Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Goan Bull fights in London



A blog by sonia gomes

‘Mother, Motheeeeer, where are you?’screams Rosalyne full of excitement and delight. Words tumble from her young, tremulous mouth.
‘Yes, Rosalyne’ replies her Mother very sedately as befits a person, who has lived in England amongst people known for  their impeccable deportment.
‘Rosalyne dear must you shout, I am not deaf, you know’ she smiles to take the sting off her anger.
‘You know Mother’ continues Rosalyne in a more refined voice. ‘There is a girl in our class and she is from Goa, I told her that we too are from Goa.’
‘But Rosalyne dear, we are not from Goa, ummm, we are from Kenya’
‘What???’ screams Rosalyne forgetting her cultured voice. ‘But Grandpa and Grandma are from Goa’.
‘Of course they are Rosalyne,’ replies genteel Frieda... And the argument goes on...

A couple of days later, Rosalyne enters with an ear splitting yell, a spring in her leap, a wide grin to the utter displeasure of genteel Frieda.
Rosalyne, she thinks, will never be a calm, sensible English girl. Frieda hopes and prays that Rosalyne would be much like Darrell Rivers from Mallory Towers. Sigh.
‘Mother, Mother,’ Frieda winces...
‘Mother, Mother,’ Benita has invited me to her house...’
Frieda thinks with a sigh, Oh no, oh no.
‘Mother Benita wants me to come to her house for Saibin, Mother it’s so beautiful, Saibin...’
‘What’s Saibin dear?’
‘Oh Mother, didn’t you know, the Blessed Virgin Mary...’
‘Oh, no, oh no, that old fashioned drivel from the country,’ thinks Frieda
‘You know Mother; the Saibin will go from Mellissa’s house to Benita’s House. Whilst taking the Saibin from one house to another, we will light candles and sing hymns all the way.’
‘Oooooh Mother isn’t that the neatest thing you ever saw?’
‘May I go, please Mother, please’ Frieda looks at her daughter, eyes glowing, cheeks rosy from the excitement and the cold.
’But Rosalyne dear, I thought you were going to Maeve’s house for a sleepover.’
‘I told Maeve I wouldn’t be coming; that I would be going to Benita’s’ replies Rosalyne carelessly. I can go to Maeve’s anytime...But Saibin!’
‘Mother, do you realize that this is the first girl from Goa who has invited me for anything?’
And thank God for that, thinks Frieda, that European Union (EU) rabble.

In comes Joe. ‘Let her go Frieda, let her go, it will do her good to be around her own people.’
‘Her own people, echoes Frieda, you call that mass of people from EU our own people?’
‘Of course I do Frieda. I have had a drink or two with some of the guys from my own village and they are perfectly fun guys. Just doing their bit...Just trying to earn a living much like us.’
‘Joe, you actually mingle with the EU crowd, socializing with that horde, what could you possibly have in common with those uneducated plebs.’
‘Oh, Frieda, Frieda, my dear, you forget how ‘educated’ I was when I came here from Kenya. As to what binds us, our village sweet pea.

Joe hums, Amchea sezareak assa pisso, umm, umm.

Mia Couto the Mozambican author, talks about the asimilados, the colonized, who leaving behind their own culture and traditions immerse themselves into the culture and traditions of the colonizer.
Coconuts, he calls them, very white on the inside but sadly brown on the outside.
‘Why did they do it’? Well the answer is obvious, to blend, to mingle and to feel one with the colonizer.

In Kenya, the highlight of my Father’s career was when Mr. Bryson his boss, visited our home, picked me up and I as any little child will do, tried to prise off his pipe.
And Mr Bryson had said, ‘Not that my girl, not that.’

My Mother going to weddings in Goa, in the sweltering heat of May in nylon stockings and some ridiculous hat stuck firmly to her head with bobby pins.

Emulate the colonizer.

The migrants, who went to Africa in search of jobs, were all types, educated, uneducated, tailors, musicians, cooks, all working hard to earn a decent wage.
Everyone bent on getting a good deal, every parent yearning to give his child a good education, these were sent back to India or Goa for better instruction.

But at no point did these Goans think they should be Goans in every sense of the word, showcase their own ‘Goanness, their culture.

Konkani what’s that? Their children did not speak the language; they spoke English of course, and Swahili, what better way to show off their Africander origins than to speak Swahili amongst themselves, when on a holiday in Goa?
Goan Feasts?  Those noisy, vigorous Feast of St Francis or San João? Litany? Too boisterous.  Too un-English.

Fact is they had moved from one colony to another, in Goa they had already learnt the tricks, they were all well trained.
The transition was almost painless.
Western clothes, at all times.  A sari? That was for the Patelsor maybe at some Club Function as Fancy Dress.
Drinks at appropriate times, oh come now, you know brandy is an after dinner aperitif and a good liqueur can be a dessert too.
Cutlery on the table, in the order of use, starting from the outside and working inwards with each course.
Forks to the left, no knife in the mouth not even a hint of it.
Of course one lapsed, Goan food in the quietness of one’s own house on a blissful Sunday. Colonisers be damned, a fiery ambot-tik cannot be denied and the hateful cutlery can be put aside for a finger licking prawn curry with okhra.

Imitate the Colonizer sweet pea, however hard it goes against your grain and they did succeed brilliantly.
The Coloniser loved this genteel breed of people imports from another European Colony. They were perfect, ate, drank, and dressed like any white man. They were hardworking, honest and most of all amenable to any white man’s rules.
These poor wretches even fought a War for them with no recognition from the British Government.
Of course nobody forgot they were Brown.
Let them work for us but mix with us? Segregation would take care of that.
They would have their own Clubs, but mark my words; the Club would most surely have white man’s rules and regulations.
Isn’t that awesome? They follow us like poodles.

Now this well trained, amenable group of people moved to England soon after the African nations had got their Independence.
Once again they worked extremely hard at their jobs, educated their children beautifully, besides times were different, there were mixed friends, mixed marriages. No segregation. Times were lovely. The Africanders had arrived. Nobody thought of our Africanders as anything but English.

But sometimes when everything is fine, when life is divine, some maleficent sprite decides to stir things up, which unfortunately happened to our Africanders now safely and surely ensconced in England.
In the case of our Africanders, it was this wave upon wave of crass European Union Goans.
God dammit, these EU Goans, had scrounged and scrimped, they had fought with the Registrar of Births and Deaths; they had stood in mile long queues for the birth, marriage and death certificates of their forefathers, unheard of long dead relatives.
They had spent vast amounts of very hard earned money on Agents just to get that precious, precious Portuguese Passport.

A brief Adeus to their beloved family, they moved to England!

At first it wasn’t so bad; the Africanders just about tolerated them. But hey, this was an unstoppable mob, a landslide of EU Goans, willing to take up any jobs.
When would it all end? But it didn’t, it got worse. Much like the mythological hydra.
What really irked our genteel Africanders was their ‘lack of manners’.
They were unpolished, not unpolished diamonds with promise, just gross, they spoke Konkani everywhere, and English was definitely not their forte.  
Give a tiny occasion, and they celebrated. Saibin, Litanies and all those Iberian Saints were feasted with good food and copious drinks.

How could they spend so many British Pounds earned with such effort, getting those dreadful Teatrs all the way from Goa? Africanders would not be caught dead going for one of those. They were in Konkani, good heavens.
They are ‘thieves’ the Africanders agreed, they drag their Mothers, Fathers from their houses in Goa for Social Security.
Our Africanders had dignity; they would never stoop this low and drag their aged, broken-down parents for Social Security.
And what was that about the dog meat scam. Just a ghastly horde of people.

But the worst and the most awful and appalling part of this invasion was that the British could not distinguish between the Africanders and the new wave of EU Goans.
How could this have happened? Now the whites thought that they were all from India, everyone was an Indian.
All those years and years of working at becoming a local, washed away in a wave of EU Goans. Indistinguishable.

So the Africanders seek refuge from the masses, they ignore them at all possible occasions. Does it help?
The EU Goans are impervious; they care a damn for these ‘pretend’ English people. They love Konkani and speak the language. Tiatrs show every Goan politician in true light, warts and all.
Goans they are and they will flaunt their Goaness in every possible manner.
Saibin, Litanies and of course the Feasts of all those Iberian Saints.
Who wouldn’t love their fish-curry and you mean you need a mass of cutlery to eat that delicious sorpotel. Isn’t that utterly ridiculous?

Strangely the happiest person is Father Patrick St. John Webb, his Church of Our Lady and Saint Christopher has never been so full on Sundays.
On Easter and Christmas people spill out even if it is immensely cold. They are generous, these EU Goans.
Father St. John Webb marvels at their generosity, they are so happy to be in Church.
Father St. John Webb has just to say the word and there are dozens of EU Goans eager to help him out.
Jesus, Thank you for the EU Goans, their love for the Church, their enthusiasm for anything Church.
Truly, Father Patrick St. John Webb is an extremely happy person.

ByJove or it by Jeeves, I am antiquated.
Time to get my very own Portuguese Passport.
In fact, I am in a very long queue for my Grandfather’s Teor. Never fear I come well prepared, a couple of sandwiches, a flask of coffee and a little foldable mat.

See you in London...


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