favourite ‘Titi’ had an aura about him that made him a very likable man of distinct character,
with his kind and pleasant ways in dealing with us - the youngsters of a bygone
era. He was very helpful to all folks of our village, especially the very old.
He sang the litany
by heart, word to word, no booklet required! The younger boys of the village
relied on him for back-up as he knew all the tunes and words of the hymns that we sang in
the village chapel. He would start with the first initial few bars with the right pitch for the litany and other hymns and the rest of the folks would take it from there. When we were young, sometimes on rainy days of the monsoon season, the village boys and girls could not play outdoors after school in the evenings. So, at times, we went over to his house and sat with him in the balcony of his house to hear him relate old stories of our good old village of Cumbiem Morod. He regaled us with colourful accounts of his younger days and other short stories of wit and humour. It was getting dark as he still went on. Then as we heard the chimes of the Angelus bell of our village chapel, we would all rise as he recited the Angelus prayer at the end of which everyone wished him 'good evening' before we walked to our individual homes.
Many years later during our vacations in Goa during the late 1970’s, my wife and I often visited him in the evenings when he once again related wonderful stories of the olden days. His memory astounded me. I always thought he had a strong resemblance to my favourite American actor – Jack Palance. Before living a retired life in Goa, he had worked in Bombay most of his life.
Can I trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday of those good old days?
labour contractor. Ask him for advice on labour in constructing a house, a
shed, or work in the fields during the harvest season. You could rely on him
till the paddy in the fields was harvested, threshed, put in sacks and carried
to your homes before nightfall.
in Bombay in 1947, 7 January. The British were still in India. India was yet to
get its Independence from Great Britain. Independence for Felicio would
eventually come 7 months and 3 weeks later. Due to economic situation
prevailing at the time my family had to relocate to Goa in 1951. Goa was under
earliest memories of hearing the Portuguese national anthem was in 1953 when I was
about 6 years of age studying English as well as Portuguese in the village
Primary School. Sometime after that I heard the anthem on radio – Emisora de
went to high school where the Portuguese national anthem was printed on the
last page of the school calendar. I had to memorize and sing the anthem at the
compulsory Mocidade Portuguesa, at the school drill and at all school functions
until 1961 when Goa was taken over by the Indian Government.
In the interim period traveled from Goa to Bombay (now Mumbai) on a 'Documento
para Viagem' (Document of Travel - not exactly a passport).
waved out to the Indian Army soldiers in their turbans as they drove through
our village of Guirim in Bardez, perched on the tanks, armoured vehicles and
jeeps, creating a huge cloud of dust as they rumbled along, proceeding on the
unpaved road from Mapsa to Betim on the banks of the river Mandovi.
school calendar’s last page was soon replaced by the Indian national anthem to
which I stood to attention and sang at the National Cadet Corps until 2ndof September 1967 when I boarded a
steamer to work in Dubai.
days of sailing on the high seas meant ‘No National Anthem’ of any kind. TheBIsteamship ‘Sirdhana’ of
British India Steam Navigation Co. was one of the last in the line-up of
steamships to sail the seas, leaving Ballard Pier on 2nd September 1967.
was one of the Trucial States of Oman – a British Protectorate. Approaching
anchorage at offshore location in Dubai on 2nd September 1967, via Karachi and
Muscat, the wind-towers looked like sky-scrapers in the distance.
The RAF Base band at Sharjah raised the British and the T.O.C. flags side by
side and I stood up in reverence until 1971 when the United Arab Emirates were
waved out to the UAE Army Parade and stood up during functions when the UAE
National anthem was sung or played.
the years that followed I had to memorize and sing the Canadian national anthem
at the swearing-in ceremony.
India Jana Gana Mana
British God Save the Queen
Canada O Canada
1. In India under the
British: 7 months and 1 week (oblivious to any anthem)
2. No Anthem: 5 days
in international waters
3. In Goa under
Portuguese rule: ‘a subject of the Portuguese Overseas Province’ as the Portuguese
liked to call it: 8 years.
4. Independent Indian
in Goa: 5 years
outside Goa: 8 years.
6. Indian citizen and
expatriate worker in Dubai: 31 years
7. Landed immigrant
in Canada: 5 years
8. Canadian Citizen:
9. Independent, tired
and retired - Ad Infinitum.
It's been a long and nostalgic journey indeed. But what's an anthem?
Besides being compositions with patriotic lyrics, up-beat marches, or hymns in
a particular style, I have sung, saluted and stood up to attention and shown
respect to them as they were played, and listened to the world anthems whilst
watching the Olympics. But on the lighter side, if I ever decide to go to Mars,
and if the Martians have an anthem, it will be my 6th.
Yeshwant Dirgoikar, the construction wizard and craftsman. Although handicapped with a hip injury through most of his adult life, he was more able and talented than most young men his age. He could estimate the number tiles or timber required for a house in a jiffy, based on square footage or even give you an estimate for repairs just by looking at any house. A man of all trades, he could fabricate all sorts of things – from ladders from poles of bamboo to field ploughs and other implements.
One of the first
brave men and talented seniors from Cumbiem Morod with a firm determination to
venture abroad for employment was the resolute Mr. Miguel Mendes, who worked
for an oil company in Kuwait in the late 1940’s. He was considered as a pioneer
and a role model for the village. A very modest and soft spoken man, he was
very unassuming. A father of 7 children - one of his eldest daughters,
Terezinha, taught us Cathecism in Sunday School. The village people admired him
for his humility and kindness. He was talented in music and played the violin
by ear - a talent that he has handed down to his grandson and namesake Michael
Mendes along with his brother Savio.
When Mendes Senior
returned home on his vacation, the entire village seemed lively. He would have
all the village folks at his house for a sung Ladainha (Litany). On Sundays he
would hire a bus for all the village kids for a fun trip to Calangute beach followed
by a wonderful treat of snacks and cold-drinks thereafter at sunset. He would
also reserve a day for a long trek for prayers to his favourite cross on the
top of the nearby hills of Canca/ Verla. THE LEGENDARY CROSS: http://tonferns.blogspot.ca/2012/04/blog-post_4991.html
On his vacations to
Goa during the early 1950’s, the Mendes residence was the first one to be lit
up by the wonderful ‘Aladin’ lamp of yesteryear, that lit almost the entire
village. It was in their house that I first had first heard the sound of vinyl
records on on an HMV (His Master’s voice) gramophone. Vinyl records by Konkani
singers like C. Alvares, Minguel Rod, Anthony Mendes, Jacinto Vaz and Kamat de
Assolna and Pat Boone’s ‘Remember you’re Mine’ were the one of the first ones
that I had heard and seen spinning on this incredible invention of that era.
senior from our village ever to write and stage a ‘Tiatro’ (Konkani Play) was
Custodio Piedade Fernandes. He worked in Bombay and had a grand and happy
family of 8 children. His oldest son was very of photography and owned a 'Box'
camera. His second son was a talented artist – Michael - my inspiration.
Desmond – CPF's grandson and nephew of Michael (fondly called Miki), now
carries those artistic genes forward that are evident in his art. Their
white-washed house had the largest ‘sala’ (living room) in the village. It was
big enough for a wedding reception, let alone a ‘ping-pong’ (table-tennis)
table and enough standing space for their players' supporters. Boys and girls
gathered in their home for all sorts of games like carrom, and board- games like
draughts, ludo, and snakes and ladders and various other activities, that
included a teenage jam-session singing the latest English songs of Binaca Hit
Parade of Radio Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Their home was like a club house for
all the village kids especially during the rainy season. The area next to their
house had the least number of coconut trees, so it was ideal to be improvised
as a mini football ground for the boys of Cumbiem Morod.
Fernandes was the oldest ‘Titi’ (uncle), as we addressed him. All the young
kids assembled at dusk to listen to his episodes of about an hour each every
day, which would last for more than a month in total narration time. He must
have had a memory of an elephant. I still admire his great memory and
extraordinary prowess in story-telling, which was mind-boggling. I cannot up to
this day fathom the power of his mind, or the knack, his will or his wit of
telling epic stories. There may be lot of stories told, but this genius could
paint canvasses of suspense and intrigue with his delivery. Among his other
fare included an endless list of episodes at dusk, just before the Angelus,
especially during the dark and cloudy monsoon evenings, about the adventures of
‘Birbal’ that made us laugh our guts out, while his wife Virginia was getting
supper ready for the huge family.
His stage and
pen-name was F.C. Piety and well known in Bombay, where he worked most of his
life. His house was the brightest at night.The door and windows of their house were
always open and the chimney lamp suspended from the ceiling burned bright till
late into the night. He loved to gather
and encourage the young kids and teenagers urging them to study hard and to
work towards a goal in the future. Besides having a large family of his own, he
welcomed other boys and girls over to his house. On the door step of their
house was a sign engraved into red cement that read ‘WELCOME’. I was a young lad when one day someone asked
me what it means and I clearly remember to this day that I had answered: ‘Welcome
munnchem balcao’. And everybody had a good laugh!
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
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
which 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.
The Hamlet of Terra Cotta straddles The Town of Caledon and
The Town of Halton Hills. It is about 15 miles north-west as the crow flies
from where we live. It is a very pretty village along The Credit River, dotted
with many charming cottage homes. The artistic influence in the community
reveals itself when you see how many older homes have been kept up and improved
over the years. As you drive into Terra Cotta, you can't help but notice some
of the larger century homes in the area with rolling lawns and stately old
trees. To the north side of Terra Cotta you will find an array of more modern
homes that have been built over the past 40 years.