GOANS around the world have a lot in common. There is one trait we would rather not have and that is the ability of putting crap on fellow Goans, the age-old crabs in a bucket (when one tries to climb out of the bucket, 12 others pull it down). It is a metaphor that used apply in the old days in most aspects of Goan life. I have been accused of that often, especially when writing the facts as they are, or bringing to light an unsavory fact. As a journalist, I never abuse my profession using it to personally attack any human being. I would rather the facts speak for themselves, as a commentator, critic, observer, I have that right.
In the Epilogue of my debut novel Yesterday in Paradise I wrote:
I am a Goan. I am a Kenyan. I am British. I am Australian. I am a man of many parts from many places, but right now the whole of me is Australian. Yet, the punchline was quite simply: The Goan in me will only die with that final (last) sunset.
So, I was quite mortified when I read another one of those opinion pieces (usually reserved the rubbish bin) entitled Identifying a true Goan (The Goan) by someone called Aires Rodrigues, thankfully I have never met the man. Thank God for small mercies.
In a sub-heading he wrote (or the subeditor did) A Goan worth his salt should at least have basic knowledge of the mother tongue (Most of Goan children who went to school in East Africa from around 1953, were forced to speak English only at home by the Colonial Government which mandated that Asian parents (including Goans) should speak to their children in their vernaculars because it was hurting the children's ability to speak proper English. Somehow for the Goans it was no problem. We spoke Konkani at home regardless of the edict. In years to come, my siblings used to speak to my mother in English, broken Swahili and broken Konkani to dying day. With that one sentence, I would suggest that Mr Rodrigues has wiped more than 80 percent (just a guess) of the East African Goans of my generation from being a Goan in his way of thinking. What a load of crap. In most of, generations of Goan DNA runs through out blood. In the case of my own children, two Goan-Kenya-British-Australians and third a Goan-Kenyan-Australian and they the Goan DNA running through from the generations of two sets of parents. To suggest that our children cannot be called Goans, is idiotic to say the least. I would suggest, because of the attitudes of the likes of Mr Rodrigues, many of children would be bothered about the Goan way of thinking.
“There are large numbers of people residing outside the State abroad, whose ancestors migrated from Goa but they cannot automatically be classed as Goans unless they are proud of their Goan heritage.” Who appointed him God? How could we be anything else but Goan.
“… On the other hand, a person can be born and resident outside of our State and acquire roots by subscribing to the Goan ethos. Roots can develop in any part of the world, sink deep, traverse the oceans and terminate in the ancestral villages of Goa”. Make up your mind, you are contradicting yourself. What the hell do you think we have been doing for the past 80 years and many more still continue to do. I hope they do not run into the likes of Rodrigues otherwise their holiday will be spoilt.
The rest of the article is a bit of diatribe, he really does not his own mind because he finishes of with “A true Goan will always root for Goa.” We all do that when required.
It won’t be long before the church is asking Catholic Goan women to have more babies because the Catholic Goan population is dwindling. I would suggest that the threat may be real that the traditional Roman Catholic Goan in Goa is a vanishing tribe and when the last of them is away in Heaven, why would anyone want to call it Goa? I mean the Goan we all knew and loved.
He also mentions that “Goan food is unique and any Goan will be proud of it,” on my last two trips I had to ask friends to take me to some authentic Goan restaurants, not those that have fashioned their cuisine to suit tastes from other parts of India or Europe. Incidentally, in some restaurants, Food really is not Goan. I cook better Goan food in my kitchen and so do thousands of Goans in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, USA, Europe and many parts of the world.
Why do I get the impression that the editor could not have read this diatribe, if he had he would have spiked it.