Monday, August 4, 2008

Park-ing in and around Panjim

Park-ing in and around Panjim

Even innocent people don't want the police comingBy Cecil Pinto Most weekday evenings my paternal duties consist of taking my two young brats for a ride to one of their favourite 'spots', all within a three kilometer radius of our Miramar residence. During this time their mother gets quality time at home to herself to listen to FM radio, catch up on her TV serials, and clean up the apartment. Just to clarify.

The main purpose of Beatrice cleaning up the apartment is so that the maid who comes every morning to clean up does not think we are a totally messy family, which in actuality we are. It is important to create a good impression on maids else (a) they will leave, or worse still, (b) they will tell the neighbours what a messy uncivilized family we are. So every evening around six o'clock I set out on my Yamaha with Fabian perched on the motorcycle tank and Desmond sitting pillion, and talking to me non-stop. His absurd questions, opinions and assumptions would bewilder and appall the most hardened anthropologist. But we will leave those musings for another day.

The closest 'spot' is the riverside near the Sports Authority swimming pools in Campal; a lovely place to watch a spectacular sunset. But more often than not the magic of the moment is shattered by one of those stupid noisy cruise boats passing by, blasting Bollywood music at volumes that would waken the dead. I hear that a big time cruise boat owner damaged his hearing during an
underwater salvage operation. The deafeningly loud volumes are for his benefit.

Another favourite spot is Kala Academy. Usually there's some art or book exhibition to keep me engrossed while the boys enjoy screaming, while mindlessly running up and down the steeply inclined passage to the outdoor auditorium. The lawns are off limit but the mini-outdoor auditorium also provides nice spaces for fun. A

nd of course the picturesque wooden jetty, built before the 2006 IFFI for two crore rupees but never used except for film shoots, also makes for lovely sunset viewing. "Dada why we can't walk on the jetty? Why is this sign saying - NO ENTRY?" "They are afraid that tourists might come here and commit suicide by jumping in the river." "But Dada they can jump from the bridge, or Dona Paula jetty, or the promp, promin…""Promenade. I know Desmond. There are a million places better places in Goa where tourists can jump into the river for a guaranteed death instead of the shallow water here." "So then why Dada? Why do they stop us from walking on the wooden jetty?" "You want to know the truth? Top Secret?" "Yes. Yes!" "You know what are xinnanio? The fried mussels your mama made yesterday?""Yes!" "Well xinnanio attach themselves to rocks and anything solid in the low tide area. They are particularly fond of metal poles like the ones that hold up this jetty. There is a man named Deshprabhu who climbs down the poles every night, harvests the xinnaneo, and shares them with another guy named Rane. Between them they make sure that the jetty is closed to the public so nobody can else can harvest and eat the xinanneo." "I see. Selfish greedy fellows, no Dada?""Yes!" Another 'spot' is the Church of Immaculate Conception. From up there you can have a crow's eye view of Panjim traffic. The boys of course enjoy screaming and mindlessly racing each other up and down the steps. Once the spotlights come on after sundown, one can also make nice huge shadow puppets on the walls of the church.

The Children's Park in Campal used to be a top favourite but now attracts a very ill-mannered touristy crowd. The Joggers' Park at Altinho is uncrowded but has no playground equipment. The once bustling Municipal Garden is in a state of being repaired for so many years now that probably my grandchildren might enjoy it someday. The beachside park in Caranzalem, often referred to as Babush's Park, has a splendid colourful Multi Play installation that incorporates slides, swings, see saws, climbers, spiral scramblers and a whole lot of such stuff that the kids enjoy.

Every evening it's populated by noisy mirthful kids having a grand time. The parents and guardians either walk on the jogging track, send SMS to their friends, screech at their kids to be careful, or do all of the above Regardless of the political and legal controversies surrounding it, Babush's Park is a hot favourite with any kid who has visited it, and a nice place to meet interesting people from all social classes. Carry Odomos for protection.

The other day at this park, seated alone a few meters from me, was this mother of a cute little girl who was throwing sand on my Fabian. I never interfere in kids' fights unless they get really lethal. But the mother was of a different mentality. Keralite I think."Priya, you stowp throwing seind rait now!""Mummee he first kicking for me…!""If you naut stowping rait now police will come!" I grabbed the opportunity to take some proactive steps in salvaging the reputation of our corrupt and inefficient police force from 'outsider' attacks. "Hello!", I said, "It's ok. The kids will resolve their own problems. Why are you giving your impressionable young daughter a negative stereotype of a policeman as an undesirable person? Children then grow up with such negative concepts and are uncooperative with the police. Crimes that could have been kept in check escalate and witnesses don't come forth..." I paused mid-sentence as the look she gave me was of one who has just encountered an alien being from Mars."Priya", she screamed in panic, "chalo beti we goes home!" as she practically ran away from me to grab her daughter and disappear.

So much for trying to change mindsets. Was she being a bad mother? Was this a clash of cultural values? Was I being a bad father for not insisting everyone on the motorbike wear helmets? Is it unethical to complain about noisy cruise boats and allow your kids to scream at Kala Academy? Who does the jetty really belong to? Can you build a permanent structure like a park within 200 meters of the high tide line? How come other families manage to retain maids for so many years? Does anyone really ever want the police to come?

-----The column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 27th March 2008 =====

The measure of a man

The measure of a man
Still my 'causo' of Caju Feni overflows

By Cecil Pinto

Extracts from Chapter 12 of the bestselling book, "Elixir of the Gods: The definitive guide to purchasing, storage and consumption of Caju Feni", by Cecil Pinto.

"In the last chapter we saw the difference and relationship between'alcohol by volume', 'alcoholic proof' (using a standard Sykes hydrometer) and the traditional grao used to measure the strength of Caju Feni. Keep in mind also that grao measures strength and not purity or quality. In this chapter we shall look at retail and wholesale volume measures for this fascinating liquid."

"Long before 'What is the Goan Identity?' became the dominant debate in recent years, there was the far more important question that fascinated Goan males since 1622 or thereabouts when Caju Feni was first commercially marketed, 'How many bottles are there in a causo of feni?'.
That query continues to fascinate us and till date has no specific answer. Keep in mind that what is called a causo by North-Goan Catholics is called kollso by a Goan Hindus and causo-u by South Goans - who make good Palm Feni but know diddlysquat about caju."

"Ask this question to any bar man and pat will come the reply, '18 bottles of 750 ml each' but ask an astute barman, like Edwin D'Souza of Bar Manuel in Aldona, and he will reveal that the actual figure is closer to 20 bottles. How it works is that the supplier, normally the kazkar (distiller) himself, carries a standard measure causo that
contains approximately 20 bottles of Caju Feni. The additional two bottles are to compensate for losses in transportation due to spillage, pilferage, tasting etc. Similar to a Baker's Dozen – as branded Caju Feni czar Mac Vaz would certainly say."

"All that is very well. From a commercial viewpoint we need standard measures but this book was written for the non-commercial minded enthusiast. Every Caju Feni drinker worth his half-quarter will have his own personal stock of a few causos, of his very own favourite feni from his trusted kazkar, in his storeroom. Unless of course his wife
is a nagging shrew, in which case he will store his stock at the storeroom of a friendly relative – preferably a non-drinker."

"Now this personal cache is not the standard commercially produced stock that most barmen purchase. This is usually an excellent, and hence expensive, reservoir. But here comes the quandary. Ask most any feni enthusiast, who stocks his own booze at home, how many bottles in a causo and you will get a range of replies, from 15 to 25 bottles!
All of them have the same trusted supplier for many years, and are happy with the quality and the quantity. And, here comes the stunner, all of them are absolutely right in their measure of a causo!"
"How is that possible? – is the question that comes to the mind of any non-feni drinker. The feni drinker himself is not perturbed. Such minor matters do not bother him. He is wiser than the average man and is also at peace with himself and the universe. Even at Rs. 1000/- a causo, and even if he gets only 15 bottles to the causo, he is still paying only Rs. 67/- for a bottle of the Nectar of the Gods, whereas even a regular non-premium whiskey will cost more than Rs. 100/- a bottle, even wholesale, and is nothing short of rot gut. If you see anyone in Goa drinking a whiskey costing less than Rs. 250/- a bottle please understand that (a) he knows nothing about booze and (b) he probably also has a damaged alimentary canal."

"To understand the inconsistency in causo measures let us take a step back and re-visit the earlier photo-enhanced Chapter #5 where Siolkars Alister Miranda and Nilesh Vaigankar (son of late Dina - the legendary kazkar) walked us through the actual Caju Feni making process. Approximately 14 kousuli (totaling approximately 90 litres) of fermented caju neera is poured into the bhann. This bhann (copper, or rarely earthen) which contains the liquid to be heated has a pretty standard size. Vapours get distilled in either a coil process or in an earthen pipe and container process, depending on which we get either standard Caju Feni or 'launecho caju' which is the Holy Grail for any Caju Feni enthusiast - and is almost impossible to source nowadays.
Please excuse my foaming (feno!) at the mouth when I speak of launecho caju."

"Now, as explained earlier the first distillation gets us a light urrack. Re-distillation of this with more neera gives us cazulo, and re-distillation again gives us Caju Feni. The grao for these three are 12, 18 and 22 approximately whereas the volumes of each are in inverse proportion – i.e. one bhann will produce 24, 18 and 15 bottles approximately of Urrack, Cazulo and Caju respectively. Viola!"

"Therefore a non-commercial causo is not an exact measure of volume but rather, say this loudly and memorise it, 'that amount which is distilled from one full bhann'. Depending on the grao of the resulting distillate the volume will vary. All other factors being equal lesser the volume of liquid in the causo, stronger the grao."

"Keep in mind though the factors that decide this grao. Besides the material used for the bhann a crucial component is the nature of the fire used to heat the liquid neera into vapour. It has to be a low wooden fire kept at a particular consistency throughout till the ubb (shimmering) appears. The fire is then totally extinguished and re-lit
to get a particular grao. Making the fire stronger will hasten the process but also lessen the grao - and hence increase the causo volume measure."

"In the next chapter we will move from measures of quantity and discuss factors effecting quality - such as ripeness of cashew apples, juice extracting process etc. but before we get there let's look at popular retail consumption measures. Conventional wisdom tells us that a half-quarter should be 90 ml, or one and a half peg, but in
actuality this is not so. Hark back to the days when Caju Feni was served in a coconut shell or cotti. Over a period of time…"

The column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 10th April 2008.


Three little pigs

Three little pigs
Contemporary Goan Fairy Tales

By Cecil Pinto

Once upon a time there lived on a farm a widow pig named Solloga, who
technically was a sow but was in a ward reserved for women and hence
fancied herself a pig. Solloga had three piglets named Dukullo, Dukona
and Barranv.

Dukullo, the youngest, liked to play in the mud and listen to Konkani
pop songs on FM radio. Throughout the day you could see him pigging
out in the mud with his headphones on, while simultaneously forwarding
witty SMS to his friends.

Dukona, the sister pig, was quite the hog and could eat and drink any
and every thing – and did. She was into Bollywood movies and music and
often heard voices in her head. Every evening as she drunkenly
approached the poured swill she could hear it singing to her, "Main
hoon donn, main hoon donn!"

"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!", on the other hand was Barranv's refrain. He was
the shrewdest little pig. When not taking matka bets Barranv was busy
devising Multi Level Marketing scams and also sending pigs to the Gulf
– without telling them that no pork is allowed there.

Solloga tried to bring up her three little pigs to be ethical. "Build
good character. Build strong houses", was her constant refrain. But
they just ignored her. In her own words it was like, "Throwing pearls
to swine!". "Stop being such a boar Mom", the three little pigs would
say to her.

One day while returning from the market Solloga said to her piglets.
"You have grown up and are now too big for our little house. It's
beginning to resemble a pigsty. Who's going to build their own houses
now?" The three pigs were happy to leave and shouted "We, we, we!",
all the way home.

As could be expected Dukullo built himself a mud house but did not
follow the sound technical expertise given by Eng. Jose Lourenco from
Velim. Dukona built herself a house of cabbages, with a cowdung floor,
and got it registered as an NGO for Garbage Management and made quite
a decent living on the subsidies and was in fact able to afford a huge
liquid plasma screen to watch Bollywood Song and Dance Competitions
all day.

Barranv forged papers and bribed a talathi to show he was a tenant, on
Form I and XIV, of a derelict 'Portuguese style' house, whose owners
were abroad for many generations and as could be expected were
clueless. He then indulged in 'acts of ownership' like painting the
house and doing up the compound wall. When nobody objected Barranv
just occupied the house and signed an affidavit saying he was in
possession of the house for many years. He then proceeded to refurbish
the old house.

In the backyard of the house Barranv built some of those horribly
pretentious un-Goan cottages, with exposed laterite walls and domed
RCC roofs, and sold them to retired Brits for huge sums through
taxi-driver-cum-brokers. Barranv did not laugh all the way to the
piggy bank, but rather invested his excess funds in real estate – and
not Mutual Funds.

One day a hungry jackal named Kolo, who loved to eat Goan sausages,
decided to taste pork directly. His theme song was "I'm too foxy for
my wolf!" Kolo chanced upon Dukullo's mud house and shouted, "Little
pig, little pig, let me come in." To which Dukullo answered, "No, no!
Not by the hair of my chiny chin chin." Kolo rightly figured Dukollo
hadn't heard right as his headphones were still on. So he bellowed,
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in." And he
did. The house collapsed and Dukullo went limping for protection to
his sister and her cabbage house.

Kolo approached Dukona's house and asked to be let in. "No, no! Not by
the hair of my chiny chin chin", said the obese and drunk Dukona. Kolo
discarded his normal response and shouted, "Use Fair & Lovely for
heaven's sake. It will bleach your facial hair and improve your skin
pigmentation!" Dukona didn't get the pun and shouted out, "How come
you're not offering to blow me and my house?" Since the TV was on full
blast Kolo didn't hear that and just blew the house down. Drunken
Dukona carried Dukullo piggyback as they ran to take refuge in
Barranv's huge estate.

When Kolo approached Barranv's residence the security guard, at what
was by now a gated complex, asked him to fill up a form - which
stumped Kolo as he was illiterate. But Barranv, who was just returning
in his Mercedes from some meetings at the Secretariat, welcomed Kolo
into his house. He appointed Kolo as his liaison agent for Government
offices and then proceeded to combine all three pigs properties and
start work on building and marketing a huge residential/holiday
complex with 60 bungalows and 220 luxury apartments (with swimming
pool, gymnasium, security, lifetime maintenance and rent-back
facilities) named 'Dukorville'.

When some neighbours protested the hill-cutting and other
environmentally destructive actions he convinced them by giving them
jobs as supervisors, pool attendants and security guards. They were
happy. The others he offered a fat brokerage and commissions, to get
him buyers for his properties. They were happy. The few who still
continued to protest he ignored as by now he had bribed the local
panch, the sarpanch and the local MLA to ensure inaction.

Continuing in this pig-headed manner he purchased prime property from
the corrupt and inept village Communidade and started work on Three
Pigs Resort which was marketed as a resort solely for foreigners and
other non-Goan pigs.

When we last caught up with them… Dukona had had 34 cosmetic surgeries
but was still unattractive – and a drunk. Dukullo was producing
Konkani pop-song VCDs. Kolo had finally stopped fantasizing about
eating Dukona, or any pig for that matter, and stuck to chouris-panv
and sorpatel. He had his eye on the Chairmanship of a Government
Corporation. Barranv was financing the re-election attempts of six

Konkani proverb: Dukran kedna kondd sodunk na.
(While some pigs just wallow, others succeed by being shallow).

The column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 17th April 2008.


A linguistic approach to un-Goans

A linguistic approach to un-Goans
New nomenclature to reflect modern migratory patterns

By Cecil Pinto

Dr. Oscar Rebello's bombastic statements during the NDTV, We The People, episode have drawn much flack. The TV feature examining the issues surrounding the ghastly Scarlett Keeling death, often veered of into the non-Goan v/s Goan debate that is an inevitable part of any conversation in or about Goa.

"Hello Sachin? Let's meet up in Panjim for an omlette panv."

"Sure Cecil. Near Cine National?"

"Why not walk along the promenade and enjoy the Mandovi river?"

"Are you crazy? The stink is unbearable. All these labourers crap at
the riverside. Bloody non-Goans!"

"But Sachin…"

"And do you know that along the riverfront, right from Ribandar through Panjim and Miramar to Dona Paula there's not a single cart selling omlette-panv? You can get varieties of bhel puri, chaat, panv bhaji, gola, paani puris, ragda pattis and what have you - but not a single Goan omlette-panv. Bloody non-Goans!"

"But Sachin I'm not quite sure that omlette-panv is uniquely Goan."

"And Cecil how can you have a pleasant walk along the riverfront with those bloody tourist cruise boats blasting Bollywood music so loud?
Bloody non-Goans!"

"But Sachin the boat owners and operators are all Goans."


Anyway first let's clarify exactly what Oscar said on TV. I had watched the original episode but can't remember his exact words. So let me do what any sincere self-respecting investigative journalist would do under such circumstances - put words in other people's mouths. Just kidding. I read a recent article by Oscar, clarifying his
views on the non-Goan issue, and just worked from there backwards to deduce what he originally said on TV. For those of you in the Dark Ages, Dr. Oscar Rebello heads the Goa Bachao Abhiyan which generated a mass movement that exposed a dastardly Regional Plan that was poised
to totally destroy Goa. Or something like that. Let me clarify that, like most Goans, I have no reason to doubt Oscar's sincerity or integrity.

Barkha: "And the Oscar goes to Mike. Oops! The mike goes to Oscar!"

Oscar: "I will fight with the very last drop of my blood. We will save Goa with sweat, blood, tears and flamboyant sound bites. We will fight them on the roads and on the hills. And if they are widening the roads and cutting the hills for a project we will fight them in the new cement drains!"

Barkha: "Actually Oscar we were talking about the Scarlett death."

Oscar: "Exactly what I was saying. We are poised at the death of democracy which is etched in the deepest interval of my pulmonary aorta. There are no non-Goans. My aunt is not a Goan but..."

Barkha: "So there are Goan aunties and aunty-Goans?"

Oscar: "And the green eyed monster killed my great grandmother who came from blue blooded Portuguese stock without any…"

Barkha: "Without what? Bina kya?"

Oscar: "Without any Goan blood! As Goan as a lamani."

Barkha: "Bina Ramani!"

Oscar: "Whatever. Take Rajan Narayan…"

Barkha: "No sorry! You take Rajan, we don't want him!"

Oscar: "We are not like crabs in a basket."

Barkha: "More like fish in a tin?"

Oscar: "Sort of…"

Barkha: "So Sudeep Chakravarti is a Goan?"

Oscar: "Hanh?"

Which raises many interesting questions. Who is a Goan? Whose aunty is a Goan? Who is anti-Goan? Is Oscar qualified to confer Goanity on anyone? What is Goanity? Is it transferable? Is it encashable? Does it get one discounts at supermarkets? Are we mixing ethnicity with residence and loyalty? Is Loyal-T a cool name for a chain of branded chai shops that also serve omlette-panv? Most importantly, did any of
these non ethnic Goans ask to be referred to as Goans?

This I think is the crucial question. I have a few non-Goan friends who have lived here for many years but have never asked to be labeled as Goans. Why should they? If I lived for thirty years in Maharashtra would I want to be called a Maharashtrian? No way! I will always be a proud Goan and detest being labeled anything else! So what makes us think that the Maharashtrians and the Bongs and the Sindhis are waiting to be labeled Goans? Aren't they proud of their own culture?
Of course they are. They stick to their language and culture and lifestyle and aren't in any hurry to imbibe ours. They are not Goans.
If you want to be polite call them 'un-Goan', but for Goa's sake don't ever call them Goan.

On the other hand I see Oscar's reason for being inclusive. There are so many non-Goans who have done so much for Goa that we need to recognize and appreciate it and Goanise them to some extent – if they so desire of course. Perhaps a new nomenclature to reflect changing times and migratory patterns?

My suggestion is that we use the prefix of the state of origin and stick on a 'goan-esque' suffix to get a new description of ethnicity-residence. That will give us Karnagoans, Tamigoans, Uttar Pragoans, Bihagoans, Maharagoans - and of course Bengalis resident here become Bongoans! There isn't much of a problem coining these new words.

The problem arises when native Goans living overseas have to coin words that reflect their ethnicity-residence. Gonadians (Canada), Gomericans (USA), Goatish/Goats (UK), Gortuguese (Portugal), Guwaitis (Kuwait), Gostralians (Down Under), Gongladeshis (Bangladesh), Gormans (Germany), Gosraelis (Holy Land), Gopalese (Nepal), Gokistanis
(Pakistan) and Goruvians (Peru) are pretty straightforward. But are there really Goans in Peru? Where is Peru anyway?

Respected historian and linguist Teotonio D'Souza has been approached to head the committee to decide the exact rules of how these new words are to be coined. For example a Goan in Sri Lanka should be known as a Goalankan or a Goleynese? Goans in China are Goanese or Goenchins? Or is that a restaurant in Panjim? Goans in Burma are Goarmese or Gonyanmarites? Are Goans in Denmark Gonish, and Goans in Saudi Arabia

Once all that is in place we can attack the next problem - people of other nationalities permanently resident in Goa. We have to put in place a nomenclature for the Brits, Germans, Israelis, Russians, Portuguese, Tibetans and others living here. We will do it using linguistics. The tongue can reach where the sword cannot.

The column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 24th April 2008.


Grave matters: Done to death

Grave matters: Done to death
A guide to dealing with more than just grief

By Cecil Pinto

Recently the father of a friend of mine expired. My wife Beatrice and I dropped in for a pre-funeral condolence visit. The situation in the house was quite hectic with people dropping in to condole and to help.
We said the obligatory prayer near the corpse resting in the coffin in the hall. Next step is to wish close relatives. I was looking around for my friends' mother.

Beatrice, who does not know the family well, quite by instinct, went up to a woman sobbing bitterly near the coffin and hugged and sat next to her sympathetically with an air of extreme empathy, as would be expected. I on the other hand was, within the confines of the sober environment, trying to signal to Beatrice to come away immediately.
The woman she was mistaking for my friend's mother was actually a distant neighbour, Filsu Aunty, whose grief stricken countenance was a permanent feature and had nothing to do with the immediate death. It was an embarrassing moment for Beatrice as awareness dawned - but knowing neighbours and relatives did not snigger and just kept a straight face. This was a common occurrence.

Some three years back John D'Silva in one of his tiatrs, I forget the name, had this brilliant comedy skit. The local village newsmonger enters a house and announces to the housewife that so-and-so has died and hands over to her what appears to be an invitation in an envelope. On being questioned as to its contents he explains that all details of the death and funeral were there in the printed announcement. It was
like a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on a website, and had all the answers. How did he die? What time? Where? Who was with him?
What date and time is the funeral? Will the elder son from Kuwait be coming? And the daughter from Toronto? Will there be a bus from his native village? Etc etc.

At that time I thought to myself that it was nice idea and would soon be the done thing at Goan deaths. It has not yet happened but I am sure it eventually will, what with everyone now having computers and printers. In fact there are so many innovations that can be undertaken to make the whole death-funeral process a bit more organised and
'professional' as it were.

For example, similar to weddings we could have 'family flowers' that identify close family members so nobody makes embarrassing mistakes, like Beatrice did, by wishing someone not even distantly connected to the deceased. Miniature artificial wreaths maybe that family members could pin up on their clothing? We could take a step further with little name tags that not only identify the person but also establish his relationship with the deceased. Eg: "Fatima Lobo: Wife's eldest sister" or "Brandon Gonsalves: Son of second daughter Kathryn".

At any funeral you will see mourners siding up to one close neighbour, who with an air of authority will tell you all you wanted to know about the deceased and those present.

"Who is that woman with the short dark blue skirt with a slit?"

"That's Kathryn the second daughter. She's a divorcee and works in Mumbai."

"And that old man with the suit. He doesn't look Goan."

"That's Mr. Nayak, who used to be the manager at the bank where he worked."

"And why is the eldest daughter and her family keeping in the background?"

"Ever since she joined the Believers the family has sort of written her off and…"

Most of these semi-truths would be clarified with the advent of printed Death FAQs, Family Flowers and Name Tags.

Also how come nobody has a Handy Goan Death Guide similar to the half-dozen Goan Wedding Guides currently available? These guides have detailed chapters on how to prepare for your wedding, how to organize the reception and also a directory of wedding related service providers.

How does this sound? "Aiz Mhaka Falea Tuka" from Here Today Gone Tomorrow Enterprises. A handy guide for Goan Catholics on Announcement & Arrangements related to death (with a sub-section for Goan Hindus – "Urn While You Burn"). I hope some enterprising publishers and undertakers are reading this column.

Suggested chapters: Registering the Death, Catering without Celebrating, Newspaper Advertisement Conventions, Riding the Obituary Wave, Illustrated Coffin Layouts for Standard Living Rooms, Seating Protocol, Wishing Protocol, Transportation, D-Day Checklist, Lowering Standards for Graves, Post Funeral Conventions and Non-Alcoholic Alternatives etc.

A Customization Section could offer suggestions of themes, colours, music, flowers etc for a personalized effect.

Trivia sections could deal with mundane matters like the ethics of what can be put in the coffin to keep with the deceased wishes, Is there a protocol of priority for coffin pallbearers? Who carries Offertory items to the altar? Who delivers the eulogy?

Pros and cons could be presented by Subject Experts: Cremation v/s Burial, Formalin or Morgue, Why waste a good suit and shoes? Is it right to deny condolence visits? Requesting mourners to give donation to a favourite charity instead of bringing/sending floral tributes, Organ donation issues etc.

Post-funeral procedures could advice on whether it is really necessary to thank all doctors, priests and minor politicians by name in the Acknowledgement Advertisement. Procedures surrounding the Month's Mind Mass, Annual Anniversary Mass and Niche Marketing. Illustrated suggestions for designs on the marble slab covering the niche could also be one section - with a choice of lettering, typefaces, photo borders etc.

How does one reconcile the bank accounts, insurance policies, loans and email addresses of the deceased in the absence of a will? Is pre-payment for one's own funeral acceptable?

I'm not very familiar with Goan Hindu procedures regarding death but I'm sure there is a lot to be discussed regarding Scattering of Ashes, 12th Day Procedures, Eldest Son's Obligations, To Shave or Not, etc, etc.

Keep in mind that a man, or woman, in today's comparative and competitive world is remembered not only by how he lived his life, but also by the quantum and quality of mourners at his funeral.

Here is an example of how uninformed Goans are about matters regarding death.
In a recent instance an undertaker approached the family of the deceased and asked them, "Would you like a package?" They looked at each other nonplussed and then one member told him, "Actually we would prefer a coffin!"

The column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 1st May 2008.

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