Sunday, March 23, 2008
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 www.yahoogroups.com/group/gulf-goans is dedicated to Goans around the Globe and is moderated/edited by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) and presented by Ulysses Menezes, owner of http://www.goa-world.com website.
EXPRESSIONS - The Flower Shop (Goa) www.goa-world.com/expressions/
THE GOAN FORUM http://www.colaco.net
GOENCHO ULO http://www.fullerlife.in