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Reflected in Water (Writings on Goa)

Item Code: NAN070
Author: Jerry Pinto
Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 9780143100812
Pages: 309 (12 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 280 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

Described variously as the Kashi of the South, the Rome of the East and the pearl of the Orient, Goa, located on the west coast of India, is renowned for its scenic charm, its beaches, and the architectural splendor of its temples, churches and old houses. With its sun- sand- surd leitmotif it is also the land of the lotus- eater, a tourist’s paradise of fun and frolic, raves and revelry. But Goa is more than just the world’s favorite holiday destination. Its unique history, shaped by the various dynastic that ruled it- the Rashtrakutas, the Kadambas and the Bahmani Muslims, before its 450- year- long occupation by the Portuguese from 1510- has given it a distinctive flavor, a different rhythm, an easy cosmopolitanism.

Reflected in Water is a collection of essays, poems, stories and extracts from published works that bring to life both the natural beauty and the changing social and political ethos of India’s smallest state. From Mario Cabral e Sa’s delightful take on the earliest Portuguese women to come to India to Gita Mehta’s description of hippies at Calangute, from Alexander Frater’s mesmerizing account of Goa in the monsoon to Manohar Malgonkar’s ode to the Mangeshi temple, this anthology celebrates the irreverent and the sacred in equal measure.

Teotonia R. de Souza’s profile of the little- known ‘opium smuggler who tried to liberate Goa’ is an captivating as Fredrick Noronha’s portrait of Abbe Faria, eighteenth- century priest, mesmerist and revolutionary, and one of the region’s most famous sons. While Antoine Lewis fleshs out Goa’s culinary delights, Frank Simoes pay a tribute to feni, the quintessential spirit of the place. Naresh Fernandes’s obsessive search for the elusive humerus of St. Francis Xavier echoes Vivek Memezes’s quest for a painting by F.N. Souza, arguably the greatest painter the state has produced. And various aspects of Goa’s history and society, arts and architecture engage the interest of writers as diverse as William Dalrymple and Graham Greene, Maria Couto and Armando Menezes.

Insightful essays, intense poetry and evocative fiction, as alluring as the place they describe, make Reflected in Water redolent of the very essence of Goa.

Jerry Pinto is a poet and journalist based in Mumbai. His published works include Surviving Women (2000), a collection of poetry, Asylum (2004), and Helen: The Life and Times of an H- Bomb (2006). He has also co-edited Bombay, Meri jaan: Writings on Mumbai with Naresh Fernanders and Confronting Love: Poems with Arundhathi Subramaniam.


I am in exile from Goa. I am in flight from Goa.
Both these statements are equally true.
Like many of my generation, I grew up in another city (Mumbai) and visited Goa once a year during the long school vacation. I was home. I was a visitor.
I was the standard- issue Indian going to his ‘native place’ every year. I was also unwittingly doing something very fashionable.
I remember the first time I sat in a cinema in Mumbai and watched a commercial film made by the Taj Group on ‘Goa in the Rains’. I remember feeling a distinct sense of surprise. I had seen nothing in Goa, done nothing in Goa. I had not even seen Old Goa or any of the other churches. I had not been to the beaches, except for an obligatory dip in the sea off Calangute, deemed to be necessary for one’s health. There, hundreds of old women sat in the water, the retreating tide drawing trenches around their stolid haunches. The children romped. We ate the lunch we brought along, a lunch very similar to the one we would have eaten at home: rice, curry and fried fish. Then salt- stained, sand-raddled, and curry-smeared we went home to my village, Moira. My family was not the kind to visit the Exposition of the Body of St. Francis Xavier. My family was not the kind to eat out in restaurants when the food at home was held to be much better and was certainly more plentiful. We didn’t ‘do’ Goa. We went there as a Knee-jerk reaction.

This is where the narrative breaks down.
I can’t remember how Goa re-established itself in my consciousness, I know that I finally did cave in and do a North Goa tour and a South Goa tour, visiting temples, churches, seminaries and bridges (Indian guides love showing you bridge, aesthetically unremarkable ones, Preferably those with catastrophic histories attached). I know that I have visited often since then, choosing to go, instead of returning instinctively. I know that each time, Goa has surprised me a little. I know that each time I leave, I feel I have left a little of me behind. And I know that when I reach home, back to the slick allure of the city of my birth, it is a part I can manage to live without.

I know I find it difficult to say that I am a Goan or that I am a Maharashtrian or that I am a Mumbaikar or even a second- generation inflected enough. How do I say that I live in Mumbai, can’t think of living anywhere else; that I feel connected to Goa without being able to say how?

I think Goa sneaked up on me. It isn’t surprising.
Goa reflects endlessly, in the glint of sudden lakes, in the eyes of the thousands of visitor, in the memories of the exiles who leave every year, in the dream of a house in Goa that many city-dwellers seem to nurture.

Goa reflects in fiction, in poetry, in narratives of every kind. For the rest of India, for the world even, the central narrative has always been the one of sun-sand-surf-socegado. It is a siren song, with its lulling alliterative refrain, an invitation to the land of lotus eaters. If it is a song that Goans have learned to districts, it is also one that has served them well, creating the tourist industry that has helped raise living standards and contributed to the destruction of the environment. (I do not look for paradox; it comes calling)

Goa reflects in this anthology as the pieces reflect each other, offering views that are often mirror images of each other. There are conversations here, between writers of different times, spaces and attitudes; conversations that, I hope, will spill out of the book.

I cannot claim that I knew Goa when I began this book. I cannot claim that I know it now, three years after the project began. I can only say that many of the things said about Goa are true; and some and false.

If this sounds like a slippery subtlety, may I remind you that I come from the village of Moira, known for its wise fools?


1Konkani Folk Songs1
2At Donna Georgina's4
3Misunderstanding Goa14
4The Goa Action19
5The Freedom to Choose24
6Goa the Unique60
7Three Lives37
8The Chaishop Years46
9From The Voyage of John Huyghen van Linschoten55
10From Goa and the Blue Mountains64
11Tomb Raider: Looking for St Francis Xavier73
12At the Ferry Wharf85
13The Old Crone Says: Three Goan Death Stories89
14The Inner and Outer Life of Goa101
15From Karma Cola114
16First Season in Goa116
17Outkast D'Souza 124
18Several Views of a Visit to Goa134
19For Goa and Opium136
20On the Abbe's Trail143
22From Skin155
23Tiatr: An Unlimited Engagement162
24Our Fate? Why There Isn't a Konkani Cinema172
25Old Women 176
26The Man Who Swallowed Goa Whole178
27Virtual Goa190
28From Chasing the Monsoon195
29The Villagers209
30Season's Greetings210
31Summertime' in Malkauns215
32Where Has All the Culture Gone?223
33Rosie's Theme226
34Estado da India239
35Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Feni but Were Too Drunk to Ask242
36No Blood in the snake Oil248
37The goan Bread Vendor257
38Luis De Camoens261
39Old Wall262
40Catarina and Her Followers263
41Stills from Baga Beach266
42The Temples in the Valley267
43When as Ass Mounts a Cow….271
44Keeping the faith278
Notes on Contributors285
Copyright Acknowledgements293

Sample Pages

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