Friday, December 25, 2020

Composure in the face of COVID-19





Covid-19 has certainly disrupted normal living conditions worldwide.  Interaction with family and friends has taken an unprecedented and unpleasant twist.  Socializing face-to-face in harmonious fellowship is now taboo. We have been segregated and left stranded. Gloom and doom are constant bedfellows. and may be the new norm for now.

In this milieu some rays of hope continue in the form of disseminators of Goan endeavours.  Frederick Noronha in Goa; Eddie Fernandes in London, England: Salus Correia and Cyprian Fernandes in Australia: keep the embers aglow.  Canada fell off the radar with the sad demise of John D’Souza a couple of years back. And, Darrel Carvalho persevered and put forth a newsletter on behalf of the Westend Seniors’ Club in Toronto.  But hats off to Greta Dias, the intrepid Director of the Goan Overseas Association (Toronto)’s retirees, who fills the void best of all, by churning out stuff beyond compare.  The pandemic certainly put her mettle to the test. Phone calls, emails and virtual imaging have proven to be invaluable tools in her efforts.

For ten years Greta fronted face-to-face activities for the retirees. When these efforts got disconnected from the scenario, Greta embarked on an ambitious and unique program of providing palatable alternative strategies for members. These were in the form of “sanitized” material doled out at a furious pace. Her efforts have aligned well with members and even a few on other continents. Her think-tank includes her husband, sisters and a whole slew of talented individuals. The ongoing social diversions include : a monthly newsletter with special themes; interesting articles; pictures of members’ gardens, handicrafts, old school photographs; recipes; videos of  line-dancing and keep-fit programmes; health & welfare ; computer literacy; a primer on Zoom usage;  Rosary on Zoom every week;  ......the list goes on. For the meat and potatoes types like us in isolation, this could be just what the doctor ordered. Some colourful covers (below) reflect the diversity. All this virtual imaging was facilitated because of the impetus of the  President of the Goan Overseas Association (Toronto), Selwyn Colaco.

What will Greta and her team think of next ?

Monday, December 21, 2020

Twilight: Goan queen of track and field


Meldrita Laurente


The Queen of Track and Field


The years between 1950 and 1966 were the golden years of Goan track and field in East Africa, especially in the sprinting and middle-distance events. The Kenyan coastal capital of Mombasa produced the best Goan sprinters of all time, led by the late 1962 Commonwealth Games sprint double gold medalist, Seraphino Antao. These fleet-footed Goans included Avila Laura Ramos, Albert Castanha (the man who should have gone to the Games but faltered in the trials), Winnie D’Souza Singh, Joe Faria, Juanita Noronha, Pascal Antao, Alcino Rodrigues, Jack Fernandes and a few others. They were all potential medal winners.

But this story is about one of the most determined athletes of her time: the extremely shy and humble Meldrita Laurente Viegas. She was born in Mombasa on January 16, 1939, and was the second of four children. Greta, her older sister lives in Goa. Her younger brother, Stafford Laurente, lives in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and the baby of the family, Lauriette D’Souza-Lobo, lives in Toronto. Growing up, Meldrita often felt like the middle child who had to excel elsewhere to get the attention her siblings enjoyed.

Her father John Delphin Laurente was a civil servant with the British Colonial Civil Service (Revenue Department). At the time, the British Government relied on an army of Goan civil servants, sent to virtually every corner of the country, to keep things well-ordered. As a result, Meldrita’s family lived in Meru (Central Kenya), Eldoret (Rift Valley) and Kilifi (the Coast) before finally settling in Mombasa when Meldrita was 12 years old. 

Her mother, Maude, always tried to minimize the impact of this nomadic life on the children. She sent the kids by ship to Karachi, Pakistan, to live with her parents for two years. A young Meldrita remembers hearing bells for the Angelus from the local church and playing bones and ball (a game featuring pig bones and a tennis ball) on the stairs of her maternal grandmother’s home. 

Maude also sent the kids to live with her sister Charlotte and her family in Nairobi, while her husband was working in Eldoret, a Kenyan frontier town founded by South African Boer migrants. While in Nairobi, Meldrita went to the Dr. Ribeiro Goan School in Parklands for two years. Her aunt Charlotte was very strict and had a structured routine for her three children and their three cousins. She taught the children how to share. Table manners were high on the priority list. Meldrita missed her parents very much. Her frequent requests to return home finally wore her aunt down, and she was sent to Eldoret to be reunited with her parents. The persistence and determination she showed at a young age would serve her well as she matured.

The family finally ended up in Mombasa, which was much smaller than Nairobi but larger than other places the Laurente family had called home. When they moved to Mombasa, there was a natural period of adjustment. Meldrita went to the Goan (Sacred Heart) School. She found it difficult to make friends as most of her peers had their own social circles, which were largely closed to newcomers. The Goan community there was plagued by the old prejudices of the caste system.

Meldrita was not the kind of youngster who would let these sorts of things affect her. She played rounders, netball, and badminton, and participated in track and field in an attempt to fit in.  Interschool participation in track and field brought her great success. She felt a sense of belonging with her track and field family. Later, she continued training and competing while she attended teachers’ college and after her teaching career began at the Goan School at the age of 20.

Maude was a huge supporter and was always present when Meldrita ran at the Mombasa Municipal Stadium. John did his part by keeping the evil eye at bay and relishing in her accomplishments. After most meets, John would take Meldrita up to the terrace of their apartment building to take out dishth (evil eye). This ritual involved circling dried red chillies and alum around her head and burning the chillies in a charcoal fire (shigri) thereafter. The burned alum was thought to reveal the faces of those casting the evil eye. The stench of burning chillies is pretty awful. But that was the tradition in those days.

Initially, Meldrita trained at the Goan School. Later she was a member of the Coast Teachers’ Training College team. Mr. Loadman, the principal, took a keen interest in her. After Teachers’ Training College she returned to the Goan School to teach. She coached the track and field team at the school and selected three girls to run the 4 x 110 yards relay at the Coast Championships with her. She trained with Ray Batchelor at the Mombasa Municipal Stadium. (Ray Batchelor revolutionized Goan sport at the Coast. He was perhaps the only one (or one of a very few) who broke the Colonial colour bar by working and socializing with Goans. He was also the man who coached Antao to gold.) Among those who trained with Meldrita under Batchelor were Seraphino Antao (sprints, hurdles), Albert Castanha (sprints, hurdles, high jump), Alcino Rodrigues (330 yards, 440 yards) and Joe Faria (sprints), Bruno D’Souza, Fathiya Hinaway (hurdler), Ann Sanford (relay team) and Irina Ribitzski.

Meldrita has fond memories of Ray. After light jogs and warm-up exercises, he would ask her to run up the stadium steps with her knees as high as she could get them. He told her that this would help improve the length of her strides. She remembers him giving the athletes tins of Milo. He insisted that they eat two hours before a meet.

When Meldrita first competed against Winnie D’Souza Singh, Winnie defeated her in the 100-yard dash in a close finish. That was a turning point for Meldrita.  Winnie hadn’t broken the Kenya record in the race, so Meldrita set her eyes on the record. It motivated her to train intensely. She had become accustomed to winning and never wanted to be second best again. She never lost to Winnie again. Meldrita broke the Kenya record at the Kenya Championships in Kisumu and the record (11.4 secs) stood for many years. The success she enjoyed fueled her training, and she remained the champion for a number of years. The Queen of Track and Field had been crowned.  

Meldrita saw success in other events as well. She broke the Kenya record for long jump at the Coast Championships and held the record of 17’ 5 for several of years. She held the Coast record for the 220 yards (26.5 secs), and she usually ran the anchor leg of the 4 x 110 yards relay. 

Meldrita was recognized for all her contributions to track field and field when she was named the female Athlete of the Century at the centenary celebrations of the Mombasa Institute in 2001.

Every win was followed by “a feed”, a celebration at Blue Room in Mombasa that would always include falooda and samosas.

Meldrita stopped participating in track and field after she got married. Her husband, Menino Viegas, worked for the Kenya Railways and was based in Voi (relatively close to Mombasa) for many years. The family returned to Mombasa in the late 1970s. Meldrita played field hockey with the Mombasa Institute, and she encouraged her four children to play as well.

Meldrita, Menino and their four children moved to Canada in 1983 and experienced a huge culture shock. Meldrita, who was very involved in the lives of her children, had to come to terms with leaving the children at 7 am and not seeing them again until 5 pm. Not having any house help was also a huge adjustment, as it made the day longer and there was less time for leisure.  Meldrita and Menino had left all their friends behind, and they both found it difficult to find employment. Getting around the city required making allowances for significant travel time. However, in time, things improved tremendously. Meldrita and Menino found work, the kids thrived and ultimately went on to university. There was much to cherish.

Meldrita participated in the GOA (Goan Overseas Association) Sports in the first summer after her arrival in Canada. She finished second in the 100 meters. She had to take pain killers to be able to participate as she was experiencing right hip pain. The pain eventually overcame her desire to compete. Furthermore, she didn’t like being second best! Three hip surgeries have sidelined her completely. She now officiates at track and field meets.

Meldrita and Menino are presently enjoying retirement and are very involved in the lives of their nine grandchildren. They have wonderful memories of lives well-lived.

Twilight: Johnny Lobo: a life in cricket


With Kenya's Bwana Cricket, the late Jasmer Singh
Our Wedding in 1959, Nairobi Kenya, with well-wishers forming the bridal arch with cricket bats and soccer balls.

Johnny Lobo


The Early Years – My family’s move to Kenya

It was my father’s brother-in-law S.R. Rodrigues who was the first pioneer from our family who ventured out of Goa and crossed the Indian Ocean on a dhow with the Arab traders to Mombasa in 1895. Later he was instrumental in convincing my father Evaristo Lobo, that he could get him a well-paid Government job in Kenya. My father agreed and came over on a steamer in 1911 and began working. A few years later, my father got very sick and returned to Goa. When he had recovered, we were were still in Goa. Typically, a proposal of marriage from my mother’s family Benjamin Mendes from Aldona for their daughter Maria Mendes. My father married my mother in 1918 and returned to Kenya. My siblings were born shortly after Joseph 1919, Victor 1921, Francis 1923, Eulalia 1925 and Clara 1929. I was the 5th child born on December 27 1927. We grew up in Ngara in the Government Quarters built by the British rulers for Goan and Indian government staff.  My three older brothers were sent to study at St. Stanislaus’ Bombay and were active sports players at school, while my sisters and I attended Dr Ribeiro Goan School (DRGS) in Parklands. It was at this school where my love of all sports began.

Each day at our half-hour break, we would race out of the class to grab the cricket bat. We soon realised only the batter stayed at the crease until he was bowled.  Soon we started to play actual matches, 11 players on each side. Some of the names I remember are Philip Gracias, Alex and Rui Rodrigues, Willie Paes, Marcus Braganza, Monty D’Sa, Alan D’Cunha and myself. Incredibly our first match lasted three months, but in those three months, we continued to get better.

Our passion for the game continued even after the bell rang to end our day at school. As many of my classmates also lived in my neighbourhood, we would race home and play daily from 4-6 in the evening. The neighbourhood boys included Maurice and Philip Gracias, Bartu and Dennis Noronha, Marcus and Henry Braganza, Alu Mendonca and Silu Fernandes.

Building on the newfound confidence, we decided to play our first test match against the Government Indian School (GIS) on matting. It was a remarkable result because we not only won, but I also scored my first century in the game. Boosted by this win we went on to play our next match against the Prince of Wales school and thanks to a fine inning by Monty D’Sa of 50 runs with good support from Alan D’Cunha of 30 runs, we won that game too. Another impressive victory of my own, for DRGS, was when I scored two centuries, against Mombasa Goan School (110) and Allidini Visram School (105).


The Railway Goan Institute (RGI)

My uncle Jack Mendes (my mother’s brother), who captained the RGI on weekends would often take me, then just a young boy of 11 years to watch the games. Being the captain of the team and my uncle, if a player did not show up, would ask me to stand in for that player. This opportunity tremendously improved my game as I played with young men who were more experienced in the game than I was.

In the late 1940s, after having finished school, I began playing for RG I and our regular side included Maurice Gracias, Adolf D’Mello, C. Ferrao, Batu Noronha, Piety Fernandes, Henry D’Souza, Willie Paes, Donald Gonsalves, Ruben Rebello, Darrell Carvalho, Sydney Machado, Teddy Gomes and Cecil Fonseca.

Maurice Gracias was a brilliant cricketer who dominated on the RGI side for several years. He was educated at the Government Indian School and was the first Goan to represent the Asians against the Europeans. He retired from cricket two seasons after I joined. While on the team I scored a few centuries most notably against the Aga Khan Club where I scored 130 runs and Nairobi Club where I scored 133 runs.

The Cricket season in Nairobi started in October and ended in March. Every Sunday In those six months, we enjoyed many matches between clubs. The sports secretaries of each club would meet and draw up fixtures for the home and away games.

There were 10 Asian clubs:

1.    SVIG.

2.    Patel Club

3.    Sikh Union

4.    Sir Ali Muslim Club

5.    Kathiawar Club

6.    Visa Oswald Club

7.    Surat District Club

8.    Aga Khan Club

9.    Railway Goan Institute (RGI)

10. Railway Indian Institute


There were 7 European clubs:

1.    Nairobi Club

2.    European Civil Club

3.    Impala Club

4.    Woodley Club

5.    Parkland Sport Club

6.    Wanderers Club

7.    Railway European Club


In the 1950s, we made a trip to Moshi to play against the Tanganyika Twigas, a mostly European side. Blaize DaCunha the great Kenyan spin bowler dominated that game with an inning of 125 runs. The scoreboard read: -

R.G.I.      178 for 5 - 1st Inning declare
Twigas 25 follow on 28

In the early 1960s, RGI was invited to participate in the Asian Sports Association Knockout Tournament and had a sensational first match where we beat the Patel Club, then beat the Kathiawar Club in the second match. We went on to meet the Coast Gymkhana side in the quarter-finals at the Sikh Union Club grounds. We batted first and only scored 138 runs, but with great determination, we bowled out the Coast Gymkhana for 125 runs to win the match. Donald Gonsalves bowled well and most of the Coast team were out due to the brilliant catches by the RG I team. We then went on to face the Muslim Club in the semi-finals. We batted first and only managed 90 runs for 8. Then came Cecil Fonseca our 9the player who scored a sensational 95 runs, hitting four sixes and we were all out for 210 runs. In this match, Zulfikar Ali on the Muslim side was in fine form and bowled well. The Muslim side began batting and, at first, it seemed like they were in trouble 110 runs for 9. Blaze D’Cunha was bowling well, but our captain began to panic and changed him after one over. Then came the Muslim side’s Basharat Hassan and Mubarak Ali and led the Muslim Club to victory. A chance at history with a Goan victory was denied yet again.

It was always the practice of each sports team to elect their captain. However, the rules suddenly changed one year, when the Hockey and Badminton ladies and men’s teams took part in the voting process and voted in the new Cricket captain for our team. It was an unprecedented and unacceptable practice which led to a few of us (non-railway workers “associate members” who had no voice in the management of the club practices) splitting off from the RG I side. At this time, Dr Shashi Patel a Railway doctor asked a few of us to join the Railway European Club, which we did for two seasons, as Kenya’s independence was looming, players were leaving the country and the clubs were shutting down. We then moved our game to the Wanderers Cricket Club, a beautiful setting at the beginning of the Kiambu Road, where we played for three seasons and they too shut down. The saddest part was to see our RGI. Club House and grounds demolished to make way for a boarding Government school complex.  

On my first local leave from work, I was asked to play for the Goan Institute (GI) against the Nazi Moja Club in Mombasa. Playing at the coast with an altitude of 57 feet above sea level with humidity was difficult at first. I only scored 50 runs. My host Armand D’Souza pulled me aside and gave me some profound advice that stayed with me throughout my career, “getting to 50 is the hard part, but once you score 50 you are well set, so just go for a 100”. On my next visit to Mombasa, a Saturday game playing again for the GI against Mombasa Club, my partner was Joe Fernandes, I remembered Armand’s advice and went for the century. 

In the late 1940s, I played for the Nairobi Asian Team touring Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam. It was a great game which we won. In the 1950s I was selected to play against the South African Coloured Team which was captained by the famous Basil D’Oliveira in Nakuru at the Rift Valley Sports Club and also played against the Rhodesian Team on the Sikh Union ground. In the 1960s, I played regularly for Asians for season-ending much sought after match against Europeans.

The Europeans lead 11 to Asians 1. We turned that game on its head and beat the Europeans. The Asians dominated, won one match after the other, equalizing the series with the last match ending in a record win for the Asians 450 runs with Akhil Lakhani’s 230 runs n.o. and Chandrakant Patel’s 220 runs n.o.

Kenya Commercial League

In the 1950s, Jasmer Singh a great cricketer and my close friend, together with Maurice Wright, John MacFarlane and myself formed the Kenya Commercial League for teams which included government offices, banks and companies in the private sector. The games would be played off-season, from July to October. The competitive sportsmanship in this league was exceedingly high and most enjoyable and it drew top players from the Asian clubs.

I captained the Ministry of Works (MOW) side and in our very first season I scored 5 centuries in a row, four n.o. and held the record in the league. A game worth mentioning was when Luis D’Souza playing for Gailey & Roberts hit 11 sixes in a match against MOW played on the Patel Club grounds. Other notable great names in cricket in those days included Ramanbhai Patel, Zulfikar Ali, Jawahir Shah, Akhil Lakhani and Chandrakant Patel.

Shortly after my record game in July of that year, the next big upcoming match was Kenya vs Tanzania which would be in August of that year. The selection committee decided to have the scouting selection matches for 17 players at the Patel Club ground. By the time it was my turn to bat, it was about 6 p.m., the sun had begun to set and the light was diminishing. Throughout my cricket career, my best stroke was on the offside. The bowler was Dr Ranjit Singh, a known fast bowler with a new ball. I defended my wicket but unfortunately got trapped on the pads lbw. I was told later that day, that I could not play off-break bowling, and therefore was not selected to represent Kenya.


My final Cricket years

In 1959, I got married to Maura Lobo from Kampala Uganda. We started our family in the early 1960s-1970s with three sons; John, James and Jerry and three daughters; Mary Ann, Melita and Michelle. My cricket career continued after independence and throughout my children’s young years into the mid-1970s where I played seasonal games for the Goan Institute (GI) side with players like Sunil Sarkar, Yunis Cockar and Alvito Rego. I finally passed on my cricket bat to my son Jerry and even some of our friend’s sons hoping they would take this great game into the future with them.

Having left Kenya in December 1993 and now a citizen of Canada residing in Oakville, Ontario, I still love to watch my children and grandsons pick up the cricket bat and play a match. At the age of 92, my great joy is always when they ask me to join them to bat.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Irish Goan

 Mal and Margaret Ferris


I AM indulging myself just a little and you will forgive me for doing so. I write about my once pukka Irish friend who with his twilight headlights on is more than most of us in the diaspora. They have had an apartment in Bardez, not far from Calangute but nicely hidden from the tourist gaze.

He loves his food hot and swears that any food cooked without those red demons from Goa should be barred for public consumption. There were times when we went out to dinner in Sydney and he would always put a timely two fingers into his top pocket and snick out a packet containing finely chopped red chillies.  His number one dish was Goa’s natural central heating and tongue warmer, Sorpotel. He has cooked a few times. The first was when he and Harold George D’Souza and a few mates were organising a New Year’s Eve Party. Harold and Mal were actually the kitchen hands and not the chefs (they will claim otherwise). I have got it on good authority that the chef was actually Harold’s late mother. The girls would not fib, would they. Anyway, the Irish chap has never raised the issue again, so I say let sleeping pigs lie … somewhere.

It was not so long ago that Rebecca and Tony, Tony and Lucinda, Harold and Hazel, Mal and Margaret and one or two other friends would meet at least one Friday or Saturday each month for dinner. COVID has buggered that up but I also think that age is wearing us down a bit. Driving those few kilometres without a friendly driver is simply not worth it because you cannot drink and drive. The Friday Club which has not met since February or March is another victim of the COVID. One or two or three or even four are recovering from this and that and the rest are twiddling their thumbs and remembering the good old Friday drinks at the Baulkham Hills Bowling Club. Is this the end of the famed Friday Club, I hope not. Certainly, Leslie Scott, Andrew Scott (if he can catch a ride), Loy D’Souza and I would be raring to go. Drake Shikhule, fired by his successes in the medical marijuana business, has been ringing around, urging a meeting of the club. I am confident that once the prison walls come crashing down and we are all freed from the COVID prisons, we will have a full quorum. 

Back to my Irish friend. The small group of Moira villagers who used to celebrate the village feast with the help of their friends began dwindling after Sheila and George Pereira left this earth.

Sheila was a powerhouse. She was always the belle of the party, the feast or the dance. For the senior citizens, she used to get up on a table and sing and dance her heart out.  Since no one was coming forward, my Irish friend let some rumours fly like the kites, suggesting that he might lead the Moidekars (from Moira, Goa). Goodness gracious me! The spark that lit that storm was nothing like the annual bushfires the eastern part of Australia is victim to each year in Summer. Suddenly people were invoking the saints, others were seeking out Goans who used to deal in matters of disht (evil eye) and this and that. Needless to say, my Irish friend was well and truly hammered.  Shame really because he is a very special, hardworking and generous man.

A young Mal Ferris

My Irish friend was once Vice President of the Goan Overseas Association of NSW. He was simply brilliant especially since he increased the profit from the sale of alcohol to the point where the association’s coffers were bulging with healthy profits. However, on one occasion he did go home with a lot of skin off his back missing and he was suspected of having huge scratch marks running from his shoulder to the buttocks. A relation had taken him to task for overcharging for a glass of lemonade. If I remember correctly, he was charging $1.50 for a glass when the two-litre bottle cost only $2 from Woolies. Big overheads, he was explaining to anyone who would listen. However, jokes aside, he was one of the best workers the association ever had in the days when we could run  our bar and most committee members were hands-on as opposed to hands-off and armchair drivers.


In the end, his enthusiasm and collective financial ignorance by some drove him out of the association. The committee of Harold George D’Souza invested the association's funds in stocks and shares. No sooner had this been done, there were raging volcanoes erupting everywhere. The committee was torn to shreds at an extraordinary general meeting and had to undertake the sale of the shares. Today they would have been worth quite a bit, maybe even a million. Not only would they be worth so much but in the intervening years just think how much we would have received in tax paid dividends. The association could have given free functions twice a year along with the children’s Xmas party. Never mind, we live and learn.

On the other hand, the naysayers were strong in making the case that investing stocks and shares could bankrupt the association. What was their thinking! Most of the funds were invested in the big banks if they went under, so would the country. Try telling the doomsayers that.

I think I have met M&M in Goa on two or three occasions. If memory serves me right, the last time was in 2009. My sister Flora and her family and I had been to Sri Lanka and had come to Goa for Christmas. We were living in Salcete and M&M were in their Arpora sexy apartment. They paid for an apartment for me and came and picked me up and in no time, I was nestled in a pretty nice place. We did anything and everything but the most essential thing was dinner. We would check out the restaurants and their respective chefs in the morning and try and see if could find a menu to our liking even if the things we were asking for were off-the-menu. Most restaurants obliged because they were familiar with M&M. One of the first things they did was to bring all their grog and shelf at my place. The reason is that, at my place, there was a pretty little swimming pool. No one swam in it, at least I did not see anyone swimming in it. So, after dinner, we would sit by the pool, solve all the world’s problems and then before the sun peeped out, we would hit our respective beds. Their nest was just five minutes away.

Oh, by the way, for brunch we to Mal’s favourite little café for samosas and other Goan pastries. He just can’t get enough of them. Well, neither does anyone else coming from outside of Goa.

It turned out to be a delightful week. The night before they were going to drop me to Salcete, we agreed that alcohol that night would be limited to war-time rations: a couple of sips and that was that. Single Malt, of course. While they were there, I felt a pinch in my left shoulder and put it down to the late shower that I had had that evening and thought nothing of it and went to bed in pretty good spirits. As the night wore, the pain continued and increased until around 5 am, I thought I was in trouble. So, I rang my Irish friend and told him to come quickly and take me to the hospital. Being in no fit state to drive (I don’t how he did that, a secret horde of nightcaps?) he suggested that I go and see a mutual friend in my block of units and ask him to ask his doctor to come and see me in this emergency. I did that but his doctor told him that he stopped making house calls a “century ago”.

Rang M&M up again and they there in 10 minutes and we headed for a clinic in Baga. They duly processed the ElectroCardioGram and we waited for the result which came about 10 minutes later: “Sorry,” said the girl. “Our ECG machine has broken down. Please go to our other clinic in Calangute.” We shot off faster than a rocket heading for the moon. We went through the ropes and got the same result: Machine broken down! Was it me, my body breaking these machines, can’t be!! This time they told us to rush to their private hospital in Mapusa. When we got there, it was a completely different world.

I had this test and that test, this blood test, this X-Ray, that ultrasound and that other X-Ray. It was all clockwork, no waiting. Minutes later, I was talking to the Cardiologist/Surgeon. He said I had a blockage in one of my major arteries and he needed to put a stent in it.  I asked if he could give me some medication that would look after it for the next day or two while I returned to Sydney that day or the next. He said: “You might want to take a chance, I won’t.” That was that. For some reason, my credit card did not have a PIN but M&M said they would pay for it. I suggested that they go back to my place because there was enough money in a stash there. Anyway, minutes later, I am on my back watching a TV while a cardio team is discussing various aspects of delivering the stent. Several minutes later I am in lalalalalal land.

When I eventually wake up, I am in a state of hell. Hell is not always fire red, it can be pitch black, too. Worse, the thing that worried me most was that I had no idea where I was. Took me a while to figure it out and turn around to discover the gizmo little lights around the bed’s headboard. I also finally located the buzzer which as just an inch or two away, and virtually on my body. After I had done the pressing thing, two Goan nurses appeared.

They were speaking in Konkani but I could not hear too well.

One of them said something to me, and I said, “in English please.”

“What is the problem? Are you in pain? Do you need anything?”

“I need some light. Where am I? I know I am in a hospital but where in the hospital?

“In the Intensive Care Unit.”

“Why is it so dark?”

“It is designed to calm our patients who may be recovering from major surgery.”

“Can I get some light, any light?”

“A few minutes later, the other nurse returned with a little oil lamp and a candle”.

I fell asleep again with the oil fumes assuredly in my nasal passages.

Next morning the boss of bosses, the owner, arrived on his rounds, dressed in his General Manager attire, along with his gold watch. I insisted that they get me out of that black hellhole of Mapusa. Eventually, they got me into a private room. The best thing was that my sister was able to bring me some decent Goan food.

The next morning, I left for Benaulim and later that evening for Sydney via Mumbai. We had to buy new Business Class tickets for my niece and me.

When we got to Sydney, the initial carrier refused to refund the price of the ticket but I headed for mediation at a tribunal in Melbourne. Lasted 10 minutes. I simply made the point that this man sold us the tickets but did not deliver the product. Got our original money back. Meanwhile, the insurance refunded the business class tickets because the cardiologist gave a certificate saying that I was asymptomatic. And the rest is history.

Back to my Irish friend. He used to own two log cabins on a small mountain not too far from Sydney’s wine country at Eaglereach. Someone had the bright idea to buy a mountain (well not quite, but big, 1000, acres) and sell plots for the construction of eco-lodges under strict licence. So, we used to go up there regularly. It was the life of the other Reilly. Lots to drink, lots to eat, great walks and plenty to please yourself. The only problem was that when the rest of us were having such a good time, he would be busy doing this, that, or something else. He would stop in time for lunch or dinner. Both events were long because everyone brought one, two, or three dishes and he would barbecue this or that. Breakfast was huge. I have to confess the drink had the better of me on a couple of occasions. And then I never had another drop. My Irish friend married a beautiful Goan girl. He met Margaret at a Catholic Club in London while he was in training with Tesco in 1967. They got married in September 1969. How the hell did an Irish Tesco manager get to marry a Miss World could have been girl?  They have three children and five grandchildren. I rang him up the other day and told him I needed to interview him and he told me to “bugger off”, with a few smiles and sniggles.

After he quit Tesco, he went out to work for himself, selling bacon, sausages and whatever else he could lay his hands on. It was hard yakka but that was nothing to him.  After a year, he bought an old Co-op Building in North Wales. Then started producing his own-branded prepacked food.  In the end, he was the boss of a major meat factory, turning over a considerable amount. The family then sold out to migrate to Australia. That was a blessing for us.

An exceptional couple, we are all truly blessed. I could not wish for a better pair of friends. I am blessed, yet again. By the way, he will swear to anyone who cares to listen that he is pure Irish right down to the last drop of Guinness. In a moment of whimsey, he might admit the Goan part of him is mainly curries, pastries and feni.

Mal with his daughter Leonie ... on top of his world, at least on Sydney Harbour Bridge

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

In memory of the tragic Tom D'Souza, my very special friend







Time cannot change our friendship old

Harbouring memories dear and links of Gold

Only those who cared despite everything

Manage to hold their heads and silently sing

A praise to a person who was once full of zest

Sleep in peace gaining eternal rest

As tears roll down my lonely face

Nostalgia fills the empty space

Three children you had not with you though

Heaven only knows how you missed then so

Often, I visualised this day with sadness

Now you are with Mai and Papa, grieving is pointless

You have left behind many talents so priceless

Words by your devoted friend Grace Coutinho 11.05.10


Tom was found dead in his London flat on April 19, 2010

So many people knew Tom and held him in high esteem so anyone can come forward and say a few words.

I am no good at speaking and would not remember all I have to say so I have summoned  what I know of Tom in the Missalette (along with his photograph and my poem in his memory). The saying is that “The Dead are always good.” This was true of everyone including Tom, although no everyone will agree. He was a good man but he let his problem get the better of him. We cannot judge him because we will never know how hard a struggle it must have been –he had a problem – which very few of us understood and the norm would be to “leave him till he hits rock bottom and he will pick himself up if he wants to.

Those who knew Tom will realise that there was no rock bottom for Tom. He used to give up alcohol many times but failed. I knew that once I gave up looking after him, he would eventually die … sometimes there is only so much one can do. I tried my level best for over 21 years until my son grew up I could cope no more and left him in the hands of the Good Lord who eventually said “come my son you have suffered enough in this world and now you can rest in peace with your late parents and in the company of angels and saints – thus Tom was cleansed and went to the Lord and is now praying for all of us – this he did – he always prayed for each and everyone.

His love and skills of football were so amazing, as you all know, he was the founder of the Crusaders Football Club in Nairobi and played for Nairobi Heroes, Goa and Kenya. He was also good snooker player.

This Requiem Mass is offered for the repose of his soul because so many people rang me to ask about Tom and I knew that they would like to pay their last respects this human being who had an illness that very few understood and not many could comprehend why I helped him so much despite having my own family but I knew Tom way back in Kenya – always a dear friend who considered my a sister he never had. There is so much more I could say but I think my poem says it all.

I will always remember the good times, Skip! Rest in Everlasting Peace, my friend.



A new look at the History of the Portuguese in Goa, the good, the bad, and they ugly

 "Sharma, Susheel Kumar. “Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India”, Madhya Bharati: Research Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, No. 72, January-June 2017, pp. 135-156. ISSN 0974-0066." by Susheel K Sharma

The Doctrine of Padroado (jus patrionatus established by the Papal Bulls of 1514) provided the authority for missionary work to be in the hands of the Portuguese Crown in areas where Portugal claimed political rights. ( The first Luz church was built by the Portuguese in 1516 in Thirumayilai (Mylapore). Missionaries of the newly founded Society of Jesus (1534) were sent to Goa and the Portuguese colonial government supported the mission with incentives like rice donations for the poor, good positions in the Portuguese colonies for the middle class, and military support for local rulers. (Daus 61-66)

St. Francis Xavier was very clear in his mind when he wrote: “I want to free the poor Hindus from the stranglehold of the Brahmins and destroy the places where evil spirits are worshipped.” (Francis Xavier qtd by Michael Kerrigan) 138@e/; Hkkjrh Denison Ross writes: “It may be recalled … that after the arrival of the Franciscan missionaries in 1517 Goa had become the centre of an immense propaganda, and already in 1540 by the orders of the king of Portugal all the Hindu temples in the island of Goa had been destroyed.” (18) Fr. Diogo da Borba and his advisor Vicar General, Miguel Vaz drew plans for converting the Hindus to Christianity. “In a letter dated March 8, 1546 King João III ordered the Viceroy to forbid Hinduism ('Gentile idolatry') in all the Portuguese possessions of India, destroy Hindu temples, prohibit the celebration of Hindu feasts, expel all Brahmins and severely punish anyone making Hindu image.”

(Saraiva 348) “The viceroy, D. Constantino de Bragança passed a decree in 1559 ordering the destruction of remaining temples and idols.” (Mendonça 260) However, Victor Ferrao, Dean Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol, disputes the claim by saying: “… the word Hindu does not exist in the entire sixteenth century Indo-Portuguese historiography.” ( He further holds: “Though the temples that were demolished were not Hindu, but [the] one(s) that belonged to different cults that have united into Hinduism of today the Hindu community is certainly carrying the pain of this false impression … .” ( The Kapaleeswarar (Shiva) temple (Mylapore, Chennai) was destroyed by the Catholic Portuguese in 1561 and in its place came up St. Thomas Cathedral (Santhome Church) where some fragmentary inscriptions from the old temple are still there.

In 1566 António de Noronha (Bishop of Elvas) issued an order applicable to the entire area under Portuguese rule: “I hereby order that in any area owned by my master, the king, nobody should construct a Hindu temple and such temples already constructed should not be repaired without my permission. If this order is transgressed, such temples shall be, destroyed and the goods in them shall be used to meet expenses of holy deeds, as punishment of such transgression.” (qtd by de Souza )

It is claimed that the Jesuits destroyed 280 Hindu temples in Salsette and the Franciscan friars 300 in Bardez in 1567. In 1583, Hindu temples at Assolna and Cuncolim were destroyed through army action. (de Souza Fatima Gracias writes: “It is true a considerable number of the Goan temples were erased by the Portuguese rulers but some were built in the 18th century.” (“Impact” 45) Even mosques were broken to raise churches. On the authority of a native Muslim historian, Danvers writes, “[The Portugese] demolished a mosque [in Cochin] and made a Christian church of it” in 1450 (p 29); they “set the 'Jama'- masjid' on fire” in Calicut in the month of Ramadan, Dec 1509. (p. 31)

St. Francis Xavier hated Brahmins for he considered them to be the biggest hurdle in his proselytizing mission: “[The Brahmins] are the most perverse people in the world, and of them was written the psalmist's prayer: De gente non sancta, ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me [“From an unholy race, and wicked and crafty men, deliver me, Lord”]. They do not know what it is to tell the truth but forever plot how to lie subtly and deceive their poor, ignorant followers.... Were it not for these Brahmins all the heathen would be converted... .” (qtd by Pastor Don Elmore) Timothy J. Coates in his Convicts and Orphans: Forced and State-Sponsored Colonizers in the Portuguese Empire, 1550- 1755 writes: “The Pai dos Cristãos enforced a series of laws, known as the Laws in Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India@139 Favour of Christianity, aimed at the forced or coerced conversion of a number of South Asian communities under Portuguese political control.” (167)

In his book Conversions and Citizenry: Goa Under Portugal, 1510-1610 Délio de Mendonça, writes: “[The viceroy, D. Pedro Mascarenhas (1554-1555)] promulgated several laws in favour of conversion and ordered them to be read on the streets of Goa. These orders banned all the Hindu ceremonies in Portuguese territory, and demanded the separation of Hindu orphans from their relatives so that they might be brought up in Christian customs.” (258) Timothy J. Coates gives details of the laws to promote Christianity by adopting orphans malevolently: “In 1559, King D. Sebastião passed a law … stating that [the children] without mothers, fathers, or grandparents and who “were not old enough to have an understanding of reason” should be turned over to the juiz dos órfãos and placed in the College of São Paulo, where they were to be baptized. … In 1567, the law was reinterpreted by Bishop D. Jorge Semedo to read that being fatherless alone was sufficient grounds to declare a child an orphan and separate him or her from remaining family, even if the child's mother and other relatives opposed it. ... Some orphans attempted to evade this new understanding by marrying but under fourteen and under twelve years of age were not allowed to marry and were forcibly converted as well. This 140@e/; Hkkjrh law was enforced by having all such children turned over to the captain of the area (that is, Goa, Bardez and Salsette). The captain entrusted the child to the authorities of the College of St. Paul. Anyone hiding such children was threatened with loss of his or her property and indefinite exile.” (166) The orphans were being eyed by the Portuguese “not only by desire to save their souls but also by anxiety to take charge of their estates.” (Priolkar 128)

Various measures were introduced to separate the Christians from others. Several decrees were issued to prevent the Christians from following non-Christian customs and prevent Hindus from following many of their customs. (Gracias Kaleidoscope 47) Laws were passed banning Christians from keeping Hindus in their employ and the public worship of Hindus was deemed unlawful. All the persons above 15 years of age were compelled to listen to Christian preaching, failing which they were punished. Historian Anant Priolkar gives details of how Hindus were forced to assemble periodically in churches to listen to the refutation of their religion. (123-25)

In order to humiliate the locals the Viceroy ordered that Hindu Pandits and doctors be disallowed from entering the capital city on horseback or palanquins, the violation of which entailed a fine. Successive violations resulted in imprisonment. Christian palanquin-bearers were forbidden from carrying Hindus as passengers. Christian agricultural labourers were forbidden to work in the lands owned by Hindus, and Hindus forbidden to employ Christian labourers. (Priolkar 114-149) Similarly Délio de Mendonça on the basis of various historical documents writes: “The viceroy, D. Constantino de Bragança, implemented mercilessly all the decrees in favour of conversion. He promulgated a few more, even stronger than those of his predecessors. He passed a decree in 1559 ordering the destruction of remaining temples and idols. Bragança expelled harmful Brahmans from Goa in 1560. To those who had immovable property he gave one month to sell it; the others had to leave Goa immediately. In default they would be sent to the galleys after forfeiting their goods. Under the same threat he ordered all the goldsmiths … to bring [their women folk and children and goods] back to the island or abandon the land.” (260)

The first provincial council held in 1567 prevented 5 women from seeking help of non-Christian midwives because the latter used some indigenous herbal medicines for reducing the labour pain and for safely delivering the baby. On September 22, 1570 an order proclaiming that the Hindus embracing Christianity would be exempted from land taxes for a period of 15 years and prohibiting the use of Hindu names or surnames was issued. (

Hindu widows and daughters were encouraged to convert to Christians with the bait of the departed husband's property but if they did not the property was given to the nearest relative who converted. The slaves of the infidels who converted to Christianity were to be freed by the proclamation of 1592. Sebastião in 1559 decreed that property could be inherited by the sons, grandsons or other relatives of a deceased Hindu only if they had converted to Christianity. On the basis of various records Priolkar gives details of racial discrimination that continued even after conversion not only in matters of appointments, promotion, social gatherings but also in hospitals. (143-146)

The Portuguese were the first European colonizers to arrive in India but the last Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India@141 to leave. In contrast to the other European colonisers in India the Portuguese tried to accept India as their land and tried to assimilate themselves with the native inhabitants. Bemoaning their loss of identity Van Diemen, the Dutch governor, wrote: “Most of the Portuguese in India look upon this region as their fatherland, and think no more about Portugal. They drive little or no trade thither, but content themselves with the port-to-port trade of Asia, just as if they were natives thereof and had no other country.” (qtd by Pearson, 87).

It is but natural that the Portuguese tried to do many “good things” for India. For example, they introduced several crops like potato, tomato, sugar potato, capsicum and chillies, tobacco, red kidney bean (rajma), coffee, tapioca, groundnuts, corn, papaya, pineapple, guava, avocado, cashew, sapota (cheeku) and superior plantation varieties of coconut. They not only constructed new roads and developed irrigation facilities but also helped the traders in marketing their products in the entire Indian Ocean.

They also introduced various cuisines like toasts and sandwiches, cottage cheese, vindaloo, balchao, sorpotel, sausages, sweet Goan wine and various kinds of loaves like round gutli and flat pav. They were the only colonizers who encouraged marital relationships with the colonised Indians. They also introduced the system of drilling bodies of infantry, grouped and disciplined upon the Spanish model in the 1630s.

At sea the Portuguese were carriers of improved techniques. They also introduced multidecked ships, designed to ride out Atlantic gales and that could carry a heavier armament. They also contributed in the field of music, dance, painting, carving and sculpture. Printing operations were started by them in Goa in 1556; books were printed in Tamil and Devanagari fonts on imported paper from Portugal around 1579; the first ever catalogue of the Indian plants was published in 1563; 86 dictionaries, 115 grammar books and 45 journals in 73 languages of India were produced by the Portuguese.

Fr. Thomas Stephens (1549-1619) produced the first “Konkani Grammar” and Fr. Diogo Ribero (1560-1633) published the first dictionary in Konkani in two volumes in 1626. Despite all their “good works” and their efforts at assimilation the colonial impact of Portuguese in the form of official language is nowhere to be found in today's India.

Like the French their colonies were comparatively small but French is being used as an Official language at least in Pondicherry even today (in 2017) but Portuguese has been banished from Goa/India for ever. The reasons need to be explored in the sociohistorical context. It may be seen as a reaction to the repressive measures adopted by the Portuguese to suppress the proud locals' mother tongue. At the urging of Franciscans, the Portuguese viceroy forbade the use of Konkani in 1684. He decreed that within three years, the local people should speak the Portuguese tongue and use it in all their dealings in Portuguese territories. The penalty for violation was imprisonment. The same decree provided that all the non-Christian symbols along with books written in local languages should be destroyed. This decree was confirmed by the King of Portugal three years later. In 1812, the Archbishop of Goa decreed that Konkani should be restricted in schools. In 1847, this prohibition was extended to seminaries. In 1869, Konkani was completely banned in schools. Konkani became the lingua de criados (“language of servants”). In an effort to eradicate indigenous cultural practices such as observing ceremonies, fasts, 142@e/; Hkkjrh music, festivals, dresses, foods and greetings, the laws and prohibitions of the inquisition were invoked in the edict of 1736 whereby over 42 Hindu practices were prohibited, including anointing foreheads with sandalwood paste and rice, greeting people with Namaste, singing Konkani vovios (Limericks) in marriages, (and songs on festivals, and social and religious ceremonies like child birth, singing of bhajans and kirtan), playing of native musical instruments, celebrating the birth of deities like Lord Krishna, exchanging areca nuts, betel leaves and flowers on weddings, distribution of fried puris, the practice of massaging the bridal couple with oil, ground saffron, coconut milk, rice flour and powder of abolim leaves, inviting relatives of the bride and groom in marriage ceremonies, presence of a priest (Bottos) to perform any kind of religious ceremony (including thread ceremony and marriages) in Hindu households, erection of pandals and the use of festoons, serving of ceremonial feasts at the birth of children and for the peace of the souls of the dead, fasting on ekadashi day (though fasting done according to the Christian principles was allowed), wearing of the Brahminical ponytail (úikhâ), sacred caste thread and dhoti (pudvem) by Hindu men either in public or in their houses, cholis by Hindu women, sandals, removing the slippers while entering the church and growing of the sacred Tulsi (basil) plant in houses, compounds, gardens or any other place. (Newman 17) The Christians were forbidden from eating boiled rice without salt as done by Hindus. (Gracias Kaleidoscope 48) As severe decrees were issued against Hindu festivities and celebrations they, in order to escape punishment, started celebrating them secretly during night time. Even the entry of Hindu Joshis, Jogees and Gurus of temples was banned as they were perceived as a threat. In the fourth decade of the 20th century, the State ordered that Goans should appear wearing pants in all towns of Goa, in headquarters of the New Conquests and ferry wharfs of Betim, Durbate, Rachol, Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India@143 Savordem, Dona Paula and Piligação. However, non-Christians were allowed to wear a coat along with pudvem instead of pants. (Idem) “The same Council decreed that Christians should not ask non-Christians to paint their idols neither ask Hindu goldsmiths to make candlesticks, crosses and other Church requirements.” (Gracias Kaleidoscope 56) Polygamy was prohibited in 1567 and Monogamy was imposed on non-Christians. (Robinson 2000, Saraiva 351, though Hindu men were permitted by their Codigo dos Usos e Costumes to have more than one wife in certain conditions (Gracias Kaleidoscope 143-144) Those who considered these impositions unlawful and dared to oppose the regulations were severely punished. H P Salomon and I S D Sassoon claim that between the 1561 and in 1774, at least 16,202 persons (of whom nearly 90% were natives) were brought to trial by the Inquisition. This being the number of the documents burnt at the suggestion of the Portuguese Viceroy in India and the approval of Prince Regent João. (Saraiva 345-346) These figures present only an incomplete picture as is clear from the following remarks of Salomon and Sassoon: “Research on the 17th century has not yet been completed as far as quantitative and statistic studies are concerned” (Saraiva 351) and “The last phase of the Goan Inquisition, 1801-1812, which saw 202 persons sentenced, has not yet been analyzed.” (Saraiva 353) Terrorising Mission Acting upon the requests of Vicar general Miguel Vaz in 1543 and St. Francis 6 Xavier in 1546 João (John) III installed the Inquisition in Goa on 2 March 1560 with jurisdiction over Goa and the rest of the Portuguese empire in Asia. Though it was officially repressed in 1774 by Marquis of Pombal, Queen Maria I reinstated it in 1778. It finally came to an end in 1812 by a royal decree as a consequence of Napoleon's Iberian Peninsular campaign. It was “the only tribunal outside of Portugal … [with a] jurisdiction over the entire 'Orient' from Eastern Africa to Timor.” (Saraiva 174) Perhaps because of their Catholic fervour, the Portuguese inquisitors in Goa became the most 144@e/; Hkkjrh severely fanatic, cruel and violent in all Portuguese territories. It was headed by a Portuguese judge who was answerable only to the General Counsel of the Lisbon Inquisition and handed down punishments as per the Standing Rules that governed that institution though its proceedings were kept secret. The Inquisition prosecuted apostate New Christians (Marranos) as well as their suspect descendants (practising the religion of their ancestors in secret), Goan Sephardic Jews who had fled from Spain and Portugal to escape Spanish or Portuguese Inquisition and the non-converts who broke prohibitions against the observance of Hindu or Muslim rites or interfered with Portuguese attempts to convert non-Christians to Catholicism. The observance of former customs after conversion was declared un-Christian and heretical. Those accused of religious heresies were the prime targets of the death penalty. (Silva and Fuchs 4–5) The records speak of the demand for hundreds of prison cells to accommodate the accused. (Hunter Imperial) Inquisitions helped the Portuguese in preventing defection back to the original faiths as it provided “protection” to those who converted to Christianity. A pardon for punishment could be bargained in lieu of property. According to Indo-Portuguese historian Teotonio R de Souza, grave abuses were practised in Goa. (91) Historian Alfredo de Mello in his Memoirs of Goa “has given all the spine-chilling details relating to anti-pagan, anti-heathen, and anti-Hindu 'Christian Compassion' during the course of Holy Inquisition in Goa from 1560 to 1812.” (qtd by V Sundaram) De Mello describes the performers of Goan inquisition as “nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa for the purpose of destroying paganism and introducing the true religion of Christ” (qtd by V Sundaram) R N Saksena writes “in the name of the religion of peace and love, the tribunal(s) practiced cruelties to the extent that every word of theirs was a sentence of death.” (24) It was not always for catholic reasons but also because of the personal rivalries, prejudices and jealousies that a person was sent to inquisition as is evident from Dellon's case. (20-24) Dellon, a 24 year-old Roman Catholic Frenchman, practising medicine in Daman was apparently charged and imprisoned by the order of the Inquisition at Goa for not kissing the painted image of “the Holy Virgin or some other saint” (12) on the small alms boxes as was the custom of the local Catholics, for asking a patient to part with the “ivory image of the Holy Virgin” (12) that he had in his bed before the operation, describing the crucifix “as a piece of Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India@145 ivory” (14), refusing to wear a rosary (15) and questioning the infallibility of the inquisitors in a friendly conversation with a priest (15-16). However, the real reason for his imprisonment and final banishment from Daman/Goa by the order of the Inquisition was the ill-conceived malice and jealousy of the Governor of Daman, Manuel Furtado de Mendoza and that of “a black priest, Secretary of the Holy Office.” (21) Both of them harboured a secret passion for a lady whom the doctor admired and visited; the lady also perhaps doted on the doctor. The Governor dissembled as a friend and reported private conversations to the Inquisition at Goa because he wanted him to be away from his secret love about which the doctor was ignorant. The priest lived opposite to the lady's house “and had repeatedly solicited her to gratify his infamous passion, even when at confession.” (21) Dellon thus reports his first hand experience in the inquisition prison cell: “… I every morning heard the cries of those whom the torture was administered, and which was inflicted so severely, that I have seen many persons of both sexes who have been crippled by it … . No distinctions of rank, age or sex are attended to in this Tribunal. Every individual is treated with equal severity; and when the interest of Inquisition requires it, all are alike tortured in almost perfect nudity.” (93-94) Lust of the clergy was another reason for sending somebody for Inquisition is borne out by the following reported confession: “In 1710, a dying priest told his confessor that he and the other priests in his diocese had regularly threatened their female penitents that they would turn them over to the Inquisition unless they had sex with them!” (Kramer and Sprenger) Historian Alexandre Herculano in his “Fragment about the Inquisition” also hints at the perversity of the Inquisitors: “… The terrors inflicted on pregnant women made them abort. ... Neither the beauty or decorousness of the flower of youth, nor the old age, so worthy of compassion in a woman, exempted the weaker sex from the brutal ferocity of the supposed defenders of the religion. ... There were days when seven or eight were submitted to torture. These scenes were reserved for the Inquisitors after dinner. It was post-prandial entertainment. Many a time during those acts, the inquisitors compared notes in the appreciation of the beauty of the human form. While the unlucky damsel twisted in the intolerable pains of torture, or fainted in the intensity of the agony, one Inquisitor applauded the angelic touches of her face, another the brightness of her eyes, another, the voluptuous contours of her breast, another the shape of her hands. In this conjuncture, men of blood transformed themselves into real artists!” (qtd by Alfredo de Mello) Inquisition affected the economic life of the people as well. On one hand it was an easy way to take control of somebody's hard earned money/property on the other it was bringing down productivity and ruining business. Commenting on the importance of the confiscation of the properties of the accused Saraiva writes: “From the economic point of view, the Inquisition was not a commercial enterprise but a vehicle for distributing money and other property to its numerous personnel – a form of pillage, as in war, albeit more bureaucratized. The Inquisitorial army, whose members shared the seigniorial and warrior mentality of the Portuguese fidalgos in India, maintained themselves by plundering the property of wealthy bourgeois” (Saraiva 187) Saraiva 146@e/; Hkkjrh agrees with Luis da Cunha (1662-1749) who lays the blame at the Inquisitors' door for “the decadence of textile manufacture in the Beiras and Tras-osMontes provinces, the d e c l i n e o f s u g a r production in Brazil.” (Saraiva 221) Doubts about Inquisition were being expressed even back home as Inquisition could ruin the prospects of the Portuguese empire if the New Christians were discriminated and persecuted: “If the Portuguese Inquisition continues unchecked: It will spell ruin of Portugal and even part of Spain. For in all of Portugal there is not a single merchant (hombre de negocios) who is not of this Nation. These people have their correspondents in all lands and domains of the king our lord. Those of Lisbon send kinsmen to the East Indies to establish trading-posts where they receive the exports from Portugal, which they barter for merchandise in demand back home. They have outposts in the Indian port cities of Goa and Cochin and in the interior. In Lisbon and India nobody can handle the trade in merchandise except persons of this Nation. Without them, His Majesty will no longer be able to make a go of his Indian possessions, and will lose the 600,000 ducats a year in duties which finance the whole enterprise – from equipping the ships to paying the seamen and soldiers.” (Zellorigo qtd by Saraiva 145) French writer, historian and philosopher François-Marie Arouet Voltaire attacked the established Catholic Church and lamented that Goa is inglorious for Inquisitions: “Goa est malheureusement célèbre par son inquisition, également contraire à l'humanité et au commerce. Les moines portugais firent accroire que le peuple adorait le diable, et ce sont eux qui l'ont servi.” (Goa is unfortunately nefarious for its inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshiped the devil but it was they who served him. Voltaire, 1066) Portuguese East India Company The royal trading house, Casa da Índia, founded around 1500 used to manage Portuguese trade with India. However, trade to India was thrown open to Portuguese nationals by 1570 as the Casa was incurring huge losses. As few took up the offer, the Casa started selling India trading contracts to private Portuguese merchant consortiums in 1578, granting them a monopoly for one year. The annual contract system was abandoned in 1597 and the royal monopoly was resumed. However, the vigorous Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India@147 competition with Dutch VOC and English East India Company after 1598 forced the king to experiment to defend the Portuguese business propositions. As a result in 1605 Conselho da Índia was created to bring affairs in Portuguese India but it was dissolved in 1614. In the wake of the severe competition with other European companies in August 1628 the Companhia do commércio da Índia (or Companhia da Índia Oriental), organized along the lines of Dutch and English companies, came into existence by a charter of King Philip III. The idea of a chartered private Portuguese East India Company was first broached and promoted by a Portuguese New Christian merchant Duarte Gomes Solis who lived in Madrid. The Company was granted a monopoly on trade in coral, pepper, cinnamon, ebony and cowrie shells and could be extended to other items upon request. It had full administrative and juridical privileges, including the right to keep all spoils from seizures of Dutch and English ships. “Chapter Ten of the rule book of the Company enacts that, in case of Inquisitorial confiscation, the confiscated assets would continue to belong to the Company and would revert to the heir of the convicted person in the third generation. The subscribers of the capital investment who furnished more than a specified sum were to be ennobled.” (Saraiva 200) The Company proved unprofitable as the overseas Portuguese merchants rejected the new Company's authority. The Company was dissolved in 1633. “On the initiative and through the mediation of the Jesuits, the New Christians offered to finance once again an “East India Company” on the model of the British and Dutch East India Companies, in exchange for a general amnesty and drastic reforms in Inquisitorial procedure. The proposal was drawn up at the beginning of 1673 by a Jesuit, Father Baltasar da Costa, Provincial of the Malabar coast of India and presented to the king by another Jesuit, his confessor. … The regent Pedro … gave his consent… .” (Saraiva 215) Luso-Indians To meet the natural requirement of women for the Portuguese men in the growing powerful Portuguese presence in the Arab sea and Indian Ocean Albuquerque, under his policy Politica dos Casamentos, encouraged marriages between Portuguese men “originally from lowest classes in Portugal including some convicted criminals” (Rocha, 38) and native women as the number of Portuguese females who came with Portuguese officials (renois), those who were born to Portuguese parents in India (castiças), others who came on ships (aventureiras) and women of mixed blood (both mestiços and mulatas) in 16th century was very limited. Two hundred such marriages were arranged within two months of the Goan conquest. However, the marriages were not approved until the women were baptized as Christians and those who converted were given extra privileges and gifts by their husbands and rulers as rewards. (Rao 42) The primary motive of such arrangements was to divert Hindu property to Portuguese and to create a new community that would identify itself with Portuguese power but would be happy to be in this region; this would also create a white identity which in turn would perpetuate the Portuguese rule in the region. The men involved were not gentlemen but mainly rank and file (like soldiers, masons, carpenters and other artisans) and the exiled convicts (like gypsies, prostitutes, vagabonds and beggars called degredos) on account 148@e/; Hkkjrh 7 of the law of the Sesmarias and “Beggars' Law” in Portugal . It is said that Albuquerque gave dowry (18000 reis, clothes, rice, a house, slave women, cattle and a piece of land) to each of such couples. Such men as took native wives were known as casados; they had special privileges as Albuquerque treated these women as his own daughters and men his sons-in-law. They were given pay and groceries (soldo e mantimento), separate quarters (bairros) in urban areas and locally important positions such as tanadar and tabelio. Despite this many soldiers preferred to have only casual relationship with native women who came from various social groups viz. those associated with soldiers and administrators from the proceeding Adil Shahi administrators, fair Mooresses and slaves, Mestiços and temple dancers. As Albuquerque was very conscious of colour he advised his men to marry fair Hindu and Muslim women and encouraged them to avoid dark complexioned Malabaris. (Bethencourt 210) Though these women invariably were converted to Christianity yet there was some opposition to such marriages from certain quarters in the Church and the Government. However, the state reiterated its stand and policy in the form of alvara issued in 1684. The estimated number of casados in Portuguese Asia was 6000 in 1600. Many noblemen (fidalgos) who migrated to India had left their wives and children back home and had either kept native women as mistresses or had developed lasting relationships with temple dancers (devadasi/ baidadeiras). “In the 16th century, Chinese, Korean and Japanese slaves were also brought to Portugal and the Portuguese settlements, including Goa.” ( A large number of them were brought for sexual purposes, as noted by the Church in 1555. (Leupp 51-54) King Sebastião of Portugal feared that “it was having a negative effect on Catholic proselytisation since the trade in Japanese slaves was growing to massive proportions. At his command it was banned in 1571.” ( In order to prevent men from indulging in lustful and sinful lives, to bring down the number of mixed marriages in India, to transfer their surplus population in Portugal to other places and to increase Portuguese presence in the colonies they shifted Portuguese girl orphans (Órfãs d'El-Rei or “Orphans of the King”) at the expense of the crown to Portuguese colonies in India (particularly Goa) “to marry either Portuguese settlers or natives with high status.” ( Not only did several batches of such girls arrive between 1545 and 1595 in Goa but also “the system apparently continued to function intermittently until the (early) eighteenth century.” (Coates 43) Those who married such girls were given various incentives ranging from captaincy of forts to trading agencies along with dowry. Despite this all the girl orphans could not find “suitable husbands” as most of them “lacked good looks” besides being “old and sickly.” The Inquisition came into existence to punish Hindus and Muslims around the same time. In 1620, an order was passed to prohibit the Hindus from performing their marriage rituals. “A document available at Torre do Tombo states that in the middle of the seventeenth century the Municipal Council of Goa (Senado) requested the Portuguese king to decree that 'no Brahmin or Chardo who is rich or has property might marry his daughter to any one except to a Portuguese born in Portugal and such people must leave their property to their daughters'” (Gracias Kaleidoscope 41) It may be Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India@149 noted that the higher castes in Goa and elsewhere practiced Sati for various reasons. No wonder that caste Hindu women burnt themselves (performed Sati) in such an atmosphere to save their honour and save their families from humiliation. Again, women are generally considered as a prize catch after a war. If women burn themselves as a strategy (known as scorched earth policy in the warfare) the soldiers do not get anything and a discontent among them grows. In this light it can be understood easily that Albuquerque's banning of sati in Goa (Ross 18, De Souza 70) was not for having any compassion for Hindu women but to have an easy access to the women to meet the requirements of his men and complete his agenda. (Gracias Kaleidoscope 44) Such marriages were intended to increase the wealth of Portuguese and the number of Christians by conversion, to have enough persons for Indian army loyal to Portugal and to enlarge white colony. The mixed-race children bore no stigma of inferiority to the Portuguese. Today Luso-Indians are viewed as a sub-caste of Anglo-Indians. While Carton views these relationships in the absence of European women as experiments in the colonial “laboratories where new social categories and political structures were produced by colonial realities rather than by metropolitan orders” (Carton 3) Boxer considers them a political necessity: “Sexual politics of interracial liaison building in the private sphere were, therefore, as politically important as the military and economic manoeuvring in the public sphere.” (Boxer, 12) The Decline of Portuguese Denison Ross in Cambridge History of India writes: “… if one of [Turks'] fleets had succeeded in driving the Portuguese out of their fortresses on the Indian coast, the establishment of Christian powers in India might have been indefinitely postponed” (27) but that did not happen. Every born person has to die and those at the pinnacle once have to come down. So was the case Portuguese rule in India. Penrose writes: “In so far as any one date can be taken as of prime importance in the ruin of Portuguese empire, it is 6 May 1542, when Francis Xavier set foot ashore at Goa. From then on the Jesuits did their worst, using every form of bribery, threat, and torture to effect a conversion.” (14) Discussing the issue Denison Ross writes: “The ultimate decline of Portuguese power in India was due primarily to two causes: first, the encouragement of mixed marriages at home and abroad, and secondly, religious intolerance. The former policy had been adopted … by the great Albuquerque, who probably foresaw that constant drain on the male population of a relatively small country like his own must ultimately lead to a shortage of man-power; the latter was pushed to its utmost extreme by the zealous fervour of the Jesuits who selected Goa as their second headquarters outside Rome, soon after the foundation of their order. The arrival of St Francisco Xavier in India in 1542 was an event of the most far-reaching importance and laid the foundations of the ecclesiastical supremacy in Portuguese India which sapped the financial resources and undermined the civil administration of its Governor.” (17-18) The famous historian and writer Teófilo Braga wrote: “there are two dates which signal the downfall of the nationality: 1536, when the Inquisition was inaugurated in Portugal, due to the instigations of the Emperor Charles V, of Spain, and with the loss of the freedom of 150@e/; Hkkjrh conscience, silencing the poet who had most fought on its behalf, Gil Vicente; and 1580, the national independence becomes extinct on account of the invasion of Philip II (of Spain) who imposed his dynastic rights.” (qtd by Alfredo De Mello) On the political front, the Dutch entered into an alliance with the English for ousting the Portuguese from Kerala waters in 1619 and in 1629 the Portuguese lost a war to Shah Jahan at Hugli (Kolkata). Gradually the Dutch and English drove the Portuguese from the Arabian Sea and Malabar fell to the Dutch in 1641. In 1652, Sivappa Nayaka of the Nayaka Dynasty defeated the Portuguese and drove them away from Mangalore. Quilon fell to Dutch in 1661, followed by Cranganore in 1662. The islands of Bombay (later to be leased to British East India Company) were gifted to Charles II of England as dowry on his marriage with Catherine of Portugal in 1662. In January 1663 the combined forces of the Dutch and the Zamorin of Calicut defeated the Portuguese at Cochin. This ended 165 years of Portuguese rule in Kerala and they were pushed to Goa, Daman and Diu. th In 20 century Tristão de Bragança Cunha, a French-educated Goan engineer and the founder of Goa Congress Committee in Portuguese India resisted the Portuguese rule in Goa. Cunha released a booklet called 'Four Hundred Years of Foreign Rule', and a pamphlet, 'Denationalisation of Goa', intended to sensitise Goans to the oppression of Portuguese rule. In 1954 India took control of Dadra and Nagar Haveli which Portugal had acquired in 1779. The Portuguese rule in India came to an end on 19th December 1961 when the Governor of Portuguese India signed the instrument of surrender of Goa, Daman and Diu against the Radio directives (dated 14 December 1961) of the Portuguese Prime Minister Salazar and the presidential directive for adopting scorched earth policy. However, the surrender was not accepted by the Portuguese Govt. Entire Portugal mourned the loss and even Christmas was not celebrated with traditional gaiety. Goans were encouraged to emigrate to Portugal rather than remain under Indian rule by offering them Portuguese citizenship. This offer was amended in 2006 to include only those who had been born before 19 December 1961. Salazar predicted that “difficulties will arise for both sides when the programme of the Indianization of Goa begins to clash with its inherent culture ... It is therefore to be expected that many Goans will wish to escape to Portugal from the inevitable consequences of the invasion” (Salazar 18659) The Portuguese national radio station Emissora Nacional was used to encourage sedition and to urge Goans to resist and oppose the Indian administration. In order to weaken the Indian presence in Goa clandestine resistance movements in Goa were initiated and the Goan diaspora communities were urged to resist and oppose the Indian administration both through, general resistance and armed rebellion to weaken the Indian presence in Goa. The Portuguese government chalked out a plan called the 'Plano Gralha' covering Goa, Daman and Diu, for paralysing port operations at Mormugao and Bombay by planting bombs in some of the ships anchored at the ports. ( On 20 June 1964, Casimiro Monteiro, a Portuguese PIDE (Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado) agent of Goan descent, along with Ismail Dias, a Goan settled in Portugal, executed a series of bombings in Goa. ( Revisiting Portuguese Colonization in India@151 Relations between India and Portugal thawed only in 1974, when Goa was finally recognised as part of India by Portugal. Portuguese Archbishop-Patriarch Alvernaz who had left for Portugal soon after Goan merger and had remained the titular Patriarch of Goa resigned in 1975. The first native-born Archbishop of Goa, Raul Nicolau Gonçalves (who was also the Patriarch of the East Indies), was appointed in 1978 though the Portuguese ruled in India for 450 years. Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (18 April 1809 – 26 December 1831), the poet who wrote in English, is generally considered to be an Anglo-Indian though he comes from of mixed Portuguese stock. Derozio is considered to be the first nationalist poet of Modern India. His poem “To India - My Native Land” which reads as follows is regarded as an important landmark in the history of patriotic poetry in India: My country! In thy days of glory past A beauteous halo circled round thy brow and worshipped as a deity thou wast— Where is thy glory, where the reverence now? Thy eagle pinion is chained down at last, And grovelling in the lowly dust art thou, Thy minstrel hath no wreath to weave for thee Save the sad story of thy misery! Well—let me dive into the depths of time And bring from out the ages, that have rolled A few small fragments of these wrecks sublime Which human eye may never more behold And let the guerdon of my labour be, My fallen country! One kind wish for thee! ( However, in the light of the above mentioned historical facts it may safely be concluded that in his phrase “My fallen country” he was lamenting the loss of Portuguese empire to other European powers. Department of English U


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