Fated to sing...

Amália at Kala Academy http://www.foriente.pt/167/amalia-in-goa.htm#.XZnLJEYzbIU

International star Amália Rodrigues spent a few days in Goa to meet her fans and lovers of the Portuguese fado. She performed at Kala Academy's Dinanath Mangueshkar auditorium to a 1000-plus audience on the evening of June 5.

Despite her 70 years of age, Amália, as she is affectionately called, regaled one and all. Her language is universal, so the youngsters understood her too. But for the older folks which comprised 75 per cent of the audience the performance was tinged with nostalgia. The sentimental Portuguese sang their fado (fatum, fate) far from their country, on the banks of the Mandovi.

Born of humble parentage in Lisbon, in 1920, Amália, who sang fados and tangos at the tender age of three, made her debut at 20.

At the Campal auditorium she regaled the audience with twenty-eight fados, old and new: ‘Rosa Fogo’, ‘Amêndoa’, ‘Entrega’, ‘Povo’, her own ‘Grito’, ‘Lágrima’. And lágrimas de alegria (tears of joy) flowed down her cheeks when she noticed the excitement of her fans as she sang the older numbers like ‘Que Deus me perdoe’, ‘Nem às paredes confesso’, ‘Madragoa’, ‘Barco Negro’, ‘Mariquinhas’, ‘Lisboa Antiga’, ‘Alfama’, ‘Lisboa, não sejas francesa’, ‘Coimbra’, ‘Ai Mouraria’, ‘Foi Deus’, to end with ‘Casa Portuguesa’.

And a Casa Portuguesa (Portuguese house) it was indeed. Remarked an All India Radio staffer, ‘This is probably the audience we have for our weekly Renascença…’

Amália sang and conquered. She had four brilliant accompanists: Pinto Varela and Carlos Gonçalves (Portuguese guitar); himself a composer, Joel Pina (viola baixo), and Lelo Rodrigues (viola). The sustained brilliance of the foursome dramatically underlined the romantic and expressive nuances of the fado which came effortlessly to the Queen of the Fado. The enraptured audience only wished Amália had come here in her younger days.

A charismatic personality, Amália is said to have ‘rescued’ the fado, transforming it into a universal art. Today her strongest point lies in the fact that she can still draw a big audience the world over, but oddly enough not in Portugal itself. Still she is easily Portugal’s best cultural ambassador to the world.

The show in Goa was sponsored by Fundação Oriente. Amália’s stopover in Goa, on her way to Macau, South Korea, Japan, USA and Monte Carlo, was definitely a landmark in the cultural calendar of this tiny state, but sad to say, the occasion was mismanaged by local co-sponsors INTACH.

Things began going wrong, right from the word go. Invitations and passes were distributed at the fancies of INTACH members, much before the general public even became aware of the show. A member of the audience commented that the passes finally went not to Amália fans but only to a coterie. The result: an indignant public responded by gate-crashing. And, certainly, enthusiasm overflowed from the back rows of the auditorium which comprised, among others, several gate-crashers!

What was also unbecoming was the near-anarchic scene at the gate and inside the auditorium where there were no ushers. The compere too was a poor choice: with scant knowledge of Portuguese, he faltered at every step, and even mispronounced the key word, fado, to rhyme with mando!

Finally, unpardonable was also the fact that while Amália was showered with gifts, garlands and bouquets, from the Government of Goa, Panjim Municipal Council and INTACH, her four smart accompanists were left high and dry! Minus points for the fabled ‘Goan hospitality’…

An international star deserved better coverage in the press, not for her sake but for the benefit of the public at large. But Amália was hardly in the limelight. And it was hardly her fault. Her fado was to have the local entourage impose themselves on the Queen to the point of disallowing her contact with pressmen, barring a few instances of journalists who had to fight their way in.

But to Amália these things mattered little. It was also in her fado to lose her baggage in transit. But that did not deter her. She wore that beautiful smile and lent everyone her magic voice…that’s because the fado turns magical with Amália.

This even makes us redefine the fado. The Portuguese language dictionary calls it destino, fatalidade, canção popular e dolente (‘destiny, fatality, a song popular and sorrowful’). But the face of the fado has changed over the years. This compels us to redefine the fado as Amália!

(Goa Today, July 1990)

Mapping Goa's Architecture

Goa - A Traveller's Historical and Architectural Guide, by Antony Hutt. Scorpion Publishing Ltd, England. Rs 200

It could well be called a serious work written for the casual traveller. More specific academic exercises have preceded this one since the 1950s but the highlight of Antony Hutt's book is his comprehensive treatment of Hindu, Christian and Muslim architecture – civil, religious and military.

Out of the nine chapters the first five are devoted to the history of Goa – right from the early times down through the Hindu and the hitherto neglected Muslim period, up to the Portuguese connection, when Goa got to partake directly of the history of the modern world. However, the 20th century is almost entirely left out.

The historical account is highly readable, largely chronological, though desultory at times. Refreshing it is to find the history of tiny Goa placed in the larger context of the history of India and the world. Hutt is well disposed towards the Portuguese, the Inquisition notwithstanding, and is of the opinion that they "inaugurated the most brilliant period in her history".

Old Goa alone becomes the subject of chapter 6. The Indian Baroque church of the Holy Spirit (St Francis of Assisi), the church of Our Lady of the Rosary, St Catherine, the Cathedral See, Grace Church (St Augustine's), the Royal Chapel (St Anthony), St Monica Nunnery, the convent of St John of God, the Minor Basilica of Good Jesus, St Cajetan, church of Our Lady of the Mount, the Viceroys Arch, and the Archaeological Museum – twelve monuments, all of them mapped. Good treatment this but no real revelations whatsoever.

The next few pages are devoted to Portuguese architecture outside the capital city. This is followed by a novel chapter on the Hindu contribution to Goan architecture.

It is in the following chapter that the author is least original in what concerns civil and religious architecture. Salcete, and more in particular, Loutulim, forms the main thrust, and what follows is a routine description of only the better known houses in Salcete – the da Silva mansion in Margão, the Miranda and Figueiredo houses in Loutulim and the Menezes Bragança in Chandor, the only exceptions this time being the Salvador Costa house in Loutulim and perhaps also the Souza Gonçalves and Albuquerque mansions in Bardez.

On the other hand, a novelty is certainly the description of the forts of Goa: Tiracol, Chapora, Aguada, Reis Magos, Gaspar Dias, Cabo, Marmagoa, Cabo de Rama and the inland fort of Santo Estevam, all find their rightful place in Hutt's book.

In contrast with the earlier chapter, what constitutes a real contribution is Hutt's elaboration of the Hindu contribution to Goan architecture. It is, however, most unfortunate that there is not a single picture of any of the six Hindu houses described – the Sinai Kundaikars in Kundai, the Ranes in Sanquelim, the Khandeparkar house in Khandepar, the Dempo and Mhamai Kamat houses in Panjim and the Deshprabhu palace in Pernem. We are only left to imagine what they really look like.

More than nine temples are included, the earliest being the rock-cut sanctuaries of the 3rd-6th centuries A.D., most of which are Buddhist in origin; Sri Mahadeva temple, Tambdi-Surla; Shiva temple (Curdi), Saptakoteshwar (Naroa); Mahalsa, Mangueshi, Shantadurga; Kamakshi (Siroda), and Mahalaxmi (Bandora). There are specific references to the "odyssey" of many Hindu deities of Goa.

Hutt was in love with Goa and visited it often from the 1970s to the 80s. He could not then possibly miss out a comment on the life of the Goan people. And the final chapter is just that, a paen to the Goan genius: the warmth and colour of the people, the traditional communal harmony, and so on. But this sociological exercise should have been accompanied by a more definite statement on the nature of popular architecture in Goa – a point that is sacrificed at the altar of elite architecture, so to say.

A good bibliography can serve as a delicious dessert for the curious mind. Sad to say, here the book is a complete let-down. The scanty information cannot satisfy even the least curious of travellers/readers. There is not even a minor reference to the works of Mário Tavares Chicó or Carlos de Azevedo from Portugal nor to the historical works of Danvers, Gabriel de Saldanha or José Nicolau da Fonseca. Rather mysterious references are made to books published after the author's death, and for that matter, other books figure in the bibliography from which not a line or illustration is traceable in the text. Also missing is a detailed map of Goa.

All in all, an impressive book. Good get-up, fine printing. For certain shortcomings of the text, every reader would be willing to make certain concessions given the author's premature death in 1985.

(Goa Today, November 1989)

The State of our Forests

Over thirty citizens, including environmentalists and social scientists, met in the city, Sunday morning, on the eve of World Forest Day, to discuss the present state of Goa’s forests and draw out comprehensive measures to preserve the existing tree cover and conduct active reforestation and afforestation programmes.

The day-long seminar convened by Reggie Gomes of the Goa Research Institute for Development (GRID) was inaugurated by Mr Sinha, Conservator of Forests. Speakers included Claude Alvares, K. D. Sadhale and Dr A. G. Untawale.

  We must also interact with lobbies like mine owners and real estate developers, learn their viewpoint and embark on a cooperative effort to save the land.


Mr Sinha said in his inaugural speech that monoculture of eucalyptus and teak trees and the conversion of virgin forests into artificial plantation areas were two bad features of local forestry. He estimated 24% of the total area of the union territory of today to be under forest cover. The annual revenue of the Forest Department is around seventy lakh rupees, half of which is spent back on forests, he said. One of the afforestation schemes started by the local government is in cooperation with the Comunidades. Though the seeds are provided by the government free of cost, the profits of the cultivation are to be equally shared, he said.

Mr Sadhale spoke on “Forest Conservation Strategy in Goa”. He decried the rampant denudation in the territory, accusing the governmental staff of conniving with antisocial elements. He said that natural generation of new forests is in danger due to overgrazing, spread of ground fire, kumeri cultivation, spread of eupatorium weeds, green manure, and soil erosion, among other things. He called upon the government to adopt a “go-slow policy” as regards the tourism industry, industrialization and irrigation projects.

Claude Alvares, in a forceful presentation of some strategies for reforestation, branded the Forest Department a “colonial institution” whose sole aim is to draw maximum profits unmindful of the real cost-benefit ratio. He applauded the government’s idea of planting mixed species of trees

indigenous to Goa. He praised the “tree consciousness” of the Goan people and their innate tendency to plant ‘useful’ trees for domestic consumption.

However, the outdated regulations in force today and the highhandedness of the Forest Department which “zealously guards its hegemony from the people” has only succeeded in antagonizing the people, he said. He called for the restoration of degraded forest lands, reforestation of areas originally planted to monocultures and the reclamation of lands devastated by mining.

Mr Untawale, of the WWF (Goa), expressed concern over the protection of the vegetative cover along the river or estuarine slopes, hills and valleys. He felt that these areas being systematically destroyed today particularly by the growth of hotels along the riverside. Intensive social forestry must be started in the cities, he said.

Two more papers, one by Percival Noronha, on “Forests in Goa: Past and Present” and another, by Vijay Paranjape, on “Dam(ned) Projects and Forest Law” were circulated in absentia.

Small cells could be formed to act as watchdogs at the village level.

 Plan of Action

The participants of the seminar expressed widespread disillusionment with the present government machinery. Though the debate failed to take off onto a general plane, being dotted with personal accounts of harassment by government officials, the discussion did plant a few seeds for a more general and fruitful public debate in the future.

In a bid to reduce cases of corruption among officials and private parties, it was suggested that public blacklisting be done of individuals and institutions engaged in unforestry acts. They expressed the need for protest marches in the territory in order to focus public attention on so grave an issue.

A working or core group was formed at the final session of the seminar. They shall draw up a follow-up programme and soon announce their plan of action. People concerned about the issue of forestry in Goa may contact GRID, Bella Mater Bldg, Flat No. 3, Santa Inez, Panjim.

Urgent Need

There is an urgent need to transform this exercise into a people’s movement. It is high time we realized that if such programmes are to succeed, they require the active cooperation of the people. What we need in Goa today is the people’s opinion on matter of general concern. The more educated and knowledgeable of our people ought to discuss such issues in their own circles and thus generate an opinion; otherwise there will be people talking at seminars and others only listening and blindly accepting.

For the benefit of those of us who are in the dark about issues like forestry in Goa, private bodies and the government must cooperate and come forward to conscientize the people. There are many people in our villages who do not know what procedure to follow when they want to cut trees they themselves had planted years ago. They fall prey to corruption.

Small cells could be formed to act as watchdogs at the village level. However, care must be taken to see that forest plunderers themselves don’t head them. No amount of legislation can save us from disaster if the people are not vigilant. No amount of seminars will be fruitful if we don’t have action-oriented plans.

The need for interaction with the government is paramount. We must also interact with lobbies like mine owners and real estate developers, learn their viewpoint and embark on a cooperative effort to save the land. Lack of cooperation will only mean friction and chaos.

A final word to our political parties: they should consider the idea of introducing subjects like forestry, tourism, art and culture, high and clear in their election manifestos.

A Inquisição de Goa, vista por Raul Rêgo

Estiveram em Goa, de regresso da Coreia do Sul, o Sr. Dr. Raul Rego e o nosso conterrâneo Dr. Narana Coissoró, Deputados à Assembleia Nacional de Portugal.

A pedido do Instituto Menezes Bragança, proferiu uma palestra o dr. Raul Rêgo, sobre a Inquisição de Goa, talvez tema da sua predilecção, porque sempre a veio pondo em paralelo com a sua inquisição política, e sobre o qual tem já várias publicações.

A Inquisição, como é sabido de todos, teve o seu tribunal em alguns países, na Idade Média, e nos tempos modernos, ou para ‘perseguir’ou ‘inquirir e punir’ou ‘curar’os hereges, conforme dizem vários historiadores. Estabelecido primeiro em França, no século XII, e solicitado por D. João III e Raínha D. Catarina, sua esposa, chegou a Portugal em 1536.

Mas foi a instâncias, entre outras, do Padre Francisco Xavier, o maior missionário das Índias Orientais e então Superior da Sociedade de Jesus no Oriente, e do seu colega Simão Rodrigues de Azevedo, que se concebeu a ideia de abrir um Tribunal de Inquisição em Goa. E fê-lo o Rei em 1560, oito anos após a morte em Sanchão do Apóstolo das Índias, com a chegada de dois padres seculares, Aleixo Dias Falcão e Francisco Marques Botelho, os primeiros inquisidores.

Era um tribunal que constava de Religiosos da Ordem Dominicana e também de algumas autoridades civis (que mais tarde o usaram para seus fins). Situava-se no célebre Palácio da Inquisição ou do Sabaio, antiga residência dos vice-reis, na Velha Cidade de Goa, ao pé da Catedral, à frente da Casa do Senado, tendo depois passado a funcionar no Palácio do Idalcão (Vhoddlem Ghor) na Rua Direita, por ordem do Marquês de Pombal, que, tendo reduzido consideravelmente o poder do Santo Ofício, fê-lo instrumento da Coroa. Em Portugal, extinguira-se em 1769, para voltar, talvez com mais vigor ainda, em 1777, e foi abolida finalmente em 1812.

Disse o dr. Rego que, de entre os tribunais de Lisboa, Coimbra, Évora, Lamego e Tomar, foi mais ‘cruel e nojento’ o de Goa, que abarcava na sua jurisdição todas as províncias do Oriente, desde o Cabo da Boa Esperança até o Japão e Macau. Explicou que os acusados eram severamente punidos, encarcerados, e, depois, ou condenados à prisão perpétua, ou queimados. E acrescentou que haviam sido presas por à volta de 16.000 pessoas, de 1560 a 1774. O arcebispo e o seu vigário-geral, bem como o governador, estavam isentos do mesmo, senão com prévia autorização da Corte e do Conselho Geral de Lisboa, informa-nos um historiador goês.

O dr. Rego referiu-se a Charles Dellon, médico francês que, vítima da Inquisição em Goa, defendeu-se (permitia-se aos acusados escrever as suas defesas) e depois descreveu-a na sua Relation de l’Inquisition de Goa, publicada em Paris, em 1622, e traduzida em várias línguas (trad. port. do goês M. V. de Abreu).

Informou o orador que fora com essa obra que vieram à luz muitos dos ‘segredos’da Inquisição de Goa, que por isso ficara completamente envergonhada, sendo depois abolida em 1774. Aludiu também a La Voyage de F. P. L. aux Indes Orientales, Moluccas et Brazil, de François Pyrard de Laval, também medico francês, que, quando em digressão pela Índia, sofreu as torturas da Inquisição em Cochim, como suspeito dela, e fora preso por dois anos, em Goa.

Mas, por outro lado, parece-nos algo subjectivos os relatos que até hoje se fizeram deste, hoje infame, instituição, tanto porque nos falta a documentação da época (que alguns historiadores crêem estar em Londres ou em Paris, se é que não foram queimados ou vendidos em hasta pública) como porque hoje se faz obra, na maior parte, pelos relatos das próprias vítimas, cujo critério não deve ser por isso muito seguro. Levados pela emoção não teriam sacrificado algumas verdades?

Mas, voltando à palestra: o dr. Raul Rego, jornalista e escritor, homem da História e da Política, falou tão emocionantemente acerca de Garcia de Orta, médico e naturalista, “que mais sofreu às mãos da Inquisição”, como falou também de António Sérgio de Sousa, que por sua vez mais sofreu na inquisição do regime ditatorial de Salazar.

Assim, foi tão bom autor das obras sobre a Inquisição como inquisidor das obras do Ditador!

(Nótulas: 'A Inquisição de Goa', in A Voz de Goa, Pangim, Ano I, N.º 34, 27 de Outubro de 1983)

Foto: Mesa do Tribunal da Inquisição, hoje pertença do Instituto Menezes Bragança (Goa: Aparanta – Land beyond the End, ed. Victor Rangel-Ribeiro. Vasco da Gama: Goa Publications, 2008)

Our Honoured Guest

The directive from the Union Home Ministry to give the loving last Portuguese Governor-General, General Manuel Antonio Vassalo e Silva, a “warm welcome” and a “foreign dignitary VIP treatment” is to be admired as the Government showed their love and respect to that person who earlier pictured his fine sensibilities to Goans whom he so dearly loves.

But, at the same time, there seemed to be a few of our own people who although owing so much to Gen. Vassalo tried to misunderstand the Government: A “warm welcome” (the Government’s call) doesn’t only mean giving a beautiful bouquet of flowers to the visitor at the airport but still more, it emphasizes the need for a good treatment during his stay in this place.

Although all plans for a “warm welcome” were made well in anticipation by our Speaker, Mr Froilano Machado, there was something unhappy awaiting Gen. Silva at the Azad Maidan, when he went there to place a wreath at the Martyrs’ Memorial, much to the surprise and dislike of hundreds of Goans worthy of Mr Silva’s kindness: it was a dharna, a protest with black flags against the ex-Portuguese Governor-General’s visit to Goa; he who did so much good for us Goans. That should not even have been thought of because Gen. Silva was invited by Goans who intend to manifest their love and gratitude towards him. Secondly, what has Mr Silva to do with the integration of Goa into the Indian Union? Is Mr Silva responsible for Salazar’s misdeeds?

On the other hand, if any Goan had to open his heart and say something genuine against the Portuguese he would have done so or should have done so by approaching Gen. Silva in a very gentlemanly manner and not by what we witnessed at the Azad Maidan. This sort of behaviour from the Goans who are known for their non-aggressiveness and kindness is unthinkable.

Keeping aside the misbehaviour of a handful of people, I would like to mention that there were many also who openly showed their consideration for the Portuguese: one was an aged woman who respectfully wished the popular ex-Governor-General who then spoke very emotionally to her. A few steps further, some others waited to salute and talk to the octogenarian, who recalled his good old days with them in Goa.

We congratulate Gen. Vassalo e Silva who gave out the truth that Salazar didn’t ask him to destroy but to “defend it to the last”. This will remove the misconceptions about the affair.

Kudos to the editorial which has described Gen. Silva very well as a man to whom we ought to be grateful.

(Letter to the editor, The Navhind Times, Panjim, 12 June 1980, p. 2)