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What's under your foot?

What does the earth have in common with Swiss cheese?  Answer: Both are full of holes. We have only scratched the surface when it comes to delving into the caves that exist everywhere on earth.  The ones that have been found, explored and documented are only a fraction of what exists in reality.  As we run out of options for sightseeing on the surface of the earth, it may be time to divert our attention to greater exploration of what may be within it.
With mystery surrounding caves in general, vertigo does not make things easier for some. Then one has to contend with the dank, wet, slippery, rocky, dark and smelly conditions in many a cave. Bats and their malodorous accumulated droppings do not make things any more inviting in other caves.  To learn that some were used as burial sites and that human and animal bones are found in many only heightens the haunting and creepy fear factor.  In some caves the silence is deafening.  In others, you hear gurgling sounds and crashing waterfalls.  On the obverse side of the coin, it is reassuring to know that many caves provided shelter for our ancestors and their domesticated animals and still do.  Man has also left enduring rock carvings and paintings in many caves.
To whet one’s appetite, it seems apropos to mention the feature of some caves.  In Barbados, they have the interesting Hamilton caves with impressive stalactites and stalagmites.  The Three Eyes cave in the Dominican Republic has three large openings where its roof caved in.  The top ended at the bottom with mature trees still standing. It is eerie to look up at the sky from below.  In Belize, you can glide through the cave on an inner tube.  This is an under-world of 1000-year-old pottery and Mayan footprints, replete with tales of the mysterious customs and rituals of their shamans.  If you fancy bats, a visit to Deer Cave in Sarawak will reward you with three million.  Italy has Polignano a Mare, a restaurant in a cave overlooking the Adriatic.  They also have the Mutiara caves used by poor people and their animals in days gone by but transformed into an idyllic resort destination today.  Vietnam has one of the largest caves in the world.  It has its own trees and clouds inside.  Gibraltar has its whole army and artillery in a cave strategically facing the Mediterranean—a distinct vantage point.
At Waitomo in New Zealand, a barge full of people can float down a river that runs within. Its roof has millions of glow-worms that resemble the starry skies.  But, do not open your mouth or make any noise—the disturbed moths may land in your mouth! Majorca (Las Palmas) has a stage for spectators to sit and appreciate a lit barge full of musicians, gently gliding down in the darkness and playing nostalgic music.  Guilin in China has a huge cave with a stream running through.  During WWll upwards of 5,000 Chinese hid in the cave to escape Japanese brutality.  They had to make sure that smoke from their cooking did not escape through vents in the roof and reveal their secret hideout to the enemy.  In Grenada, Spain gypsies and their animals still live in caves.  The Elephanta cave in India has statues carved out of rock hundreds of years back.  When the Portuguese ruled the area, their soldiers used some of the statues for target practice and defaced many. And, the Ajanta caves – also in India—are some 2,200 years old.  There are prayer halls. chiselled Roman columns and arches, intricate carvings and paintings, within.
The Carter caves in Kentucky lie winding under forested hills. But the Mammoth cave—also in Kentucky—is the longest in the world with more than 360 miles of connected tunnels.  It is the second-oldest tourist attraction in the U.S.A. after Niagara Falls and has offered guided tours since 1816.  Mummies were found in the cave and ancient Native American petroglyphs (cave paintings) are everywhere.  Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos has lava tunnels and deep-pit craters called Los Gemelos.  An interesting variation on all this is man-made tunnels at the Kooberpedie opal mines in Australia.  Abandoned mine shafts at a surface level have been converted into comfortable “permanent” homes, where people are not susceptible to fluctuations in the weather.
Tourists only go to caves that are safe to visit.  Most are off the beaten path. The above is only a sampling.  If speleology(cave exploration) is your cup of tea, that is a totally different proposition that calls for intestinal fortitude and is not for the faint of heart. Needless to say, there is an endless number of caves all over the world waiting to be discovered.

Be careful what you say or write!

The human proclivity to gossip is as old the hills   We are a nosey bunch and like to know what our friends and neighbours are up to.  If the snippet of gossip is a salacious morsel, it soon spreads like wildfire and then reaches far and wide.  Sadly, as the item travels from mouth to mouth it tends to undergo distortions and embellishments often based on fictitious add-ons by the gossiper.  This could be simply by how the hearer interpreted the juicy morsel and passed it on.  Before long uncharitable character-assassination could be the result and a person’s reputation or good name suffers serious damage.   Some of us may be guilty of causing another harm by relaying superficial hearsay, even if unintended.  Unfair, or bad gossip may have some entertainment value but is usually far from complimentary.
 It is not for me to stand in judgement, but studies have shown that women tend to “socialize” by talking and trading “stories” about others, with greater zeal.  In every community, there are unscrupulous people known for their propensity to carry a tale and disseminate it to all and sundry, without a second thought.  They become the mouthpiece of society and take false pride in believing that they are keeping others in the loop.
At the end of the day, there are consequences to bear in mind for those with “loose lips”, “big mouths” or “diarrhoea of the mouth”.  If the gossip is oral or spoken, one is guilty of slander. If it is in written form it constitutes libel.  There is a distinction between the two.   Slander is, in essence, transient and is generally more difficult to prove in court.  The onus is on the plaintiff to show that the infraction caused direct damage to his/her reputation or standing in the community. This “escape” clause is by no means a licence to indulge in gossip and get away with impunity! 
With libel, it is more permanent in nature, and proof of defamation is in black and white and published.  It is then there for all to see.  Whether slander or libel, the words found offensive have to be true in substance and fact, and, of course, have been made known to a third party by the defendant.  Proceedings for libel are personal in nature and so must be initiated by the person defamed.
Exceptions to the foregoing apply to authors, public speakers and newspapers when it comes to matters of public interest, and they enjoy a qualified special privilege.  They can express their views in the form of fair comment on matters of public interest.  This privilege is what applies to all judicial, parliamentary and national proceedings.  This is known as absolute privilege, and no action can lie in statements made in the course of such proceedings within the house.  It is held that persons who occupy positions in the above settings are immune to normal constraints and are free and independent, with their acts and words not being subject to inquiry.  Now we understand better why our M.Ps and other representatives get away with the mud-slinging and character-assassination that they indulge in to intimidate members of the opposite party.
For us, common folks, to keep our noses clean all we need to do is keep a close watch on our utterances or extensions thereof and not use a poison- pen when discretion is the better part of valour.

Norman Da Costa: Surjeet Panesar, celebration of an elegant icon, always

 This is at the Mahan Hall of Fame in Nairobi with Will Lobo, Delphine Da Costa, Ramesh Bhalla, Norman, Avtar and Surjeet.
Sindhi with Malkit Singh Sondh, Olympic Village, Munich, 1972

 Surjeet was chief guest of Silu Fernandes when he visited Toronto in 2017. 

Leo Fernandes, Silu Fernandes, Sindhi, Hilary Fernandes, Norman Da Costa

Silu, Sindhi, Hilary ... a gallery of great icons


By Norman Da Costa

There was an aura around him when he took his place at the centre of the field. Surjeet Singh Panesar - also known as Sindhi or Junior - was always the centre of attention not only because of the position he occupied on the field. Everything he did smacked elegance. He mastered the art of pinpoint passing, timely tackling and deft dribbling. But what elevated him to a higher level as one of the finest centre-halves in the world was his vision. Gifted by this unique ability, this classy player could open up holes in the opposing defences for his teammates. This great centre-half for Kenya and Sikh Union passed away in Nairobi at the age of 81 after a brief illness on Nov. 6, 2019. He leaves behind his wife Deepi and a family spread across England, Canada and the United States.

 His death has left many fans and his international teammates speechless. This doesn’t come as a surprise as Sindhi endeared himself to his teammates and supporters alike always put his team ahead of individual accolades
 “Sindhi, as we used to call him, was in his day one of the best centre-halves in the world,” said ex-international teammate Edgar Fernandes who lives in Melbourne. “His death leaves me speechless, but he will be remembered and admired for not only for his exceptional ability in hockey, but his outstanding personality.”

Edgar was Sindhi’s Olympic teammate and also played at the club level against him for several years for Nairobi Goan Institute against the Sikh Union. Edgar was one of Kenya’s three greatest wizards of the dribble in the game along with Hilary Fernandes and Sindhi.

Surjeet was one of three players to represent Kenya at four Olympics with the late left-winger Alu Mendonca and full-back Avtar Singh who were both selected for a world X1 during Kenya’s heydays. Surjeet was born in Nairobi and received his early hockey training in India at the Maharaja Patiala Public School and Patiala University where he was trained by the legendary Harbail Singh, who coached India to Olympic gold in Helsinki in 1952 and Melbourne in 1956. On returning to Nairobi he joined Sikh Union, the most dominant club team in East Africa, with whom he hoisted the M.R. de Souza Gold Cup, the Blue Riband of hockey tournaments in Africa, a record 13 occasions. While he made his mark as a centre half the versatile Surjeet started his international career as a centre forward and ended it as a full back. He won his first international cap on May 29, 1960 against Uganda up front as the centre half position was filled by the great Surjeet Singh Deol. To differentiate between the two Surjeets, Deol was called Senior and Sindhi was universally referred to as Junior. Junior made an immediate impact in his international debut with two goals in Kenya’s 4-0 triumph and eventually moved to centre half when Senior retired following the East African Championships in Zanzibar in 1962. The versatile Sindhi, who also filled in as a fullback, earned more than a 100 caps and was an integral member of the national team ever since 1960 when he was picked for the Olympics in Rome where Kenya finished eighth. He was a member of Kenya’s greatest teams in the 1960s and ’70s including Tokyo four years later where the country finished sixth. A couple of right bounces and Kenya could have ended on the Olympic podium in Tokyo but it was never to be. Kenya was eighth in Mexico in 1968 and 13th in Munich in 1972 where Sindhi played in his last international after a record 31 Olympic matches.

Fellow internationals Silu Fernandes and Hilary Fernandes, who both now reside in Toronto, heaped praise on their teammate.

“My friend and teammate Surjeet dazzled the opposition with his style internationally, at home and abroad and at the Olympics,” said Silu Fernandes, who played for the Railway Goan Institute and was vice-captain of the national team. “He will surely rank as among the best in the world.” And Hilary Fernandes, who played against Surjeet for Kenya Police and the Railway Goan Institute and later as his teammate on Sikh Union, added, “Surjeet was a natural and gifted hockey player.

“I enjoyed playing alongside him on one of the finest club teams ever for almost five of my glorious hockey playing years.” Amar Singh, another Sikh Union and Kenya teammate, who lives in Calgary, considered Surjeet one of the greats of Kenya hockey. “He was one of Sikh Union’s most outstanding players and I will always remember that when I captained the club he was always punctual.”
Full-back Raphael Fernandes played with Surjeet in his later years. “He was my mentor and he always referred to me as his son. I learned a lot from Surjeet and always tried to portray him,’’ said Fernandes who also resides in Toronto.
Apart from being an exceptional player, Sindhi also made a fashion statement for being stylishly dressed and always perfectly groomed.

One of Surjeet’s closest friends was teammate and full back Avtar Singh, who I was fortunate to make contact with two days ago, while he is vacationing in India. 
“Right from the start of our careers we were close family friends,’’ said Avtar. “There was great understanding among us, on the field and off the field, we had a fantastic time and you know about it.”

Avtar, who lives in Nairobi, added he and Surjeet engaged in a competition when it came to taking penalty hits. “If I missed he would take the next one. I will miss a great guy.”

 Uganda’s international centre-forward Malkit Singh came face to face with Surjeet on several occasions at the club level and internationally. The dashing centre forward for Kampala Sikh Union played against Surjeet from 1964 to 1972 in the Gold Cup and in the East African championships. “Sindhi was a legend; he invented the scoop shot which became his signature play. I always remember him as the defensive backbone of the Kenya & Nairobi Sikh Union teams,’’ added Malkit who lives in England. “He was naturally talented, intelligent and a very good game reader of the game. He loved to dress well, had an immaculate beard and turban, loved cooking and enjoyed his whisky.”

Sindhi was a field hockey icon and I had the unique opportunity of playing against him for the RGI and also reporting on who in my opinion was one of the greatest centre-halves of his era that included some extraordinary Indians and Pakistanis. Off the field, he was a dapper individual with a sense of good clothing and an immaculate beard and turban. I recently met Surjeet in Nairobi in 2018 when I and my wife Delphine were invited to Sikh Union by him, Avtar, Del Mudher and Ramesh Bhalla. They presented me with an autographed brochure of the club at the newly-built Mahan Hall of Fame that houses photographs of all of the club’s capped players. Of course, no visit would be possible without Sindhi cooking his world-famous chicken koroga dish. We then visited this talented architect’s house he designed on the outskirts of Nairobi. We were invited to this fabulous house along with Willie Lobo, a former soccer goalkeeper with Kisumu Hotstars and photographer Anil Vidyarthi, my colleague for several years with the Daily Nation.
His garden was a picture of colour and included a fish pond, a waterfall and a huge barbeque area tended by his wife Deepi. Farewell, my friend. My other regret about the passing away of an icon was that I will never receive the koroga recipe he had promised me.  

Renato: Kwaheri, mpaka tuta onana!

Renato Titus Monteiro
4 January 1936 – 2 November 2019
ON sunny but chilly Canberra Saturday family and friends remembered the good times with Renata, celebrated his humanity, his jokes, his loves of cowboy movies, raised a glass or two to a man much admired for his no-nonsense kind of life and, of course, the hardest man to play field hockey against.

Tony Reg D’Souza paid tribute to a man who was the eternal defender of the weak and defenceless both young children at school, at sport and later adults wherever he met them. Bullies scurried away from his mere presence.

Geoff Ahluwalia, who always walks into a room and lights it up with hearty laughter, reminded those who knew a little Swahili (and it introduced it those who did not know it) but singing Ray’s favourite Safari song and the church was filled with laughter and clapping. The priest who celebrated the farewell won’t forget it in a hurry because he mentioned Safari (journey) several times throughout the Mass.

It was a happy kind of farewell (if ever there is such a funeral) … most folks were happy for having known the charming, smiling, funny, humanitarian. Some of the folks who looked after him in the Canberra nursing home, could not stop the tears mixed with sobbing laughter running down their cheeks.

It was a good day to say Kwaheri (Goodbye). New memories were made.
Though their hearts were breaking, his widow Edna and sons Mark and Julian, the grandchildren and members of the extended family kept a brave smile, at the same time remembering the man they knew and loved.

Perhaps he had already settled to a slab of beer and a good cowboy movie in Heaven but if he took a minute to look down to earth, I guess he would have been happy that many had travelled from afar to celebrate his life, especially with their own personal memories.

As the Kenyan Goan tribe diminishes with each death all around the world, this fare brought the Aussie-Goans together and it was almost like one of those old East African Goan socials, for a man who loved the club life so much. CRF.


Renato was born in Nairobi, Kenya, attending the Dr Ribeiro Goan school. A keen sportsman, he represented the school in many sports at the highest level and played hockey in the first XI for the Goan Institute (G.I.) when that team was at the top of its form! He captained the G.I. team for many years and was the only player to be part of the winning teams in both 1952 and 1961.

Renato was also a key member of the Kenyan Goan hockey team who won all the major hockey tournaments in East Africa in one season, alongside other hockey greats including Alu Mendonca and Cajie Fernandes.

He loved the social club life in Kenya; this continued throughout his life with some great stories from his days in both Nairobi and Canberra to be told at another time. His working life began as a sales representative for Ahmed Brothers, a stylish gentlemen’s outfitters in the centre of Nairobi. He later trained as a butcher and worked in the family business in Hurlingham where his father (Caetano) owned the Petrol Service Station and meat supply business (Booths Butchery).

In difficult economic times, many Goans would receive free meat from Booths! He loved customer service and would end his professional career in Kenya in sales firstly for City Brewery and then Coca-Cola where he spent the last 15 years with many great friends. These included his good mate soccer legend Joe Kadenge and IOC representative Charles Mukora. Renato was well-loved by many in Kenya because he was passionate about multi-racial friendships. This was before the 1963 independence of Kenya when this was frowned upon by the existing British Government.

Renato had many friends from different communities around the country who were attracted to his charismatic personality and incredibly loyal friendship. These bonds remained strong with many friends across the world and who remain steadfast throughout his life. Always generous in spirit, Renato helped many Goans resettle after the Asian expulsion from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972, and again in 1974 when Malawi expelled its Goan population. He opened his home in Hurlingham, Nairobi, to many Goan refugees, enabling them to transition through Nairobi before they settled in either Canada or the UK. These Goan families still remember the help their parents received in this transition at the most difficult time.

Renato moved to Australia in 1983 with his wife Edna and two sons Malcolm and Julian. He settled in Canberra where he remained for 37 years until his death. He was incredibly proud of his sons and of his four grandchildren, Gabriel, Eloise, Marcus and Luca, because he saw in them the family values that he embodied. He had looked after his parents well into their old age in both Kenya and Goa. The family was ultimately everything to him and he knew the grandkids understood what he was all about.


CRF: Ultimately as we continue to lose Kenya Goan wazee, it diminishes each one of us, just as we are diminished by the loss of a family member. We are one fewer. No one will replace that. With each deathly blow, death is brought is closer to home. As Norman Da Costa once asked me: Who will be left to write our eulogy? Such is life. I try to remember each one in celebration.

A Konkani Cocktail

From Francis Noronha

A Konkani Cocktail
Dear friends,

I received the information below from my friend and fellow-villager (Chorao, Goa) Joe Fernandes. Some of you may have read his first book, "Requiem for a Goan" and so need no further introduction to Joe or his writings. But, if you haven't read Joe's first book, Joe has made it his mission in life to maintain Goan culture and keep amchi bhas, our Konkani language, alive. In "Requiem," we were treated to several Konkani words, phrases and idiomatic expressions. My knowledge of Konkani is very limited as my opportunities to speak the language were very limited when I was growing up. It was good, however, to come across Kalchi Koddi that we have all enjoyed on our visits to Goa, and dozens of other Konkani expressions. Also, should the need arise (highly unlikely in the depths of a Canadian winter with temperatures below -40C!), Joe provided us with detailed instructions on how to tie a Kaxtti (our  national male  costume - the loin cloth!).

From his notes below, I see that Joe has gone one step further in "A Konkani Cocktail". He actually tells the story in Konkani and then gives an English translation for the benefit of Goans and others like myself whose Konkani is limited or non-existent. What a good idea! I look forward to trying to understand the story in Konkani, and turning to the English translation when I am completely at sea (which will be very often, I have no doubt).

Those of you who have read "Requiem" will, I am sure, have enjoyed the illustrations of Goan artist and writer, Mel D'Souza. I was pleased to learn that Mel has collaborated with Joe once again and we can look forward to more of Mel's delightful illustrations. With Joe as the story teller and Mel as the illustrator, you can be certain that the book will be a keeper as well as a great stocking filler for friends and relatives with Christmas around the corner.

Check out the promotional information below. For the modest price of $10.00 (plus postage) you are assured of some glimpses into our traditional Goan ways of living, some gently amusing looks at our Goan foibles - and stories in amchi bhas as it is spoken. Thank you, Joe, for this second step in the preservation of Goan culture, traditions and language. I end with a blessing on Joe and Mel taken from "Requiem" : "Devachem bhesaun tumcher poddom re" (May God shower blessings on you.")

Francis Noronha
Lethbridge, Canada, 
November 10, 2019

P.S. Please feel free to pass on this information to anyone you think will be interested.

My Dear Friends and Fellow Goans,

LAUGH and recollect Amchi Bhas while sipping –

In the humorous ‘Requiem’ I had brought to your notice the slow death of our traditions. The same thing is happening
to Konkani in the Romi script. Our children speak in English.

Should we remain bystanders?

Without literature Amchi Bhas cannot survive. The last one and a half years I have spent as a recluse to do exactly 
that. I wished to show what can be done even with a limited vocabulary. Please excuse my silence.

The result is A Konkani Cocktail - A textbook of 40+ humorous original tales of life in Goa told in colloquial 
Konkani with each story translated in English side be side, so you can savour the words that were once on the
tip of your tongue.

The stories narrate hilarious situations- tips for negotiating a dowry, the panic of a mother who learns that her 
son in Washington is getting married to a khapurlem. The reason priests in Goa become abalar once every three 
years. Meet a parrot who speaks Konkani, a monkey that rings the church bell and the implications of visiting a doctor 
who is cockeyed!

All this for 10 dollars plus shipping. The book is 160 pages. Currently available in Goa, USA and Toronto only. 
Before the end of the year we hope to have it in Abu Dhabi and Sydney. Or you can pick the book for only 5 dollars post paid for delivery in India. It makes an excellent Xmas gift for seniors.

Here is what makes this book different! Languages are no longer taught using grammar. No Present Participle and Present Continuous. Speak and learn is the new method.

There’s more! Those who desire will get my WhatsApp number! When you phone I shall read a lesson of your 
choice which you can then record. Each lesson is not more than 5 minutes.

Please contact Cassy mob. 932588 2570 (Goa) or me at Mississauga Tel no. 647 794 7061 or my email

Finally, each piece is with Mel’s impeccable illustrations. Like ‘Requiem’ it makes the book breezy and light reading.
A PDF of the cover and a sample piece titled EC VHODDLI CHUK is attached to liven up your day. The English 
version 'A Big Mistake' follows the Konkani PDF.

Could I request you to please forward this mail and the PDFs below to your friends.  Thanks and God bless,


PS : I am pleased to inform you that the Goan Authors Association will do me the honour of launching the 
book at their Book Fair in Goa next month.

Obituary: Nicky de Mello, a sports fan-atic

The late Nicky De Mello wearing  Montreal Expos cap at a Blue Jays game in Toronto
From Left: Ajit Singh, George Moraes, Willie Lobo, Norman Da Costa, Polly Pereira and Lionel Pereira.

The late Nicky De Mello and Norman da Costa receiving mementoes at the Malkit Singh function which Nicky helped organise


    By Norman Da Costa

It was an innings that came to an abrupt end. Nicky de Mello was a diehard cricket fan whose life revolved around the game. To the utter surprise of his many friends he would wake up at 2 a.m. to catch the first ball bowled by Ishant Sharma in a Test match in the comfortable confines of his home in Mississauga. But this was Nicky. There were no half measures about him. As a fan, as a travel agent or as a sports administrator he stood out. He left an indelible mark in whatever project he undertook.
Like most diehard fans of cricket, Nicky ate, drank and slept the game. Back home in Uganda he also looked after the scorebook and on occasions umpired as well, much to the chagrin of the opposing team. On a couple of occasions his finger went up for a leg before wicket appeal even before the ball had reached the batsman. Few crossed his path. He was knowledgeable enough to dissect India’s shortcomings, especially in that World Cup semifinal loss to New Zealand in July. He was very disappointed that India hadn’t advanced to the final, but being a cultured fan he accepted the fact New Zealand was the better team on the day. “Well India will bounce back and win the next World Cup,’’ said Nicky, a close friend of mine. Unfortunately, India’s biggest fan in this part of the world won’t be around to cheer India anymore or need any early wake up calls. The Entebbe-born Nicky passed away in Mississauga in the early hours of Oct. 24, 2019 at the age of 77.
     He leaves behind Cressy, his wife of 49 years, and his three children Evelyn (Peter), Twyla and Olivia and grandchildren Larissa, Samaya and Kierra. He is survived by his sisters Eulalia (U.K.) and Rose (B.C.), and brothers Marcus (U.K.) and Mario (Nova Scotia) and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces. Nick was predeceased by his brothers Felix, Victor, Peter and Arthur.

Cricket may have been his passion, but he followed every sport with the same enthusiasm and, after landing in Montreal following Idi Amin’s purge of the Asians, he turned his attention to baseball’s Expos and attended every home game in the cavernous Olympic Stadium. Nicky, like most Canadians, was certain the Expos would land the World Series in 1994-95 after an outstanding season. But in a cruel twist of fate their aspirations were crushed by a baseball strike. The Expos were then forced to abandon Montreal for Washington. Unfortunately, Nicky also missed what would have been a crowning moment for him when Washington Nationals lifted their very first World Series trophy by beating Houston Astros on Oct. 31, a few days after he passed away.

His love for sports knew no bounds possibly fuelled by the fact he couldn’t personally pursue any single activity seriously after losing an eye to a freak accident in his early teens.

As an administrator he had no equal. He is always spoken of in glowing terms and few in Uganda will forget that he was the driving force behind the birth of the Horizons who in a short time became a force to be reckoned with in that country. The Horizons were born after some players who belonged to Kampala Goan Institute became disenchanted with the lack of playing time due to politics. Enter Nicky and the rest is history.

The Horizons had a dream start by winning a trophy in their very first tournament. The team was led by Osbert Remedios and included Olympian George Moraes, brothers Jerry and Anthony Braganza, Leslie Sequeira, Charlie de Souza, Effie Rato, brothers Stan, Zenon and Hubie de Souza, Narendra Singh and Edwin Fonseca. Fonseca, a Uganda cricket international, scored the winning goal to stun none other than the KGI 1-0 to win the Bhandari Jaffer Trophy, one of that country’s top field hockey tournaments. Nicky did not stop there. He pulled enough strings to get a decent-sized hall at the Lugogo Stadium that was to eventually become the club’s clubhouse complete with a bar. He then embarked on a membership drive that peaked at 100. “He was meticulous in whatever he did,’’ said Moraes, the tall full back who was one of three Goans to represent Uganda in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. “He would organize several functions at the place and also brought in a few sponsors. He was the brains and worker behind the scenes, working tirelessly for his members and I have to thank him for my selection to Munich,’’ added Moraes.

Since Nicky and my family shared a long history that included his mom Bella being my godmother we enjoyed a close bond. In 1967 as sports secretary of the Railway Goan Institute I invited the Horizons to pay us a sports visit and that turned out to be one visit that’s fondly spoken about till today. Over the four days our bar did a roaring business. A year later in 1968 after RGI won the M.R. de Souza Gold Cup for the third time and we paid a reciprocal visit to Kampala at Nicky’s invitation. With several Olympians in the RGI lineup the spectators were charged an entranced fee. But the visitors failed to live up to their reputation as East African champions as most of the players were tripping over the powdered white lines on the ground because of the many cocktails consumed on a hellish journey that took 24 hours as the bus broke down on several occasions. Not to mention lack of sleep (that’s no excuse). But the RGI cricket team made up for that loss by thumping the Horizons at the famous Lugogo Stadium. One of the many highlights of this memorable sports visit were the two Golden Jubilee Variety Shows choreographed by my Daily Nation colleague Cyprian Fernandes. On our return home a very happy Nicky loaded 12 bottles of waragi and mixes on the bus. Would you believe that someone on the bus stole all the waragi, but was kind enough to leave the mixes behind for the other thirsty passengers.

As sports editor of the Nation group I hired Nicky to write a weekly column on Uganda sports for the Sunday Nation and it drew a healthy readership as no other East African newspaper had a weekly column dedicated to that country’s sports scene. In 1992 Nicky put out a 12-page sports newspaper highlighting the achievements of Goan sportsmen and women and that too was warmly received.
In Montreal Nicky was responsible for an annual darts tournament. Just as the Gold Cup tournament attracted the cream of field hockey teams to Nairobi every Easter, the tournament in Montreal drew friends and families from across Canada. It was a huge success for several years before running out of steam.

Because of his organizational skills, in 2016 Nicky was called upon by former Uganda hockey star Malkit Singh of London to head a local committee to celebrate a Jambo and Kwaheri Wazees get together in Toronto. In typical Nicky fashion he helped round up at least 200 of Malkit’s buddies from around the world for the celebration that included Kenya captain and three-time Olympian Avtar Singh from Nairobi. Avtar joined several other former East African men’s and women’s internationals for a night of partying in Toronto. Malkit also somehow managed to rope in one of the world’s greatest sprinters Ben Johnson who, in my opinion, was wrongly banned and made to return his 100 metres gold medal on a doping charge at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

If Nicky made his mark as a sport administrator he will also always be remembered as a brilliant travel advisor. He had few equals in this field as well. Nicky, Errol Francis and Zenon de Souza and a few others owe their success to the late Al Lobo, the Goan godfather of the travel business. Nicky continued where he left off in Uganda by opening branches in Montreal, Halifax and Calgary before establishing himself in Toronto. In the last couple of years Al Lobo and Nicky joined forces again and organized several top-flight excursions around the world until Al passed away unexpectedly a year ago.

In 2012 Nicky organized put a package together to tour Mumbai, Goa and Kerala and the general consensus of the 42 who signed up was that it was by far the very best tour they had ever been on. Nicky housed us at five and seven-star hotels in Kerala and the highlight was the two-day Kerala backwater cruise. It’s usually a one-night sail but Nicky decided on a two-night jaunt as we had to consume all the scotch purchased at the duty free in Mumbai. And we did. It would be a sin to waste the booze.

Nicky had a solid base of ex-Ugandan expatriates based in Canada and the U.S. who would only book with him because of the flawless reputation he had earned. “He was thorough in every trip he organized and those who travelled with him had nothing but the highest praise for him because of his attention to every detail,’’ said de Zenon de Souza, who was with a rival company. “He was a good-hearted man and what endeared him to all was he always supported youngsters and the Goan community,’’ added de Souza. “He was straight shooter and this is what we all liked about him.”

Nicky was certainly one of a kind and he will be missed.


3164 Ninth Line, Oakville
Sunday, November 3, 2019 between 6p.m.-9p.m.
11 Peter Street South, Mississauga 
Monday, November 4, 2019 at 11am

Reception to follow after mass at: 
2638 Steeles Avenue South, Brampton

We encourage you to wear an athletic jersey (for the reception only), to commemorate his passion for sports. The family requests that In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity in Uganda would be the closest to his heart: