Posted in Personal Stories

Words From the Heart

By James Stevenson

It was Victor’s energy and enthusiasm that I originally found attractive.  He is a born motivator.  I have had many friends over the years full of great plans and ideas but Victor is perhaps the only one who pursues to completion his visions with the single-minded determination that anyone who knows him has witnessed. Victor built my house here in Goa and it was a bumpy road.  Over several years there were ups and downs. What I can say is that it has turned out very well and is very much the result of our collaboration. Victor has a wonderful open mind and was always willing to negotiate on any matter.  Serious rowdy drunken arguments were forgotten and most important – we are still close friends. Also in a potential minefield of financial misunderstanding we had none.  Victor has a wonderful generosity of spirit that I have benefitted from and witnessed countless times.  I know I can count on him when I need him and he is someone I trust unreservedly.  I have spent many happy hours at Goa Chitra at all kinds of events.  Looking back over the years I wonder what the future holds.  One can be sure it will look nothing like it does now.  A few months can dramatically change it.  Victor’s pace can be exhausting and always there will be new ideas being realized.  I remember a few years ago going around with Victor in Mumbai looking for a Victoria carriage for his museum.  He looked at many and out of them chose the most unlikely- the one covered with marriage paraphernalia and ugly to behold.  He knew what he wanted and had the eye for it.  His negotiations with the owner were masterful. In short, his are the qualities of a collector.  It is impossible to imagine Victor not being successful in his endeavors and I see him going from strength to strength.  I am happy to be a part the Goa Chitra experience.

Posted in Personal Stories

My thoughts

By Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues

One Sunday morning, may be four years back, I got a call from Victor Hugo Gomes, whom I had never met but only heard about. He was the first Curator of the Museum of Christian Art which was originally at the Rachol Seminary in Salcete. He wanted to know a few things about Goa, traditions and customs. And lo… the conversation went on for more than an hour!

Though we were talking over the phone it was easy for me to guess how emotional and attached he was to his pet project, and I confirmed this when I personally met him at the house. Victor had invited me to have lunch on any day of my choice, but preferably on a day when his wife would be at home. Leonel, my husband and I drove to Benaulim and decided to go through the interior roads of Salcete villages to appreciate the beauty of nature. Well, our host was keeping track of us during the journey and guiding us how to reach the house. It was a pleasant surprise when he introduced Aldina, his lovely wife, whom I had met once at the Central Library in Panjim. She had impressed me the very first time, as an excellent professional. She is a clinical psychologist and head of department at the Carmel College’s Psychology department. And I would like to add that Victor got the right companion in her. She has encouraged him in all his endeavors and has bonded so well to achieve, along with him, something that everybody had thought to be difficult if not impossible to create – an ethnographic museum that reflects about Goan culture and ethos. (I can still visualise the day of the official inaugural of the museum. How Aldina got emotional while delivering the vote of thanks and rushed to the house to hide her tears!)

The Lady of the house went all out to impress with quite a few tasty dishes at the table. Victor took us around to show the artifacts he had collected through purchase and some as gifts. He explained how he had put together the house, with material he bought from old houses which were demolished to rebuild new ones. He also explained how he intended to set up the museum where he would place his artifacts and the general organization. Frankly, a few of the pieces he had on show were seen by us for the first time. But, Victor was there to explain its use. At that point of time he had collected the artifacts and was still in the process of organizing the display.

We discussed several books on Goa, and many travellers who left good accounts of the experiences. He bought a couple of those for his library. All the while there were many questions from Victor, who was eager to learn and know about facts. I wondered from where he got the inspiration to set up such a museum and who helped him? Divine Providence? Or his personal acumen coupled with his wife’s unstinted support?  Whatever may be the answer, Victor has built the unthinkable to give us the past in the present!

Posted in Personal Stories

Of Failures and Dreams

By Prajal Sakhardande

Prajal Sakhardande minces no words in his admiration for the Goa Chitra museum and the man behind it. Everything from the establishment of the museum to the struggles of external support, from Goa Chitra’s value for heritage conservation to knowing Victor Hugo Gomes, this week’s personal story is as personal as it gets.


Victor Hugo Gomes is an enigma to me. He is a phenomenon. He is unconventional. He is a Great Goan who has placed Goa on the International map through his great creation, a tribute to our Goan Heritage. My first impression of Victor is of a restless Goan in faded jeans, unconventional looks with a zest to do something for Goa. He believed in carving a unique niche for himself in this huge world. He had stars in his eyes. He seemed to be angry with the system. He dreamt big – he was tracing his roots embedded in Goa’s red soil. Digging the soil to find our agricultural ancestry and thus began his long and chequered tryst with history and heritage. He was fired with a passion: a life long journey into the very evolution of us humans in the beautiful realm called Mother Goa. He established a congenital connect with Mother Goa and Mother Earth. He was angry with the establishment. A cursory perception of Victor we found a sense of negativity had crept in his person but it was on a journey of self introspection and retrospection of his Goenkar Heritage. Things were not right and it hurt him, it hurt his inner soul that our Goan brethren were slowly being divorced from their agricultural farming roots. That we were forgetting our Goan rustic ethos. Our Heritage is great, he often said. He went on a difficult path to find our agricultural heritage from the ancient wooden plough to the modki to the smallest of the agricultural implement used by our forefathers as showcased in the wonder of Goa called Goa Chitra.

Goa Chitra is Victor’s dream baby which he gave birth to with a deep sense of research authenticity detail and meticulousness. He spent his money, time, and energy to create this dream project. Things were far from easy. A struggle had begun where this great Goan left everything at stake. Contacting people and getting them to see his passion to fruition was a challenge and he went through this with singular devotion to create this wonder of heritage. The Government hardly cared as is always the case. His wife Dr. Aldina stood by him through thick and thin in those pressing days of collection of artefacts and implements. Victor Hugo never settles for mediocrity. He is a perfectionist. He does not compromise on quality.

Initially no one took him seriously about his passion. I had invited Victor to be a resource person at my Seminar on Goan Heritage in 2012 and I remember his zestful, passionate discourse on Goan heritage. He finds that the government is least interested in heritage preservation. He has spent all that he had on his life called Goa Chitra and Goa Chakra. He grows his own rice. He grows his own veggies. My students were much inspired by this great personality. I look at Victor Hugo Gomes as an institution. A scholar, a man who dreamt madly and crazily. A man who dared to dare. A man who chose to be a face in the crowd rather than follow the societal norms and conventions. Nobody can tie Victor down. Victor flies and flies high to pursue his dreams. He thinks of Goa Chitra all the time. He breathes, sleeps, and wakes up to the call of Goa Chitra of its growth of our Mother Goa. He is not the run of the mill kind of a man and that’s what I love about Victor. He stands out. He strikes a chord. He is not easy to get along. He is a difficult man, he is straightforward, he knows no hypocrisies. He is a fighter. The establishment of Goa Chitra was not a bed of roses. The man has slogged. I know it. He loves and respects honesty. He does not mince words when he talks. Every minute of this great Goan is important because he does not idle away and waste his time doing the mundane. He never talks for effect. He never butters anyone. Personally to me, he is an inspiration, a Great Goan who makes history every day. He has a serious demeanour. You cannot play with the man. He is a backpacker, he is a traveller, he is forever on a journey of discovery. He is a flower child. He is secular to the core. Religion as an institution does not matter to this great man. He respects the grassroot. He salutes the little enterprise, he salutes the worker, the artist, the craftsman, the tribal. He  believes in them. Victor is constantly engaged in a conversation with himself. He is a student, a child, a person with a quest. He is a study. He is not ordinary. He is cut above the rest. He is a red lotus who has risen on his own steam, because he woke up with a beautiful dream.


prajal

Prajal Sakhardande is a historian, heritage activist, and associate professor and head of the History Department at the Dhempe College of Arts and Science. The President of the Goa Heritage Action Group and Goa’s Movement for Special Status, he also conducts nature trails and heritage walks for students in Goa. Having penned columns for the Navhind Times for fourteen years and authored “Muslim History and Heritage of Goa”, he is currently working on a book titled “Goa Gold, Goa Silver: Her History, Her Heritage.”

Posted in Personal Stories

The Exception or the Rule?

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

Bevinda Collaco is a media professional, blogger, and commentator on social issues in Goa.

Posted in Branding & Institutionalisation, Personal Stories

From the Horse’s Mouth

The Former Director of State Tourism Elvis Gomes and the President of the Felga Gracias Institute in Rio de Janeiro Luis Gracias give their take on what makes Goa Chitra special.  


By Elvis Gomes

Victor Hugo Gomes has been a known name to us from Salcette since the 80’s. When I was the director of tourism sometime in 2008-09, Victor briefed me about his project and facilitated a visit. My whole old world of having grown into a rural setting came alive when I saw several agricultural and other implements which had gone out of sight with agriculture being allowed to die. I was happy that I could recite the names of many in the local Konkani language with ease. Life then was made less laborious by the wonderful inventions of those times and I wondered why we were so careless about not protecting the rich heritage for our future generations, to get an insight about the lives of the ancestors. The sheer grit, determination, passion and labour with which Victor Hugo was working and the kind of financial stress he must have gone through with absolutely no support from any quarters leave alone the authorities , made me think about doing something about it through the department. The asset that he was creating had the potential to be one of the best things for Goa and needed support. But suddenly the powers that be thought that I had to be out of tourism. I was helpless and couldn’t do much besides giving stray advices whenever sought.

But to still know that Goa Chitra has only grown and has caught a lot of international attention is proof that Victor’s conviction could not be shaken by any adversity. I would wish that all the children in Goa get an opportunity to visit Goa Chitra to see for themselves something that certainly shouldn’t be missed.


By Luis Gracias

In 2015, our Institute was short-listing contenders for the 2015 Felga Gracias Award for Excellence and the Trofeu Dignidade Award for Outstanding achievement to Organisations and Individuals in the area Social Entrepreneurship and Cultural contributions in India. Goa Chitra, the only private museum with such a rich collection showcases our cultural heritage. Indeed, a priceless gift to us all and to the future generations. Victor Hugo’s Goa Chitra creation represents all that was and is Goan and it has created a huge awareness in India and in the International community. The Board of Directors of the Felga-Gracias Institute were very impressed by the work done by this unassuming Goan Artist and his selfless contribution to his homeland, that it was an unanimous decision to present Goa Chitra with all the three Felga-Gracias 2015 awards, The Dignidade Award, the Excellencia no Trabalho Diploma and the Felga- Gracias Medal for outstanding contribution to Art and Culture. Victor Hugo’s achievements have been recognised by us and it is commendable how he strives to carry on the mission to preserve and maintain the Goan heritage and culture, as well as salvage what may have been lost.

There is a message here to all, that this is a man working towards a selfless goal with one single agenda – Goa Chitra! His gift for the people!

Posted in Personal Stories

The ‘Junk’ Collector

By Colin Coelho

Uncouth, rude, untrustworthy, violent, cheater… Everyone in the crowd, everyone we call society, used these ‘expletives’ to describe one man. He was more known as a junk collector, a man who collected tattered pantleo and broken koderam. But the person I knew since school days did not seem to match the description, because he came across to me as creative: the one with a ‘go-getter’ attitude and was ruthless while he moved to achieve this.

It was probably way back in 1984 that I sat on the same bench as Victor Hugo Gomes. In the few days that our class-teacher allowed us to be bench-partners, I learnt a lot about Victor. Was he crazy? Indeed yes. Crazy like there was no tomorrow. Was he kind? Yes. Kind like a human being should be.

Then I met Victor at the then ‘Arlem Festival’. It was the first edition of the festival and I was pleasantly surprised to know that he was the event coordinator. The show at BPS Club, Margao was organized with great pomp. I recall meeting Victor, along with my sister, after the show and offering him a few ideas, which he listened to and took them as good suggestions.

As years went by, we were hardly in touch. But a purchase of a computer from me by Victor put us on the friendship track again. And as I spent time at Victor’s Margao office trying to put together the computer to suit his requirement, I watched as he auditioned an Indian classical music band to perform at some hotels around Goa. His questions were precise and musically probing. What impressed me no end was the way he conducted the session. How he was particular and meticulous in getting to the actual requirement and how he guided the group into getting there.

One morning, I was on my lunch break and made my way to the market. As I strolled around Farmacia Menezes at Margao, I heard my name being called. As I looked up I saw Victor who was all excited and seemed on top of the world. I went across the road to meet him and he had this to say, exhilarating voice hitting an ecstatic pitch: “I’m getting married.” It did not end there, before I could even congratulate him or say something he continued: “I told you I would decide suddenly. These are crazy decisions I make!” Whoever heard of making a ‘crazy’ decision about a marriage? Only Victor can, I later realized. When I asked him who the ‘crazy’ girl is, he told me of a name I knew from a few years ago since she and I had attended a Youth Leadership programme together. Aldina Braganza was no ‘crazy’ girl from what I knew her! But there seemed to be something unique about this match. Unfortunately I could not attend their wedding, but really was happy for them both.

Again Victor and I lost touch. I began my writing on music and Victor was not to be seen much. Later I got to know from the horse’s mouth so to speak, that this lull had Victor plotting and planning, in fact conniving, with Goa’s culture to do something that was not heard of. A few friends told me about how Victor visited their place and wanted to buy all their old things. But will he pay? This was the question that seemed the chorus in town. But building up a collection he did. And there are no more murmurs from around the crowd.

A few years later I met Victor at a restaurant. This was a memorable visit. He came up to me and said bluntly: “Stop writing about music.” I knew Victor as the pioneer of the Great Music Revival concerts held at various venues around Goa. But I never expected a good friend to be so blunt. Of course I did not listen to him and continued on my passion… writing about music and musicians. In one article I remember having the opportunity of giving the ‘devil’ his due. I spoke of how Victor promoted the jazz scene and gave it a high pedestal in Goa and was one of the first to do it. This certainly brought Victor and me close together again. A recognition for each other’s talents and achievements.

Involving myself in writing about some articles on events at Goa Chitra has also been a source of great joy. It was in one interview that the passionate man expressed how he and Aldina decided they would have no kids. He decided he wanted to nurture and allow his creativity in Goa Chitra to bloom. A difficult decision that may be a shocker to many, but a source of joy to them.

The emotion and passion in the man makes him more and more likeable and admirable. Yes he has his flaws. But more importantly he has his strengths – his unrestricted creativity and his indomitable passion.


Colin.jpg

Colin Coelho is a columnist and freelance writer. He writes music reviews, previews and profiles for various newspapers, magazines and publications, and is an active member of GOA-YMCA Toastmasters Club.

Posted in Personal Stories

A ‘Courlorful’ Personality – Victor Hugo Gomes

By Joseph Dias

When Victor introduced me to the Goa Chitra Blog, I was immediately compelled to write to readers about my experiences which are closely entwined with Goa Chitra and the man behind the collection.

I first knew Victor in my Alma Mater, Loyola High School in Margao. He was fondly known by all as ‘Pisso Bhatkar’ (Mad Landlord) and went about school life fearlessly, always challenging the norms and his peers with passionate guile and exuberance. Whilst I was studying for an architectural degree, Victor was pursuing an art education in the Goa College of Art and we met rather infrequently. I remember one of such times was during an art exhibition he and some colleagues of his, put up in Margao, called ‘Synchronicity’. Being known to some of the artists associated with Victor, I volunteered to help them out and I hung out with the group: eating, drinking and sleeping with a bunch of mad artists who saw colourful dreams and listened to Zappa tracks when I didn’t even know that kind of music existed! It was a crazy and memorable time.

Art work by Joseoh Dias

After graduation however, Victor went completely off my radar, only to reappear just a few years ago on my Facebook page – Jodi’s art. He had been secretly admiring my cartoons and illustrations on Goa until one fine day he decided to comment … and we reconnected! Previously, on vacation in Goa, I visited Goa Chitra unbeknownst to the fact that it was Victor’s passionate project. I was taken through the museum, which consisted of several ‘houses’ within a large gated compound, marveling at the collection and wishing for it to rise to the renown of European Museums I had visited before. It was only during my third visit to Goa and to the museum, that Victor and I were able to spend productive time together. We discussed varied subjects related to Goa and the projects (both Architectural and ethnographic) we could undertake together. To broaden my understanding of the kind of work he engaged with, Victor took me to some of the Portuguese mansions he had restored himself. I was stupefied at what he was able to accomplish with the old houses as well as new houses built for foreigners in the Goan architectural vocabulary. We visited other prospective projects and shared views on areas that catered to our mutual interest and desire for collaboration.

Victor is crazily in love with Goa and all things Goan. He works hard throughout the day to improve the museum with whatever funds he can gather, both personal as well as from the small fee he collects from visitors at the museum. Personally, I have great respect for Victor and his endeavours and I look forward to helping him in whatever way I can ­although, the distance and my sporadic trips to Goa make it a little difficult to keep my involvement consistent. I wish Victor all the very best on his inspiring journey.


joseph c dias.jpgJoseph Canisius Dias is an Architect by profession who has worked on several iconic projects in Dubai like the Emirates Towers, National Bank of Dubai and Shangri­ La Hotel. He is also a writer (“Dona Paula”, “The Magical Bone Flute”), musician (Flute, Sax), Cartoonist/Illustrator, and a storyteller. His Facebook page, ‘Jodi’s Art’ is well-known among Goans all over the world for its funny and informative posts. He partners a publishing firm and bookstore (Word Ventures, Margao) with his brother. Jodi’s Comic Art Gallery in Margao is his latest venture with a few more in the pipeline.

Posted in Personal Stories

Musings on the Museum

By Nirmal Kulkarni

I am a conservation scientist. A herpetologist. Not a writer. I do not write about people. But there are some people in one’s life that belong to a vein that is special…people whom I do not have the spirit to say no to. Victor and Aldina belong there. Hence this note.

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I do not remember how and when, and through whom I met Victor Hugo Gomes. As a field researcher, selective memory loss of all things unnecessary and mundane is now become a compulsive habit. I do distinctly remember two or three things mentioned about Victor by some soul – that he is an alumni of the Goa College of Art, was instrumental in founding the Museum of Christian Art at Old Goa, and calls a spade a spade. A heady concoction and familiar one that was and hence we did connect from our first meeting and continue to do so till date.

And then there was this rumor that Victor had banned foreign nationals from Goa Chitra for a year since he wanted Goans to first come and see their own heritage. It did reach me too and I admit it compelled me to visit Goa Chitra sooner than I intended too.

However, I never did cross check with him about these tales or others that I subsequently heard and overheard. Not even once. Our conversations always revolved around snakes and the humble Goan way of life.

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My own parallel work as a conservation scientist and an artist is seeking to make historical information, often lost or displaced, physically present. To meet this objective I tend to elaborate on memories…of the found being, image, object, and text, and ensure that these are as close to the factual past. It is then that I visit Goa Chitra. It is my sounding board.

And then, Goa Chitra museum, to me, is also a second litmus paper test for choosing pals. Victor himself might not know of it, but everyone whom I feel I should include in my close circle of friends must do two things first: (1) walk the Western Ghats of Goa with me at dawn or dusk, and (2) Visit Goa Chitra. Feedback from them on these two aspects determines the outcome.

I respond to reptile related emergencies at Goa Chitra. With cool shaded tree canopies and an organic farm, Goa Chitra has had its share of human- snake interactions. And yet, Victor and Aldina are amongst the very few I know in Goa who have been tolerant about their ophidian neighbours despite of fatal accidents to their loved pets. Their commitment and love for animals equals to that, if not more for heritage, and I am sure very few know of this.

*

Often drawn 
to people, things, and places
 that are stranded, outmoded, or otherwise sidelined, Victor constantly attempts to, consciously or unconsciously, archive tangible and non-tangible memories – of places and things that are Goan (as well as Indian now, in case of Goa Chakra).

For some, such work often appears tendentious, even preposterous. Indeed the will to instinctively connect and compulsively collect can be termed bordering something akin to a hint of paranoia. Victor has been doing it for decades now. In a systematic self motivated manner that is at time inspirational to some, irrational to many.

An iconic writer and thinker had once mentioned it to me and I think it sums it up what Victor is doing and has further set out to do. He said in Marathi “Vedi manase itihaas kartat, ani tya itihaasacha guun matra shahani manase gaatat” (Insane people create history and that history is then sung in rich glory by sane people).  With Goa Chitra and Goa Chakra, Victor Hugo Gomes has insanely created history by conserving it in its true element. With Goa Cruti, he has gone a step ahead and recreated a chronicle of past professions for us to perceive and appreciate.

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While Goa Chitra has stimulated and laid the foundation stones for many a private collection, museum and studies including my own, in the state and across the globe, it is Victor’s persistent and untiring passion that draws people like me to Goa Chitra.

For me, every trip to Goa Chitra is a journey of sorts …of my own memories, my notes from the past, both physical and mental, those that connect me to objects on display there. With Assavri my wife who has captured a slice of that essence called ‘Goa Chitra’ on several occasions through her camera, this is our umbilical cord to keep in touch with a bygone Goa that is today sorely missed.

I dine at Goa Chitra almost every time I visit the place. Organic rice from their farm. Sannas and sorpotel, prawn curry, etc. I eat at Goa Chitra amidst many tales and those times are some of the best ones spent with Victor and Aldina. If an opportunity arises please do dine at Goa Chitra – it’s a fulfilling experience.

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I sincerely feel that Victor needs to publish his thoughts and his articles. His dreams and his images and catalogues. This is the need of the hour for our generation of Goans and the several generations to come. As Goa Chitra evolves into a melting pot of all things Goan and heritage, it is an earnest appeal that Victor should find time and contemplation to put together his large body of heritage work on paper.


Nirmal.jpgNirmal Kulkarni defines himself as an “eco-warrior”. He began as a snake handler and nature photographer, and has since matured into a herpetologist with unrivalled knowledge and accolades.  Having several discoveries in the Western Ghats credited to his name, he has been the recipient of Sarpamitra award by Indian Herpetological Society, the Carl Zeiss award for conservation, the prestigious Karmaveer Award for wildlife conservation, and recently the Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Service “Wind under Wings’ 2014, amongst others. He has headed the Mhadei Research Centre, and authored a book titled ‘The Goan Jungle Book” which is aimed at educating students in particular and the Goan populace in general about Goa’s lesser known wildlife.

Posted in Personal Stories

A Compelling Love for Ethnography

By Damodar Mauzo

The word ‘victor’ has many synonyms. Winner, champion, vanquisher, defeater. But Victor Hugo Gomes has no parallels, though each of the synonyms can be befittingly attributed to his persona. It is not that I have known Victor for decades. I must have met him sometime during the second half of the last decade.  I am a bit absentminded and inclined to forget names. However, I vividly remembered Victor Hugo mainly because of his ‘literary’ name and also because of the distinct feature of his outward appearance, marked by his ponytail. Incidentally, though I had occasionally met Victor earlier at social evenings, it was Aldina who brought us closer. My daughter who taught at Carmel College introduced her to me as the Head of the Department of Psychology.  Later, we met again at a family event where I came closer to Victor and then there was no end to our camaraderie. The strongest common bond that brought us closer was our love for our heritage, be it our Konkani language, our culture, or our traditions.

I was very impressed by the passion with which Victor put in so much hard work to realize his dream project – the ethnographic museum. When I visited the place for the first time, I could not believe that it was an accomplishment of a one-man mission. How can one man raise resources for such a huge project? I was told that all the savings of Aldina and Victor had gone into the venture.  What a gamble! Sheer madness, I thought. Yes, only passionate madness can drive a dedicated man to achieve a dream of this kind.

mauzomauzo-2mauzo-threshing-paddy-at-goa-chitramauzo-with-gulzar-at-goa-chitramauzo-at-goa-chitra

Victor has many friends and many more admirers. But he barely found any supporters to finance his dream project. The Government that boasts of preserving our heritage had turned a Nelson’s eye to his relentless efforts. They all praised and admired him for the wonderful work, but that did not translate into supportive action. Nevertheless, Victor’s zeal to go ahead never diminished. He kept on thinking bigger and bigger. Goa Chitra extended to add on Goa Chakra. And I am sure more is in the offing.

Victor is full of ideas. Novel and ground-breaking. The book launches, panel discussions on relevant topics, literary events, and above all the musical evenings. His organic farm is worth emulating. I have once attended the Harvesting Day that he organized. I did some threshing and enjoyed doing it, like a child. Perhaps I was bitten by the same bug that bit Victor. Every time I meet Victor, I notice the child in him. His child-like enthusiasm often makes me wonder if all that he does is childish. It may be true. But frankly, I admire the child in him. He cannot conceal his joy and cheer, nor can he suppress his anguish and anxieties. He is, more often than not, at the risk of giving away his painful secrets when he downs more pegs than he can stand. Of course, he knows his limits, and then Aldina is always by his side to bring him to his senses and whisk him away if need be. Here, I notice Aldina playing mother to this child.

Whenever any writers, artists or nationally famous personalities are in Goa, I make it a point to take them to Goa Chitra. Very little is known to the outsiders about the ethnic agrarian past of Goa.  With great satisfaction I notice them going back with high regards for Goa, and especially Victor.  When Gulzar, the famous film maker and poet, was in town along with my actor friend Kishor Kadam, I drove them to Benaulim to visit Goa Chitra. Impressed by the show put up by the passionate couple Victor and Aldina, Gulzar there and then decided to donate all the fees and honorarium he received for his show in Goa to the founder of Goa Chitra. I felt proud of this kind gesture of the veteran lyricist whose generosity recognized the worthy cause.

Goa Chitra is growing, both, in eminence and in popularity. Now, I am waiting to see an Art Gallery coming up. As Victor himself is a painter and curator, that day may not be far off.


damodar-mauzoDamodar Mauzo is a short fiction writer and novelist writing in Konkani. The most widely translated writer, he is also a columnist, critic and an award winning script writer. Among his many awards are the Sahitya Akademi award, Katha Award, Goa State Cultural Award and World Konkani Centre’s Sahitya Puraskar. In 2015, his book was nominated for the Frank O’Connor International Award. He was part of a delegation of Indian writers at the World Book Fair in Frankfurt and also that toured China. He is a co-founder and co-curator of Goa Art & Literary Festival.

 

Posted in Personal Stories

The Meeting of Two Minds

By Rajendra Kerkar

As I am born in Bicholim and afterward was brought up in Keri and Ghoteli villages of Sattari nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats. I have always been fascinated by the ethnographic artefacts. This love and affection guided me to do post-graduation in History and Sociology. It was creating awareness pertaining to the ethnography. However, when a decade ago I come in contact with Victor Hugo Gomes, a dedicated personality of the land, who wanted to establish the ethnographic museum, I felt very glad.

At the first meeting with this committed ethnographer of Goa, I was deeply impressed and through his words and actions within short span of period, he commanded immense respect and love. Though he appeared to be influenced by the western culture he is the true Goan at heart. By his research, survey, characterized by field study from Pernem to Canacona, hailing from Salcette, he has made sincere attempts for showcasing the socio-cultural and economic life of the Goan society. He not only possess repository of rare artefacts but has extraordinary love and gratitude to all these items which has helped him to exhibits in the systematic way. The artefacts in his museum extend right from the prehistoric to modern day culture. Anybody who wants to know Goa, and enrich their knowledge of Goa’s ever lasting relationship with the Indian culture, this museum is indeed an excellent example. The love and gratitude he has earned for himself will always increase by manifold in my heart.

I still have the memory of my meeting with this personality at a seminar in Mallikarjun College, Canacona. Earlier, I was told that Victor was more theoretical and less practical. However, his presentation at the seminar that was followed by the interaction with the students and lectures had helped clear whatever misconceptions I was carrying about him. Then, I was invited by writer Pantalao Fernandes at the auditorium of Goa Chitra in Benaulim. Organisation of book release function along with the performance of the Goan folk dances and efforts of Victor Gomes to patronize it had earned respect in my heart to him.

When I visited the museum, I was impressed by his dedication and hard work. I remembered I spoke to Victor about the write-up pertaining to the Dhangar community of Goa. I elaborately had thrown light on the misconceptions prevailing in the society about the Dhangars of Goa. Although I was critical about this write up, he didn’t feel upset. Rather, he was very democratic. For me, it was this experience with him that carved out a special position for him and his work. After these meetings, I met with him at many occasions for seminar and meeting organised for the conservation of heritage and history wherein he always shared his knowledge, experiencing without much hesitation. In spite of many odds and hurdles, he has marched his wagon to the cherished goal. His novel way of educating the students and researchers about the Goan culture, its ethnography is indeed marvellous and thought provoking. I never judge a person from his outlook but always look at thoughts and work. My first impression about Victor was affirmative and it has remained enriching experience for me.


Rajendra and Pournima Kerkar-1.jpg

Rajendra Pandurang Kerkar, who has specialised in History and Sociology, has authored seven books (six in Marathi, one in English) and is a column writer for Marathi, Konkani, and English dailies. He has worked as a teacher for seventeen years and has been a member of a number of committees, including the National Board of Wildlife of India, State Wildlife Board of Goa, Environment Protection Council of Goa, North Goa Private Forest Identifying Committee, and Goa State Planning Board.

 

Posted in Personal Stories

Generous to a Fault

By Alexandre Moniz Barbosa

It was over two decades ago and it was at Rachol, within the hoary walls of the Patriarchal Seminary that I met Victor Hugo Gomes for the first time. He was setting up the Christian Art Museum and my colleague Joel D’Souza, who passed away in August 2015, and I had gone on a reporting mission for the magazine Goa Today. The chat with Victor moved from the seminary and continued at a roadside tea stall. While there, a coconut plucker passed by wearing the traditional kasthi. That’s when Victor exclaimed, “this is what we have to preserve.”

And he’s done it. Preserved that bit of Goa that only a person like him could notice; the richness that was in plain sight yet ignored. Suddenly the loincloth that so many had forgotten about, and many others would like to forget, had become a piece of our heritage. As did the jazz musicians of Goa. Long before Nachoia Kumpasar could grab the attention of Goans, Victor had organized the Great Goan Jazz Revival, a series of concerts that brought to the Goan stage those greats of Bombay jazz. For him heritage did not mean just architecture and buildings, which he also does restore.

We met on and off, friends sharing love for a Goa that was slowly disappearing, but it was when he started Goa Chitra that I really got to know him better and understand how committed he was to preserving Goan culture and heritage. Victor Hugo persevered, adding Goa Chakra to Goa Chitra, and has plans for a lot more museums, making Benaulim the address to go to for anyone seeking to learn more of the history and heritage of Goa.

I didn’t ask him, but in 2011 when I mentioned that I would be soon publishing my book Goa Rewound, Victor Hugo offered to host the release at Goa Chitra, and organized an event that many who were there still recall. Speaking at that function, Dr Francisco Colaco had described Victor Hugo as ‘um homengalhardo’ (a generous person), but was stingy that day because he had been given just a few minutes to talk. That’s Victor, generous to a fault, ready to give of his time and art to this beautiful state, that has so much but given him back perhaps so little.


alexandre.JPGAlexandre Moniz Barbosa is a journalist and a writer. He is currently Executive Editor of Herald. His first book was the novel ‘Touched by the Toe’ that was published in 2004 and was set in XVI century Goa. In 2008 he published a collection of the works of Goan journalist Fanchu Loyola translated from the Portuguese to English in the book ‘Passionate and Unrestrained. In 2011, Alexandre brought out ‘Goa Rewound’ a socio-political commentary on Goa 50 years after its liberation from Portuguese rule. In February 2016 he published the novel ‘Raw Earth’, a political fiction set in present day Goa.

Posted in Personal Stories

A View from the Outside

By Bharat Wanchoo

My association with Goa dates back to 1977 when, as a probationer of the Indian Police Service, I had the good fortune to visit this beautiful land of sun and sand. Little did I imagine then that this tryst would indeed turn into an affair with this wonderful land and its most remarkable, simple and lovely people. The CHOGM brought me back and gave me the chance to renew this association. My work in Delhi ensured that I kept coming back to Goa at regular intervals. However, during all these visits it was only work, a hectic schedule and contacts with only the officialdom. I did, however, over these numerous visits, get to see the changes or should I say the transformation that Goa underwent. After retirement when, in the last week of June 2012, I was offered the Governorship of Goa I realised that destiny had played its final hand.

I came to Goa with my wife (her first visit) with the clear intention that we would explore and discover the state and its people. In this we were fortunate to have the assistance of Sanjeev V Sardesai, whom I used to call the moving encyclopaedia of Goa, who took us to places that normal visitors to Goa would never go to. However, there were several places, events and things that I discovered on my own, the most remarkable and memorable being Goa Chitra. Some months into being in Goa one day as I was going through the newspapers I saw a write-up of some young officers having visited Goa Chitra. The first thing I did was to ask my ADC to fix up a visit at the very the earliest, as curiosity got the better of me.

That first visit of ours to Goa Chitra left a deep impression on my mind. I got to learn so much more about the agrarian heritage and lives of the people of Goa, something I do not think I would have imbibed in any other manner or form. More importantly I was deeply impressed with the commitment, zeal, enthusiasm and knowledge of Victor Hugo. What struck me was that this was a single handed job which would have taken a huge effort and not to mention the money to put it together. The adjoining organic farm in which rice was then growing was only indicative of Victor’s connection with his roots, something that is rare to find in today’s world. The peace and calm coupled with the artistic atmosphere was indeed soothing and perhaps was a portrayal of Victor himself. The section of wheels and carriages was still being put together and one could see that another masterpiece, Goa Chakra Museum, was in the making. On that visit we got to meet only Victor and it was only later that we met Aldina his wife and were impressed how they complemented each other.

Following our first visit to Goa Chitra I made it a point to recommend to all my relatives and friends, who visited us at Raj Bhavan, to visit Goa Chitra. All of them I must say came back very impressed, particularly with the passion of Victor.  During my stay in Goa I thereafter made several visits to Goa Chitra either to attend a music concert of for the inauguration of a painting exhibition and the Dom Martin Gallery. Each of these visits was always intellectually stimulating and indeed pleasurable, besides getting to know more and more about the variety and range of activities and events that were being organised at Goa Chitra. The Goa Cruti was opened after we left Goa, and we will surely take out time to view it whenever we return to Goa for a visit.

While in Goa we did not visit Goa Chitra as many times as we would have liked to. We did, however, get to interact with Victor and Aldina on several occasions socially at different places, each time observing the enthusiasm and commitment of Victor and also the different facets of his persona. Goa Chitra, I feel, has made a significant place of pride for itself in the landscape of Goa and I can say with all the commitment at my command that it will only grow and prosper in the days and years to come. It has indeed already become a brand.



Wanchoo (1).JPGShri Bharat Vir Wanchoo
is a retired officer of the Indian Police Service.  With vast experience in the fields of V.V.I.P. Security, Departmental Security, Intelligence and Counter Insurgency, he is regarded as one of the leading professionals and a stalwart in the field of VVIP Security. Shri Wanchoo was the founding member of the elite Special Protection Group and served in that organisation twice, before he was appointed its Chief in 2004.  He was Chief of the Special Protection Group for seven years during; and was awarded the Indian Police Medal in 1993 and the President’s Police Medal in 2001. He served as the Governor of Goa from May 4, 2012 to July 7, 2016. Shri Wanchoo’s family includes Smt. Nalini Wanchoo, his wife, a son and a daughter, both of whom are married and two grand children.