By Frederick Noronha
PRINTED WORD / On books in and about Goa
First published in Gomantak Times
This is about the most bizarre thing to do while encountering a book: try to read it from the ending! That’s just what I
did with the autobiography of someone you might know, a lady called Imelda Dias. So one is still trying to put the pieces of the jigsaw together; but it was an interesting read.
Most of Goa of a particular generation — those around here in the 1960s and 1970s — would probably remember the name “Imelda” (or even Imelda Tavora). She then was the most popular announcer in the State, at a time when radio was the unquestioned king of all the mass media. (Forget about TV, which didn’t exist here yet, and newspapers were far smaller.)
So I began reading her book with the Epilogue. This chapter took me to my schoolboy days in the 1970s, and the music that Imelda played for all of us via the radio. It came through loud and clear on Sunday afternoons. It came on Friday nights. It came in the afternoon siesta time on weekdays.
All the names of the programmes sounded so very fresh — ‘Your Choice’, ‘Latin Rhythm’, ‘Your Favourites’ and more. Many readers would probably even recall the sign-off name “Yours truly, Imelda”.
This book is about the Goa that was, touching a bit on colonial Goa and the period just after 1961. Those were times of change and uncertainty. But they were nice times too, in a way. Imelda’s book tells the story of the Catholic elite of
the times, the nostalgia with which it looks back, and life in the “good old days”.
Subtitled “An Autobiography of a Woman Ahead of Her Times”, this is also a story of a woman going against the trend, settling for a divorce in the 1960s, and facing the patriarchy of Catholic Goa of the times.
It’s a book edited by Margaret Mascarenhas, editor of ‘Skin’. Spiced with the gossipy details of Panjim’s life in the
1970s, parts of the book are very engrossing. But one couldn’t believe all one read, even if this only incited one’s curiosity to learn more of those times.
Besides her boarding years in Pune (then still Poona), this story talks about life in All India Radio, what it meant to
be a political refugee of sorts in Salazar’s Lisbon post-1961, and stories of love and romance from another era.
It’s a good read for anyone who grew up in the Goa of those years, and one would not hesitate recommending it (2006, Rs 250, printed and published by Imelda Dias, pp 189, hb).
With an catchy title like ‘How Long Is Forever’ and a covered mostly in black-and-white cover, this is a book that would
catch your attention. Strangely, it isn’t very well displayed in most bookshops. Friends I mentioned it to, had all not
come across it either!
How do you sell a book in a scattered market like Goa, complicated by the fact that, despite our literacy, we are
not quite a heavy-reading population?
Jesuit linguist-priest Dr Pratap Naik recently announced that the TSKK Konknni Course Book in the Roman script will be released in the last week of September 2007.
At a special pre-publication price of Rs 175, this book is available — via post — from the Thomas Stephens Konknni
Kendr, B.B.Borkar Road, Alto Porvorim, Goa – 403 521.
I ran into Odette Mascarenhas via cyberspace, thanks to a brief mention of one of her books in last week’s column.
Writes Odette: “I would definitely help in any way I can to encourage Goan writers to reach their goal. I know how
difficult it can be.” She is herself the author of two books. Besides the one mentioned last week, there’s “Masci: The Man Behind The Legend” on the famed chef Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas.
Rashmi Uday Singh wrote about the latter in businesstravellerindia.com: “It’s fascinating how a Goan kitchen boy whose job was plucking 200 chickens a day rose to become world’s celebrated chef who catered to the kings and
queens and viceroys of the world. Not only does his story come alive, you can actually recreate his food and have a
taste of this legend too.”
But Odette Mascarenhas, from her experience with two books, has another less glamorous story to narrate. The first major hurdle in her work was finding the right publisher. Says she: “We have been running helter skelter to all the big names for over three years. Tata Press, Wilco, Rupa, Penguin, Jaico. While they all liked the idea, the question was: is it a viable investment. Very few Goans are known in this field.”
After publishing the book on their own, getting the book stocked and distributed — even in Goa itself — proved another challenge.
Says she: “Moreover… though space is expensive, it would be nice, if they (book outlets in Goa) could keep a small ‘Goan corner’ for writers to promote their skills (in local bookstores). After all if a fellow Goan will not help another, who will? Its happening for art, with exhibitions to promote local artists, but writing has taken a back seat.”
She adds: “The idea of having a read-out session (to promote Goa-based books) seems brilliant. They do it abroad. Maybe some shop could buy the idea?”
What the print world finds it difficult to do, the online world manages. A statement put out in cyberspace says that
the entire Konkani Bible is now available online in Kannada script. See http://www.konkanibible.org/
In these days of competitiveness, when the world throws open a range of opportunities, are students in Goa geared up to seize them? At times when parents are willing to pay upto Rs 35,000 as annual fees for primary school, we could do with a better range of career opportunities at the adolescent level.
Two Goa books on careers made it to the bookshops recently. One was ex-Gomantak Times journalist Ilidio de Noronha’s “Careers: The Complete Guide” (Pp 178, Rs 150, Plus Publications, 2464687) and the other is “Choose Your Very Own Career: A Guide for Students, Parents and Teachers” (Pp 617, Rs 65, Basil D’Cunha).
The latter is an English-Konkani book. Both carry advertisements, making their prices more affordable to the young, who would obviously be their main target audience.
Question is: will such books, which contain a whole lot of useful information, reach to the educators, students, parents, and school libraries — that can make better use of them?
While everyone gets worked out about “non-Goans” entering the State, and the buy-out of Goa’s land resources, we don’t seem as concerned about ensuring that our kids are competitive enough to take on the bigger world. Books like these are a welcome addition to those published in Goa.
Feedback welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org, 832-2409490 or +91-9970157402