By Frederick Noronha


Every now and again, one of Goa's sons or daughters comes up with an offering that focuses on another face of this state. What is surprising is that often such interesting books are brought out by expatriate Goans, or those settled outside of Goa for many decades.

Sometime back, there was a fascinating book focussing on the Goa that was, by artist-writer A Pereira who looked at the way of life of the past. Now, there's yet one more in that series. J P D'Souza's The Village Home and Other Stories focuses on fiction. Its genre is that of the short story. "Characters in these are fictional. No reference to any person living or dead is intended," cautions the author prominently.

There are a dozen short-stories in this slim 141-page book. One can get a gist of the book's focus by looking at the titles of these stories -- Back to the Village, The Village Home, Sonu the Labourer, The Wedding and the Quarrel....

"These stories whose setting is Goa at a particular period of its history, try to give a picture of village life and the people who lived it," says the author. D'Souza, says the book's cover, is a lecturer, painter and a music critic.

Goans, and people interested in Goa, could well do to try and give a much-needed boost to fiction writing on this region. Standards of fiction writing, in the meanwhile, also need to improve. This of course is not intended to be a comment on this particular book.

Title: The Village Home & Other Stories. By J. P. D'Souza
Price: Rs 75 Publisher: Michael Lobo, Juhu, Bombay,1998.


Mango pickles? Mango chutneys? Mango salads and raitas? Or mango gravies and dals? Mango drinks, mango desert and even mango rice? At this time of the year, with the king of fruits flooding the market, Nilima M Kamat's is a most appropriate book.

Nilima actually published this book in the past mango season, 1998. Like many deserving books on Goa, it has simply not got the attention it deserves.

This is a recipe book with a strong academic flavour. Not only does the author give us an amazing range of mango recipes, she also puts in context the importance, history, and nutritional value of the mango fruit.

As a recipe book alone it is amazing. Who would have thought that 22 varieties of desert from the mango fruit? Or that it's possible to make 15 types of chutneys and sauces? All this and more is indeed very practical.

Besides this, Ms Kamat also puts in context the role the mango has to play in a region like India. This country is the largest producer of this fruit in the globe, with a diversity of over a thousand varieties.

She writes: "Goan mango varieties are famous for their taste and flavour and have attracted worldwide attention. The British Captain Alexander Hamilton (in 1727), a visitor to Portuguese Goa, wrote, 'The Goa mango is reckoned the largest and most delicious to the taste of any in the world and the wholesomest
and the best tasted of any fruit in the world'."

Historians say the Portuguese sent mangoes to Delhi in the sixteenth century to obtain favours from Moghul emperors and their influential nawabs. The Bhonsules of Sawantwadi were engaged in similar mango-diplomacy. The Goa's Portuguese governors would send baskets of mangoes to the Peshwas of Pune.

It is to Ms Kamat's credit that she has given this fruit its due importance. To her, what is important is the role it can play in one's current-day menu, though. She gives an idea of how one can use the mango to make a mango-banana sweet, a mango idli, mango burfi or halwa, idlis and even Srikhand of mangoes.

Likewise, it is not impossible to make kulfi, curd-sweet, ice-cream, pudding, jam and a chewing-block (sath) of mango, and also a mango-cashew delight! A book worth stocking at every home, both
in one's personal library and near the kitchen.

Title: A Treasure Trove of Goan Mango Dishes. By Nilima M Kamat.
Price: Rs 60 Publisher: Rajhauns, Panjim.1998.


This is the story of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj, the once much deprived and exploited Goan caste group. Known earlier as the Devadasis, to the credit of this grouping goes one of Goa's least known success stories.

In the twentieth century itself, this caste uplifted itself -- with a little help from outside -- from a situation of intense exploitation and even sexual abuse. While other Devadasis outside Goa remain in a hapless position, the Gomantak Maratha Samaj grouping has a success story that would do anyone proud. It has important sociological lessons for all to learn.

In this context, it is a pity that the publishers have come out with only a Marathi version of 'Purushartha' by retired journalist and freedom fighter Waman Radhakrishnan.

This book has very useful background and historical material. It contains a map showing localities where members of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj live in some strength, both within Goa and immediately outside in the Konkan region of adjoining coastal Maharashtra-Karnataka.

Also featured are some prominent members of the community, and those from outside who have helped it rise from its abysmal poor situation. Including Goa's first CM Dayanand Bandodkar, Sakharampant Ramnathkar, Krishnarao Fatapekar, Sudam Mandrekar, Sunderrao Raikar, Motiram Zambaulikar, Raghu Ramnathkar, Rajaram Paiginkar, N.A.Marathe Karwarkar, Hirabai Pednekar, Kesarbai Kerkar.

Others featured include Hirabai Bandodkar, Moghubai Kurdikar, Jyotsna Bhale, Hirabai Nageshkar, ex-CM Sashikala Kakodkar, Lata Mangueshkar, K Parvatkar, Dinanath Mangueshkar, Dattaram Volvoikar, Hrydaynath Mangueshkar, scientist Raghunath A Mashelkar, top surgeon V .N.Shirodkar, Adv. Susheel Kavlekar, R.N.Velingkar, M V Chandgkar, M.K.Shirodkar, Laxmanrao Nageshkar, Manohar B. Shirgaonkar, Dr Shyamrao Moolgaonkar, and Kishori Amonkar.

These include top artistes, surgeons, educationists, and others. Many Goans have yet to understand the Gomant Maratha Samaj phenomenon, and what made it possible in a place like Goa.

Author Waman Radhakrishnan, now retired and battling a bout of ill-health, has put together an interesting book that will be useful for future students to understand issues involved.

One therefore wishes publisher Prabhakar D Bhide, of the ever-active Rajhauns Vitrans, would seriously go in for an English translation of this book. It could be crucial for anyone wanting to understand Goa. And there are many, like this reviewer, who may have studied Marathi in school, but unfortunately would take years to read a book like this in that language!

Title: Purushartha By Waman Radhakrishnan
Price: Rs 100 Publisher: Rajhauns, Panjim.1998.


Goans, on an average, are rather conformist. Not so with the Goan Overseas Digest. This quarterly journal, edited by Dr Eddie D'Sa of Wimbledon in London, is every full of very interesting issues.

For instance, the latest issue delves into Goa's little-noticed seventeenth century history, critiques the history of the Catholic Church in past centuries, and also asks whether the Konkan Railway in Goa has resulted in a "dream or nightmare".

Why is Fr Joseph Vaz not yet a saint, asks the Digest.

If you're someone who doesn't like to go into critical issues of the past and present, then please make sure you don't read Goan Overseas Digest. It is critical and doesn't pull its punches. But that also makes it interesting and thought-provoking.

It's clearly worth a read. Dr D'Sa, a statistician by training, takes the pain to make it available in prominent bookshops in Panjim at a nominal price of just Rs 10 for its 20-page well printed issue.

Title: Goan Overseas Digest Dr Eddie D'Sa (Ed.)
Price: Rs 10 in Goa Goan Welfare Assn., Wimbledon, UK


This is an interesting booklet, which tells a useful story. But surely not the full story!

Clearly linked to the 1998 Vasco da Gama's voyages fifth centenary, this publication tries to make it out that the Portuguese colonial venture did the globe a big favour. This, they are supposed to have done, by carrying a variety of plants from one end of the globe to the other.

Potatoes, tomatoes, chillies and capsicums, peanuts, pineapples, sweet-potatoes, beans, guavas, maize (sweetcorn), and papayas all entered the Indian diet through the colonial route just a few centuries ago, we are told.

On the other hand, Indian spices were taken to other parts of the globe. Likewise, tea was taken from China, Japan, Burma, India and other areas. Jackfruits possibly originate from India, and mangoes also come from the Orient. Coconut travelled the globe from Polynesia or South-East Asia.

This is true, but not the full story. If the Portuguese undertook this plant exchange at a global scale, they surely did not do so with the aim of carrying out a huge philanthropic exercise, as is sought to be implied.

On the contrary, their intention was just a profit-making venture. To ensure that the right crops, the right soils and climate, and the right amount of labour were all available at the same place.

Without saying it in as many words, those who seem so insensitive so as to fail to understand the criticism against colonialism seek to justify it. In sophisticated and not-so-sophisticated ways. This is an interesting book; but watch it and don't let it subtly influence your values in subliminal ways!

Title: The Adventure of Plants Jose E Mendes Ferrao
No price mentioned Inst of Tropical Science Research/NCCPD/BF