by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas
As my friend Salvador Mascarenhas and I continued walking through the Cotula ward of Saligao, we noticed the Bank of India branch, which has been serving the industrious people of Saligao since the sixties. Moving further we noticed a hair-cutting saloon. In days gone by Madulo the barber used to operate from this small house. In addition to giving his customers a haircut, Madulo, who seemed to know more than the TV news channels of today, would update anyone who cared to listen on current events and day-to-day happenings in the village and other parts of Goa. This saloon is now run by a different person, whereas Madulo’s son, who is working overseas, has his saloon in the supermarket building at Mudd’davaddi, near Marque’s private chapel of St. Jerome.
As we proceeded ahead we noticed the old Patrocinio Vaz e Irmãos bar. Patrocinio, who was commonly known as Patru, had two brothers, João and José Vaz. Next to this bar, there used to be the Casa Tipri shop selling various household articles, but this has shifted to the locality of the new tinto (market). In its proximity there was the old tinto. In fact at that time, prior to Casa Tipri, the premises was known as Pakleachi Garage, which was later on converted into the shop run by Ornelas Souza Tipri. He was also correspondent and local reporter for The Navhind Times.
We then passed the house of late Dr Avelino Carvalho, a household name in the Saligao of our times. His father, Teodomiro Carvalho also was a doctor. Dr Avelino practised out of his spacious house and also rode his bicycle to make house calls. He always wore a bush-shirt and later on moved around in his car. He was our family doctor. For a while he was the regedor of Saligao during the Portuguese regime and resolved some minor cases and problems of the villagers. He had a brother named Aires Emericano Neves Carvalho, who was a pharmacist.
Nearby we spotted the large mansion of Victor da Gama, the famous vocalist and violinist. In the souvenir published after the Mãe de Deus Church Centenary Celebrations, he has written a detailed account on the music and musicians of Saligao until 1973, including a ward-wise list of musicians. His son Vasco da Gama is known to all. Events and people he meets and speaks to are reported by him to all as he walks the roads and narrow lanes of Saligao. At this point there is a historical lane which begins from Nagoa and passes through Grande Morod, Cotula, Mudd’davaddi, Tabra-vaddo, and, after going through Aquem Mollebhatt, ends at the Aquem spring. This fountain was famous for its medicinal properties, especially for ailments of the eyes. However, this lane at present is blocked by compound walls and the spring is in ruins and not used by people and almost forgotten. Nevertheless, the lane divides the interior of Cotula into two. This spot was known as Pompar, where the caminhão (bus) would stop to pick up passengers while other alighted after their journeys to Mapuça or Calangute. There also used to be a tavern known as Irmanvlem dukhon or brother’s liquor shop. I knew the sons of this house, Philip and Jack Fernandes. Philip was an ace footballer. Jack and his wife Angela have three children, two of whom are nuns – Sr Mary Antoinette and Sr Marina – while the third, Mathias, works with a newspaper in Mumbai.
Continuing our walk we noticed the house of one of the Freedom Fighters of Saligao – Mr. Coelho. We then saw the house of Celine and Milena. Both of us remembered Celine, a devout, helpful and loving person, who had prepared both Salvador and me for first holy communion. We noticed the house of Ramiro Rodrigues who had a Grundig Radio, a very rare commodity in the 1950s. Then we came across the house of Armando de Souza, Managing Director of Evans Electric Pvt Ltd, independent India’s very first electrical repair company, based in Mumbai. He did celebrate the feast of Mãe de Deus some time ago, and I had the pleasure of raising the toast on that occasion. When Saligao Union, Mumbai, celebrated its Golden Jubilee (1936-1986), Armando wrote an exhaustive article entitled “Men, Matters and Memories” in the booklet “Saligao” brought out on that occasion.
He has handed over his property to the FMCK Sisters of Mãe de Deus Home, Saligao, who take care of the senior citizen lady inmates, which is a memorial of the Centenary Celebrations of Saligao Church, 1973. A little further the same Congregation has also a senior citizens home, Krist Raj Bhavan for men. The sisters also run a dispensary catering to the sick of Saligao, maintained by Saligao Union Mumbai. It is financed by the members of the Saligao Union in Mumbai. The sisters nurse the patients and also take care of the administration of the dispensary.
We came across the house of our schoolmates at Mater Dei, Bosco and Adolph Mendonca. Bosco had an aunt, Sister Jessie Mendonca FDCC, a Canossian nun, daughter of Crispino and Vilhelmina Mendonca. On returning to Goa Sister Jessie opened a new Convent of her Congregation in Arpora in 1971-72 and became its first Superior. At the time of my open-heart surgery in Belgaum in 2003, I met Sr. Jessie who was then superior of the Canossa Convent in Belgaum. Sr. Jessie informed me that there were three more Canossian sisters from Saligao: one was Mother Amelia Menezes from Pequeno Morod, the other Mother Adeline Cordeiro from Arrarim and the third was the young nun Sr. J Mendonca, daughter of Bosco and Candy Mendonca.
In the vicinity of the senior citizens’ home is the house of the famous Saldanha family. Gracias Saldanha founded Glenmark Pharmaceuticals in 1977. Today Glenmark is one of the leading pharma companies in India, and his son Glenn Saldanha serves as its Managing Director & CEO. Here a new tarred road runs through the interior of the ward and connects to another road which leads to the Saligao church. We debated whether we should explore the interiors of Kotula further, but we decided to turn back.
We spotted the house of Dr Wilfred D’Souza, the former MLA of Saligao and also one-time Chief Minister of Goa. On the way back I mentioned to Salvador about the e-mail post of Dr. Nandakumar Kamat regarding our village. He had written: “Saligao falls on the ancient horse trade route linking Chapora-Anjuna ancient port area to Mapuca where Dr. Gune had discovered a Roman amphora indicating Roman trade contacts with the then deep and navigable Mapuca river.” In no time we landed back at the spot known as Pompar and a lane going inwards into beautiful Kotula. Having passed the lane we came to the house of lambu (tall) Lourenco Monteiro and his sisters Flory, Afra and Hilda. They had twin brothers. We remembered only one, Silvester Monteiro, affectionately called Silu. Opposite we found Lenny and Austin D’Gama’s house. Lenny D’Gama is involved with boxing, training and managing the All Goa Boxing Association. Austin D’Gama is a civil contractor.
Beside Lambu Monteiro’s house lies Rofino Moniz’s residence – his eldest sister was a freedom fighter. Rofino Moniz founded in 1965 a pharmaceutical establishment for the sale of drugs and medicines for both allopathic and ayurvedic treatment of disease. He was the representative and sole distributor in Goa for Laboratories Richelet, France, Vibro Pharma Pvt. Ltd. and Indian Health Laboratory Institute. He was also President of the Saligao Communidade. I remembered that Rofino informed us about the Dantas zonkars of Kotula who used to come from Sawantwadi in Sindhudurg and other places in this district to the Saligao Communidade to collect their zon, the yearly dividend.
We then met with our Fonddekar colleague, Luis Domingos Dias, who had his house here. Luis was one of the best choir singers if our church. He still sings in the choir. His house was purchased by Santana Monserrate, who was in the Royal British Navy. Then we noticed Bostu Randpin’s residence. She was a very good cook and mother of late Francisco who used to play football with us.
Then we came across a vau (small stream). In its proximity lies the house of Jacob, whose sons are just two, Luis and Savio, unlike the Biblical Jacob’s 12 sons. Then comes Feliciano da Gama’s house, a fine double-bass player. One of his sons, George D’Gama, still plays for the Saligao church choir. George learnt the violin from Anselmo Mascarenhas, my paternal uncle from Tabro-vaddo Mollebhatt. George also plays the organ and trains youngsters of Saligao to read music and play various musical instruments.
Talking about musicians, Cotula has had many well-known musicians in the past, such as Cincinacio Cordeiro – violinist; Nicholas Mendonca – violinist; António João da Gama – pianist; Ligório de Souza – pianist; Sebastião José Mendonca – pianist; Pascoal Saldanha – clarinetist; Caetano Saldanha – trumpeter; Gabriel Saldanha – violinist; António Saldanha – trombonist, and Manuel José Coelho – trumpeter.
At this point there is a house belonging to another Monteiro family. Next is the residence of our friend Geraldo D’Costa. Then comes the residence of Fr João António Jacinto da Costa. He is the son of Peregrino Aleixo da Costa and Maria Candida Fernandes. They daughter, named Dr Rosa Maria Laurencia da Costa, is a nun known as Sr. Margarita of Mission Sisters of Ajmer. Fr João da Costa is the oldest living priest from Saligao. He is the author of a book titled ‘A History of Goa’, printed by Ramakant Printers in Mapuca in 1982. There are quite a number of priests from Cotula. We shall speak of them at some other time, in another place.