Karachi Goans & Goans everywhere
I applaud this opportunity to express ourselves through cyberspace where we can come together. My mother was born in Karachi where my grandfather owned a music shop. My uncle was considered the best pianist in Pakistan, the result of Goan parochial schools. In Africa he was respected by the colonials.
In my youth, living in Goa, Bombay, Kampala, Entebbe, Nairobi and Mombasa (having been born at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro) I often heard snide remarks about Goans who had an ego and were brought up with a chip on their shoulder. Even the thought of speaking Konkani was frowned upon. I heard of Goans referred to (by Goans) as Goaks, 'kitem re', Paovallas and in East Africa by the Gujeratis as 'Machli khounde' (fish eaters).
Today I am proud to be a Goan with a distinct identity different from the rest of India and the world. I make it a point to impress on people I meet that they should avoid stereotyping me. I want to separate myself from those referred to by Peter Sellers in his 'Oh Doctor, any trouble'.
My barber refers to me as going (for Goan) - always on the move. Recently I passed a few days in NJ and attended their picnic. A young Goan I met had graduated from West Point and had spent time in Goa proud of his heritage. He appeared disciplined and proud. In Goa, recently, I met a Goan who had retired after twenty five years in the British Army and having served in Iraq, Germany and N. Ireland.
In N.J. I made it a point to visit a 'buddy' who I refer to as Pundit. Dr. Miranda made it a point to proudly play a tape recorded of the Gavana group (with his college buddy called Eloy Gomes) when they played at a party after the Convention at the Roy Thompson Hall. My guest was so surprised to listen to such enjoyable music and wanted to know how he could get a copy of the music.
Well I now know that I am also referred to as a Goon.
People have a misconception of us Goans (read Nirad Choudary's impression of us). It is left to us to change this impression by our behaviour and conduct. Respect for others and their opinions are important. In Africa I remember seeing ads in papers "Goan Clerk wanted"' "Goan Accountant needed". Today, outsiders who have come to Goa are displacing our Goan bakers.
When we know where we came from, we will know where we are going. Our youth are bright and resourceful but have no idea of our past. I have met Goans asking me for literature and music of Goa as they themselves are ignorant of our language, music and our history. If only they had been proud to be Goans in their youth, they would not have come to this situation.
In Goa, some mistakenly look at the statue of Abbe Faria and Francisco Gomes and the bust of Dr. Borges as statues of some foreigners. Little do they think that we Goans are capable of achieving higher goals.
July 13, 2000