work on scooters. Bus drivers drove with one hand on the steering-wheel and the other constantly on the air-horns. The change was quite overwhelming.

As it had been habitual during Felicio’s previous vacations, he decided to go around the village and visit his neighbours. This, he remembered, was something he had done from the time of his college days in Bombay. In the month of April he would travel to Goa by ship to spend his summer holidays. Visiting neighbours had been a courtesy and a habit since the days of his teens. Also he felt he should not let them presume that he has forgotten them.

His first visit was to the house of his closest friendly neighbours to find out how they were doing. Tia Anna hugged him and said she was now old, almost in her late 70’s, and lived alone. He remembered he had seen her upright long ago, but now she appeared frail and hunched. Her son worked in the Arabian Gulf. Felicio’s aunt slept over at her house since she had not been keeping too well lately.

While he was away from home he had often thought about Titi Joao. As a young lad Felicio and other boys in the village gathered around in the balcao of his house and attentively listened to the lengthy and intriguing stories he related during the evenings soon after Angelus prayers. His passing away saddened him.

Paulo Titi had passed away too. Aunt Maria had survived him. Her relatives were now living with her. As a child Felicio had played badminton in front their house. In the beginning the boys used a rope tied between two coconut trees. Later Paulo Titi had provided the village boys a real net, strong bamboo poles and powdered chalk to mark the boundaries. Paulo had organized village tournaments for them, and being a keen football player himself he had encouraged and given them tips on the fine art of the game.

Retraced  Footsteps (Part 2)

The house located on the perimeter of the village had undergone a major change. It was now a modern house with a terrace. But sadly Felicio could not find the old owners there. Apparently some people who did not speak Konkani now had now occupied it. A few houses had somehow managed to keep up and maintain the old rustic pattern.

The next day, rising early in the morning, Felicio decided to take a stroll on the old path leading to the fields that he along with other boys walked on their to school . He tried to retrace the trail through the vast expanse of the fields. He was in disbelief to find that it was overgrown with wild plants and weeds. It appeared to be seldom used. Then as he was returning home he was pleasantly surprised at a remarkable revelation - to see a bus passing in front of his house that had “ST. ANTHONY’S HIGH SCHOOL, MONTE DE GUIRIM”, sign-written in bold blue letters on its side, picking up the students. That explained the overgrown weeds! No wonder, he thought, he could not find the old path to school!

One of the great experiences in attempting to relive the past was going to buy groceries from the market in the nearby town. One of Felicio’s neighbours was good enough to acquire a scooter for him. It took him nearly a week to muster the courage to venture on the street, another week to try and remember to keep to the left side of the road and join the rest in the general approach, method and style of driving, manner of honking, maneuvering, braking and turning either left or right. Since he could not fight them he decided to join them.

In equally trying circumstances, it took him another couple of weeks to gather enough nerve in getting behind the steering wheel of a car and learn the peculiar art and special technique to get around in the busy town. He went to the bazaar everyday and bought fresh fish and vegetables and drank Kingfisher beer. He visited his relatives and friends, far and near. He went to the beach with his new friends and drank some more Kingfisher beer.

Getting across to the other side of the road in the market town was quite a feat - an accomplishment unlike the old days. He had to be very careful. Motor-cycles, rickshaws, buses and trucks whizzed by every second and in all directions. It seemed as if it was a free for all. After waiting for nearly five minutes to find a clearance between speeding trucks, buses, private cars and motor-cyclists he finally managed to cross the street. He felt it was indeed a major achievement. This happened everyday. And on the many occasions he accomplished this feat, he thought he had triumphed, glad that he had emerged as a victor, thankful to be alive to tell the tale on the other side.

In the first week of December he celebrated the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. People flocked to Old Goa throughout the month of December and then until the first week of January. Felicio managed to squeeze a suitable day one early morning. Rising up much before dawn he made a trip to Old Goa and unbelievably was home for breakfast by 8 am.

Combined with the ongoing festivities of IFFI, people flocked to the city, Panjim. On his visit to this beautiful city he had an impression that somehow some things had been left unfinished – pavements stones were stacked up in piles in several places. Government buildings, the balustrade along the river-side promenade and lamp posts were carrying a fresh coat of paint.

Then it was Carnival – the beautiful floats made their rounds in the major cities – while tourists and Felicio walked around some unfinished pavements.

There was a slight lull in gaiety during Lent followed by some in sobriety, moderation and solemnity in the villages. And by Easter it was time for us to join in the festivities of Shigmo.

In the old days the  market place in Mapusa was busy only on the day it is best known for – the famous ‘Friday Bazaar’ day. But now every day seemed like a Friday.

After circling around for about 15 minutes he eventually found a parking spot where he could barely nudge in between two scooters, realizing that he had made a wise decision in not using his car to get there.  Another major accomplishment, he thought.

There were hawkers everywhere – at the entrance to the market and on the pavements too. The walkways were full of a huge new variety of merchandise. Half-clad white tourists with a local in tow roamed around the crowded bazaar. Women in mini-skirts and big fat sweating men in shorts with huge bare bellies wandered amidst local folks.

Retraced  Footsteps (Part 3)

Felicio continued his daily visits to the bazaar to buy fresh fish and vegetables and drank more Kingfisher beer at his favourite restaurant in the town. He visited his relatives and friends, far and near who had invited him for their village feasts.  He went to the beach with his few old friends and made some new ones.
Lenten services brought back memories of childhood. Taking part in the solemn procession winding its way around the hill-side and around the perimeter of the cemetery with life-size statues of Christ carrying the Cross, and hearing the touching notes and words of the motets sung in Konkani sent a chill up his spine. In enacting the crucifixion elders guided the young men who climbed up on the ladders to retrieve the “body of Christ” while the haunting rattle of the ‘matraas’ echoed through the church.

After the church services, Felicio, thinking about his childhood glanced around casually if he could find familiar faces of his younger days. Luckily spotted a few and met them after the services. He was conscious of the thought that he must have appeared a little older just like they did to him, though none of them made any comment. Perhaps each one could notice the old missing sparkle in the other. Thoughts of younger days sent a lump up his throat. He made his way home on the scooter thinking about the times when he had covered the same distance on foot. However better times in later years had followed when his father had bought him his first bicycle.

Of course, none of Felicio’s visits to Goa would be complete without visiting his Alma Mater, situated atop the hill and known as “Monte de Guirim”. This time, a guided tour of the new building followed a long conversation with the Principal and the Headmaster of the school. The new purpose-built wing, which features a novel sky-light, broad corridors and stair-well, is actually built on the very same spot where a humble but massive shed first stood in the early sixties. Felicio seemed to drift far away in his thoughts taking him back in time, remembering his class in that shed, when the Headmaster who was once a pupil in that same school startled Felicio echoing his own sentiments when he said: “Remember the old days?” “Oh, yes,” Felicio replied, “I still remember those were the days when during a heavy downpour in the monsoon the students would have had to shift to a safer place to avoid the drops of rain ruining their study books”.

Felicio then paid a quick visit to the refectory, and while passing through the kitchen he was pleasantly surprised to see a medium-duty winch on an overhead I-beam track that is now used to lift the huge cauldrons of food from the cooking stoves. Innovative! Before his departure Felicio decided to pace up to the eastern corner of the terrace just below the refectory and next to the garage where once the famed “Land-Rover” stayed parked. But something was missing. It was the mango tree.

“Just let me cast one last glimpse south-east towards the beautiful and pristine landscape of fields and green hills of Socorro, Porvorim and Sangolda before I depart” a thought that he heard himself whisper as he gradually panned his head like a movie camera. And he took it all in! The green watermelon and vegetable patches in the distance lay sprawled along the twin roads that led to the hilly slopes of Sangolda. The view had not changed much. “May it always remain so and not turn into a concrete jungle”, he prayed.

Tony Felix Fernandes
Author: Goa – Memories of My Homeland

Saturday, January 07, 2012



I can’t remember any speeches anymore. You know I’m sixty-five. So I have to read them.

I thank my wife Edna for her love and understanding, for her dedication in bringing up our children well, for her encouragement in all my aspirations and for her constant companionship and steadfast support during the last 37 years.

I thank my children for their love and respect, and care and support.

Denise is always there for us, and is able to come up with the most logical solutions and the most elaborate surprises.

Denzil is very loving and always passionate about whatever he does. And he is always there when we need him. He also comes up with convenient solutions that somehow always involve the use of computer technology.

Dahlia is ever present to keep our spirits high with her music, humour and energy.  I am blessed and my life is full of love and friendship.

My parents are no longer living, but I owe them for the good life that I have today. They made sure that I got an education, but more importantly nurtured me with their love.

Lately my friends have been saying: “Hey, Tony, you don’t look sixty-five”. At this point in time I’d like to mention that I owe my youthful looks to Edna’s wonderful cooking.

Nevertheless, since I really can’t believe like most of you that I’m sixty-five – I insist on a recount.

They say when you are sixty-five you first tend to forget names; then you forget faces; then you forget to zip up your fly; and then you forget to unzip your fly. But my dear relative and friends, you will never be forgotten. Thank you for your friendship during all these years.

I must say that being sixty-five was not easy – it took me 23,801.5 days to get here, including that extra day in leap years . Having been born in the roaring forties, life has been a great experience - studying through the swinging fifties, donning a Beatles haircut and sailing to Dubai in the sixties, getting married in the fabulous seventies, and learning to manage kids through the rocking eighties and digital nineties and completion of a great and fantastic decade in the 21st century.

Now, it’s time to look on the brighter side.

From today I shall presume that I am twenty with 45 years experience.
Convert that into Celsius and it should be about 17 without wind-chill.

From now on I shall select only sweet tunes as they say the older the fiddle sweeter the tune. Or it may be the same fiddler, same fiddle, but a different tune. 

Have you ever wondered why sixty-five is considered as a great mile stone?
It’s very simple my friends - because if we were to count age in kilometres I would have been 104 years old today. Besides, who'd want to live that long eh?

Days of inflation are long gone for me. Inflation was supposed to be when I paid fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut when I had hair. I wasn't a show-off, but keeping the barber happy with a 50% tip meant that a good hair-cut was very important in my younger days. But inflation or no inflation – now I don’t have to worry about rising cost of hair-cuts, or even try to get mileage from my hair any more. And besides, a good collection of hats does the rest!

Finally, I’d like to say that today, as I embark on yet another 365-day journey around the sun, with wonderful friends and a loving family, I look forward to a wonderful year ahead. And after having completed 65 of these round trips already, which incidentally means a lot of experience, I am happy to be alive to tell the tale. I thank the Lord for a good life, a good wife, beautiful kids and excellent friends.


Feasts in Goa are commonly celebrated in almost each and every chapel or church dedicated to the village patron saint.  It is customary that these feasts be celebrated by the “President” who bears all the expenses involved. In the absence of a president the village celebrates the feast by subscriptions from the people of their particular villages.

Of Village Chapel Feasts

It was the day of the feast of their patron saint in the village chapel. The chapel bell rang at 5 o’clock in the morning. The young boy had told his mother the previous night before going to sleep, to wake him up before five o’clock that morning, as he was very anxious to hear the band play the “Alvorada” soon after the bell. He did not want to miss hearing the tune he liked so much.

No sooner the pealing of the bell fell silent than the band started to play his favourite tune in full swing. It could be very clearly heard in the pre-dawn serenity and calmness of the morning, in spite of the chapel being quit a distance away from where he lived. The music sounded great and the boy was breathless trying to catch each and every note so that he could remember and hum it to himself later. Or perhaps one day he would learn to play it himself on an instrument like his neighbour did, he thought.

He would not go back to sleep again. He had to be on time for the first Mass as he had been selected to serve as one of the altar boys. On the way to the chapel he would try and memorize and repeat the Latin words to himself as he did not want to get them wrong or reply out of turn. In those days the Mass liturgy was in Latin.

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. This money was collected for the poor.

There used to be a lot of other Mass services that were held by the hour especially on feast days. The solemn high mass would start at 10 o’clock in the morning along with a lot of fanfare, pealing of bells, firing of crackers and the boom of the “khozne”.

There were lot of small stalls already lined up by the side of the chapel selling all sorts of things, sweets of different types, roasted gram, fire-crackers, balloon and toys.

The boy would never miss the concelebrated high mass by priests from other parishes specially chosen and invited for the occasion by the celebrant of the feast. More importantly this mass was never to be missed because there was special choir along with orchestral backing of various musical instruments like the oboe, flute, piccolo, clarinet, fife, cello, violin and the double bass.

The choir master tried to do his best waving his baton while he directed the choir of talented youngsters. The boy greatly admired so many voices blended so well together singing high and lows, first, second and thirds. Some of those faces of the boys in the choir were new to the boy. Perhaps they were chosen from another parish, he thought. Next year or perhaps even after that he would be selected and trained was his wishful thought.

A well known priest, famous for his thundering sermons,  had been summoned for the grand high mass. He began by first invoking the patron saint to shower his blessings on the celebrant and his family, the villagers and their guests. He admired the beauty of the old chapel and praised the organizers for doing such a good job in decorating the chapel. He then intoned a short verse from the Scriptures in Latin that echoed through the chapel and followed with a brief explanation of the same. The sermon seemed quite long.

Otherwise the people would say it was very short. If it was short the people would say that he did not say anything at all. He was wiping the sweat off his face every now and then with his hand kerchief which he tucked in the broad sleeves of his vest while his black cap rested on the edge of the pulpit. He was a very good preacher, well prepared, loud and clear, and said everything to the point.

Twice in between his sermon he did say a verse again in Latin, words which he had especially chosen from the Scripture and gave a brief explanation of the same while outside the chapel, in the stalls, there was a lot of activity which was normal and usual during these types of feasts.

Then there was Holy Communion and Benediction during which the choir sang a beautiful and solemn rendition of “O Salutaris”. Later at the grand procession, the boy along with the other altar boys were walking at the front of the procession line, which was led by the celebrant carrying a holy banner of the day’s saint with Latin insignia written on it, followed by an assortment of clergy, confraria in their purple and red “opmus”, the villagers and their guests from far and near, while the chapel bells tolled amidst the sound of Gregorian chants that the band played trudging along last in the line.

After the Mass was over the boy, everyone wished “Happy Feast” to everyone else. Later as was customary the boy gave alms to the poor who lined up outside the chapel holding coconut  shells in their hands. One of them, a frail old man said to the boy: “May you become a big and clever boy” And another old man with a cane said: “May God give you good health and a good job when you become big”. The boy wished he could distribute more change to the rest of them but he needed the change himself that was left. He did not want to run shortSo the boy then bought a small toy car for himself which he had seen and selected before the high mass services could begin. He had saved little money to buy it. Also his mother and grandmother had given him some money, saying: “Hey, son, this is for you, for the feast”. He used that money for some roasted gram and sweets and went on his way home for a great lunch that awaited him.
While he walked home through the winding road through the fields and  villages  people were lighting crackers and some of them said to him from their balconies: “ Happy Feast, come for the feast to our house” to which the boy replied “You must come to our house, Happy Feast to you too.”

As he kept on walking home he thought to himself: “THE FEAST IS OVER”.