Sunday, August 23, 2020

Harold George D'Souza Another Star Next Door



Another Star Next Door

This celebration of a great buddy has been long overdue. I have been slow getting off the mark for one unforgivable reason or another. His fans have been quite vociferous: write the story! At last, here it is.

 Harold with his Community Service Award for 31 years of dedicated service to the community

Harold George D'Souza: always with a smile

Harold George D’Souza picking up one of the many trophies he has won in his sports career in Mombasa Kenya.


IT IS one of life’s greatest gifts when you meet someone who is a very special human being: genuinely popular with everyone he has met, naturally honest, completely unassuming and humility personified. You would think anyone with the happy baggage of all those accolades might be overloaded with a tendency to trip here or there, but not HAROLD GEORGE D’SOUZA.

He was blessed with great parents. George D’Souza was a great club man and a public speaker in demand at the club, at weddings, christenings and other social events. He was also an avid sportsman and instilled this love of sports in both his sons: Harold George and the late Peter George, who left this earth doing what he loved most in his leisure hours, fishing.

I think his greatest gift has been the God-given ability to look any challenge, any mishap, anything that life has thrown his way, including several challenges of limb and illness dead-straight in the eye and soldier on regardless of whatever might be.

Perhaps his greatest blessing has always been the four women in his life: wife Hazel and daughters Hayley, Gail, Hylette. These joys of life were increased ten-fold and more with sons-in-law David Walker, the late Sean MacKay and Greg Evans and, of course, the greatest delights of all, the grandchildren: Aaron and Shanyce Walker, Lachlan Mackay, Ethan, Blake, Noah and Willow Evans.  Harold is not one to show-off or big-note himself, even when talking about his grandchildren, he does it with quiet elegance, almost understating the praise but it is always written over his beaming face.

Tony and Rebecca D’Souza, the late Tony Coutinho and Lucinda, my late wife Rufina and I have spent many summers as guests of Mal and Margaret Ferris at their mountain lodges at Eaglereach in the wine country not far from Sydney. Once when we had a whisper of wind in our hair, we used to meet on most Saturday nights for dinner, a few jokes, and happy banter and grateful that we were able to do so.

Harold has an infectious smile, a sharp defence of his beliefs and his considered points of view, a hearty laugh and consideration for others above all. He is also a fish curry and rice addict, prawn curry most welcome or any traditional Goan dishes. He is just a jolly good bloke.

Of course, Harold and Hazel were also big supporters of the Goan Overseas Association since its inception in Sydney during the early 1970s. They still are, to a large degree.

But that is not the reason for this humble celebration of a man we all admire. More than anything else, Harold has always been a dedicated sportsman. He grew up in Kisumu and Mombasa and most of the capital cities, the provincial headquarters and where a few Goan got together their lives would be dominated by the Goan Institute whose members had an almost religious dedication to sports, social events, concerts, and this and that. But it was sports that dominated club life both in individual events and team sports. This love of sport was nurtured by success at district and province-wide competition. Perhaps the greatest rivalries were reserved for inter-club sports visits. Club sport was more than just playing the game, there was always all social aspects of growing up, boy meets girl and vice versa.

Goans mainly from Mombasa and Nairobi produced half players at each of the Olympics since 1956.

There was plenty to play for and if you did not make it at representative level there were plenty of rewards at club level.

Harold and some of his siblings were born in Kisumu, the charming pioneering town on the shores of the mighty and legendary Lake Victoria. Like everywhere elsewhere there was a sizeable Goan community, there was the Goan Institute mainly sport, social and cultural events. When he was eight years old, his parent decided to send him to St Paul’s High School in Belgaum, a few hours drive from villages in Goa. He spent a year in Parra, Goa after he fell ill.

Soon after he arrived in Mombasa, he was playing those games little boys play including seven tiles (I wonder how many of you remember this, hop, hop, hop etc game) and of course cricket and hockey. He was soon captain of the Mombasa Goan School cricket and hockey teams. He played centre-forward in hockey and was an opening bat in cricket. He says, he was a shy a little boy. Hard to believe, with those large laughing eyes!

At school he also excelled in 100m, 200m, long jump, high jump, shot putt, triple jump, javelin, discuss. Harold won the junior Victor Ludorum and Albert Castanha won the senior Victor Ludorum.


It was long before he had smoothly slipped into the senior club sides in both sports. He picked up the cricket captaincy fairly early in club career and visited the neighbouring coastal towns in Tanzania and, of course, Zanzibar.

He also visited Nairobi many times to play in the M R De Souza Gold Cup which was the pre-eminent knock-out hockey tournament in East Africa. His Mombasa teammates included some of the legends of the Mombasa game: Alban Fernandes (who played cricket and hockey for Tanganyika), Peter George D’Souza, Patrick Martins, Albert Castanha, Walter Castanha, Reynolds Pereira, Franklin Pereira, Michael Pereira, Edwin Fernandes, Silvano and Leslie Pinto, Procop Fernandes and his son Michael. The legend, Sana (Agnelo De Souza) coached many a team Harold played in.

This was especially true of Baobao team which was founded by Sana.

Most hockey players also played cricket. Eventually, Harold was poached for the Coast Gymkhana team, where he enjoyed a lot of success.

Even more success came when he swapped his bat for the cricket umpire’s hat. A rare honour came his way when he was asked to umpire the MCC v Coast XI. The English team was led by a young former South African, Tony Greig, who went to lead England and late spent most of his life as a top cricket commentator.

Naturally, Harold was also a gifted athlete, specialising in the 100m and 200m dash and trained and ran against the like of Seraphino Antao, Albert Castanha (one of his greatest friends), Joe Faria and Alcino Rodrigues.

As I said Harold was a sports nut and good at all of them: hockey, cricket, soccer, tennis, badminton, table tennis, and snooker.

Harold was the father of sport in the Goan Overseas Association in Sydney, NSW. He began with organizing sports at the various picnic days the association hosted and eventually raised two teams to play indoor and outdoor cricket, a hockey team and indoor soccer team to take on Melbourne in two reciprocal visits. He also introduced and nurtured a healthy men’s and women’s darts teams as meeting the needs for table tennis fans at the annual-club sports days.

MALCOLM MONTEIRO: When I first arrived to go to University in Sydney in the early 1980s, my parents put me in touch with a few Goan icons from Kenya. One of those was Harold George, who would have known my parents through the various Goan clubs and sports connections from the old days.

Harold had been living in Sydney for some time and was the Sports Secretary and Hockey Captain of the GOA NSW. Harold invited me to play and train with the club on Sundays. He gave me the opportunity to play at centre-half position for several years under his captaincy.

I remember catching the public transport from the University to the northern suburb of Hornsby, where Harold would pick me up and drive me to training. We always enjoyed a beer after training, which was the highlight of my Sunday.

The GOA Sydney/Melbourne matches were incredibly competitive and the blue-ribbon event of the sports visit long weekend. It pit Goan family against Goan family and all the boys played seriously as if it was for ‘sheep stations’.

Harold was a great captain who was humble, calm and exemplified sportsmanship. The team played well together under him. I will always remember Harold, as a great sportsman who put a lot of effort into developing and mentoring young players. He is also a committed family man and I enjoyed spending time with his family during our sports visits.

With the assistance of Tony Fernandes, he organized several full-programmed athletics meetings.

As much as he achieved in encouraging adults to play sports, he was more delighted to see so many youngsters taking up the games of their choice.

In Sydney, Harold was the eternal cricket wicketkeeper and captain and Alban Rattos the two formed a formidable bond. Alban was one of my favourite batsmen and I got to see him just a few times, but he was all class and polish.

He was GOA Sportsman of the Year one season and his daughter Hylette was Sportswoman of the Year the same year.

He scored his first century playing for the Grace Brothers team.

These days he is happy to enjoy his sport from the armchair and the TV screen. Njoy, you more than most have earned the right to relax after having given so much of your life to sport … and encouraging so many youngsters to take up the sport of their choice. As they read this, I am sure they will be raising a glass or two in celebration of their friend: Harold George.


Harold George at the opening ceremony with Ruth D’Costa at one of the Melbourne/Sydney sports visit.



Harold George standing second from right in the Baobab hockey team.


THE Mombasa GI cricket team: Harold George standing front extreme right, the late Albert Castanha wicket-keeping on this occasion

One of the Sydney-Melbourne sports visits

Mombasa inter-schools hockey team: Harold George seating middle row extreme right, note the Elvis Presley hairdo attempt. The late Joe Fernandes, standing extreme right, was the sports master.


Mombasa inter-school cricket winners:


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Before the Monsoons come ....






In Goa, monsoons provide a welcome respite from the opulent heat and stifling dust of summer.  From June to September, torrential rain, ferocious winds, thunder and lightning are a constant.  The dust settles, the air is cleansed, the parched land becomes a huge sponge, the drying wells, river-beds and ponds are replenished, the life-giving waters are garnered in rice paddy fields.  The thunder and lightning chase away evil spirits lurking in the shadows and are the stuff for spooky grandmothers’ tales for kids.  Other than inescapable work in the paddy fields, a sense of semi-hibernation envelops the populace, as outdoor pursuits become subject to the vagaries of the weather, or as occupations linked to tourism come to a seasonal ebb.

Take a walk back in time to appreciate what people had to go through before the advent of the drenching downpours.   Remember that it rains in the same measure on the lands of the poor as the rich.  So, all stripes of Goans had to girth their loins and scramble.  Imagine life without electricity: No refrigerator to store food, no stoves, no electrical appliances.  Paraffin lamps and open cooking fires were the order of the day.


One of the first things that had to be attended to was waterproofing the house.  Broken Mangalore or Sanvordem tiles that had succumbed to errant coconuts, had to be replaced.  Roman tiles had to be re-arranged after leaves and other debris had been cleared from the “gutters” between the tiles.  The roofs of out-houses, chicken coops and the pig’s sty had to be re-thatched with palm fronds.   Since most homes were built of clay, the exposed walls had to be protected on the outside, with upright or plaited palm leaves fastened to a bamboo frame leaning against the walls.  Drains had to be made to divert water away from the house.  Coconut leaves, -shells, -husks and any firewood had to be piled up in a dry place.   It was not uncommon for people to hang coconut leaves, in pairs, astride a horizontal tree branch.  With one layer upon another, the outer layers kept the ones below dry, for use in the kitchen.


Provisions had to receive critical attention.  Coconut kernels had to be dried in the scorching sun, to make copra which was expressed for oil.  Large batches of paddy had to be boiled in huge copper pots, then dried on a bamboo mat, before being taken to a mill, in a basket on a person’s head, for de-husking.  The copra residue and the rice husks were saved for adding to the pig’s daily ration of swill.  Kerosene (paraffin) for lighting, in six-litre tin cans, was a must   Rice was stored in large clay urns or copper pots and rat-proofed.  Plenty of sea-salt was always on hand.  Sugar was kept in an earthenware vessel placed in a small moat to keep ants at bay.  A good supply of home-made sausages was suspended from the rafters in the kitchen, alongside onions and chillies.


Pickled mangoes, berries and fish, plus an assortment of dried fish, were necessary staples.  Coconuts and a slew of spices, including dried sour-mango slivers, were must-have items.    Salted pork was stored in thick clay pails, with a weighted wooden cover as a precaution against rats.  Stored blankets were examined for moth holes.   A supply of cashew nuts in the shell, or jackfruit seeds, was useful for roasting and exuding warmth on cold and dreary nights.


Woe betide those who forgot to stock up on any of these essentials.  They had to depend on the generosity of their neighbours and their limited supplies.


Finally, umbrellas were checked for broken ribs, followed by a triumphant shout of : “Bring on the rain”!


And, let us not forget a monsoon ritual of bygone days.  June 24 happens to be the feast of St. John The Baptist. Men and boys, drenched in the torrential rains, with their crown jewels draped in their best “khastis”, indulged in the religious tradition of “Sao Joao” and jumped into narrow neighbourhood wells. A”ghumot” egged them on.  Their reward was a treat and a big swig of fluid fortification (“feni”) provided by the homeowner.  Then on to the next house and the next and on and on………. The effects of the alcohol seemed to dissipate with each jump. Thereafter, any chapel or crucifix was a pit-stop for a thanksgiving prayer to “Sao Joao” for deliverance in one piece, from their risky dives.



An old-time funeral in Goa



By Armand Rodrigues


Morbid as the subject may be, not many of us can claim to remember what a typical funeral was like, in Goa,  years back.   Some may have been too young to remember, and others may have missed an opportunity as they were abroad.


Money was always the first concern when anybody passed away.   Neutral as Goa may have been,  the war meant that money and the necessities of life were in short supply.   Also, very few people kept money in a bank and, in any case, the solitary bank anywhere around was in town, which was several kilometres away.   So, if you did not have enough funds hidden in your almirah or mattress, you had to borrow from the neighbours, and deposit some items of jewellery with the lenders, as surety.


Funeral homes were unheard of, and so related survivors had to attend to every facet of the funeral themselves.   A trusty elder would be hastily despatched to the village church to make arrangements with the parish priest, the grave-digger, the sacristan, the choirmaster, the candlemaker, the confraternity leader and the village crier.   Simultaneous arrangements were made to ring church and chapel bells in the village, to signal the death.   One ding and two dongs, in repetition, sounded the knell.   Another messenger would be sent to the nearest town to fetch a pine-wood type of coffin draped with black cloth and maybe some frilly lace.   One size fitted all.   A band to play mournful funeral dirges, and marches to accompany the funeral procession, also had to be hired.


A quick inventory had to be made of friends and relatives in other villages.   Runners were then sent off in all directions  --  mainly on bicycles -- to notify them.    Word of mouth was the only way.   And woe betide a family that may have unwittingly omitted to inform a relative.   Close relatives abroad were notified by telegram, sent through the nearest Post Office.


Families usually had enough rice, but fish, meat, spices and liquor had to be purchased in bulk and immediately.   Large metal pans and clay curry-pots had to be borrowed.   If the domestic pig was not fattened enough and ready for the table, one had to be bought.   Likewise chickens.  (Those were the days when a "Papal Bull" permitted families that had paid for it, to eat meat on forbidden days)   There was no telling how many people would stay for any given meal or drop in after the interment.   Of course, nobody in the village had a fridge.


More often than not, suitable clothing for the deceased had to be made right away.   There were no ready-made clothes.   To save on expenses, it was not unusual for a man's jacket and shirt to be backless.


People of the same gender would help wash and dress up the corpse.   The coffin would be placed in the hall or else in the largest room in the house, and be straddled by benches for the mourners.   This arrangement and candlelight vigil could last for a couple of days without the advantage of proper embalming.   Flowers would come from neighbours' gardens or be picked in the wild.   The activity and wailing in the front of the house would only take second place to the incessant din and clatter in the kitchen in the rear.   And, the aromas wafting through the house compensated for any offensive odours that lingered on.


For the funeral itself, the band would play melancholy pieces outside the house, and then accompany the foot cavalcade, with sombre march music, to the church.    The coffin would be carried by members of the confraternity to which the deceased belonged.   From the church, there would be a procession to the cemetery.   The actual interment called for everybody to cast some soil on the lowered coffin.


Back at the house, the kitchen would be a frantic hive of activity.   From the cemetery, all would wend their way back to where it all began, to drown their sorrow in copious potions of the potent local brews, and to commiserate with the kith and kin of the dearly departed.   Dinner would follow and take on the semblance of a feast, considering that times were lean otherwise,   The proceedings would go on well into the night. 


All sorrow dissipated, and thirst and hunger satiated, people would gradually start making for home.   Batteries for flashlights were simply not available.   A burning torch, made of palm fronds, lighted the dark path ahead and also helped keep at bay the demons and evil spirits lurking in the shadows.


Until next time, normalcy then returned to mundane life in a pastoral setting.





Saturday, August 8, 2020


(Do not take this for gospel, consult your doctor)

It is zoom time. Instead of the meeting at the club with the girls (mainly widows), thanks to the ravages of Covid-19 it has brought super computer Joe into his element. For a change, he has been a patient teacher as the old guys farted around getting to learn the system. Otherwise, it seems like a hundred voices screaming press this, press that, don’t touch that. You ijiyot! Ducor! And this and that. Another thing, there is no kitty anymore in which everyone contributed their share of the cost of the beers and the profits (remaining change) was held on for the annual bash to someplace with a decent club or hotel.

These days each one is dedicated to his choice of drink, whatever that is. One or two have raised their eyebrows watching or two others slurping on a Single Malt or two or even a cognac or two. However, this has not taken anything away from the business at hand.

Romeo, the rat, who hadn’t been around for a long time, was welcomed with generous “welcome backs”. Abel, the cat, (because of his light eyes, like Filo Mazor’s) was the first to pipe in: “So. Induur, what was wrong. We heard you were ill, but you would not speak to anyone. We sent some spies, but they came back empty-handed.”

The rat: “What to tell you guys… the medical centre doctors told me I was low on testosterone and I had to see the specialist who told me I had to get an ultrasound of my genitalia and a huge list of pathology tests including a 24-hour collection of urine. This was because there were other elements related to the testosterone that were also in short supply in my bloodstream.

“I was a little nervous about the senior citizen who was doing the ultra-sound on my semi-nude self but she was a professional and did not bat an eyelid or twinge at all.

“What was more daunting was the pathology test over two hours in around the genitalia.

“The result is that I will have to apply a special (expensive) ointment in the genitalia and a course of tablets.”

Dr Google piped in: Decreases in testosterone can lead to physical changes including the following: increased body fat. decreased strength/mass of muscles. fragile bones. Testosterone is a sex hormone often associated with males, though females have small amounts. If a male has a low level of testosterone, the symptoms can include erectile dysfunction, and reduced bone mass and sex drive.

What causes low testosterone?

·         Injury (trauma, interrupted blood supply to the testes) or infection of the testes (orchitis)

·         Chemotherapy for cancer.

·         Metabolic disorders such as hemochromatosis (too much iron in the body)

·         Dysfunction or tumors of the pituitary gland.

If left untreatedlow testosterone can contribute to low bone density or heart disease risk. But it doesn't have to — low testosterone is relatively easy to treat. The goal of your treatment plan will be to get your testosterone levels back into the normal range.


The rat suggested that in his case it was probably a case of infected testes. Why or how or what will remain a mystery.


Is he feeling any better? “I am a little reassured but it is too early to tell. I started the treatment last week.”


The Pied Piper rolled his eyes, shook his head, and asked: “So, how did you know there was something wrong? Did you stop having sex?”


“With whom should I have been having sex? I have not had any since El left us 17 years ago. Nothing comes up and, when it does in my sleep, nothing squirts out. Besides there has been considerable shrinkage, which I am told is normal for most Wazee.”

(It's normal to have a lower sex drive and fewer spontaneous erections as you age. But little or no libido can be a sign that you have low testosterone. Research suggests that almost 40% of men ages 45 and older seen in a doctor’s office may have low testosterone.

Because the symptoms of low testosterone can be vague and because men don't always mention their symptoms to their doctors, the actual number of men with low testosterone levels may be higher.)


The Tight-Fist who is blessed or cursed with a steel wrist was soon up and hopping about: “I am not going to allow any shrinkage. I such see qualitative medical advice next week.”


Well, there were not too many jokes that day. Everyone was thinking about their own personal issues … just for awhile and it was not long before the Golfer was up to his merry-tunes jokes.


A final line on the subject, the Rat explained: “Many years ago, I had made a beeline for Jasmine (everyone in the group knew Jas and in their bachelor days ogled her or even yearned for her but the Presley kid had sole occupancy of that heart) long after we both lost our partners. I did not understand at the time what she meant when she told me “I have nothing to give”. I understand now but would have understood better (maybe) if she had explained the symptom.”


Jimmy the crab, who is something of a considerate member of the group, is also something of an unintentional eves-dropper. He has the knack of being able to listen to two more conversations within earshot.  He explained: “ I was at the Medical Centre the other day and I met a lady who I see regularly at Church. She had three other friends and she introduced me to them. It was not long before we all found ourselves discussing our health problems. The common thread was: Degenerative discs in the neck, upper beck, lowe back; aches in the shoulders, elbows, into the hips and some parts of the lower legs. All were being propped up with weekly or fortnightly physio and heat treatments. The most painful times of the year were the winter months. “No use in complaining,” one of the ladies said, “We should get up and do our best.” For this group, at least, there are tough times ahead.


Dr Google: As you age, the ligaments and tendons that hold your joints together become “stiff and leathery,” says Siegrist. At the same time, osteoarthritis can cause the cartilage in a joint to wear away. Both processes can lead to aching, soreness, and pain. The best way to feel younger, she says, is to condition your body in ways so that if you need to run to catch a plane or shovel the snow in your driveway, your body “doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the challenge.”

Anyway, let’s change the subject and talking about cooking ….

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Is Konkani relevant anymore?



Is Konkani relevant anymore?


My friend Mervyn stoked up the disappearing embers by writing this:




There was a time, especially during the colonial era in Goa

and other parts of India, when many of our Goans would not be

seen talking in their own mother tongue; not that these individuals

couldn't speak the language. For them,  speaking in a foreign

tongue gave them that air of superiority(at least so they thought!).

They felt important. Speaking in Konkani was considered below their

dignity.  SHAME ON THEM!

  As a lover of Konkani myself and all that our culture embodies,

I find it difficult to gauge the motives of these "foreign" Goans.

The following verses(sadly, the only ones I can remember) - from

a poem composed during my school days by that well-known

Jesuit historian, the late Fr. Claude Saldanha, S.J. - seem to sum up

everything. Referring to these self styled foreigners as kalafirngis-

Black Europeans), this, in 1940, is what he wrote:


   'They are shy to talk sweet Konkani

    Because they think it's low,

    They rattle off in company

    A foreign tongue for show.

       The men put on some pantaloons

        And think they look quite fine,

        They hardly know - the good buffoons

         That borrowed plumes don't shine!

Melodious mandos -swaying songs

With all their hearts they hate

Which cannot swing the girls around

With arms at any rate.

       And so, they say, 'the mando's dead'

       Not meant for cultured folk,

       But all their culture it is said

       Would not impress a bloke!


Konkani is such a sweet language, with greetings and

expressions not found in other foreign languages.

Take the daily salutation, for example:

   'Deo boro dis diun (May God give you a good day)

or 'Deo bori rath diun(May God give you a good night).

And what of that nightly blessing from our Elders?

 'Deo bori rath amcam somestam di Saiba etc (Lord,

give us a good night etc etc).


This last expression has certainly more meat  to it than the

plain 'Thank you'. Besides, all these also have one

thing in common - they embody Christian principles.

Far from being ashamed of our mother tongue, folk

songs and dances, let us make every effort to revive

and keep them going forever.


Future generations will thank us for this.


Mervyn Maciel


A friend answered back in the firmest and most sensible in the negative of the argument.


No many young people in Goa speak the mother tongue. They choose English because they all have dreams of leaving for England.


Even few new, second and third gens in the diaspora speak Konkani because in the great sphere of things it is quite irrelevant. No one else knows or speaks the language.


It natural for Goan migrants to assimilate in their new lands, especially in the language because without it one is complete marooned.


I don’t know of any young people in Australia who speak Konkani, certainly not the descendants of the East African migrants. My children don’t and don’t want to. There is a move in the GOA in Sydney where a small group has started Konkani classes.


In my mind, Konkani is useful to have if you visiting Goa.



Mervyn replies to his friend.


For your 'exhaustive' response to my article which in

no way was directed at those like yourself and others who were

brought up in an English-speaking environment. 

Like you, I too knew precious little Konkani since my parents

both conversed in English. It is only when we were on holiday

in Goa that I heard Konkani for the first time and picked up very

few words. Much later, when I was schooling in Goa and needed

to use Konkani both inside and outside the home, I took an

interest in the language since I also love our folk songs.

  I would never speak Konkani or Swahili for that matter were

I in the company of friends who only spoke English; but I 

have been embarrassed on occasions when some of my

Goan friends, conscious of the fact that we were among

English friends, still passed a few odd comments in Konkani!

   Yes, it is sad to see the erosion of our Mother tongue even in

Goa with the influx of Indians from other parts of India.

Sadly, we Goans are fast becoming a minority even in our own

country and before long I fear that the little bit of Goan-ness

that still exists in some quarters may soon be a thing of the


   All the best, and as they'd say in Goa   VIVA!




  This invaluable collection of photos was sent to me by David Mungai. He says it is “for the acknowledgement of Kenyan History, the celebra...