By Bevinda Collaco
Victor Hugo Gomes should be the rule, rather than the exception
Too many people have called Victor Hugo Gomes crazy. It’s the word you use when you don’t understand why someone decides to undertake a thankless project that in all likelihood will bankrupt him, and still slog at it with single-minded intensity. That’s not crazy. That should be normal. We need people like Victor to be the rule rather than the exception.
If you look at the three museums he has built up stone by stone, piece by piece, idea by idea – and still continues adding to, honing, polishing, thinking ahead – you realize that is how things are done. You don’t take a dream and dissect it with a calculator to measure return on investment, and cost benefit analysis. You just go with your gut and build that dream.
What does he have in that big ol’ place in Benaulim? He has Goa Chitra, the museum for Goan ethnography. He has Goa Chakra, the museum dedicated to early modes of transport. And now he has Goa Cruti, the museum that shows the elegance of life of a bygone era.
These three museums are his children. Children that he and his lovely wife Aldina, brought to life. Aldina Gomes has been there alongside, shoulder to shoulder with her husband, keeping the three museums growing. And how can we forget Chacha, the carpenter which the magic of restoration in his bones, who would take a rough cart and restore the wood carefully and lovingly until it shone like new. Chacha has since passed away, but he lives on in all those shining carts and artifacts. That is his legacy. He drew out stories from the pieces of history he worked on. Without the magic of Chacha, the museums may not have rolled out so beautifully.
Goa Chitra is a unique 4000-artifact collection and display of traditional farming implements and other ancient tools of trade. What makes it unique is that it is set up against the backdrop of Goa Chitra’s traditional organic farm which is open for live, hands-on experience to students, professionals and anyone else. You can look at the artifacts, observe the fishpond or the farm, do a bit of threshing if you visit during harvest time, feed the animals, attend a concert, a lecture, oh, and have an authentic, mouth-watering Goan meal.
Students from all over the world visit Benaulim for the Goa Chitra experience. Each artifact is supplemented by information that was collected in situ by interviewing the elder members of the community and through the study of its application in daily life. Victor was talking of a mega project of documenting oral testimonies of indigenous peoples, our last fragile links to the past. Even the One Dollar Campaign to support this documentation fascinates.
Victor Hugo has worked meticulously and hard. He has focused on setting up his museums and getting sufficient funds to run them properly. That is not the work of a crazy person. That should be the way each and every one of us makes our dreams come true. Don’t know how to do that? A visit to the museums at Goa Chitra, Benaulim will show you how it’s done.
Bevinda Collaco is a media professional, blogger, and commentator on social issues in Goa.