Picturesque Goa

Picturesque Goa
NOSTALGIA - Articles,Poems & Photos


TONFERNS CREATIONS - Tony's Art & Hobbies

Saturday, March 30, 2013

No Signs of Leaving


Once upon a time
God created a beautiful land
and chose to name it 'Goa',
in his own likeness,
removing the 'd' and replacing it
with the letter 'a' –the first letter
of the alphabet.

Then, the Russians came…
constructed illegal restaurants,
barred the locals of the land
from coming in,
placed menu cards on the table,
installed signs in Russian

and still show no signs of leaving.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Customers :

Man with folded arms:  1.  Wants to remain non-committed
                                    2.  Has nothing better to do.

Man with both hands in pocket:  1.   Looking for loose change
                                                  2.  Broke.

Man with one hand in pocket:  1.  Not sure what he wants
                                                    (in life, or otherwise)
                                               2.  Jingling loose change
                                                    (toonies and loonies)
with wallet/purse in hand :   Pretending to buy

Both hands at the back :     They've got something to hide

Man/Woman holding
Spouse’s hand :                 They want nothing - except each other.

Man holding wife’s purse: : Doesn’t want her to spend

Man/Woman with dark glasses             
(in dimly-lit aisles, day or night: 1. They probably think they can
                                                    remain anonymous OR they want
                                                    to avoid absolutely all eye contact.
                                                2.  For sure they’ve been on a sampling spree
                                                     here once or twice  before, but now they 
                                                                  are wearing shades, foolishly thinking that
                                                           they can fool me!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Dubai - September 1967. A very popular song by South African singer Miriam Makeba. The song - a signature song for her - became an instant hit all over the world, and almost everybody in Dubai too, was going 'Pata Pata'. Dubai did not have an English language radio station then. However there was a British Royal Air Force Base Radio Station that transmitted on Medium Wave from Sharjah until 1971. The song, a favourite among the expatriate community was covered by most bands in Dubai nightclubs and hotels. The only department store was 'Jashanmal' where one could buy records - LP's and 45's and 8-track cartridges. Those were the days. Dubai, a British protectorate, was one of the sheikhdoms that formed Trucial States of Oman until 1971, when it was independent and the seven sheikhdoms came to be known as the United Arab Emirates, one of the fastest growing and modernized nations in the world.

Sunday, March 24, 2013



I sell my book ‘GOA—Memories of My Homeland’ at Canadian Arts & Craft Shows. My book is there, placed on a stand at the point of sale, so visitors to the show can see the publication.
Published in Canada: 2004 - ISBN 0-9735515-X

Here are some questions that visitors to our booth often ask me: Sometimes my silent replies of exasperation are in parenthesis below each question.

1.  Where is Goa? (You definitely need an Atlas! (Google it!)
2.  So, you wrote this book eh? (No, I got someone else to      write it for me)
2a. So, you really wrote this book? (Now, do you need me to pull my hair?)
3.  Whose Memories are these? (My grandfather's) (The book's title clearly state 'My Homeland', so why would the memories be someone else's, ignoramus?)
4.  So, what is Goa?  (A kind of a theory perhaps!) or (A state of mind, maybe?)
5. And who is Tony Fernandes? (He's got his name on the book)
6.  What is your real name? (Do you want me to whack you?)
7.  Why do you have a western name? (Because you are a moron)
8.  Are there any Christians in India? (Yes, long before they were in the west) Christianity was introduced in India by St.Thomas the Apostle in 52 AD. St.Thomas Mountain bears testimony to this. So that means Christianity in India is older than in many European countries!
9.  Oh, I see, so do you really celebrate Christmas in India?
  (you should go and see)
10. So, how come your wife's name is Edna? (Because you are a nincompoop!)
11. They smack their lips after tasting my wife's Edna's delicious relishes and often ask her: "So, are you really Edna?"
12.  Many times, upon seeing my singer/song-writer        daughter's CD which has English written all over it, I'm  often asked whether she sings in Hindi. Duh! Pure naiveté again! India is the country with the largest English-speaking population in the world.
13.  Was yours an arranged marriage?  (Why do you want to know? Are you a marriage counsellor? Anyway, no, it wasn't arranged. But even if it was, so what?)
14.  And did you receive a huge dowry? (If you are doing research on dowry, then you are in the wrong place.)
15.  But your English is so good. Where did you learn to speak and write such impeccable English.
  (Thank you - don't you know that there are English Schools in India? And they also learn to speak French, German, Portuguese, etc. and at least five other regional languages?)
16.  Customer: "Oh! Goa - Memories of my Homeland! So where is homeland?"
   (Me: Far away. Very far, far away. It'll be too far away for you to comprehend!)
17.  Customer: "Oh! Your English is so good, you speak so well!
   (Me: Perhaps you are not aware of the fact that the British were in India for more than 200 years!)
   Customer: "Oh! Really?"
   (Me: I have no further questions.)
18. Oh! I see yourbook is written in English! Did you have it translated from another language. (This is a classic - I have no further answers).

   At the Arts & Crafts Shows that my wife and I participate in, we automatically behave like self-appointed goodwill ambassadors, enlightening many visitors to the shows across Ontario. We are proud of our heritage and such frequently asked ignorant questions don't go unanswered. And a restrained due lecture is then somehow immediately called for. Some cannot digest the fact of my English delivery or are simply flabbergasted in disbelief. Accented it is. I do not pretend. Others embarrassingly thank me. Some have even apologized for their ignorance at the end of my lecture, and one expressed regret by email stating how sorry she was for asking a silly question.

So here are some
Brief Notes about Goa

Calm and Serene
Mandrem, North Goa

The magnificent Church of
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
Panjim - Capital

Known around the world for its serene beauty, GOA is located south of Mumbai, India.

The poems published in my book were written by me over the last many years. They are memories of my childhood years as I grew up and studied in Goa during the rule of the erstwhile Portuguese, studied Segundo Grau Portuguese as a second language, served Mass in Latin as an altar boy, and graduated from an English speaking High school, run by the Order of the Franciscans Minor Capuchins. Anthony is my original given name and 'real' name. Fondly called Tony - given to me at birth, baptized and confirmed in a church-going Catholic family.

Christmas especially is celebrated big-time. New Year, Easter, All Saints Day, All Souls Day and all the feasts in the Catholic Calendar are also celebrated with great pomp and fervour side by side along with the Hindu compatriots and their festivals which the Catholics share and respect. 

Tony, which is my real name, has never been changed from another name. Many people have Christian names in India for the simple reason that there are so many Christians in various different denominations of Christianity in India - a fact that some people in the west do not know about. 

Known around the world for its serene beauty, Goa is located south of Mumbai, India. It gained full-fledged statehood 12th August 1987. Prior to that, it was a Union Territory for 26 years after four and a half centuries of Portuguese rule. Its highest point is 1,022 metres above sea-level, with milky-white water-falls 'Dudhsagar' (look it up - google it) with an area of 3700 Goa has had western influence and Portuguese rule of nearly 450 years - a clear 350 years before the British domination in India. 

Goa's capital is Panaji.  Goa comprises 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

Abade Faria, or Abbe (Abbot) Jose Custodio de Faria,was born in Candolim, District of Bardez in Goa, Portuguese India, on May 31, 1746. He died in Paris on September 30, 1819.

Abade Faria was one of the pioneers in the scientific study of hypnotism. He introduced oriental hypnosis to Paris in the early 19th century. To read more about this fascinating man  please click on the link below:

Statue of Abade Faria, Master of Hypnotism

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 pristine and magnificent
mountain range called the Western Ghats. Nestled among those hills are the famous 3-tier water-falls called Dudsagar.

Tiracol River, North Goa

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, and the first printing press in India (1556) established by the Jesuits, it has numerous archaeological sites like ancient forts for the connoisseur to study and explore besides ancient temples and churches.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa.

Goa is famous for its patron Saint Francis Xavier whose uncorrupted body lies in a casket in the Basilica of Bom Jesus at Old Goa. Goa is famous for its architectural grandeur – its ancient temples, churches and mosques. Goans are a peace-loving people with a strong sense of community, taking pride in their own distinct culture and heritage.

In 1983, the 7th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) began in New Delhi at Vigyan Bhavan, hosted by Indira Gandhi. Two days later, the visiting heads of government from 39 states packed up and moved South to sunny Goa, where the summit continued until November 29 as a “retreat” for the dignitaries, at the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, India’s first five star beach resort.

It came as no surprise that Goa offered the perfect scenario to host a curiously diverse group of world leaders, including the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, Canada’s Pierre Trudeau and Australia’s Bob Hawke from the Western camp; Zambia’s Kaunda, Tanzania’s Nyere and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe from the African camp; and also Sri Lanka’s Junius Jayawardene from the subcontinent. Goa, after all, must have had something right.
The Indian leaders must have certainly thought and considered about Goa's attributes - in its beauty, serenity, tranquility, culture, environment, heritage to show off to world's famous politicians and a period of relaxation for them after the Meeting in Delhi.

Goans like to dance, western style and Indian style. They can also sing English, Portuguese, Hindi and Konkani songs of all generations. They also play instruments like the violin, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, oboe, fife, clarinet, the trombone and the double bass, and are proficient both in classical Indian and western music. Goans are well-educated, have become engineers, architects, doctors, lawyers, writers, poets, artists and two priests awaiting canonization - namely Padre Agnel and Padre Jose Vaz.

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

On the other hand there are some folks from our own country who pretend they don't know us. They immediately look the other way if we accidentally make eye contact.

So you see it takes all sorts to make a world. 

Friday, March 22, 2013


(Real Life Experiences at Craft Shows)
A friend of mine makes excellent gourmet vinegar.
Customers sample a drop or two from a tiny hand-held dropper.

My friend:  (to a customer) who’s been standing in front of his booth,
staring, for at least 5 minutes at the dropper:  “ Would you like to try a sample, sir?”

Customer:  "Sorry, no, I’m watching my weight”

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Vehicles with this type of signage
first arrived in Goa after the Indian
Govt. takeover in 1961 - at present
the only thing that is 'OK' seems to be
the honking that apparently goes on
and on sometimes even when there is
no one around (force of habit, I guess)
but not the roads, drivers or their 
driving habits. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



As a friend suggested, with a sudden gust of breeze this sentinel (of the seas) could turn into a sentinel of the sky!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Habemus Papam! (L) - (We Have a Pope!)

Habemus Papam! ("We Have a Pope!")

came  the announcement yesterday given in Latin by the Cardinal Protodeacon, the senior Cardinal Deacon, upon the election of a new Roman Catholic Pope. He is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina. At 76, he is the first Jesuit ever to be elected Pope. He is known to have been a very simple and humble man, commuting by bus and cooking his own meals.

There is something special about this announcement that gave me goose bumps as soon as I heard the news.

Viva Il Papa! were cries heard in jubilation in St. Peter's Square, Rome, and as banner headlines in the newscasts all over the world announcing the Pope's election.

Humility and servitude personified!

People around the world waited eagerly for this moment, glued to their TV sets. This news was proclaimed from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Later the new pope was presented to the people and he gave his first Urbi et Orbi blessing.

Most importantly though for me it only seems fitting and apt that we have a new Pope who has adopted his new name as 'Francis' - after St. Francis of Assisi, who is known for his humility.

What's in a name?

Incidentally, Francis is a common name in Goa, India, and all around the world.  St Francis of Assisi is also the patron of my Alma Mater - St. Anthony's High School, Monte de Guirim, which is run by Franciscan Friars for the last 71 years.

At this juncture, we should not forget the name Francis for yet another reason - St. Francis Xavier - the pioneering Jesuit Missionary of the Orient.

“Vere dignum et justum est".

Is it not then, fitting and just, that 'Francis' is the apt name that the new Pope, a Jesuit himself, has adopted after two great Catholic Saints?

*  Francis - after St. Francis of Assisi - a symbol of humility - the Franciscan Friar and preacher. Francis' devotion to God was expressed through his love for all of God's creation. St. Francis cared for the poor and sick, he preached sermons to animals, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God. St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and ecology, was born in Italy around 1181 or 1182.


* Francis - the great Missionary to the East - St. Francis Xavier - the Jesuit and Apostle of the Indies - whose relics are kept in a silver casket, elevated inside the Cathedral of Bom Jesus, Old Goa.


The new Holy Father has Italian and Spanish roots - St. Francis of Assisi was Italian and St. Francis Xavier was Spanish.

May long be the Reign of Pope Francis I
(so far the 7th Pope in my lifetime)

Viva Il Papa!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


We had never known
what joy a grandson would bring
 until we were blessed with one.
My ever-smiling and adorable
 Grandson Ari
turns one today.

Its been a wonderful year
 and one of pure joy to see him grow.
With a single glance
or a mere thought of him,
has many a time
made me forget
all my worries and woes.

A year has gone by
so quickly, and there's
never been anything better
than seeing him grow -
relish his smile, his myriad
delightful actions 
and facial expressions,
bringing happiness to everyone
around him.

to our wonderful and precious
our pride and joy.
May the Good Lord
always bless you
and keep you in
His loving care.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The TōnFerns Torchlight (or Flashlight) - DeLIGHTful Memories of Cumbiem Morod, Guirim, Bardez, Goa.

~  The TōnFerns Torchlight (or Flashlight)  ~
 DeLIGHTful Memories of Cumbiem Morod,
 Guirim, Bardez, Goa.

A flashlight (torch in British English)
Circa 1962

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. In the pre-electricity days in the village of Cumbiem Morod, Guirim, Bardez, Goa, during the 1950's when I was a young lad, every household used kerosene or chimney lamps to light up their houses at the ring of the evening call by the Angelus bell of the village chapel.

Then as darkness fell, it was time to run home from the football field (actually rice fields converted into a playground during the dry season) just to be on time for reciting the Angelus together with the home folks. Then it was bath time, rosary time, study time, supper time and late night study time by the kerosene chimney lamp!

In those days, people used hurricane lamps for longer walks in the night. And my Grandma was happy relying solely on the candle power from the light of the petite candle placed in the hollow of a coconut shell.

A flash light was useful, and almost a necessity, if one had to step outside in the darkness, because there were no street lights those days.

Some folks kept a torch in the house to use in an emergency. It came in handy in many ways - like for instance returning home from the nearby chapel after evening 'salve prayers' or 'novenas' preceding a feast, returning home from the grocery, or to accompany someone home after a late night party or litany (ladainha), or to check on something rustling in the grass in the backyard, or to check out the sudden flutter of the chickens in their humble abode (perhaps on sensing a visit by the clever fox) in the backyard! It also came in handy to keep a night-watch on the vegetable patch in the vast fields in front of our house. In rare cases it could be very useful to fetch a doctor from Mapusa in the night or safely accompany a 'torch-less' tipsy visitor to his own home.

There were different types of torches or flashlights in various households, 'Eveready' being the common brand. There was also another popular brand called 'Winchester' brought in mostly by Goan people working in the Arabian Gulf. They required standard 'D' size batteries and miniature incandescent light-bulbs that used a tungsten filament.The bulbs used for torches were as follows, and I was an self-taught expert at this.

A 2-battery torch used a 2.8 volt bulb,
A 3 battery one used a 4.2 volt, and
A 6 battery contraption like the one I made would need a 9 volt bulb.

These types of bulbs frequently blew or fused out on a sudden surge, and it was a good idea to keep a spare bulb in the house. My dad had his pristine and prized silver anodized 3-battery version which he always kept at the ready by his bed side. I had a 2-battery type solely for my use, poor light beam of which I was not happy with. (And Dad would not let me or anyone touch, or get anywhere near his!) It looked something like this one below:

So this prompted me to invent something of my own which I used throughout my schooling years.

The idea was to collect as many as possible discarded standard size 1.5 V batteries from old radios in the village, have them checked for some life in them, and discard the dead ones. I made a box out of old plywood to hold 6 batteries of 1.5V each and used a  9V bulb, fitted with a reflector and rear spring salvaged from an old out-of-commission torch, and a miniature on-off switch purchased from Auto Popular in the nearby town of Mapusa. The switch was fitted on top of the wooden box.  As the torchlight got dimmer, it was better to compensate for the decreased light output by changing the bulb to 6 volts. 

This was the most powerful torch in our village in those days, with its powerful beam reaching about half a kilometer (across the perimeter of our ward). Electricity came to the village in the late1960's, but my torch still held on to its glory in emergencies and during power-cuts until much later.

Please click on the following link to a related article: CANDLE IN THE HOLLOW OF THE COCONUT SHELL

Sunday, March 10, 2013



A popular song in the expatriate community 'Life in the Emirates' is a warm tribute to life in the United Arab Emirates. The song was written and recorded in 1979 by two Irish men Patrick Terence Brady and Michael Kiely. It proved to be an instant hit. It was provided airplay by Capitol Radio in Abu Dhabi and by Radio in Dubai.

It has been sung in numerous hotels throughout the U.A.E.. The song is the most famous song in English about the UAE and still strikes a sentimental chord even after the first veteran have left the country after their tenure.

I still have fond and cherished memories of this song along with the wonderful years that I spent in this great country. The song is still played by the bands who made originally made their debut in Dubai at the time and who perhaps share similar sentiments in their hearts.

"LIFE IN THE EMIRATES" is a sincere yet light hearted song of praise to the wonderful country - the United Arab Emirates. The words speak for themselves.

Please click on the link below to watch the video.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Sunday, March 03, 2013


Nossa Senhora, Mãe de Deus

Parish Church - Saligao, Bardez, Goa.

Built in 1873, it is one of the most beautiful
and magnificent churches in Goa.
It is on the list of my favourites and
the wonderful pieces of architectural grandeur.

It has always brought me a feeling of peace,
be it in the morning or evening twilight, day or night
or on a moonlit night shining in all its splendour.

Living in Guirim, as a teenager and 
as a close neighbour of Saligao,
I often cycled late in the evening to
just delightfully watch
this beautiful masterpiece
from across the main road,
lit up in all its glory
 long past sundown.