Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Villages of Parra, Verla and Canca in Bardez

People in Bardez know Parra because of its sweet, red watermellons. People elsewhere know it by virtue of its pioneering English institution, the Sacred Heart of Jesus High School. Though these are Parra's important facets, the fame doesn't end with them, because the enigmatic Porrikars have shone in various walks of life.

Porrikars get their nickname kallnganche dhodde
Though Parra, Canca and Verla are clubbed together into a single parish, the village has two separate panchayats and three Comunidades. The typically caju covered hills hedge the North- West from Assagao, Anjuna and Arpora in an emerald semi-circle. Otherwise Parra shares borders with Mapusa, Guirim and Nagoa. The undulating topography dissolves in the vast, fertile sandy plains, and sprawls over 3.5 square kilometres of picturesque countryside.

Porrikars got over the problem of traversing long distances within the village, dotted with as many as 23 wards, with the help of bullock-carts. The humble bullock-cart played a crucial role in the agrarian economy before the turn of the last century. Enterprising Porrikars were heading the boyadas

From Goa the caravans carried salt, dry fish and bettlenuts. Each Bardez village contributed five carts to the ancient caravan, which was traditionally headed a cart from Parra. Rigging and repairing carts and cartwheels too developed into the village as a result, and this is still being done by the Charis of Parra. Goa's Charis are very intelligent craftsmen and blacksmiths, capable of assembling carts to cars, repairing any type of locks, and one Parra family excels in etching tombstones. Of course, good goldsmiths come from here like the late Jagannath Chodankar, the best diamond setter's in Bardez once.

Of course, today Porrikars own plush cars and involve themselves in a variety of enterprises from catering to construction and from bottling soda to producing imitation jewellery. Yet carts, which creak and rumble along the typical palm-lined roads, still form a common scene along the roads bisecting the fields. Similarly, one watches man, woman and child ploughing, watering and gathering watermellons, chillies and sweet potatoes.

"Though we are basically agriculturists, the prosperity seen around is owing to Gulf remittances," says Claudio Pacheco, owner of Habitat Furnishers in Parra. He adds, "The paddy, onions and chillies we grow are meant for home consumption and only the excess is sold. But what fetches hard cash are the watermellons."

The Pachecos, virtually 50-odd families with over 200 members, claim that they had imported the art of growing the tastiest water mellons when they left their native Majorda, the watermellon nursery of Goa. Today the Pachecos have nearly outnumbered others and converted the Almeida Vaddo into Pacheco Vaddo. Goa's famous trumpeter Alex Pacheco comes from this stock and vaddo.

Entrepreneurship of Porrikars was first witnessed virtually in the last century when the late Mariano Almeida started Amchi Agbott Those who migrated to the then Bombay, were helped by the elementary education obtained at the local Sacred Heart High School set up by the late Walter D'Souza on 7th January, 1872. It was the second English school of Goa and its alumni include some very prominent Goans - the principal of Dempe College Dr SN Lawande, Judicial Commissioner Tito Menezes, public prosecutor Leo Gama, mining magnate M S Talaulikar, former editor of Marathi daily Gomantak

The Goan community of East Africa will remember the distinguished services rendered to English education by the late Ildefonso D'Souza. And there is a whole lot of famous Porrikars like the late Willybald Paes, who was the Consul for Cuba in Bombay, Dr Norman Luis, scientist at the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in Bombay, Clifford and Clarence Rebello, scientists at NASA in the US, Dr Leo D'Souza, head of the Orthopaedics at the University of Minnesota, Napoleon Almeida, a research scientist in the UK and Dr Angelo Mario Freitas, Director of the Aga Khan Hospital in Zanzibar.

Even if the list sets one's head spinning, one need not bother because there is Dr Cleta Lobo and her daughter with ready psychiatric help. Ivan Rocha, the popular teacher of St Britto High School in Mapusa could reel out a litany of local greats.

And if you miss the Mumbai side of the story, drop in at Francis da Gama's tastefully set house at Almeida Vaddo. In this vaddo, noted writer-environmentalist Claude Alvares and his advocate wife Norma have settled with their kids, who rear snakes and fish for pets.

Coming back to white-bearded Francis da Gama, he was the foremost Lusis hockey player. He was selected to captain the Indian side for the 1948 Olympics but horse-trading was rampant even then and he lost the privilege. But in horse racing, jockey Joseph Luis, from Parra, won a baker's dozen in the very year of his apprenticeship. In soccer, mercurial striker Visitacao Lobo represented India in the USSR, while Bobby Purke, Jerry Nogueira, Vishwas Gaonkar and proudly donned State colours.

The late Bishop Andre Paulo D'Souza (1889-1979) was the first Indian Bishop of Pune. The late Conego Jeronimo Freitas was the first Goan DD in Rome and was the rector of the Rachol seminary and Dean of the Se Cathedral. Bishop Gilbert Blaise Rego has recently retired as the Bishop of Simla/Chandigarh.

Quite a few Porrikars plunged into the freedom struggle and some names which come to mind are Peter Alvares, Laura D'Souza, Sacarai Shirodkar and Frank Andrade. There were quite a lot of outstanding social workers and doctors.

Among the non-coastal villages to have outdoor eateries, Parra boasts about Alvito Santiago's Alva Mar Restaurant and Alex Saldanha's Emerald Lawns for dances and weddings. Marie Nogueira figures among the most sought after dress designer by Bardez brides for their wedding trousseau. Among gourmets, Francis Fernandes has earned kudos for the tastiest continental cusine and today ranks among the cream of Goan caterers for special occasions.

When Francis was young, he enacted female roles beautifully in Konkani dramas. Talking about tiatrists, one recalls the role Francis de Parra, played in the development of the Konkani tiatr as he was one of the finest composers and singers. His brother Sebastian (S.B. Radio) too excelled in this field. Joaquim has set up Joma Builders and a row of buildings is already up where Parra meets Mapusa. At the foothills, Gregory and Nicholas are manufacturing beautiful imitation jewellery, which is marketted countrywide. Parra is no more a cart-and-wheel tale of yesteryears. It's evolving constantly and picking up rudimentary industries.

One can't leave the village without visiting its monumental landmark, the church of St Anne built in 1649. The church has beautiful murals done on its vast ceiling. Earlier Parra formed a part and parcel of the vast parish of Nagoa. The church was, however, attacked by the forces of Sambhaji while the Luso- Maratha war was on in 1683. The villagers have set up a multi- purpose hall behind the church but the sports stadium which was started way back in 1992, is still to be completed.

Parra has a couple of lakes which help irrigate the fields during summer. The one which is called Ganesh tollem at Verla is supposed to have a tunnel linking it to the dhobi lake. No one has yet verified this claim. Perhaps one could find traces of the old Hindu heritage, of destroyed temples and deities. Not much of the past is seen in Parra today though a few new Hindu temples have been erected recently.

It's time to bid adieu. In Parra the places for the sundowner ain't among the several glitzy bar-restaurants which have cropped up all over the place. Considered locally as the right place is the vintage Moti Bar (Loja de Vinhos Nativos) established in 1862 at Sales Vaddo and the Simao Bar nearby. These tavernas have served the feni fraternity for donkey's years without respite. And despite the fact that feni is a badly watered down version of the age-old Goan traditional drink, these establishments somehow manage to serve the better stuff. And like wasps to a flame, the brotherhood throng at these watering-holes at Anjelus time. And one might even hear a voice singing, Uddon gelem paruveamchem birem...

Joel D'Souza

Parra Village Panchayat declares war on plastic
NT NETWORK (July 2008)

The village panchayat of Parra has claimed to be the first and only village panchayat in Goa to start a door to door collection of plastic waste from homes spread in the entire village.

The Parra panchayat is committed to be declared the first village in Goa to be declared plastic pollution free village stated Sarpanch of Parra, Mr Benedict D’Souza.

He has appealed to the villagers not to throw plastic anywhere but to keep it piled outside the house so that it can be easily lifted by the panchayat and then given to NGOs for recycling. Stating that this plastic collection programme has been going on for the last six months Mr D’Souza has regretted that there are still some families in the village who are not co-operating with the panchayat.

He said all need to co-operate with the attempts being made by the panchayat in maintaining cleanliness in the village so that the village can get nominated for the ‘Sundar Amchem Goa’ award.

The motto adopted by the Parra village against plastic is “Plastic waste is not good for anybody neither for the animals nor the environment. Reduce use of plastic. Do not throw it away, give it to the panchayat”.

Meanwhile close on the heels of an outbreak of malaria cases in Parra the panchayat has requested the health officials to arrange for fumigation so that malaria cases can be reduced.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Crook Factory

The Crook Factory

by Joel Mendonca

STATESMEN and gentlemen, it is said, were made by God and sent to Earth. Crooks and thieves, I guess were made by the devil. Globalisation was expected to reduce inequalities between the rich and poor and usher in an era of equality. Ironically, the globalised world, so far, seems to be churning out a greater number of crooks than were present in the pre-globalisation days.

Every failed business is a loss to the local industry and enterprise. Big corporations, with their massive resources, are better poised to defeat any opposition. And every time a local entrepreneur is displaced he is brought one step closer to becoming a criminal.

Frustrated by repeated losses, his entrepreneurial faculties get diverted into devising sinister plans to make a quick buck. No wonder, Goa has been experiencing several crimes and offences in the recent past. Burglaries, bank heists, rapes, molestations, extortions, kidnappings seem to be occurring at the drop of a hat.

If that was not enough, several defenders of the law are found to be in collusion with criminal elements. Shrewdness and guile are the guiding principles for these ‘merchants of profit’ in their routine exploits. A queer incident comes to mind when thinking of such individuals.

A newly married couple was in search of an apartment. In their search, they came across a broker who seemed to be a gentleman. The simple-looking guy apparently won the trust of the couple with spurious documentary evidence and realistic tales. He then requested a hefty instalment to book the apartment. The couple paid him without hesitation.

When contacted on the stipulated date to seal the deal with the owner of the flat, the wily broker gave an excuse that seemed suspect, at best and rubbish, at worst. Not to sour relations with the broker, the couple decided to wait for another week. But the crook kept giving one excuse after another, in a bid to buy time. Moreover, he refused to return a cent they had paid him.

Shocked and disappointed, the couple sought recourse with the police. It was there that they got wind of the bitter truth. The man whom they regarded as their ‘estranged broker’ was a petty fraud. He was notorious in the police department for his routine brushes with the law. After cheating a party for a certain amount, he would leave the state for greener pastures.

But no matter how many culprits and thieves there are, for every scoundrel there will always be a hero. For every atrocity committed, there will always be restitution to pay. In the end, good will always triumph over evil. The crook, with all his cunning and cheek will survive but for a jiffy. Truth will always prevail.


By Dolcy D'Cruz

A young man's story from rags to riches made it to the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2008. 'Masci - The Man Behind the Legend' authored by daughter-in-law, Odette Mascarenhas, will receive the Special Award of the Jury this May.

Odette Mascarenhas, has always looked up to her father-in-law, Minguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas' achievements. In 2004, her husband, Joe, showed her his father's memories stored in a file. She decided to write a book as he had devoted 50 years to the Taj Group of Hotels. By 2005, the book was completed and published by Priya Distributors but sold only in Goa and at the Taj in Mumbai. Three years later, Odette is surprised by mail that nominates the book for the award.

Minguel Arcanjo was a simple lad from Anjuna. Born in 1904, he was forced to leave his family and move to Bombay to earn a livelihood, like thousands of Goans before and after him. As the eldest, though illiterate, it was his responsibility to educate three other siblings. He joined Taj Hotels in 1931 as a dishwasher, making his way to Executive Chef of the Hotel in 1945. A huge achievement for a Goan at a time when India was British ruled. He once served Pope John Paul II with custard Soufflé, leaving the Pope puzzled over the ingredients used. And so, Masci was called to the table and presented the Pope with a custard apple.
The fruit of that was Masci got the Pope blessings. He got the fruit back too, blessed. During the Independence struggle, the hotel would host meetings constantly followed by food; Masci was up for any challenge. In 1971, he inaugurated the kitchen of the new wing of the Taj Heritage built then for Rs. 1 cr.

Masci was married to Maria Deonizia and fathered seven children. "He was a very caring father," recalls Joe. "Whenever we visited Goa, he would hire a car and took us to meet our relatives."

He learnt his trade observing other chefs do French cuisine without leaving the kitchen. And was even able to convince people he had cooked food in wine, without actually doing so. In fact, Chef Urban do Rego was one of his first apprentices.

When Nasci breathed his last in 1981, JRD Tata touched his feet in the coffin and said: "We will never ever find a man like you."

Minguel Arcanjo is now a restaurant in Taj Exotica which has been named after Masci, as a result. The book covers Masci's life story with excerpts from his co-workers, and friends along with 50 of his recipes. Today, Odette is happy with just publishing the book in memory of Masci. She thought the first mail was a hoax, but the second one convinced her. Her joy is a Goan Chef winning an international award 27 years after his death.
"I feel proud for Masci and for me being chosen from among 109 countries
for the award."

Anjunkars are proud of Masci!

Domnic Fernandes
Anjuna, Bardez, Goa
Mob: 9420979201


Masci : The Man Behind the Legend/Odette Mascarenhas. New Delhi, Priya Distributors, 2008, 184 p., photographs,
Contents: Introduction. Acknowledgements. Masci-- the man behind the legend -- an Eulogy. The beginnings an end: 1. The story of Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas. 2. Would you rather scratch in the dirt or soar in the sky? 3. Science teaches us, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 4. Life is short, there is no way to file for an extension. 5. The man at the Helm. The Skill of the carpenter, lies not only in his tools: 1. Are we devotional or intellectual by temperament? 2. Most of us really don't know where our time goes. 3. You can't buy love and respect with constant activity. 4. How to catch lightning in a sauce bottle? 5. The hand that stirs the ingredients gets the rights product. 6. Total quality management starts at the top. We reap what we sow: 1. That personal touch. 2. The Creme a la Creme. 3. The Brand Ambassador. The fair of the fare - 50 recipes that delighted people the world over: I. Soups: 1. Potage Masci. 2. Potage minestrone alla lita. 3. Carrot vichysoisse. 4. Consomme celestine. 5. Sopa de catolina. II. Entrees: 6. Terrine de foie gras. 7. Maultaschen (German Preparation). 8. Chicken liver pate. 9. Pate en croute. 10. Meat loaf. III. Breakfast: 11. Sausage egg and onion pie. 12. Crepes au champignon. 13. Chocolate and raisin pancakes. IV. Salads: 14. Summer salad. 15. Shrimp and mushroom salad. 16. Salade Riz au Mangue. V. The main course: 17. Antipasto. 18. Filet de pomfret meuniere. 19. Pomfret Tandoori. 20. Mutton Tandoori. 21. Filet de pomfret caprice. 22. Lobster thermidor. 23. Prawn Patio. 24. Madras curry kabob. 25. Madras egg curry. 26. Methi Murg. 27. Poulet a la ratatouille. 28. Poulet roti a I'Americano. 29. Roast stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce. 30. Spiced honey roast duck. VI. The Goan affair: 31. Prawn curry Goa style. 32. Tisreo sukhe (Shellfish without gravy). 33. Pomfret recheade. 34. Chicken cafreal. 35. Pomfret Caldin. 36. Pork Balchao. 37. Pork Vindaloo. VII. Vegetarian fare: 38. Aubergine farcis a la Franciscan. 39. Mellanzane alla Parigiana. 40. Coriander flavoured Mushroom curry. 41. Stuffed vegetable marrow a I'Indienne. VIII. Snippets: 42. Pommes frites au belle pepper. 43. Pommes souffle. IX. Desserts: 44. Gateau Praline. 45. Plum pudding with brandy sauce. 46. Bibinca. 47. Fio de ovas. 48. Lemon Chiffon pie. 49. Apple pie a la mode. 50. Macedoine de fruit chantilly. 51. Baked alaska.
"The biography of Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas, is a rags to success story. A Goan kitchen boy, whose job entailed plucking 200 chickens a day, to becoming a world celebrated chef, who catered to viceroys in the pre independence era, to royalty ..the late Shah of Iran and King Faud Ibn of Saudi Arabia.
What contributed to his performance?
Was it only the technical know how that helped him achieve his goal? Was it his SIF (Self Image Factor) or his FOS? These are various factors of success that represent the individual manner of thinking.
This book delves into the past of a celebrated chef during pre and post independence years.
A look at 'MASCI -- the man behind the legend'."