Picturesque Goa

Picturesque Goa
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TONFERNS CREATIONS - Tony's Art & Hobbies

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013


(The Talented Seniors of Yesteryear)

By Tony Fernandes

Late 1950’s.
My little and lovely ward of Cumbiem Morod. Call it the north-west silent ‘Bairro’ (Portuguese for neighbourhood) of the village of Guirim, bordering the village of Canca to the north-west, Parra to the south,  Sorvem and Figueira wards of Guirim to the east. Sleepy and quaint community with hard-working folks. Sparse Christian and Hindu family homes living peacefully.

           Almost a forgotten little ward of Guirim – referred to and known for some reason as a part of ‘small Guirim’. There was no road passing through the village then, but a well-trodden path for many of the people of Candolim, Calangute, Nagoa and Arpora who wished to cut short through our village to Bastora and to the hills and villages beyond.
          Though a sleepy ward as it may have seemed, it was a very vibrant one in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The village of Cumbiem Morod consisted of about 15 Christian and 15 Hindu households. Most of the men of Christian homes were employed in Bombay and returned home every year, mostly during the months of April and May.

           These men were literate, and very adventurous, having first left their families and homes as early as the beginning of the 1900’s in search of employment in other parts of India besides Bombay (now Mumbai) like Jodhpur, Ahmedabad and Surat in the north, and even as far down in Kerala in the south. During those days it was difficult to find employment in Goa.

           Likewise, the sons of these pioneers later often followed their fathers to work out of Goa. Though these great and adventurous men are no longer with us today, we owe them a lot of thanks for their guidance, for setting good examples in everything they did, for teaching us the good ways and values, and inspiring us in turn to do our best in whatever we attempted to do.

           The women folk took care of their children in Goa, and made sure that they got education by sending them to nearby schools, sacrificing the companionship of their husbands. They worked in the fields cultivating two crops a year. Rice was harvested by the end of the monsoons, and various vegetables were grown at the end of the following season in autumn, in allocated patches in front of my ancestral home in Cumbiem Morod (now generally called Kumya) before the onset of winter. This agricultural cultivation provided sustenance during the summer and monsoon season, and even some more to spare, kept in storage until winter. Part of this rice would be especially used as seed for the next crop, along with a variety of produce like sweet potatoes, corn, eggplant (aubergine/brinjal), beans, onions, chilies, cabbage and radish. A water-melon patch was planted separately along the raised pathway leading to Monte de Guirim.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Scanned image. Original print made
on Kodak photo paper from film.
Quaresma (Lent) 2005.


The 'Maatraas'

              Lenten services at St. Diogo's Church of Parishes of the twin villages of Guirim and Sangolda in Goa, bring 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 my spine. In enacting the crucifixion elders guided the young men who climbed up on the ladders to retrieve the image of Christ from the Cross, while the haunting rattle of the ‘matraas’ echoed through the church,reminding me once again of my childhood.

              In Goa, the 'Maatraas' is used as a signal instead of a traditional bell for conducting the services of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday. Basically, it is made from wood with a cut out handle, and fitted with 2 pair of hinges on both sides. The loud and distinct sound from this invention is made by holding it by the handle, and twisting one's wrist from side to side, the action of which causes the metal hinges to swing from side to side creating the sound.

              In the picture below is the traditional 'maatraas', all spruced up, varnished, set and ready to rattle, temporarily leaning against the red cement bench (Konkani: 'sopo') beofre going into action, in the aisle and corridors of St. Diogo's Church - Guirim/Sangolda Parish, Bardez, Goa.

Thursday, February 21, 2013





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

(Lyrics from the song by 'The Band')

In front of the Chapel
of Our Lady of the Rosary
Canca - Verla - Parra
Bardez - Goa

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 seen waiting at one of the structures called 'Dovornem' by the side of the road with their loads placed on these platforms, while having a casual conversation. These were constructed in laterite stone. They enabled these hard-working folks to place the load they carried on their heads on these square-shaped structures and thus allow them 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. In Konkani, this would be known as travelling in 'sangath' or in company of one another.
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 come across people who took some rest at such places, after carrying heavy loads on their heads for hours, so that they could give themselves a break or cool themselves off after walking for long distances in the over-powering heat, especially in the summer.  

These trips were often scary, and the merchants, daily vendors 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 people who walked alone making their journey through these hills.

The walls of this mass of rectangular shaped stones were bonded and finished off with a typical cement-mortar mix often used in Goan masonry construction methods. My guess is that the inside of the entire block was perhaps filled with rubble and rough fragments of stone or 'xenkare'. (Konkani. coloq.) The average top surface could be estimated at being 6 ft.x 4 ft., large enough to easily accommodate 3 or 4 average size baskets. 

In the old days these simple laterite structures that have withstood the test of time and weather conditions, may have perhaps beckoned the weary passerby to lessen his burden, but nowadays some of these structures lie abandoned and neglected, a few of them barely visible or recognizable amid the overgrowth of bushes along the sides of some roads.

These structures are found in many places along the Goan countryside roads. I'm not sure who constructed them in the old days - was it the local 'comunidade' or government?  The shapes of these are almost the same everywhere except that some are slightly different having two levels. Some of them have a Cross attached. In the case of the one pictured above, it would have perhaps been constructed after the completion of the chapel - and being in front of the Chapel it does not need a Cross. The siting and placement of this 'dovornem' seems appropriate so that not only the faithful could take some rest, but could say a prayer too!

It would very interesting to delve into the etymology of the word 'Dovornem'. At this point in time I would assume that it 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 unique Goan heritage artefacts. 

The location of the photographs of the 'Dovornem' featured in this article were taken in Verla/Canca - an area familiar to me since my childhood.

View location in Google-Earth/Panoramio

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

THE SANCTUS BELL - Memories of an Altar Boy


Memories of an Altar Boy

Calling on the faithful with


“Make a joyful noise to the Lord,
 all the earth;
break forth into joyous songs
 and sing praises!” 

~ A quadruple set of altar bells
 - Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary,
Canca, Verla, Parra - Bardez.

Monday, February 18, 2013


The love
 of a family
 is life's
greatest blessing.

Family Day is observed in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan on the third Monday of February. In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February. This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Sony CRF-160 13-Band Transistor Radio LW/MW/FM/SW

Purchased in Dubai 1970, still in working condition. The inside of the front cover of this radio features a world map and time zone conversion wheel. Received crystal clear radio reception of programs broadcasts by Radio Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) Short Wave 19 metre and 31 metre bands. So was FM reception from ARAMCO, Dhahran. But for now, to cut a long story short, please sit back and listen to Track 4 on Side 2 'Whispering' by Russ Conway on the piano - Stereo LP Record (World Record Club) Richmond, Surrey, England, also in mint condition, purchased from Jashanmal & Sons.

To listen to the track please click on the following link: 

Sunday, February 03, 2013



The first portable transistor radio at Cumbiem Morod was similar to the one in the picture above. It belonged to the household of Paul Monteiro, the well-known photographer and one of the seniors of Cumbiem Morod in the late 1950's. His son Gabriel Monteiro took extremely good care of it. It even had its own especially tailored cloth case to protect it from collecting dust!

Every Sunday morning after the Mass some folks and neighbours gathered together to listen to a very popular Konkani Program called 'Honibaili Vasri', broadcast by All India Radio Panjim. Sometimes we went to their house in the evenings to listen to the Konkani Song Request Program. 

This Sony portable radio had a special and dedicated place reserved for it in the corner of the 'sopo' of their 'balcao' where it was tuned, and it's aerial adjusted in the right orientation for optimum reception. It provided entertainment for many years of my childhood and pastime during the rainy monsoon evenings. Those were the days. Memories that I still cherish.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Today we deeply mourn and remember  a great, fine, extraordinary and exceptional gentleman that we lost. 

David Jupe passed away this morning. I will always remember David for so many things - for his wit and wisdom, especially when I read his beautiful writings in his 2 books that he gave us, and along with his wife Sheila, for editing, printing and publishing my book of poems and stories, namely, GOA - Memories of My Homeland, and my wife's cook book 'Savour the Flavour' as well.

A truly one of a kind chance meeting with my daughter Dahlia at Casey's that eventually turned into a great family friendship with two lovely and amiable people - David and Sheila Jupe, Lindsay, Ontario.

My heartfelt sympathies to David's wife Sheila
 and all their family members.

Rest in peace 
David Jupe
You'll be missed.