Konkani enthusiast Walter Menezes from Quepem is into poetry, writing and even sketching. He talks of his work, and how even a couple of cross-language book reviews (of Konkani books, but written in English) had their good impact.
find below my article, 'a dramatic exit', which appeared on gomantak times dt 11/12/07, for your kind consideration.
thanking you, walter
A DRAMATIC EXIT !
By: Walter Menezes
Sanny de Quepem’s second album of Konknni gitam simply titled NRI, contains a memorable track. The last song, Flight Kuwait-Goa (Part 2), continues to echo in the corridors of your heart, long after it is over. And only Sanny, who had lived in Kuwait and knew what it meant to be away from home and loved ones, could have penned such lyrics of love and longing. Your heart bleeds when the beloved, all alone at home, sings:
Kuwait than tum phone-ar uloita, ast bhagonam Ghara ken’na ietolo, vincharlear sangonam Uxem vengent dhortam, tuzo hat lagonam Ugddas ietoch, phone-axim bostam Phone vazonam!
In the early hours of November 10, when the cell phone rang at Sanny’s Goa residence at Sonar Bhatt, Quepem and his daughter, Streisan picked up the call, she would soon realize that her world would never be the same again. She would also realize that from now onwards, she would require nerves of steel to comfort her mother who was fast asleep, oblivious of the tragedy that had befallen the family.
A few hours earlier, on the previous day, Sanny had been at the Goa Day 2007 celebrations in Kuwait and had sang, what would later turn out to be the last Konknni solo of his life, before a captivating audience. Sometime later, on his way back to his residence, he would complain of chest pain and before his brother, Vicky, staying with him in Kuwait, could rush him to the hospital, Sanny had returned to the Lord.
The news was shocking and Goanetters condoled the untimely death of a true Goan who ‘promoted Konknni, Konknni music and the tiatr’. A day after his death, Goanet was full of tributes and condolence messages.
Frederick Noronha wrote, ‘I was very much taken up by his determination to share all the Goa-related news he came across. In these fading days of community-spirited individuals, Sanny was a welcome difference’.
‘He stirred our imagination by his postings’, said Venantius Pinto.
In the good old days when possessing a motorbike was considered a luxury, I remember seeing Sanny on his ‘Yezdi’, zipping through the narrow roads of our village. Tall, thin, and bearded, he looked every inch the creative and imaginative person that he really was. Although we both hailed from Quepem, I knew him only from a ‘distance’, until one day, just a few months ago, ‘we met on the net’.
It was such a pleasure to open the ‘inbox’ everyday and find, without fail, Sanny there with his interesting posts. I never realized how greatly he had touched the lives of Goans all over the globe until his passing away. I suddenly felt the need to know more about my fellow-villager who had made such a ‘difference’ in everyone’s life.
At the Mandovi Stores in Quepem, Sanny’s second album, NRI (April, 2007) as well as his first, Saibinnicho Tisro Segred (Nov, 2005) were not available. However, Evangelisto D’Costa, the proprietor, was kind enough to give me NRI from his private collection so that I could copy and enjoy the songs. Silviano Barbosa, who reviewed both the albums, said that they deserved to be ‘in the top list of his collection of Konknni albums’ and praised Sanny as ‘a great lyricist’ and one who ‘uses beautiful Konknni idioms and proverbs with his nigut bhas and modhur voice’.
It was this voice that enabled Sanny to set the stage on fire. Gaspar Almeida, who penned his profile, shares some interesting facts about the various stages of Sanny’s life. He was Kala Academy’s ‘Best Singer Award Winner’ for a record number of eight times and had acted in tiatrs of Nelson (of Nelson-Anthony-Conception fame), Caesar D’Mello and others. For some time, he was also part of a dance band called the Young Challengers.
Felix Pereira, a writer-director of yesteryears from Quepem, fondly recollects the time when Sanny had acted in Beddi in 1980, ‘In this tiatr, he played the role of a villain and did an excellent job. But more than that, I remember the encores that he and Constancio D’Silva received for their duo on a child who was abandoned at birth’.
His death, as was his life, was full of coincidences and ‘drama’. Like the title of the last track in NRI, his body arrived on a flight from Kuwait to Goa. He was laid to rest on November 15, the day of his wedding anniversary. Great singer that he was, Sanny had sang, I’ll Be Loving You Eternally, holding his young life-partner in his arms, during the wedding special, twenty six years ago. And it was the same song that was now played again, as per his wishes, when the lid was placed on the coffin and his ‘last journey’ began, from his house to the Holy Cross Church in Quepem.
The church was full. Some, like me, probably questioning the Lord why He had to ‘call’ Sanny to His heavenly kingdom, so soon. And as if in answer, there was Elvis Goes, another famous son of Quepem, singing, Trust In Me, just before the Eucharistic celebration was over.
That night, after the funeral, I sat before my computer, words flowing like the gentle Kushawati river and a tribute was soon ready, which I mailed to Goanet:
Goodbye, Sanny Goodbye
There is mail In my mailbox But without your posts It looks empty And sure we miss you Aplenty
You did your bit And more than that And gave your very best To everyone around For to give is godly And all that is not given Is lost Says an Indian proverb
The Bard of Avon once said Life is a stage And that is where you stood On Goa Day Singing your heart out Before a captivating audience
But only the Lord knew And none How sudden And ‘drama’tic Your ‘exit’ would be
Tribute to Sanny de Quepem Goa's Pride www.goa-world.com Tue, 27 Nov 2007 07:34:00 -0800
Tribute to Sanny de Quepem
Cruz Sanny Vaz (well known as Sanny de Quepem amongst the tiatrists fraternity and the tiatr lovers in Kuwait, Goa and worldwide) was called by the Almighty God to His Heavenly Abode on 9th November 2007. With a smile on his lips and eyes focused on God’s will, he was laid to rest at his native place in Quepem. Attended by scores of his close friends, colleagues and manager from Mustafa Karam Firm, tiatrists and tiatr lovers and his well-wishers with tears in their eyes and a prayer, the requiem mass was offered by Kuwait-Goa Tiatristanchi Sonvstha (KGTS).
Bab Sanny was one of the rarest jewels produced by the Konkani stage and known among the tiatr lovers for his scintillating songs on social and moral subjects. His specialty was in composing and singing songs in a unique way. His songs served as a whip to all types of injustice in the society and for the Goan causes. He mesmerized Goans as an actor, composer, singer, and writer. Though in his fifties, he had the style and caliber to perform as an evergreen singer with his youthful looks and his trademark shaved torso. His last song will be much cherished on his theme of fostering unity among mankind. Always eager to assist and help, the tiatrists fraternity will feel the void left in his dealth. The death has snatched away a dear friend and an entertainer from us.
A meeting was held at the Royale Terrace Restaurant, Salmiya on 17th November 2007 and KGTS members took this opportunity to offer prayers and poignant tributes to this Konkani stage artiste and singer and conveyed heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace.
Setembrache 12ver, 2007, Ponnjechea Kala Akademint “Odruxtti Jivit” ho Joao Cardoz-baban borovn digdorxit kelolo tiatr ami pollelo. Kala Mogi, Candolim ani kherit bhaxen Tomazinho Cardoz-babak amchim porbim ani xabaski!
Ho tiatr 50 vorsam fattim Saipem, Candolim hanga dakhoilolo hem sotmanunk khub avgodd lagta. Tiatrachi kotha, tantuntlo vinod ani machieveli manddavoll monam dipkaita. Bhattkar ani munddkarachea jivita bhonvtonnim hi kotha ghunvta, torui ek dis oso udeta….tujea kallzak samko pill ghalta!
Dusre pavtti khuimsorui ho tiatr machier haddlear, konnench pollevnk chukovcho nhoi. ‘ Odruxtti Jivit” ho tiatr pollevn ghora pavtoch, SMS korun, hanvem Tomazinho Cardoz-babak porbim dilim. Aiz portun ek pavtt Kala Mogi, Candolim he sonvsthek mhojim porbim.
Yeta tea Budvar-a thavn, char bhagamni, hea pustokantli xevottchi kotha, NOVO PORZOLL GHARABEACHO, tumkam vachunk melltoli. Pon'nas vorsam fattim boroilelea kanniamchem koxem pustok zalem, hem Dale Menezes pustokachea survatek sangta:
Camilo Menezes, ho sov bhurgeam modlo Sebatiao ani Pascoela Clara ˜Cassiana" Menezes hancho poilo put. 19.07.1938 vorsa to zolmolo. Camilak tin bhoinno ani dog bhav. Tantuntlo nimnno bhav, Walter, mhozo papa. Hanv Walteracho put. Mhonntoch, Camilo mhozo titiv. Punn ghorant ani ganvant, papak dhorun, Camilo-k soglle ˜Babush" hea nanvan vollkhotale. 28.07.1998 hea disa to hea sonvsarak ontorlo.
Camilo "Babush" Menezes, ho Konknni bhaxentlean khub boroitalo mhunn amkam aiz unneant-unnim ponâ€™nas vorsam fattlean kollon ailem. Mhojea papan, halinch aplem dusrem pustok, ZOIT ani her kovita, Goa Konknni Akademiche arthik palov yevzonne khala uzvaddak haddlolem. He yevzonne khala, tannem Akademik pon'nas proteo divpacheo asleo. Ani heach kamank lagon to Goa Konknni Akademint gel'lo. Thoim taka Brazinho Soares bhettlo.
Brazinho-babak Babush mhozo papacho pai dislo, ani tannem hem khorem kai mhunn mhojea papak prosn kelo. Mhojea papan taka Babush aplo pai nhoi, punn aplo vhoddlo bhav mhunn sanglem. Tednam Brazinho-baban taka, Babush khub vorsam adim ˜A Vanguarda" satolleacher neman boroitalo mhunn sanglem. Brazinho-bab tachim borovpam neman vachtalo, hem-ui tannem sanglem.
Hi gozal papan ghara yevn amkam sangli. Tednam mhoji baravechi porikxa niktich suru zaunchi asli. Hanv Babushachim borovpam, kovita ani kannio sodun kaddunk volunteer zalom. Tache uprant hi gozal thoinch thondd poddli. Mhoji porikxa sompli ani suttio poddleo. Punn hanv Babushak visronk nam ani rokddoch dusrea disa Ponnjechea Central Library-nt gelom.
Him sogllim borovpam adle pod'dotin boroilelim asat. Tanchi vakea-bandavoll toxea toxich dovorlea khori, punn xud'dh lekhonache nodrentlean zagear ghaleant. Punn ami mathalle (titles) toxech dovorleat. Hache fattlem karonn itlench: amkam hea borovpantlean vachpeak tea kallacho Konknnicho pormoll divnk zai. Hea kanniamni khub Purtugez utram / Purtugez loanwords asat tim ami toxinch dovorleant ani pustokachea xevottak tanchi utravoll (glossary) dil'li asa.
Babushachea pustokachem nanv ˜Noxibant Nirmilelem - Kotha Jhelo". ˜Noxibant Nirmilelem" hi tachi mukhel kotha. Pon'nas vorsam adim boroileleo kotha khoim tori xirkon asleo. Teo ami chukun (by default) Brazinho Soares-achea eka utrantlean sodun kaddleo, ani pon'nas vorsam uprant Babushacho sompadok tachea pustokachi prostavona boroita - hem oslem bhangarachem bhag, mhaka tori dista, amchea NOXIBANT-uch NIRMILELEM!
Pustokachem Mol: 60/- Rupia
Pustok hanga mellta:
Moddganv: ZITO'S, Cine Lata lagim
Ponnje: BROADWAY BOOK CENTRE, St. Inez, Caculo Island -a lagim
Kepem: STAR BOOK STALL
Kuwait ani Gulf: Goa-World.Com Team
Uzvaddavpi: Walter Menezes
Cusmane, Quepem, Goa - 403 705
Goa's Pride - http://www.goa-world.com Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter is presented by Ulysses Menezes, www.goa-world.com and moderated by Gaspar Almeida (since 1994) http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/gulf-goans
Konkani Amchi Mai Bhas Sogglea Goenkaranchi - hench amchem herans. For all Goans, our mother-tongue Konkani, is our pride! http://www.songs-from-goa.at/goa/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5ECJrnqPcI
Walter Menezes-achem pustok, “ ZOIT ani her kovita” uzvaddak yeta
Somar, 25.02.2008, Pope John School Hall, Kepem- hanga sanjechea 6.15 horancher ho suvallo zatolo. Shri Pundalik Naik, Odheox, Goa Konknni Akademi, Mukhel Soire zalear Shri Chandrakant (Babu) Kavalekar, Kepem-che Amdar ani Chairman, Goa Industrial Development Corporation, Manache Soire astole.
Pilarche Fr. Agnel Kolegint Konknni xikoupi ani boroupi, Shri Jose Salvador Fernandes hea pustoka vixim uloitole. “Koddu Sonvsar ani her kotha”- hea Walter-achea poilea pustokak Konknni Bhasha Mandal-acho Sahit’ya Puroskar favo zala.1991-1993 hea don vorsam khatir taka Department of Culture, Ministry of Human Resources, Govt. of India-chi ‘Junior Fellowship in Literature’ mell’li.
Pon’nas kovitancho aspav korun toyar kel’lem ‘Zoit ani her kovita’ – hem Walter-achem dusrem pustok. Pustok uzvaddak ailea uprant lhan Konknni karyavoll astoli zantunt vantto ghetat: Elvis Goes, Director, Kepemchim Kirnnam; John Rodrigues, Music Teacher, Agacaim ani Pramod Mhadeshwar-an choreograph korun Vivekanand Kala Sadarikaran Manch, Keri-Sattari hannim sadar kel’lo, ‘NACH GOA NACH’.
A Konkani book, ’ZOIT’, written by Walter Menezes of Quepem, Goa, was released by Hazel Rodrigues, general secretary of the association. High energy pulsating dance beats, loads of prizes, Bollywood celebrities, beauty pageants and interactive Qatar audience were all the part and parcel of the colossal 8th May Queen Ball of Goan Welfare Association held at Diplomatic Club Doha, Qatar..
Another remarkable feature of the program was the release of a Konkani book titled "Zoit ani her Kovita" (Victory and other poems) by Walter Menezes (Quepem, Goa). The book was released at the hands of Mr. Ashley Rigde-Cooke. This is the second year in succession that a Goan author/poet's publication has been released in Kuwait at the Summer Queen - the glittering dinner dance social organized by Goan Cultural Centre (GCC-Kuwait) at Crowne Plaza on Friday 25 April, 2008.
Mangalore: Quepem's Stars from Goa Sparkle at Kalaangann
MANGALORE , Jan 6,2008 : It was certainly a refreshing change for the Konkani music and art aficionados of the city, when 'Kepemchim Kirnnam', a musical and performing group from Quepem taluka of south Goa, presented a scintillating show at Kalaangann, Shaktinagar in the city evening. Quepem or Kepem has earned its own place in the art and music world. 'Kepemchim Kirnnam', headed by its director Elvis Goes, is not new to Mangalore. This group had taken part in the historic 'Manddo Fest' in 2003 in Mangalore and had won the hearts of Konkani art-lovers of the city.
Walter Menezes impressed with his flowing style of compering.
I was happy to see the following article in the GT the other day. I am posting it here for wider reading.
The book, with an uninspiring light blue cover, is really the most useful book I have seen to date for learning to read and write Konkani in Roman script ....specially if you are familiar with spoken Konkani or written English or both. The English-konkani and Konkani-English vocabulary is also very helpful. The book is available at TSKK-Porvorim, Varsha Book stall-Panaji [near Panaji-Betim Ferry jetty], Broadway Book store-St. Inez [opposite Caculo Ford] and St. Paul's Book store -18 June Road, Panaji. In Margao it is available at Rhythm House opposite Hotel Meenaxi. The book is priced just Rs.250/-
Those who do not know to speak Konkani, may find it helpful to buy a CD that comes along with Mr.Edward D"Lima's book "Learning Konkani" available at Singbal Book Stall, near the Church, Panaji. The pair costs Rs.200/-
Gomantak Times, Wednesday, dated: 02/01/2008.
GOA'S VERY OWN ˜WREN & MARTIN"
By: Walter Menezes Great persons, someone said, are no different from the rest of us. They only do things differently! On September 29, 2007, Fr. Matthew Almeida did just that. He celebrated his birthday differently. To a ˜sizeable section of Goan society and a ˜great number of Indians and foreigners who wanted to learn Konknni without having to learn a new alphabet, Fr. Matthew gave a precious present: ROMI LIPIENT KONKNNI KORS. For nearly two months the book remained on my bedside table, always staring at me.. Then one day I had to leave for Baroda and I picked up the book, dusted its cover and said, You are going to be my companion for the next few days! All through the days of the journey, the book remained my constant companion as I leafed through the pages and found that ROMI LIPIENT was indeed a precious present. The amount of time, energy and midnight oil that must have been burned by Fr. Matthew and his "textbook team" of Fr. Pratap Naik, S.J., Joanita D'Silva, Fr. Ave Maria Afonso and Shilpa Salvi to complete the Konknni Course can best be summed up thus: the book is simply outstanding! The Konknni Course is primarily meant for beginners and uses the Bardeshi dialect which is adopted by all the Church publications in Goa. The graded lessons are based on grammatical structures of Konknni. The grammar is explained in English and there are extensive exercises for the learner. With structural table drills, vocabulary at the end of each lesson and 50 pages of Konknni-Inglez / English-Konknni dictionaries, the book at once reminds you of ˜Wren & Martin, that old classic for a generation of students and teachers alike. In a brief write-up in the Nov-Dec'07 issue of The Goan Review, the magazine highlights the advantage of Roman script being ˜universally used script and any one who wishes to learn Konknni can make use of this book. This could well be the reason for â€˜an enthusiastic response that the book has stirred up. According to Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr Report 2007, the publishers received ˜pre-publication orders coming in from all over the world. The course uses all the letters of the Roman alphabet except q and w and an additional symbol â called tilde or til with a or o to give the accurate Konknni nasal sounds, e.g. pay (foot), and teaches one the typical patterns of sound, forms, words and sentences found in Konknni. Fr. Matthew informs us that â€˜the optimum age for language learning is from birth up to eleven to twelve years of age. But that should not discourage anyone. Though not written as a ˜teach-yourself-tutor", the course, with certain adaptations, ˜can be used to learn Konknni by oneself. Once the introductory lessons are behind you, Fr. Matthew takes you through everything that is so special about Goa. In Lesson 5, the children get a taste of ˜ambeachim kapam and˜ponnsachim sattam" when they go to Saliganv. Up the hill, they find ˜zambllam, bhennsam, churnam ani charam" and I couldn't but remember my own childhood days when we went in search of such berries during the summer holidays. ˜Sobit Ghor" is another lesson that gives you an inside view of the ancestral houses we grew up in, complete with ˜zollvachi khomp ani dukrancho ghudd". And with the kind of frenzied development that is taking place all around us, we may very soon find such houses only in history and coffee-table books. There is a beautiful line in one of the lessons: nisteachea nanvan mel'lim jitim zavpi ami! It means, without fish, Goans really feel like fish out of water. Even to read the very mention of such words like sungttancho balchanv, sukea bangddeancho parra, nisteachi mol ani rexiad in the book, is to leave a tang on your tongue. In some lessons there is sadness also. Sadness at the way Goans are selling off their houses and properties. At the way we celebrate our wedding receptions, where time is always the first casualty. And sadness to find that more and more players from Africa and Brazil are signed by the football clubs in Goa. Konknni uses are, ago, aga, age and the dependent forms re, go, ga, ge. Fr. Matthew cautions us that ˜care must be taken to find out the social acceptability of the forms to a particular group".. Rather than run the risk of insulting some person, ˜it is best to avoid them altogether", he suggests. Saying numbers and fractions, too is made that much simpler by using the old, decimal oriented practice as in English. 23 becomes vis ani tin and 1/3 is tinantlo ek vantto. >From Lesson 23 onwards, if the narrator or speaker is Hindu, Antruji dialect is used and if he is a Catholic, Bardeshi dialect is used to prepare the learner ˜for the real life situation in Goa. One cannot help but notice a few slips. Xarak vortolo (page 149) should be xarant. And is dovornnem the right word for a bus-stop? Apart from being a basic course for learners, Fr. Matthew Almeida's book takes the student through the hills and houses, the customs and everything that makes Goa truly fascinating. Like the good earth after the first showers, the pages literally ˜smell" of the Goan way of life as seen through the discerning eyes of a great educationist like Fr. Matthew. Porbim tumkam, Fr. Matthew Almeida. We eagerly look forward to your next birthday and your next present!
Title: ROMI LIPIENT KONKNNI KORS Author: Dr. MATTHEW ALMEIDA, S.J. Publisher: THOMAS STEPHENS KONKNNI KENDR, PORVORIM Pages: 252 Price: Rs.250/-
Walter Menezes, 42, The Mustard Seed, Cusmene, Quepem, Goa 403 705 Mobile: 9370569296
‘Natt’yangan’ is a collection of humorous one-act plays in Konkani, written by Brenda Menezes and published by Cindy Publications, Quepem through the sponsorship of Goa Konknni Academy. The book comprises of five plays, written in a simple yet delightful language that is normally used everyday.
The first play titled ‘Eka Lognak Sotra Vidhna,’ narrates the tale of an elderly spinster who refuses all proposals and when she finally accepts one, other hurdles crop up. ‘Aai Bhandavelean Dhanvli,’ is about a mother, her naughty kids and a ‘good for nothing’ husband. Frustrated at not being able to control the misdeeds of her family, she contemplates suicide…
In ‘Hantrun Polleun Paim Soddunk Zai,’ a poor peon, in an office, is under tension. His sister-in-law is getting married, his children want new clothes, and his wife wants to buy an expensive gift and he has no money! ‘Eleisanv’ tells about corrupt politicians and the new candidates who also will become corrupt while the last play, ‘Aplem Thoddem Chintchem Papia,’ warns a retiring employee to save the terminal benefits or face the consequences.
Written in Devanagri script by a lady who was weaned in Konkani from her childhood by her parents and uncles, especially a maternal uncle who won laurels for his poetry, the five plays make for great reading. Besides the humor that is present, there is also a message in each play. The book would be a great buy for individuals and schools, which could perform the beautiful plays for variety entertainment programmes and annual days.
With great support and encouragement from her husband, Walter Menezes, who is also a writer, Brenda will continue writing more plays. Maybe someday, the will write a full-fledged Konkani drama. All the best to Brenda, keep on writing.
Book Review of “Rendermam Ani Tachem Jivit" Author and Publisher: Fr. Ave Maria Afonso Pages: 64 Price: Rs.60
By: Walter Menezes
I met Fr. Ave Maria Afonso at Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr, Alto Porvorim on a day when Fr. Mathew Almeida, SJ was celebrating his birthday. The book release ceremony of Fr. Almeida’s Romi Lipient Konknni Kurs was over and we were helping ourselves to a piece of cake and a cup of tea when Fr. Ave Maria presented me with a copy of his book, Rendermam’ ani Tachem Jivit.
This book was released in Margao a couple of days earlier at a function organized to celebrate the first anniversary of the Konknni magazine, Jivit, and although I was present for the same, I had to leave the function half-way through, without buying a copy of the book, whose seeds were sown when Fr. Ave Maria was pursuing his post-graduate studies at TSKK, Alto Porvorim.
I finished reading Rendermam’ on a relaxed Sunday when the nation was celebrating the triumph of good over evil and realized how little I knew about the toddy-tapper who, like the poder and the pagi, (baker and traditional fisherman) has been an essential part of every Goan household. For who can imagine a life without our daily bread, our fish-curry and a peg of feni? Or our feasts without sannas and our mouth-watering dishes like sorpotel, sausages, vindaloo, fish parro and mol without vinegar?
My father-in-law had a bar in Kepem and, on days when he was indisposed, I was the one who was summoned to help him out on such occasions. We normally catered to the aam admi who would flock to the bar in the afternoons and the evenings and help themselves to their favourite drink. I had the opportunity to interact with some of the rendermams, and in one case the wife of a rendermam’, who would come from as far as Sanguem with their kollxo (earthern pot) of feni and deliver the same to Ruzar-irmao, as my father-in-law was respectfully called. He would then measure the grau of the feni by dipping the alcohometer in the bottle, nod his head when it showed 18 degrees, and then make the payment.
A kopin of feni is what I normally had in the night just before supper was served. And on days when I was too tired after a hard day’s work, my wife would not mind at all if I had some ‘extra’ ones! What she never knew was that sometimes I would join my friend at a village bar, where dukhsiri, a strange combination of feni and medicinal roots, was a great hit at that time. Meant for those who labour and sweat it out in the fields, dukhsiri is a soothing drink and like vodka, there is not a trace of smell at all. But just to be on the safer side, once the bill was settled, my friend would remove a couple of cloves from some secret chamber of his trousers and off we would go, munching them merrily on our way home. We were happy and so were our better halves!
Fr. Ave Maria’s book is a treasure of information. The tools that the rendermam’ uses, the sign of the cross that he makes on his forehead before the risky climb to the coconut tree-top and the process of distilling feni, these and other details make the book interesting. It is a male-dominated world, but, strange as it may sound, Fr. Ave Maria reports of the only lady-render from Verna who once did the job. With a colourful ‘dose’ of photographs by Egidio Fernandes and a cover designed by Willy Goes, Rendermam’ ani Tachem Jivit is a great offering in Romi Konknni.
There is one chapter dedicated entirely to Rendrachim Gitam-Kantaram. The toddy-tapper leads a lonely life, hopping from one coconut tree to another, three times a day. Seated on one of the palm fronds high above the ground, sharp-edged kati, dudinem to collect the sap and the clay pot, damonnem, firmly in place, the poet in the rendermam’ awakens and he sings:
Jivit chintlear amchem,
Xirxirta ang lokachem.
Maddar choddun denvpachem,
Jivit amchem Rendranchem!
Yes! Life is a hard grind for the rendermam’. And very risky too. Fr. Ave Maria informs that the All Goa Toddy-Tappers’ Association, headquarted in Margao and established in 1961, has been in the forefront to protect the interests of the render community. A few welfare measures are in operation and a “Pension Scheme” formed by the Goa Government for toddy-tappers above 60 years of age, awaits implementation.
The rendermam’ is a fascinating person and Fr. Ave Maria has observed him from close quarters. Even going to the extent of spending a night and a day with his family. The rendermam’ is a god-fearing man. There is rosary in his house every day and once a year, villagers gather at his residence for the ladin (litany) in honour of the patron saint. On the last Sunday of February every year, he attends, along with his entire community, the Thanksgiving Mass at the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
Like any niz Goenkar, he loves football, khell-tiatrs and tiatrs. His breakfast consists of pez with kalchi koddi and kharem nustem and his house is full of Konknni cassettes. He gambles a lot, plays the moddko and has, on many occasions, squandered his hard-earned money on such vices.
Arthur Hailey, best-selling author of such ‘subject-specific’ novels like Airport, Hotel, Wheels, Overload and Final Diagnosis, who used factual research to his advantage, once said, “I don’t think I really invented anybody. I have drawn on real life!” Perhaps Fr. Ave Maria’s next ‘stop’ should be a novel, with characters drawn from real life.
Prof. Jose Salvador Fernandes, in his foreword, shares his own experience of maddar choddpachem when he used to assist his father in ‘toddy-tapping’ whenever the manaim-render (helper) used to be absent. Both, Prof. Jose’s father and the rendermam’ where Fr. Ave Maria spent a night, felt that this is not only a tough job but one where there is no respect at all. “Ami tras-koxtt kaddtat te puro. Amchea bhurgeank tem naka”, they said, expressing in a way, the sentiments of the entire community.
Such a view may just be the reason why the population of toddy-tappers has reduced drastically from a strong force of around 22,000 in 1964 to only around 1100 in 2006. The death-knell has already sounded for many such ancient traditional occupations, Prof. Jose laments in his foreword. In the distant future, books like Rendermam’ ani Tachem Jivit will become a rich repository of information and a window to our fascinating past.
__________________ As a critic “par excellence” you have done great justice to Fr Ave Maria Alfonso and his fascinating book “Renderamam ani Tachem Jivit”. You’ve crafted an glowing overview within a lovely idyllic setting, exquisitely framed with folk lore and consuetude. While focusing on the toddy tapper your remarks are astutely enriched with also discussing cognate trades. This added feature gives a robust, well-rounded picture of rural Goa in its pristine glory.
Although an expatriate native of the Konkan coast, it’s the first time I’ve been introduced to the indigenous word “Renderamam”. Recalling rustic Mahim, Bombay of yore, I’ve scaled quite a few coconut trees in my salad days. I knew professional palm climbers fairly well too. But we referred to them as Bandaris. We had high reverence for them as they could scramble up tall trees in a jiffy while we struggled even with mid-sized ones. Of course our climbs were mainly juvenile pranks to purloin a couple of the fruit to share among mischievous comrades. As part of the cult of amateur tree-hugging stegophilists, we not only had a lot of fun but were part of the culture and traditions of the littoral scene in the shadow of the Ghats. I’m highly obliged for stirring my deep visceral feelings with heartwarming nostalgia of my halcyon days of naughty innocence.
I’m surprised you’ve not yet autogenously undertaken writings of your own within our Motherland’s ambit of geography and ethnography. You seem to dynamically live, breathe, sweat and adulate our native soil’s ethos and topography so endearingly. Shades of the genre of my eminent Goan writer friends-in-correspondence, Messrs Valmiki Faleiro and Edwin Fernandes !!! So why not document this treasure from your seminal perspective? In conclusion, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your elegant tribute to Fr Ave Maria’s impressive work. Your generous cachet should make a big difference to its circulation and special place in our libraries. Regards Arnold
– mog asum di, walter
Comment by Arnold Noronha, by way of Walter Menezes and FN — September 7, 2008 Source: http://goabooks.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/a-life-less-known-walter-menezes-reviews-renderamam-ani-tachem-jivit/ & Walter Menezes