Feasts, Feni and Firecrackers: Life of a Village Schoolboy in Portuguese Goa
Author: Mel D’Souza
9788193283767 | Paperback | pp. 168| 2014 | Goa 1556
Combining images and texts, Mel D’Souza, an expat, ex-Africander (as Goans who were settled in Africa then were called) and an artist based in Canada, documents the Goa of the mid-20th century. His book is made up of short and light essays, each depicting the Goa as it was then.
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This rather slim book (of 168 pages) is divided into six sections. One deals with the author’s roots, both as a “village boy” and centred around his home.
The largest section of 15 brief word-sketches deals with “Saligao in them days”. Saligao is typical of most Goan villages of those times. It had its own village family nicknames, its forms of “village transportation”, its bicycles, village doctors and beggars. Mel D’Souza’s keen eye doesn’t overlook the “village oddballs” and its craftsmen.
From there he moves on to the lore pertaining to “worship, weddings and witchcraft”.
Goa, in those times, wasn’t as much connected with “fun”. But Mel D’Souza sees enough of this to create a section titled ‘Fun, Frolic and Frivolity’. Of course, this is a locally defined reality, not touristic. It deals with ks the festival of Sao Joao (involving jumping into wells for a swim and swig at the start of the monsoons), village games, tropical trees, the locals’ relationship with the beach in those times (largely referring to Calangute, in North Goa), Goan theatre, football and “fighting bulls”.
Some of his essays which give his take on Goa then look at Customs and Quirks, and Memorable Moments. Each of the book’s six sections have half-a-dozen to over a dozen short essays. Each essay focuses on one topic which caught D’Souza’s fancy.
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