By Malavika Neurekar
“Our education is meant to uplift us from where we come from, not uproot us,” quips Victor Hugo Gomes. The remark is informed by his formulation of the ‘Four Generations’: the first generation that creates a culture out of love and need; the second that reaps the benefits; the third that embraces modernity and abandons the indigenous culture. The fourth generation, to which Victor Hugo believes he belongs, is the one that attempts to reassemble the dismembered pieces of their heritage, to salvage the remains of a lost culture. It is this exact strain of thought that fuelled the grit and the passion that went into the conception of the Goa Chitra, Goa Chakra, and Goa Cruti Museums at Benaulim.
With growth came technology, and with technology came globalisation. While technology has irreversibly transformed modern society’s modes of subsistence and pattern of living, globalisation has led to the creation of a uniform culture built upon the models of development of the West. In this process of this homogenisation of culture, local indigenous cultures have been destroyed and their identities are in shambles. The conglomerate of museums preserve Goan local culture by bringing together the scattered material remains of a by-gone era. Goa Chitra, Chakra and Cruti stand as a testament to Goa’s agrarian past, ancient modes of transport, and colonial influences respectively.
The journey of Goa Chitra is inseparably linked with the personal vision and trajectory of Victor Hugo Gomes himself. Everything that he invests his energy and time into is driven by an unwavering desire to recreate the Goa of the good old days – not just within the walls of the museums, but beyond. The Goa of Victor’s imagination harks back to a land untouched by modernity, breathed into life by the stories told by his blind grandmother. These childhood experiences left upon him a lasting impression. Enrapt and consumed with a child-like wonder, he has dedicated his life to reviving the essence of Goan life. Another fundamental belief that shapes his ideology is that a museum is not a dead place. Rather, it is a space that should evoke certain responses, facilitate interaction, and encourage dialogue with the collection housed there. In that, he believes that each artefact housed there contains a unique story of its own. While Goa Chitra has received widespread acclaim and recognition, the untold story behind the establishment of the museum itself has remained unexplored. The grand narrative of the journey of Goa Chitra – rife with struggles, little joys, and anecdotal wisdom – is composed of multiple smaller narratives. By piecing together these isolated stories, told through different voices and different perspectives, Goa Chitra Rewind aims to deliver them to a wider audience.