Sunday, March 23, 2008

Teaching Konkani - The Baga Beach

Cecil & Beatrice Pinto explore Goa with, and teach Konkani to, a young couple from the Isle of Wight in UK - Andrew and Justine.

Beatrice: How nice to be going to Baga beach. I'm coming here after nearly ten years.

Justine: Is that so? We were here yesterday and on Monday and on…

Cecil: You are tourists. You come for the sun and the sand. We have a different relationship with the beach or vell. It is more than just recreational.

Beatrice: Yes. Our elderly people used to come here to the beach, veller, and have saltwater baths every morning. To bathe is nhavpak. It was supposed to be a cure for arthritis, rheumatism and similar diseases. They would not have a fresh water bath for the entire duration of their stay here. They would park themselves in a rented room nearby…

Cecil: Talking of parking, our picnic spot seems to be invaded by parked cars. There's no place to sit. Bospak na zago! Bos is sit and zago is place.

Beatrice: My goodness! This is shocking. This area in front of Hotel Baia do Sol has always been a picnic spot for us locals. A nice airy shady area with a direct view of the sea, doria. Now the view is blocked by these huge shacks and we have to face their toilets, or kapus!

Andrew: What's the problem? Let's just sit in a shack and enjoy the vell.

Cecil: Goroz shi na! There is no need! I don't want to sit in these shacks. Their prices and attitudes are directed towards the big-spending tourists, specially the Europeans. I have carried my own snacks and refreshments. Why can't I have a clean convenient picnic area like before? Why is everything targeted at tourists? Don't we, locals and taxpayers, matter anymore?

Beatrice: Keep the politics for another day. Let's go to St. Anthony's. Is that ok with you?

Cecil: Ok! At least I know those guys cater for the locals and we won't be surrounded by arrogant overweight Brits. And we can see the sand, renv, and the sea, doria, from where we sit at our table, mez, on our chairs, kodeli.

Andrew: Let's take a walk on Baga beach first, if you don't mind.

Cecil: Sure. I remember foreigners, bhaile as we called them then, roaming completely naked, nagdde, on this beach when I was very young. Now the term bhaile applies to Indian migrant labourers. Actually bhailo just means outsider with bhair being out. Technically speaking we are still in Calangute as Baga actually is the other side of the creek. The ugly bridge, pul, connecting is so despised that you will see people, lok, risking their lives crossing the creek through the water, udok, rather than go through to that monstrosity. The hillock, dongor, you see across separates this beach stretch from the Anjuna stretch.

Justine: Aha! So nice to see miles of lovely beach right up till Sinquerim.

Beatrice: What beach? What I can see are miles of beach-beds? When did this happen? Ten years back there were a few beach-beds outside every shack. Now they stretch in multiple tiers endlessly. I'm reminded of the lines from Wordsworth's Daffodils, “Continuous as the stars that shine, And twinkle on the Milky Way, They stretch'd in never-ending line, Along the margin of a bay:, Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”

Cecil: I'm reminded of what came next, “A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company!”. What daffodils? See those pansies there hugging each other in the water. In our time the beach was full of sexy naked women. Now we see gays, “fluttering and dancing in the breeze!”

Justine: You got something against gays?

Cecil: Naaah! Just that I prefer naked women!

Beatrice: Stop behaving like a pervert, pozdo.

Cecil: Aha! Today, aiz, I'm a pozdo. Yesterday, kal, I was a baizuan, lecher. Just my ponvot, bad luck, I presume to be gifted with an eye, dollo, to appreciate the female body, kudd. Wonder what I will be called tomorrow, faleam, and day after, porvam.

Andrew: I thought you said kudd was a sort of residential club each village had in Mumbai?

Beatrice: Yes that too. Spelt the same way. Speaking of kudd let's run through some body parts quickly. Head is tokli, forehead is kopol, nose is nak, ear is kan, eye is dollo, lips are vontt, chin is khaddki, cheeks are pole, neck is man, shoulder is khand, hand is hath, finger is bott, stomach is pott, back is fatt, chest is xati, legs are paim, toe is akhonno. Have I missed anything?

Cecil: Sure! Buttocks are kule, thighs are zangllam, breasts are mome, the entire male genital region is called… Whaaaaa! Did you see that?

Andrew: What?

Cecil: See that huge woman swimming there. Just one of her kule could feed a family for a month!

Justine: That wasn't a very nice thing to say.

Cecil: I was just kidding. What does physical appearance matter? As long as one has one's heart, kaliz, and soul, otmo, in the right place.


Corporation, Chaka Chak & Chicken

Corporation, Chaka Chak & Chicken
Confidence building measures to commence in Panjim
By Cecil Pinto

I don't know what it is about the bird flu that seems to bring out
the humour in us. When the tsunami struck, or some earthquake, or
similar, there was always a sense of shock and expressions of
concern and sympathy. But the bird flu scare elicits nothing of
that sort. I have already received seventeen SMS alerts that the
bird flu strikes 'small cocks' first. Some even more amusing bird
flu related SMS' use rather mature language and cannot be quoted.
Newspapers are having a field day with headlines, "Foul play
suspected", "Chicken and egg situation" etc. Quite frankly nobody's
scared by the bird flu - but nobody's eating chicken either.
Restaurants and hotels had stocked up tons of chicken in
anticipation of the Carnival tourists. Wholesalers and
retailers too are stuck with freezers full of un-saleable product.
Experts from their respective field all reassure us that it's
perfectly ok to eat properly cooked chicken. But they themselves,
none of them, are actually eating chicken. While I'm on that will
someone explain to me why they use the grandiose term 'poultry
products' when what they want to say is eggs! Even the smallest
poultry farmer and deep-freezer owner has a sign saying "Chicken &
Poultry Products". Other than the eggs what other poultry products
are there? Why waste two words (four syllables) when the simple
monosyllabic 'eggs' would suffice? Anyway, my opinion is that
this 'bird flu' disease (not 'pandemic' as the press likes to call
it) has been blown totally out of proportion. Specially here in
Goa, I don't think there is any reason not to eat properly cooked
chicken. But as stray false reports and rumours are churning around
the poultry industry is going through a severe economic depression
from which it will take many years to recover.

The hotel and restaurant industry too is suffering a major blow.
I suggest they join together and make some creative moves to inspire
confidence in the public. Convey to the Goan public and the tourists
that there's absolutely no danger in eating chicken.
The simplest method of course would be to rope in some trusted
celebrities and design some impact-ful advertisements.
But this too isn't a fail-safe plan. So what if Amitabh Bachchan says,
"I can eat chicken and so can you"?

The natural reaction from the public would be "Sure, and in case
you fall sick you can afford Nanavati Hospital. I can't!". Also the
suspicion will be that the chicken Amitabh is shown eating in the
advertisement was probably imported from Switzerland, went through
multiple checks and was then cooked using complex technology
unavailable to the common man.

What we need is credible normal people eating chicken on the street.
Elections to the Corporation of the City of Panjim (CCP) are fast
approaching. Battle lines have been drawn. What is the biggest
question facing each candidate? "Should I appeal to the people's
civic sense or shall I promise them the works?" No! "Should I make
the garbage issue the main plank of my campaign or shall I focus on
the drainage problem?".

No! These matters are trivial. The question uppermost in candidates
minds is "What do I feed my workers, now that chicken is taboo?!!".
You see one of the benefits of being a worker for a candidate,
at any elections, is that one can consume unlimited chilled beer
and unlimited chicken (mostly chicken xacuti and bread). Now with
the bird flu scare what do the candidates feed their workers?
Bhaji-puri? They would defect immediately.

Fish is much too expensive. Mutton would alienate the
Christians, beef would alienate the Hindus and pork wouldn't go
down well with the Muslim voters. Consider also that with thirty
wards being carved out of a not-so-populous Panjim, almost every
voter is also a worker for some candidate. We are not just talking
of keeping workers happy, we are talking about keeping voters happy.

I suggest that all candidates have roadside election
meetings. At the very beginning of the meeting live chicken are
slaughtered and while the speeches are in progress the chicken is
cooked on the spot. The poultry farmers will surely give their
chickens free for such a good cause and the restaurant industry
will also give their equipment and cooks free. They all stand to
gain if this confidence building measure works. As soon as the
speeches conclude the candidate, with great fanfare, eats some
chicken himself, followed by the poultry farmers and the
restaurateurs. The workers will definitely join in on seeing this.

Panjim is the capital city of Goa. Panjim always leads the way.
Goa watches what happens in Panjim. The rest of the state will surely follow
suit and start eating chicken again. The country and the world will
get the message, "It's safe to eat chicken in Goa!"

The CCP candidates missed their chance during the Carnival Parades.
Cutting, cooking and eating chicken on a moving parade float-truck
would have got them international attention and praise. Instead we
had floats that magnified the bird flu scare. Having said that I
still say hats off to the float designers who overnight managed to
fabricate bird flu related floats. I hope the CCP candidates
will take my suggestion seriously and do the right thing for their
workers, voters and Goa in general. The Government has done all it
can by reacting immediately and taking all health precautions. Now
it is time for us Ponjekars to show the rest of Goa that "Chaka
Chak" can apply to "Chicken" too!.

And since the candidates won't have to spend so much money on their
workers perhaps we will get candidates elected who genuinely want
to serve the people, and not just those with the deepest pockets.

The humour column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated March 2nd

Love in Goa

Love in Goa
More than a hundred years back!

By Cecil Pinto

It is a relatively unknown fact that the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead was born in exactly the same year Queen Victoria died - 1901. Even more interesting is the fact that Queen Victoria, just before her death, had anticipated the public interest in matters of Sex and Sexuality and had commissioned an Irish anthropologist Angelia Philcoxe to make a study of mating patterns in Goa. This study was commenced and initial findings were sent by Angelia to the Queen but they never did reach their destination. Angelia contracted a severe case of bronchitis while in Goa and virtually disappeared from scientific circles. Rumours, at the time, have it that she holed up in Anjuna and thus technically was probably the first hippie. But that is conjecture. Fragments of paper retrieved from a recently discovered shipwreck off the coast of Sicily are suspected to be the initial drafts of her study, "Coming of Age in Goa".

Below are some of the legible transcripts. Keep in mind this was written by an anthropologist somewhere in 1899 or thereabouts, and these are the only surviving
fragments of a much larger report.

"Soon after pubescence, marked by the Sacrament of Confirmation among Catholics and the String Ceremony among Hindus, the native Goan male will actively search for a mate. Having identified a worthy companion he will, through a mutual friend or relative, communicate his interest with the simple phrase, 'I am interested in you'. If reciprocated they go through a period of "being friendly". This is the equivalent of 'dating' or 'going steady' in Western society and not just being friends as the term implies.
It is quite common for a couple to go from being friendly to being married without being friendly with anyone else. But in the rare instance that someone was friendly with one person and ended up marrying another person, this fact is brought up in hushed whispers at the time of betrothal.. An admission of 'I am friendly with...' is as good as a lifetime commitment here in Goa.

"Youngsters with raging hormones find partners at various social functions, weddings being the most popular for 'checking out the goods' as we would say in Western parlance. The sequence of intimacy very much follows the Western mode of eye to body, eye to eye, voice to voice, hand to hand, arm to shoulder, arm to waist, mouth to mouth, hand to head, hand to body and so forth. In certain parts of South Goa, specially among the New Conquests, the intimacy sequence is not strictly followed and sometimes unpleasant situations follow as a result. In fact in these areas the standard 'interested' and 'friendly' sequence is superseded by asking 'Are you
giving?'. This is a literal translation of the Konkani phrase which probably could be read as 'Are you giving me your hand in marriage?' I will make an effort to study the language better."

"Church activities like nativity plays, carol singing, catechism, etc give hormonal members of the Catholic community ample opportunities to mix with the opposite gender. The Hindus have their mythological dramas called 'nataks' and also the ever popular late-night 'zatras' or vigilance festivals which allow for mixed gender social interaction. While coconuts and fruits are being auctioned off and the Monkey God Hanuman is whirling his mace on stage there is lots of circumspect intimacy among the members of the audience who have recently reached adulthood. I have heard reports from the neighbouring state of Bombay that a Konkani drama form called
'tiatr' is emerging among the Goans settled there. Perhaps when this comes to Goa the native Catholic teens here will have intermixing opportunities such as the 'natak' provides their Hindu counterparts now."

"The painstaking process of attempting to attract a member of the opposite sex to a 'friendly' stage is called 'line marring'. Whether this refers to blurring the line of the gender divide or a fishing line with a bait - as in angling, I have yet to decipher. But the latter explanation holds more probability as the female in a pairing is often referred to as a 'faskee' which is colloquial for one who is trapped."

"The equivalent of the English 'I love you' is, 'Hanv tujo mog kortam', which literally translates as 'I am making love to you'. Despite the suggestiveness of this phrase my studies show that instances of pre-marital sex among the natives of Goa are very rare. Extra-marital couplings among the landed aristocratic gentry, on the other hand, are much more frequent - in the absence of other forms of entertainment."

The article above appeared in Gomantak Times/Weekender dated 12th Feb 2006
as part of a Valentine Special Section.

This first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-newsletter archived at is dedicated to Goans around the Globe and is moderated/edited by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of website.
EXPRESSIONS - The Flower Shop (Goa)

What young Goan parents dread

What young Goan parents dread
Four years of Konkani medium schooling

By Cecil Pinto

Last week I met my friend Yvonne who is the mother of two pre-primary children. As expected she was complaining about school admissions. Like every parent in her age group, and economic class, she wants her child to study in a school that has English as the medium of instruction. "How else will they be able to migrate to Canada after finishing college?". Yvonne
ranted on about how in 'our times' school admissions occurred in the first week of June. I told her about how in certain play-schools in Mumbai admissions are sought when the woman becomes pregnant. I kid you not. I have seen it first-hand at a prestigious play-school of a distant relative.
Admission to a particular play-school virtually guarantees admission to a particular good school which in turn makes admission to a particular college easy, which then makes it easier to get into a particular management (or whatever the current mantra is) institute. And then one can get married to a rich businessman and have society parties, or become a
call girl (at a Call Centre) and compete with a 12th standard pass who speaks better English! And take abuse over the phone from some loutish American who can't figure out why his car insurance premiums have suddenly gone up.

But let's come back to Goa. In 1990 the Goa Government made Konkani as the compulsory medium of instruction for Government assisted schools. People of my generation cheered loudly. We didn't have a clue what it entailed, but it seemed the right thing to do, as after all we had dug up roads to get
Konkani into the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution (whatever that means too!). We were happy for our 'mai bhas'. We didn't think of our children. We were not married. We didn't have children! Some of us are still not married, or don't have children, but that is another topic for another day.

There where whimpers of protest from some parents back then in the early nineties. But they were shoved aside as the dying shudders of an inflexible elitist section of society, who could not deal with the new math, leave alone 'ganit' (math in Konkani). Then the next generation, us, got married,
procreated and searched around for good gynecologists, pediatricians, maid servants, play-schools and agents who knew how to get a Portuguese Passport. We had everything going for us - including the Internet where one could download forms for migration to Australia. Play-schools were blooming by the dozen. Every bored housewife, and her sister-in-law, converted their spare bedroom or garage into a play-school and stuck colourful charts of fruits and numbers on the wall. And of course some cut-outs of Disney characters. The market responds to a need.

Translation into Portuguese, and attesting of documents, came down from Rs. 1000/- to Rs. 250/- per document. The number of gynecologists and pediatricians did not proportionately increase with the demand, but they started sending less time per patient and hence were able to see more patients per day - while simultaneously on the phone checking out competitive prices for luxury cars and investing in mutual funds. "Hello!
No! Not UTI! Anything but UTI. What sound? Oh! This kid's got an ear infection, I think. Nurse give her these antibiotics and check her weight. Next!! What about Kothak Mahendra? I'm buying a Mahendra Bolero next week. Doctor Kelekar has one already. Nurse, take his weight and give him some antibiotics. What? I didn't even ask what's wrong? Oops!". I've never been
inside the sacrosanct section of the gynecologists office but I can imagine him enquiring about stock options with his cell-phone in one gloved hand while...

Reliable non-underage, non-live-in maid servants of course still remain elusive.

Where were we? Aha! Now the admission to the dreaded First Standard suddenly looms large for parents of my generation. We pick up Admission Forms of every English Medium primary school in town. And a few good Konkani medium schools too, for good measure. We make phone calls and cajole and coax and beg anyone who can get our kids into a decent and inexpensive English medium primary school. The South Goans as usual over
dramatise the issue by standing in queue overnight for admission forms like over-age Harry Potter fans. "Hi Jacob. What are you doing here in the night in the open in the cold? What? I can't hear you. Your teeth are chattering with the cold. Presentation? What presentation? Who's making a
presentation in Margao? Bill Gates? Nani Palkhivala? Isn't he dead? Are you insane? Do you want to die of cold?"

Regarding this obsessive behavior, I've heard excuses from parents that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. "It's not about language, it's about opportunities", "The thought of me helping them out with their homework is frightening. I hate the Devnagri script!", "The language doesn't matter. I want this school because they imbibe a good sense of culture, discipline and ethics. I don't want my son ending up like a
politician, specially not a MLA from Benaulim!". Quite frankly I will send my children to an English medium primary school. I heard that the private sector banks are giving loans for just this purpose - English Medium School Admission. It's a more lucrative business than vehicle and housing loans.
And if you don't pay your installments in time they can always yank your kid out of school and keep him kneeling outside their office till you pay up!

Before the die-hard Konkani activists come to gherao me and paint my face black I will warn them that (a) My complexion is so dark it will not make a difference! (b) I love my 'mai bhas', as much as, if not more, than any of them - and can curse in both scripts. (c) I will only entertain protestors
who can give me signed and notarised affidavits stating that: (1) Their children are currently studying in Konkani medium primary schools (2) They have never tried to seek admission in an English medium primary school (3) The MLAs , politicians and business men who support them also have their children currently studying, or having studied, in Konkani medium primary schools.

The humour column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated February 9th 2006.

(courtesy: THE GOAN FORUM )

Surviving Wedding Receptions

Surviving Wedding Receptions
A first-person book review by the author

By Cecil Pinto

Since nobody seems to be buying my latest guide-book, leave alone reviewing
it, I have decided to review it myself. "1,200 copies in print! The perfect
wedding gift!", reads the blurb of Cecil Pinto's latest offering,
"Surviving Goan Catholic Wedding Receptions: A must-have Manual and Guide".
A worthy successor to last year's "Surviving the Nuptial Mass", from the
author's Goan Guidebooks series whose combined readership must be in the
millions. In fact "Surviving Calangute in Peak Season" has gone into its
second edition. I particularly remember a succinct phrase from the
'Nuptials' primer (the introductory paragraph of the chapter, "Ten things
to do with the stupid Mass Booklet"). I quote, "Keep in mind that the
entire fifty copies of this totally unnecessary booklet has been printed on
the office computer, an immoral act that also harms the environment.
The precious few who still attend nuptials will bear in mind that the main
purpose of attending is to observe sacrilegious acts committed by the other
side of the family. This cannot be done efficiently if you're busy
examining the beautifully formatted Mass Booklet embellished
un-aesthetically with disproportionate clipart of doves, hearts and what
distinctively look like Christmas Bells. Pay attention to the homily and
responses uttered by the main celebrant and stop reading them from the

In fact so many such gems of advice abound in the latest book,
"Surviving Goan Catholic Wedding Receptions", that I will take a back seat
as a reviewer and just quote from the book.

Quote from Chapter 1, "The Beginning of the Blame Game".
"Mummy why are they sitting quietly in the wedding car?" In the last few
decades parents have had to hear this question and find it difficult to
explain why the bridal couple are having their first marital silent fight
in a beautifully decorated wedding car a few hundred meters from the
reception venue. As always happens, despite the very modern and
cosmopolitan couple having printed "7.30 p.m sharp" on the wedding invite,
none of the guests see it fit to arrive anytime before 8.45 p.m. Which
means the bridal couple has to wait outside the hall till sufficient guests
have accumulated to have a proper wedding march. The bride blames the
groom's people for being late, and vice versa. This blame game will
continue through the celebrations with each side finding flaw in whatever
the other side has arranged for. If the Master of Ceremonies lacks pizzazz
the bride's father will make it known that he had suggested hiring Alan
Pinto, who would have done a much better job. And the groom's brother
will casually mention that he could have got Alcatrazz to play, which would
have been much better than the clowns the bride's people hired - who can't
differentiate between a fox trot and a waltz. How does one explain all
this inter-family rivalry to a little child? Does one just go with the flow?
Why do guests at St. Estevam have a full dinner at home and only then
suit-boot themselves up and leisurely stroll over to the Casa da Povo hall,
ensuring the wedding march will never begin before midnight? Let's attempt
answering these questions with...

Quote from Chapter 2, "Things that go Blast in the Night"
In recent times firework displays have become a compulsory part of the
celebrations. Considering that till date no major fires have broken out as
a consequence, this author considers them a very low risk factor. Far more
dangerous are the two cylindrical upright pipes, stuffed with confetti,
that explode very noisily around the time of the cake cutting. Elderly
people, and those with heart problems, are advised to sit on their haunches
and shove their fingers in their ears around this time. People with
semi-senile parents please ensure that their hands are free of those tiny
thermacol balls, that are distributed for throwing on the bridal couple as
they enter the hall. A case has been reported from Bicholim where
extraction of one such ball from the ear of an elderly gentleman had to be
performed in a nearby hospital. Apparently he shoved his finger in his ear
to avoid the blast and shoved a thermacol ball deep into his ear in the

The aerosol cans which spray strings, jets and showers of 'white stuff'
have not been proven to have any health risks but it is advisable to use
them from at least one meter away from intended victim. What is
questionable though is the sheer aggressiveness with which these spray cans
are used. Is it to temporarily decorate the couple, or is it a subconscious
attack on the groom for snaring the prize girl that we all salivated over
frustratedly right through high-school and college?

Chapter 3, "The March of the Tunnels"
Enterprising MCs have been known to use their skills to keep the tunnel
going for a full five rounds. The tunnel as you know is formed by couples
standing apart and holding hands under which the next couple passes and
follows suit. It is considered mathematically appropriate to extend this
totally mindless ritual for two whole rounds within which each couple has
had a chance to form a tunnel and march under it twice. But certain
sadistic MCs use this opportunity to vent their frustration (at having been
present from 6 p.m for a wedding that was supposed to commence at 7.30 p.m
and eventually started at 9.30 p.m.) by having the tunneling go on
endlessly - thus aggravating claustrophobia and spondylitis. My advice is
to grin and bear it. Later in the reception you can get even with the MC by
just refusing to join the crowd on the dance floor. Remember an MC in Goa
is graded as being good only if he can convince the maximum people to
dance. All other criteria of his performance are incidental.

I seem to have run out of space but will continue this review at some
later date. Join me then in previewing further chapters on surviving
receptions entitled, "The Never Ending Toast", "Watered down Whiskey",
"Snacking up for the Long Wait", "Positioning is Everything: Between the Bar
and the Buffet", "In-your-face Video", "Grin and bear the Flash", "Cha.. Cha..
Change the music!", "MC who thinks he's a Drillmaster", "Encircling the
Bride/Groom", "The Death of Birdy Dance, Macarena and Ketchup Song",
"Escaping the Masala Mix", "Presents in Presence only", "Heaping Twelve
Items in One Dinner Plate", "Distinguishing between Décor and Edibles",
"How much Dessert is Enough?", "Hernia-philia: Four Enthusiastic Friends,
a Chair and an Overweight Groom" etc etc.

The humour column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 2nd February 2006

This first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-newsletter archived at is dedicated to Goans around the Globe and is moderated/edited by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of website.
EXPRESSIONS - The Flower Shop (Goa)

Merging with Maharashtra

Merging with Maharashtra
Perhaps the anti-merger movement got it wrong

- By Cecil Pinto

Just last week the annual hoopla surrounding Road Safety Week ("Are our roads really safe?", "Do Goan drivers have civic sense?" blah, blah, blah...) was finally over.
Now starts the annual hoopla surrounding the Opinion Poll. Reams of newspaper space will be dedicated to that historic poll on 16th January 1967 where Goans overwhelmingly voted that we wanted a separate identity, and did not want to be merge with

Newspaper columnists will reminiscence on how all Goans united to fight off the threat of merger.
The phrase "regardless of caste or creed" will be repeated ad nauseam.
A little known historical fact is that the villages of Moira and Benaulim were offered to Maharashtra as a token gesture, but the offer was refused. Whether the refusal was because of geographical incongruity, or other factors, is a matter shrouded in history.
But that is another topic for another day.

I was discussing the issue with my friend Ganpat whose father was a keen pro-merger politician and a stalwart of the Maharashtra Gomantak Party at the time.
Ganpat too feels that we should have merged with Maharashtra. I suspect Ganpat agrees with his father more because he hopes to inherit his father's tenancy rights over some prime property in Pernem, rather than out of any genuine conviction. Ganpat is a well-to-do PWD engineer, but land is land and greed is greed.
Regardless I feel Ganpat has a few valid points and these deserve to be heard.

"And Cecil, have you ever given thought to the bar girls issue?"

"But Ganpat, What has that got to do with the merger?"

"If we were part of Maharashtra we would have had bar girls too. Now we have to go all the way to Mumbai to watch them gyrate to loud filmi music as we drink horribly overpriced liquor under dim lights."

"But I heard many of these bar girls are resettling in Goa."

"No yaaar. They are not resettling. They are reinventing themselves. They come here to work as call girls.
We Goan guys don't want to pay for sex.
Just some sexy entertainment while we drink."

"Ganpat, let's not forget the main issue. What possible advantage could we have got from merging with Maharashtra?"

"Well phone calls would have been cheaper to Mumbai. You know I'm in the printing business. I phone Mumbai about eight times a day and go to Mumbai at least five times a month and..."

"My Aunt Merzina lives in Borivali but still thinks of herself a Mumbaikar.
I keep reminding her that you, Ganpat, visit Mumbai proper more often in a month than she has in the last five years!!!"

"Anyway coming back to what I was saying. My phone calls to Mumbai are killing me.
If we were merged with Maharashtra they would be local calls!"

"Surely Ganpat, there must be some more compelling arguments for merger with Maharashtra."

"You want compelling reasons? Ok how about this. The Mopa airport would not be an issue.
They say only Maharashtra will benefit.
But if we were part of Maharashtra ..."

"Ok. You have a point there.
But what about the fact of our Goan identity being submerged?

"This Goan identity thing is a myth. The tenant farmer in Sattari has nothing in common with the bhatkar in Salcete who in turn has nothing in common with a teenage Goan girl in Canada who has never even been to Goa."

"What would be the fate of our mother tongue Konkani?
It would surely die."

"Ha! Konkani will never die as long as we speak, read and write it.
If we were merged with Maharashtra at least this script issue would not be a problem. Devnagri would be the only script.
And you think that making Konkani the medium of instruction has helped? Go and see the lines for admission into English medium primary schools and you will understand that ..."

"Ganpat, I think we're digressing. How would the Goan people gain if we had merged with Maharashtra?"

"Man-hours and statues."

"Man-hours and statues? Huh?"

"Do you know how many man-hours are spent every year discussing issues about Goan identity and non-Goan in-migration and Konkani script and such stuff?
If we were merged with Maharashtra these would not be an issue and we could use the same man-hours to do productive work."

"Hmmmm. And what's this about statues?"

"Look at it this way Cecil. They're asking for a statue of Dr. Jack Sequeira to be installed at Panjim.
A committee will be formed. The RSS will object and say that a statue of Naguesh Karmali should be installed instead. In the Committee itself there will be infighting on the pose for the statue.
Should Sequeira be shown speaking at a mike or casting his vote? The Nationalists will insist that he be shown wearing a kurta pyjama and not 'western' clothing.
The South Goans will insist that the statue be installed in Margao as Salcete was the stronghold of the anti-mergerists.
The Freedom Fighters will form a Samiti and demand that all cities should be renamed with a 'pur' suffix - Panjimpur, Margaopur, Vascopur..."

"And Ganpat, what would be different if we were part of Maharashtra?"

"Firstly there would be no statue required. Secondly if a statue was required someone just has to suggest that a statue of Shivaji Maharaj be put up instead and nobody would dare to object! So many man-hours wasted on discussion would be saved. In fact even today we celebrate Maharashtrian language and culture so much more than our own that I don't see why that Opinion Poll was held at all."

The humnour column above appeared in Gomantak Times
dated 19th January 2006

- Forwarded by

This first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-newsletter archived at is dedicated to Goans around the Globe and is moderated/edited by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of website.

EXPRESSIONS - The Flower Shop (Goa)

An occasion to celebrate.....the Mangalore Airport. Read

Sponsored Wedding Receptions

Sponsored Wedding Receptions
Let the good times roll - for everyone.

- By Cecil Pinto

"Hello! Hello! Is this Kingfisher Villa?"


"Can I speak with Dr. Mallya please?"

"Just call me King. And who are you?"

"Cecil Pinto at your humble service, King. I bring you greetings and
salutations from Aldona, Miramar and Panjim. May your brands fly as your logo does. May competitors, who use gimmicks like giving money prizes under
crown caps, keep losing elections. May you and your family always prosper

"Cut the crap! What do you want?"

"Ok, King. I have a business proposal for you."

"Speak man. Speak up!"

"You can't hear me? SHOULD I SPEAK LOUDER. IS THIS OK?"

"Stop shouting into the phone. Speak up about your business proposal. I
don't have much time to spare. Speak fast man. You're wasting my time!"

"Ok! Ok! See I celebrate my tenth Wedding Anniversary in May next year."


"I was thinking you could sponsor the entire celebrations."

"What? Why should I sponsor your Anniversary celebrations?"

"You sponsor events don't you?"

"I sponsor public events."

"My anniversary is a public event. All my friends and relatives are public
people. In fact most of them are so public that you wouldn't notice them in
a crowd. Some of them are absolutely mediocre. In fact my cousin ..."

"But this is unheard of! Liquor companies don't sponsor private parties."

"Why do you sponsor anything at all?"

"What do you mean?"

"When you sponsor an event, why do you do it?"

"For publicity, goodwill, brand building...."

"And you think my Wedding Anniversary will not get you publicity? It will
be the first of its type. Think of the press coverage, and goodwill. Have
you ever been to a regular Goan Catholic wedding? Goodwill is there in
fortified doses. The only antagonism is between the bride and groom's
families. But since we've been married ten years that should not be an
issue anymore. I hope. Except for this one brother-in-law who..."

"Ok! Ok! Carry on and stop digressing. You have my ear."

"I want your money, I mean sponsorship. What will I do with your ear? I
already have two ears. There was a song by Alfred Rose about a boy who
had no ears, and his mother donated her ears, and on her deathbed the boy..."

"Will you please stick to this sponsorship proposal of yours!"

"Ok! Ok! Here's what. I print your logo on all the wedding invites and mass

"What are mass booklets? Do they have mass appeal?"

"Yes. Very much! At the reception we have signage of your products very
prominently displayed. Banners, cutouts, danglers, balloons whatever.
As long as it's tastefully done. We serve only your products - beer,
whiskey, mineral water..."

"Goan wedding receptions don't have your famous Caju Feni served?"

"Strangely no longer. A bottle of Feni is sometimes kept for the border

"Borda? Isn't that near Margao? Is it that important?"

"Don't bother. Only seems that way."

"Ok. Now let's talk money. How much is this reception sponsoring thing
going to cost me?

"I've not finished. Next day is the porton, a small reception hosted by the
bride's folks. You will be paying for this too."

"You must be kidding. They have a porton ceremony for a Wedding

"I do."

"Isn't that what you Catholics say when exchanging vows?"

"I did not. That was in the olden days when people were illiterate. Now you
have to recite the vows yourself. You've never really been to a normal Goan
Catholic wedding have you, King?"

"No. All my friends are rich people. We have mega blasts. Never anything
small or normal."

"Would you like to attend a typical Goan Catholic wedding ceremony?"

"I would love to attend. Nobody invites me."

"Attend mine! Rs. 2,000/- per head. Ladies, and children below twelve, half
rate. Unlimited drinks and eats. Live music. Spot prizes. Fun for the entire family... "

"I sponsor your celebration and I have to pay to attend?"

"Not you. But your friends will surely want to attend. They will have to
pay. Or you can buy some invites and mail to them. Oh! And by tradition
they have to bring decent presents. Can't break tradition now can we?"

"But me and my friends would like to attend a typical Goan Catholic
wedding, and not this sponsored Anniversary celebrations you're proposing."

"King, King! Why don't you understand? After my celebration this will be
the typical wedding in the future. We have allowed commercial sponsors to
invade every aspect of our lives. From Parish Fetes to Feast Souvenirs to
Crib Competitons. This is the logical next step. Weddings, Christenings,
First Communions... Let the sponsors in with open arms. Not all of us can
afford lavish receptions. This is a decent compromise. You get publicity,
goodwill and decent branding. Your non-local friends get to participate in
local ceremonies. We get our celebrations paid for. Everyone's happy."

"Sounds interesting. How much money are we talking about? Where is the
main reception? What is the entertainment?"

"I was thinking of the Mariott maybe and then the porton at Fort Aguada
Beach Resort. Guests could be accommodated at the same hotels and
transported by your yacht and helicopter. And I was thinking of maybe Billy
Joel, Britney Spears and Madonna to start off the show. Then a small
Russian Ballet troop, an item number by Yana Gupta and Abhishek
Bachchan, a Laser Lights show..."

"This sounds even bigger than my fiftieth birthday bash! Was your wedding
reception ten years back so grand?"

"Naaah! But I didn't have a sponsor that time!"

The humour column above appeared in the December 22nd 2005 issue of
Gomantak Times

(Graphics and pictures input courtesy: extracts from website)

REAL ESTATE: Brokers and Decisions

REAL ESTATE: Brokers and Decisions

Tongue in Cheek
By Cecil Pinto


Everybody I know is doing a little bit of real estate on the side. From the local motorcycle pilot to the aristocratic Portuguese speaking bhatkar, everyone is suddenly a 'broker' of sorts and conversations are dominated by terms like '2%', 'conversion', 'agreement for sale' and 'stamp duty'. So what exactly is happening? What is driving this boom? Is there a boom at all? How come the builders are not beaming all the way to the bank as they did in the mid-1990s? Who is making them money? And, most importantly, how do I get a share of the loot?

I decided to meet a proper experienced real estate consultant to find out more about the business. Maybe he suspected that I was trying to learn the trade myself so he kept his cards quite close to his chest and I learnt nothing I didn't really know already. Getting nowhere I approached my friend Michael from Calangute. Now Michael has dabbled in everything from shacks, to massage parlours, to shady drug deals (he claims he only did light drugs; and anyway even that has stopped now because the hafta makes the whole risky business rather uneconomical), to tour operations to rave parties and now he's dived into real estate brokerage.

"So Michael how did you get into this business?"

"It's like this. About three years back I found this Irish couple who wanted to buy a small house somewhere in South Goa. I introduced them to this big real estate agency and they were very happy with the services provided and purchased an apartment in Arpora. A few months later I took this nice gentleman from New Delhi to the same agency and at that time they gave me Rs. 7,500/- as my commission for bringing them the Irish couple. I calculated that as half a percent. This was quite generous considering the precious nothing that I did. So for the next two years I kept introducing this agency to buyers and sellers of property and when any deal clicked I got my "finder's fee".

"But if the couple wanted a small house in South Goa how come they got saddled with an apartment in Arpora?"

"See Cecil, you don't quite understand. There are lots of houses for sale in Goa but when you actually get down to doing the paper work you realise that the ownership is not as clear. People assume that since they have Form I & XIV that the house is theirs. There's lot more than that involved. Apartments on the other hand have relatively clear title. Now foreigners are very insistent on an absolutely clear title. Indian clients on the other hand know how the system works, and that possession is 9/10th of the law."

"So when did you strike out on your own?"

"About a year back a German couple I had sent to this same agency complained to me that they were being shown places that didn't match their criteria at all. They wanted a big house in the interior of North Goa and the agency was showing them row houses on the beach and tiny holiday apartments. And they were being charged Rs.300/- each time they were shown some lousy place that was completely the opposite of what they had asked for. They were quite disgusted so I took them around directly to some owners of houses in Bardez and charged them nothing per visit. Of course we went around in a hired van driven by my cousin Alvito. He's now into the real estate business himself, competing with me! Finally when they found just the right place at Olaulim, I introduced them to my brother-in-law who is a lawyer and the deal came through. I got 2% from both sides, buyer and seller, and it was such a big amount that I decided to become a full-time broker myself. Of course I still organise rave parties during peak season but this business is so much less risky."

"But isn't there always the risk that the buyer and seller might collude and not give you your percentage?"

"That happens to other brokers, not me. I make myself a friend of both parties. I do not inflate the price like some other brokers do. I take them over to my sister's restaurant and get them a major discount and special service. Once I even threw in a complimentary overnight boat cruise for two for the price of one. My neighbour has these boat cruises. And of course I recommend foreigners to the best dentists, massage parlours and pharmacies for bulk purchases. Trust begets trust. "

"And how do you handle this six month continuous residence Reserve Bank rule for foreigners?"

"That is my trade secret. That I cannot reveal. Just remember, trust begets trust."

"Doesn't it bother you that the demographics of Goa are changing with foreigners and non-Goans buying prime land here?"

"The houses I sell were lying vacant. They were falling apart in some cases. Isn't it better that they are looked after and lived in? Or perhaps you would prefer that some greedy mundkar with a house of his own claims rights over it and then just allows it to fall apart?"

"But why are our people selling their houses? Don't they want to own a part
of the land of their ancestors?"

"That's easy for you to say Cecil. The last house I sold belonged to a family settled in Canada. The parents, children and grandchildren are there. They haven't been to Goa in ten years. The last time they did they stayed in a hotel because it didn't make sense to do up the house just to live there for two weeks. The grandchildren have never been to their ancestral house and wouldn't care less. They are Canadians. Their Goanness consists of taking part in the Viva Goa carnival once a year and chorusing the first verses of exactly three mandos. They are quite content with reading, in Goan cyber space, about happenings in Goa. The vagaries of the Bush administration are much more important to them than the Konkani script debate. Most of them can't speak Konkani anyway! They don't love Goa. They wouldn't care less what happens here. They only claim to be Goan to
differentiate themselves from other Indians abroad."

"I tell you Cecil, these people who are buying houses here truly love Goa and plan to live here. Maybe these are the people who will bring about a better Goa. Our own people have flown to other lands. It is the outsiders buying land here who are putting their money where their mouth is. Maybe they will appreciate and improve Goa, since our own people are not doing that! "

The column above appeared in the November 2005 issue of Goa Today magazine.

Some issues of Goa Today are still archived at -----

This first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-newsletter archived at is dedicated to Goans around the Globe and is moderated/edited by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of website.

EXPRESSIONS - The Flower Shop (Goa)

The 11th annual All Goa Home Garden Competition, to be judged on 08 January in South Goa and 15 January, in North Goa, is BSG's event together with the people of Goa.

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year.
It is that we should have a new soul.
– G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936, English Writer.

Teaching Konkani - by Cecil PInto

Cecil & Beatrice Pinto continue to explore Goa with, and teach Konkani to, a young couple from the Isle of Wight in UK - Andrew and Justine.

Mapusa Market

Andrew: How come these ladies here are selling long sausages and the ladies there are selling tiny sausages?

Cecil: South Goans have small sausages. Ha!

Beatrice: Just ignore him. In North Goa sausages, called chourisam, which is plural for chouris, are packaged long whereas in South Goa chourisam are divided into tiny sections. But the basic ingredients are the same – only dukra mas and chorob or fat, and vinegar masala. No skin, or organs are used. Other dishes like sorpatel use all the edible parts of the dukor.

Justine: These chourisam seem to be dripping with chorob. Isn’t that unhealthy?

Cecil: Health and hygiene! That’s all you people obese about. If it wasn’t for the chorob the chourisam would not have their distinctive taste. It also acts as a preservative. Of course, other than the ingredients and the proportions, there are many other factors that are responsible for different tastes among chourisam. Whether they have been dried in the sun, votan, or above the huge baker’s oven, called forn, or …

Andrew: I tasted sorpatel at the hotel restaurant yesterday. Tasty, bit a bit too spicy.

Beatrice: After being prepared the sorpatel has to marinate in an earthen utensil, like a kundlem, for a few days. Then it gets properly pickled and is a delight to eat. Do you know the gai’s intestine, called ankidi, is used to pack the chouris mas? The gai’s stomach, or pot, is used to make another dish called buch. And the dukra ankidi is used to make a sorpatel like dish called bannem.

Justine: Is there really a North Goa-South Goa divide as Cecil keeps hinting at?

Beatrice: No there isn’t. He just likes to poke fun at South Goans. Basically there are eleven talukas, or administrative units. In general when talking about North Goa we refer to Bardez, South Goa is Salcete and Central Goa is Ilhas - also referred to as Tiswadi. This of course is generic as they are just three prominent talukas.

Cecil: We refer to Salcete as Xasti. So a man from Xasti becomes a Xastikar, a woman from Bardez a Bardezkarn etc. Similar to the bhatkar and bhatkarn I mentioned earlier.

Justine: Is ‘x’ always pronounced as ‘sh’ in Konkani.

Cecil: Yes always. Does rice-curry look better as xit-coddi or as shit-coddi?!!

Andrew: Are all these fruits being sold around this lovely fountain all grown in Goa?

Beatrice: What you can see here are apol, obviously apples, grapes called dacu, oranges or larangam and sweet lime or sontram. But further down you will see local fruits like chickoo, popaya, guavas or peram, custard apples or anter, pineapple or annanest and of course bananas called kelim and watermelons called kalingam. The kalingam grown in Parra are supposed to be extremely tasty.

Andrew: What are those monster size kelim there?

Cecil: Those twelve inchers are Moidechem kelem or Moira Bananas. The tiny yellow kelim are called ellchim kelim. They are very sweet and easy to digest and are given to small children. The normal sized green-yellow ones are called ghanvti kelim. Now ghanvti tanteam refers to local or free-range eggs. Also remember there is a word named ghanti which is used to derogatorily refer to non-Goan Indians. Actually ghanti refers to inhabitants of the Western Ghats but it is now used as catchword for all non-Goans, specially the labour class migrant workers. remember ghanvti is a word used to suggest local or locally-grown or locally-made as opposed to from-out-of-state or branded. For example ghanvti tanu means local rice or ghanvti tanteam refers to local or free-range eggs. Also remember there is a word named ghanti which is used to derogatorily refer to non-Goan Indians. Actually ghanti refers to inhabitants of the Western Ghats but it is now used as catchword for all non-Goans, specially the labour class migrant workers.

Justine: There is a lot of resentment against the outsiders isn’t there.

Cecil: Yes. You see….

Beatrice: Oh no! You’ve given him a cue for one of his long rambling socio-political monologues. All this talk of eatables has made me hungry. Let’s go home.

Andrew: Why home? Can’t we just pop into a restaurant here?

Cecil: Who’s paying?

Justine: Does that make a big difference?

Cecil: Of course it does. If you’re paying I will take you to a posh air conditioned expensive place. If I’m paying we can go to some cheap place and I will divert your attention from the poor fare with non-stop conversation!

Beatrice: Let’s compromise and go to Café Xavier.
(courtesy: Goencho Ulo)

"Missing you, John"

A Goan Christmas Story

"Missing you, John"
A short story by Pundalik Asnodkar
Translated from the original Konkani by Cecil Pinto

The phone rang. Just as Gracy was about to pick it up the doorbell sounded. Gracy hesitated. "Maaaaaammy, somebody's come!" shouted little Janice at the top of her voice. "So open the door darling", said Gracy.

"But Maammy that day you told me not to open the door for anyone?", said Janice with the insulted indignation only a four year old can conjure. "But Janice, now I'm telling you... ". "Waaah! Waaah! Waaaaaaaah!".

"Oh no!", thought Gracy as she ran towards the bedroom. As she had guessed, little Blake had woken up from his mid-morning sleep and now would have to be carried for a full half an hour before he calmed down. The doorbell rang again. "Coming!", screamed Gracy as she ran to pick up the phone first, with Blake perched on her hip, bawling at the top of his voice. "Hello! Yes Mum. Could you hold on for a moment.

There's someone at the door. No Mum I'm ok! Just a bit busy. JANICE stop pinching his leg! Stop! No Mum it's all right. I can manage.... " She really could. If it wasn't for the feeding and the cooking and the bathing and the washing and ....

Gracy often thought about the nice time she had at her husband's parents house in Bambolim or the even better times at her Mum's place in Moira. She often wondered whether buying a flat in Ribandar had been all that good an idea. But John had insisted that they stay independently. "With three brothers and their wives and children in one house, however big it might be, there's bound to be problems soon. We better move out before that starts". That's what John said. Of course John didn't have to look after two screaming kids by himself. But Gracy loved John for all that he did do. Worked his way up from driver to store-keeper, he did. And at the biggest soft drink company in Dubai that wasn't an easy task. But doing overtime, and taking computer classes by night, he had slowly moved up the ladder. Now he was earning pretty well.

"Look at the apartment as an investment too darling", John had said, "Something we can really call our own ". But on days like this she wished she could just go back to Bambolim or Moira. Any place actually, where she could get a few hours rest from the kids and the housework. She loved John absolutely and she missed him with an aching, specially on days like this.

"Hold the line Mum. I'll just see who's come ", said Gracy as she put the phone on the table and went to open the door. "Mrs. Gracy D'Mello?", asked the smart young man standing at the doorway with a Delivery Challan book in one hand and what looked like a bebinca in the other.

Besides him stood a pretty girl carrying a vase with fresh flowers and a champagne bottle wrapped in a lovely ribbon. "Yes. What is it?", asked Gracy. "Ma'am we have this Christmas Package delivery for you ", said the young man as he proffered the pad and a pen, "Could you please sign the delivery challan? ". Gracy did not have to ask who had sent it. "This John of mine is a sentimental nut. A real nutcase", she thought to herself, her eyes already moistened with tears. She signed the pad in a hurry and closed the door. She did not want anyone seeing her crying. "Maammy", shouted little Janice as she started crying too, "Why you crying Maammy? Who sent this basket Maammy? Can I open this cake Maammy? ".

Blake started bawling again, " Waaaaah!". Gracy suddenly remembered her Mum was still on the phone, as she heard squeaky noises coming from that direction, above all the wailing.

"Hello! Hello Mum! No Mum. I'm not crying Mum", said Gracy into the phone. But there's no fooling your own mother. "Mum, John sent me this beautiful Christmas Package all the way from Dubai. How? I don't know. Must be Internet or something. I remember reading EXPRESSIONS on the delivery challan I signed. Mum wasn't that so loving of him. Now it really feels like Christmas. It had almost slipped my mind that Christmas Day is two days away. What with the children and all. Yes Mum

I got the cul-culs you sent. No Mum, I won't buy dodol from the shop. I know you'll send some over tomorrow. Mummy the vase is so impressive. Beautiful fresh flowers, carnations I think. Janice is trying to open the wrapping of the bebinca. JANICE stop now! Right now! Don't open that! And Mum there's a champagne bottle. Yes Mum, I know Janice has seen champagne being opened on Santan's wedding video.

Now she can see it live! Dropping in tomorrow evening you said? Fine with me Mum. No! I can't possible take the kids for midnight mass. Yes Mum I know. The dew is terrible these days. Bye Mum!" That John, thought Gracy as she put the phone down, he always was full of these pleasant surprises. She thought nostalically about that day, so many years ago in college, when he had embarrassed her by sending flowers to her in the classroom.

A broad smile broke on her tearful face like the sunrise breaking through gloomy clouds. Sensing the change in her mother's mood Janice too started grinning. And little Blake started his cheerful gurgling.

Gracy knew John would call on Christmas Day early in the morning as he did on every holiday and every Friday and Feast Day and birthday. He would insist on speaking for ever so long. And hear all Janice's complains and even speak gibberish to little Blake.

"John, don't spend so much money on these frivolous calls", Gracy always used to chide him. But deep in here heart she cherished every moment she spoke with him, and wished he would speak even longer.

"Let him call tomorrow, I have so much to tell him", thought Gracy, "About Blake's first tooth. And Janice's Christmas Tree at playschool and of course this beautiful Christmas Package that he sent us." "Oh John ", she whispered to herself, "How I love you John, how I miss you". ---------

Please forward this story to any Goans on your mailing list.

Specially those who you
know will not be home in Goa for Christmas.--------- Easy Link: Email:

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Who wrote "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"?

Who wrote "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"?

"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" is one of the world's best-known and most-loved poems. Millions of English-speaking people can recite the first verse from childhood memory, but few know who wrote it.

The charming nursery rhyme, often wrongly thought to be a folk story, was composed almost 200 years ago by London-born sisters Jane and Ann Taylor, and was first published in 1806 as "The Star." Perhaps the neglected authors will receive long-overdue credit in 2006.

"The beautiful words ... have been immortalised in the poem and music has been added, thus increasing its popularity," says Surrey historian Linda Alchin. "The lyrics draw a comparison of the twinkling of the star to the shutting or blinking of the eye providing a perfect illustration of clever imagery and excellent use of the English language."

Many people think that Mozart wrote the music, but that too is incorrect.
Mozart composed 12 variations on a folk melody which was popular in Europe
long before the Taylor sisters wrote their poem.

Jane was born in her parents' home in Red Lion Street, Holborn, London, on
September 23, 1783. Her father, Isaac Taylor, was an engraver, artist and preacher, and their mother was a professional writer who raised a large family (her first six children were born within seven years).

Shortly before Jane's third birthday the family moved to Lavenham, Suffolk, and later to Colchester, Essex.

"Even from her third or fourth year, the child inhabited a fairy land, and was perpetually occupied with the imaginary interests of her teeming fancy," the girls' mother wrote.

She recalled that years later, Ann had written "I can remember that Jane was always the saucy, lively, entertaining little thing — the amusement and the favourite of all that knew her. At the baker's shop she used to be placed on the kneading-board, in order to recite, preach, narrate — to the great entertainment of his many visitors; and at Mr. Blackadder's she was the life and fun of the farmer's hearth.

"Her plays, from the earliest that I can recollect, were deeply imaginative, and I think that in `Moll and Bet', 'The Miss Parks', 'The Miss Sisters', 'The Miss Bandboxes', and 'Aunt and Niece', which I believe is the entire catalogue of them, she lived in a world wholly of her own creation, with as deep a feeling of reality as life itself could afford."

The girls' brother, one of four generations of writers named Isaac Taylor, wrote a lengthy and very readable memoir that reads like a Jane Austen novel. In it, he recalled:

In this garden the sisters were, at a very early age, companions in song; and they were wont, before the eldest was six years old, to pace up and down the green walks, hand in hand, lisping a simple couplet of their joint composition... It appears to have been written when she was nine years of age.

To be a poetess I don't aspire;
From such a title humbly I retire;
But now and then a line I try to write;
Though bad they are — not worthy human sight.

Sometimes into my hand I take a pen,
Without the hope of aught but mere chagrin
I scribble, then leave off in sad despair,
And make a blot in spite of all my care.

I laugh and talk, and preach a sermon well;
Go about begging, and your fortune tell
As to my poetry, indeed 'tis all
As good, and worse by far, than none at all.

Have patience yet I pray, peruse my book;
Although you smile when on it you do look
I know that in't there's many a shocking failure
But that forgive — the author is JANE TAYLOR.

It was perhaps a year later that she addressed to her father the


Ah dear papa! did you but know
The trouble of your Jane,
I'm sure you would relieve me now,
And ease me of my pain.

Although your garden is but small,
And more indeed you crave,
There's one small bit, not used at all,
And this I wish to have.

A pretty garden I would make,
That you would like I know;
Then pray, papa, for pity's sake,
This bit of ground bestow.

For whether now I plant or sow,
The chickens eat it all;
I'd fain my sorrows let you know,
But for the tears that fall.

My garden then should be your lot
I've often heard you say,
There useful trees you wish to put,
But mine were in the way.

The first piece of Jane's which appeared in print was a contribution in the Minor's Pocket Book, for the year 1804... Her sister Ann had contributed to the same publication for several preceding years, and had gained notice.

The little pieces which they had sent to the Minor's Pocket Book, induced the publisher to inquire who the authors were: he then applied to them for any pieces they might possess. These they collected and sent, receiving ten pounds for them, and afterwards five, with a promise of fifteen more for a second volume. The arrival of the first sum was an interesting and memorable event.

The little volume of Original Poems for Infant Minds, “by several young persons”, was found to be highly acceptable to children, and so useful in the business of early education, that, in a very short time, it obtained an extensive circulation.

It was quickly reprinted in America, and translated into the German and Dutch languages. What share of this success belongs to each of the contributors to the volume, could not be ascertained, even if to make the inquiry were of any importance. Jane, for her part, was ever forward to surrender all praise to others.

In 1808, four members of the family returned to Lavenham, because of fears that coastal Colchester would be invaded by French forces.. Brother Isaac wrote:

During the autumn and winter of the year 1808, the alarm of a French invasion (and it has since been ascertained that it was a well-founded alarm) prevailed throughout the country, and especially along the eastern and southern coasts. Colchester was, at that time, a principal military station: the incessant movements, therefore, of a large body of troops, held always in a state of readiness to meet the expected enemy, tended of itself to keep alive a constant impression of the impending danger; besides this, the military persons who were in command of the station, took pains to excite the popular fears.

Every day some whispered intimation of immediate danger from "the best authority" was circulated through the town, till a strong and general impression prevailed that the immediate neighbourhood might, very probably, become the scene of the first conflict with the invaders.

In this state of public feeling, not a few of those of the inhabitants whose means allowed them to do so, either left the town for a time, or made such arrangements as should enable them to leave it at an hour's notice.

At this time the house which, as has been mentioned, my father owned at Lavenham, was without a tenant; this circumstance seemed to invite the step which the fears of the time suggested — that of removing a part of the family thither, where a home would be always in readiness for those who remained, should it be needed.

No material difficulty prevented the execution of this plan, and it was determined that Jane, with two of her brothers, and an infant sister, should remove to the vacant house. This separation of the family took place in the middle of October.

In 1811, the family moved once again, this time to Ongar, an ancient market town in Essex, 20 miles from London, the girls' father "having accepted an invitation of the dissenting congregation in that town to become their pastor."

Brother Isaac reported: "Jane was much from home. The winter was spent in London by the two sisters, and devoted to perfecting themselves in some of those lighter accomplishments which had hitherto been more or less neglected in their education." (They never attended a school, their father preferring to teach them at home).

Jane was a sickly child, and was in poor health all her life. She died on April 13, 1824, aged 41. "The interment took place in the burial-ground of the chapel at Ongar, where a simple monument has been erected to mark the spot," Isaac wrote.

["There is no memorial in Ongar, but the family is very well remembered in the town, particularly by the URC church (formerly Congregational church) where the Rev Isaac Taylor was minister," Essex historian Michael Leach told us. "Memorabilia of the family are regularly displayed at church events. Their gravestones are now under an extension of the church, but can be viewed by lifting a trapdoor in the floor."]

Ann had married the Rev. Joseph Gilbert, classical and mathematical tutor at the Congregational College, Masborough, near Rotherham, Yorkshire, in 1813. They later moved to Hull, and then to Nottingham, where Joseph Gilbert died in 1852. Ann remained in Nottingham. She died there on December 20, 1866.

The sisters wrote many poems, children's stories and hymns, but none of their work achieved the popularity of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

"In literary excellence Mrs. Gilbert's hymns surpass those of her sister," commented Dr John Julian (1839-1913) editor of the Dictionary of Hymnology.
"They are more elevated in style, ornate in character, broader in grasp and better adapted for adults .... Miss Taylor's hymns are marked by great simplicity and directness....Taken as a whole, the hymns of both sisters are somewhat depressing in tone. They lack brightness and tone."

Today, blue commemorative plaques are displayed on the Taylor houses in West Stockwell Street, Colchester and Shilling Street, Lavenham, and on the chapel wall at Ongar. The National Trust has a permanent exhibition of paintings, books and personal belongings in the Lavenham Guildhall.

Isaac Taylor's excellent painting of his daughters Jane and Ann can be viewed at
the National Portrait Gallery, or on the internet.
Many amusing parodies have been based on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Lewis Carroll's is the best known. In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, written in 1865, the Mad Hatter recites:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat,
How I wonder what you're at.
Up above the world you fly,
Like a teatray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little bat,
How I wonder what you're at.

Fast forward to the 1980s, and Sesame Street cartoon character Don Music quoted this parody by composer and lyricist Joe Raposo (1937-1989):

Whistle, whistle little bird,
Isn't eating crumbs absurd
Try a ham and cheese on rye
And a piece of cherry pie
If those crumbs are all you want
Don't come in my restaurant


Jane Taylor wrote the lyrics in 1806.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

In the dark blue sky you keep,
While you thro' my window peep,
And you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

(and here is new verse written by one of our visitors, Mr. Joel Hebets)
Softly shining silver moon,
Peaking at me in my room,
When you're in the sky at night,
The world around me glows so brightly,
Softly shining silver moon,
If you go, please come back soon.
Eighteenth-Century French Folk Song: Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman Many years before the lyrics to "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star" were written, children across France sang the words to "Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman" (K. 265), presented below, to a similar tune. Seventeen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used the melody in his piano variation.
Pleasing, organized melodies such as this one have great value for children and
adults alike. Music speaks in a language that children instinctively understand, and it helps mold a child's mental, emotional, social, and physical development. The original words below are not about stars, they are about a child's desire for candy! Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman,
Ce qui cause mon tournment?
Papa veut que je raisonne,
Comme une grande personne;
Moi, je dis que les bonbons
Valent mieux que la raison.

Ah! Let me tell you, Mother,
What's the cause of my torment?
Papa wants me to reason
Like a grown-up.
Me, I say that candy has
Greater value than reason.


Hush a bye baby: lyrics
Hush a bye baby, on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock;
When the bow breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Nursery Rhyme or lullaby?
The lyrics to this famous nursery rhyme were first published in 1765.
The words and lyrics to this song are often crooned to a baby in an effort to rock them to sleep. When repeating this song children often make a rocking motion with their hands and arms. The imagery conveyed appeals to a child's imagination! The origins and history of this nursery rhyme are said to originate from America and the habit of some Native Americans of placing a baby in the low branches of a tree allowing the young child or baby to be rocked to sleep.

Check out
for some trivia about the origins of many popular nursery rhymes.

Cecil Pinto Trivia News Service

This first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-newsletter archived at is dedicated to Goans around the Globe and is moderated/edited by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of website.

Roman Konkani is not Greek or Latin


Bor: Cecil Pinto

Cecil & Beatrice Pinto explore Goa with, and teach Konkani to, a young couple from the Isle of Wight in UK - Andrew and Justine.


Cecil: The best day to come here is on a Friday. The weekly market brings in farmers with local produce from neighbouring villages, as well as roadside hawkers selling a plethora of goodies. In Konkani it's called Sunkrarcho Bazaar, with Sunkrar being Friday.

Justine: And what are the other days of the week?

Beatrice: Well, starting with Monday we have Somar, Munglar, Budhvar, Brestar, Sunkrar, Sonvar and Aitar is Sunday.”

Andrew: Does the name Mapusa mean anything?

Cecil: Well, firstly, understand that Mapusa is also spelled as Mhapsheam, Mapuça and Mhapsa. One explanation of the name origin suggests that since Mapusa has always been a 'market' town the name comes from map asa with map being 'a small cup' used for measuring cereals for sale, and while cooking, and asa meaning 'having'. Of course, it makes as much sense as this other explanation. Mhapsa comes from Maha Pasa. Maha means great and Pasa is the Hindu God of farmers.

Justine: How come I never heard of a Lord Pasa in my study of Hinduism?”

Beatrice: Of course you didn't. He just made that up. As he does most explanations of place-name origins!

Andrew: What's this little green vegetable? It's the size of, but looks different and feels softer than, a gherkin.

Cecil: I may be jerking around but I know more about Goa than you!

Beatrice: He was referring to the tendli. It's called gherkin in English. But what he's holding is a bimbli. I don't know what it's called in English.

Cecil: It's called bilimbi in other countries. Supposedly originally from Indonesia it is grown in the Phillipines, Sri Lanka and even as far as South America. This is the first time I've seen bimblis being sold. They're normally freely available and grown in every porsum next to the pee outlet.

Andrew: Pee outlet? You mean the septic tank? And what's a porsum?

Beatrice: A porsum is the area surrounding the house. Sort of like garden or compound. A pee is a kitchen sink that flows into the porsum. Bimbli trees need a lot of constant water supply and porous soil. Septic tanks are recent concepts. Our ancestors had a well balanced system to take care of all waste.

Justine: So I hear. The pig toilets were an awesome concept. Pity it's dying out. How are bimblis cooked?

Beatrice: Bimblis are very sour and so used to add an acidic content to any dish. Similar to tamarind, which incidentally is called cheench. It can also be used as a base for a curry.

Cecil: The kumanv, or pig toilet as you called it, is not the only waste disposal system our ancestors devised. There is the concept of donn. Basically edible waste. This was fed to the pigs. People who didn't rear pigs had their dhonn collected by people who did. The dhonn collectors even used to pay them for the dhonn with a nominal coconut, or naal as we call it, every month. Imagine being paid for your waste! How many names for pig do you have in England?

Justine: Well, there's a pig and a sow and sometimes we use the word swine.

Beatrice: Here a pig is called a dukor and sometimes a soloug when it is younger. A sow is called a dukon and sometimes a leitao when it is younger. And you also have a barranv which is an undomesticated un-castrated pig that is intentionally left loose to impregnate the dukons.

Cecil: If I'm reborn as a pig I would like to be a barranv. Pork away pal! Do you know pork is referred to as dukra-mas, which basically means pig-meat. Mas means meat. So you have kombye-mas for chicken with kombi being a hen and kombo being a rooster and peel being a chicken. Also you have bokdya-mas with bokdo being a goat, bokdi a she-goat and bokuddlem for a kid goat. And of course padkulem is a calf, gai is a cow and pado is a bull, so gai-mas is beef.

Beatrice: That's enough bull for now. Let's check out the sausages.


Well come to Aldona, Ingo!

Well come to Aldona, Ingo!
By Cecil Pinto

On the night of Saturday, 19th November 2005, a top-secret meeting was held at a bar in Aldona. The select invitees were important local businessmen and functionaries from the Aldona Panchayat, Communidade, Institute and other local institutions. I was not invited. I am not that important. This meeting had been called to broker a peaceful settlement between the warring factions - all of whom had invited Ingo to run his Saturday Market in Aldona. Fortunately one of my friends had his ear to the ground. He was sleeping comatose in the next room, having imbibed a bit too much in the afternoon. The voice-record button on his mobile was on. These are some of the snippets I was able to decipher.

"The Corjuem Fort? How can you have a Market there? It's much too far away."

"But they can see our wonderful cable-stayed bridge on their way".

"The Quitula Grounds are much more accessible."

"And we have uncultivated fields around that can be used for parking."

"I don't see what's wrong with the Tercena ground in front of the Aldona Institute. It's in the centre of the village. And there's a Sodium Vapour bulb."

"Yes. And a nice freshly painted Children's Park at the side."

"What did Ingo say?"

"Ingo preferred the Communidade land near the Health Centre. It's closer to the beach belt."

"And there's the Police Station nearby if there's any law and order problem."

"But the environmentalists might protest. Ingo will have to cut some trees."

"What trees? There's nothing but shrubs, weeds and rocks there!"

"But if he has the Market on the Communidade land then Nachinola and Olaulim villages will also benefit."

"So let them! As long as those mad Moidekars don't jump in. Their idea of traffic management involves just putting speedbreakers on main roads instead of feeder roads"

Let me interject at this point to explain a bit about how Aldona thinks.
Being an Aldonkar I am qualified to comment - even though they didn't invite me to the top secret meeting. We are open-minded and progressive. We Aldonkars don't detest the outsider. We welcome him with open arms. We go out of our way to make him comfortable. We don't care about the colour of his money, much less the colour of his skin. Meter for square meter more non-Aldonkars, non-Goans and foreigners have purchased land and property in Aldona than in any non-tourist village in Goa.

"How dare that columnist call the Pope a German Shepherd? He is indeed a shepherd to his flock and can't deny his nationality."

"He was referring to Ingo!"


"We can tell Ingo that he needn't worry about providing employment to locals."

"Yes. Ingo can bring in his own people. There is no employment problem in Aldona. And we don't want any stalls either. We don't want to sell stuff, we want to buy stuff. There are enough vacant shops in every new building in Aldona for our people wanting to sell. Plus there's the Friday Market at
Mapusa for our local vendors."

"And our tourist taxi operators are a peaceful lot and don't demand giraik like those South Goan taxi drivers. There is a time for work and a time for play."

Another interjection from me for you to make sense of these secretly recorded and deciphered transcripts. As further proof that Aldonkars so like the outsider, chew on this. Not once has the Aldona Constituency elected an MLA from Aldona. Always from outside the village. We not only welcome and celebrate the outsider, we elect him - or her!

"Tell Ingo we don't want any local entertainment either. We get enough of that from television."

"Most of the younger generation Aldonkars are moving to the West anyway.
They need lots of exposure to the Western culture."

"I heard there's lots of exposure at the Market."

"You're a voyeur and a pervert!"

"What's a voyeur?"

"What about drugs?"

"Well a tola of good Manali hash will cost you about nine hundred...."

"No! No! I mean I heard that drugs are sold at the market."

"You think Ingo has time to sell drugs? He has to go around seeing that the market is humming well. You think someone wanting to buy or sell drugs has to come to a Saturday Market? Get real. This is the age of home delivery!"

"What about alcohol? Can we ask Ingo to give Aldonkars some discount on drinks?"

"Who don't need discounts? Aldonkars are rich. We have six nationalised banks all overflowing with fixed deposits. We could even finance the market if Ingo needs some help."

"Besides he was successful in Arpora. Like Aldona that also starts and ends with an 'a'"

"What we need is to get some nightlife here in Aldona."

"What we need is to get a life. Period.

The humour column above appeared in Gomantak Times
on November 24th 2005.
Pictures added by from NET RESOURCES.

Laundries, Laundromats and the Goan Dhobi

Laundries, Laundromats and the Goan Dhobi

By Cecil Pinto

Bumped into this visiting Economics professor, Rebecca O'Leary from Dublin,
last week and she had some interesting observations about Goa. Of course a
layman like me could not fully comprehend what she was saying. I can never
understand why academics have to couch their opinions in arcane riddles
instead of just calling a spade a spade. Anyway, here is the rough
transcript of our conversation. Maybe you can make more sense of it than I did.

"Cecil, have you noticed the inordinate number of laundries in Goa,
especially on the coastal belt."

"Not really Rebecca, I haven't. We have a few laundries in Panjim, but I
rarely visit them. We have a dhobi who collects our clothes from home, and
of course a washing machine."

"Aha! The Goan dhobi. Are you happy with his services?"

"Sure! He's cheap!"

"And is he hardworking"

"Yes he is!"

"Does he make a lot of money?"

"Don't think so, Rebecca. He comes around on a cycle. But then he seems to
be quite happy with his lot. Why do you ask?"

"Tell me Cecil, who patronises laundries?"

"Rich people with a lot of good clothes, I suppose."

"So if you were very rich person from Delhi or Mumbai and had a lot of rich
friends who had a lot of dirty clothes would you open a laundry in Goa?"

"Why should they come to Goa to get their clothes laundered? Can't they
just go to the local laundry there in their city?"

"But Cecil they holiday in Goa so often. Besides, coming to Goa is so much
more romantic than going to a hole in the wall in some dirty city to get
your laundry done."

"So Rebecca, you mean all these laundries being opened on the beach belt
are by rich people from out of state to cater to their friends' dirty clothes?"

"Yes and no. In some cases their friends don't really have that many dirty
clothes but just want a place to chill out. So they open a laundromat.
You know what a laundromat is?"

"Hey! I might not be an academic but I'm not totally dumb you know. I watch
American TV serials. Sure I know what a laundromat is. People come in to
wash their clothes themselves. There are these huge washing machines - and
everything provided"

"You're missing the point Cecil. A laundromat, as opposed to a laundry,
fulfills a social function. It's a meeting place, a place to chat and meet
friends. The washing of clothes is incidental. In fact most people bring in
clothes that do not need any washing. They just want to be where it's all
happening. And if the beach is close by so much the better."

"So the rich people from the cities opening laundromats in Goa don't really
have dirty clothes, but just want to provide a chill-out place for
themselves and their friends?"

"Aha! Now you're getting it Cecil"

"But isn't that a very expensive proposition. I mean why can't they just
meet at somebody's house?"

"That is so passé. See it should not appear that they're just partying all
the time. There should be the appearance of being engaged is some business
enterprise. Preferably something to do with art or culture or cuisine or

"A laundromat is culture?"

"You don't get it do you Cecil?"

"No, Rebecca, I don't."

"Imagine the boring stockbroker meeting the sole all-India distributor for
fire extinguisher spare parts and the guy who inherited his father's fabric
dye factory. All of them filthy rich, with not much to do but impress each
other with their lifestyle achievements. "My wife's adding an extra 's' to
her name", "Yawn.", "My son's gay and my mistress got caught shoplifting",
"Yawn", "Gave my Skoda to the Deputy CM's niece and bought a Mercedes",
"Yawn". "Opening a laundry in Goa next week". "Huh! Really? Cool? Can we
jam up there?" Instant popularity.

"So what of it? Let them pamper their egos. No harm done."

"Not in the short term. Actually locals benefit. The laundromat owner is
not really bothered about making money. He pays good wages to local
employees. He brings money into the economy. He spends lavishly to impress
his friends, who reciprocate by spending even more."

"So what is the danger then, Rebecca?"

"See the economics of it. If you invest money in a laundry and can keep
sinking money in it and run it at a loss for a long time, eventually it
takes on a dynamic of its own and becomes a profitable enterprise. Any
business is like a gambling card game. The punter who has unlimited money
to wager, and a bit of common sense, will come out the winner eventually if
he has staying power and does not get bored."

"So what can the Goan dhobi do to protect his livelihood?"

"Not much actually, other than working hard and being innovative. He can
just hope they get bored eventually and don't take him to the cleaners
before that!"

The humour column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 10th November 2005.
Cecil Pinto can be contacted at

Tomazinho Cardozo's Play and Konglish

Tomazinho Cardozo's Play and Konglish

Nov 18, 2005

At the very beginning let me state that I am not a theatre lover. In any
language. I much prefer movies as entertainment. But since I did go for
Tomazinho's play, The Verdict, just to see if he could successfully make
the transition from Konkani to English drama. I think it was brilliant
first attempt.

I had another appointment at 7.45 p.m. so I had to leave after watching
just about 40 minutes of the play, but what I saw was impressive. Later in
the night I phoned a friend who had watched the entire play and asked for
his opinion. He said that it was good except for the Goan accents and the
Goan English. I had noticed this too, but had seen it as a positive rather
than a negative. The play is set in Goa. The language the actors speak
naturally has to be Goan English and not some fake British or American
accent. Sure the English that we speak here is flawed. Our accents is Goan
and very often we literally translate from Konkani to English. So what of
it? That's the way we speak. And that's the way you can expect the
characters to speak in a play set in Goa.

In fact I would suggest to Tomazinho that in his future English plays to
introduce even more of these 'Goanisms' in the dialogue. And even throw in
Konkani words when appropriate. Even a non-Konkani speaking person will get
the gist of what was said. I don't see why we have to be apologetic about
the way we speak English and put on fake accents just because it is an
'English' play.

In Konkani tiatrs we see so much of English used and it does not seem at
all out of place. The main objective is entertainment and the ability to
convey a message - communication. As long as this is done I don't see why
there should not be plays with a heady mix of Konkani and Goan English that
everyone can understand and enjoy.

Looking forward to more entertainment from Tomazinho, Irene and the
enthusiastic Kala Mogi troupe. And hoping it will be in Konglish!


Cecil Pinto

This first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-newsletter archived at is dedicated to Goans around the Globe and is moderated/edited by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of website.

EXPRESSIONS - The Flower Shop (Goa)

"Konkani is a popular spoken language has a particular merit from the psychological and sentimental point of views. I don't see any conflict between Marathi and Konkani. They stand on different levels. Marathi is a very developed and it will go on. But from the point of view, nevetherless, of mass popular use Konkani is there and Konkani should be encouraged. I never had been able to understand this conflict between languages; between two developed languages"
- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Silly Season and the Selfish South

Silly Season and the Selfish South
By Cecil Pinto

Silly Season, as a certain editor calls it, is upon us. People on the beach
belt and in the cities can see it. The non-tourist villages can read the
newspapers. Every year we see the cycle. First come the reports about how
many charters are booked for the season. Then the statistics of Indian
versus Overseas tourists. Following this the debates: Whether miserly
plumbers from UK are preferable to Trax full of alcohol imbibing Biharis or
big spending Russian mafia brutes with their sexy molls. A minor false
scare or two for the foreign tourists - stray dog bites, contaminated
water, molestation, planting of drugs... this year we can add 'garbage' to
the list. The River Princess has become so entrenched in our collective
memory that it is no longer considered a threat. Next the advertisements by
hotels for Continental and Tandoori cooks, musicians, waiters, activities
coordinators, vegetable & poultry suppliers and masseurs.

At Ground Zero extensive multi-cuisine menus are designed, re-designed and printed. So are vouchers, invoices, bill books, tariff cards and even feedback forms. Printing activity is almost as hectic as at election time, and equally prone to payment defaulters. Most hoteliers lament about
losses, however good the season has been. Supply deals are made for beverages and complimentary freezers. Garish vinyl signboards are replaced
with even larger, and more garish, vinyl signboards. The arguments for and
against rave parties begin and the relevance of a Madhya Pradesh Act,
regarding music, for a festive place like Goa is questioned. And finally,
the ultimate sign that Silly Season has actually begun. No, it's not the
arrival of the first charter. The annual 'Shack Allotment Controversy'
is the hands-down winner as the indisputable signal that the season has
arrived. Sarpanch versus MLA versus Panch versus Minister versus Locals
versus Last Year's Shack Owners versus Recently Self Appointed Social
Worker With Political Aspirations. The merry dance begins.

This year, strangely, the South Goa Tourist Taxi Association has jumped
their place in the queue and started agitating - before their allotted time
of beginning December. Their initial list of grievances demands not just
that hotels not be allowed to ferry their own guests in their own coaches
to and from the airport, but absolutely no sightseeing tours can be
conducted sans Tourist Taxis. My German friend Maxi is coming down
end-November. I guess I can't take him around on my motorcycle? The taxi
drivers also refuse to queue up outside hotels but will play cards and
carrom at home. The hotel has to call them up when there is a client and
politely ask if they wish to make a living.

Some few years back the South Goa Tourist Taxi Association drove down all
their Maruti Omni vans to Panjim and blocked the bridges to press for their
demands. Satellite photos of that time showed a strange glow in Panjim.
Whether it was from the white taxi tops or from the accumulated
belligerence is questionable. Since that failed they started stopping hotel
coaches and hammering up drivers. Next they began stoning coaches and even
manhandling the tourist passengers.

"We have loans to pay", they wail. "If tourism does not benefit the locals
then what is the point?". "The big hotels can make enough money from their
rooms, let us make some commission from Kashmiri handcraft shops at
least". "How come the North Goa Tourist Taxis don't have our problems?".
"How come they become friends and confidantes of the tourists and get nice
gifts and tips and dinners - and sometimes even a trip to Europe? Or even a
work or marriage offer abroad?". "What are we doing wrong? Why are we
determined to selfishly kill the golden goose for Rs. 8/- per kilometer
- and waiting charges?"

So many questions. So few answers.

In keeping with the Selfish South attitude I hear that the South Goa Shack
Owners Association is now demanding that all residential hotels can only
serve breakfast in their restaurants. Tourists have to have to have all
other meals in shacks and non-hotel restaurants. "We have bribes to
recover", they wail. "If tourism does not benefit the locals....". "How
come the tourist industry is vibrant in North Goa despite the airport
being in the South? Why are we paranoid about Mopa?".
"How do shacks, hotels, taxi drivers, pimps and MLAs peacefully co-exist in North Goa?". "We in the South have relatively uncrowded beaches, practically no drug problems or
aggressive ill-mannered Israelis. We have everything going for us. Why are
a few selfish taxi drivers strangling the cash cow?"

So many questions.

Cecil Pinto dabbles in advertising and flower selling - when not
writing and poking fun at himself and others.

The column above appeared in Gomantak Times on November 3rd 2005