Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Booking A Trip to Goa 5 - Two Anthologies

Two Anthologies

As delightful reads as all the abovementioned books may be, they all suffer from one primary problem. They are told from the standpoint of the upper-caste Goan Catholic. Even Chakravarti’s story is told from this standpoint, and the biases and blind spots are obvious. If one wants to escape this prism and gain the flavour of a cross-section of Goan life experiences, then the choice would undoubtedly be the two anthologies on Goa, both published by Penguin.

Ferry Crossing

Short Stories from Goa, edited by Manohar Shetty, is the older of the two books and comprises a collection of 27 short stories from a wide gamut of literary Goans. The book’s USP is without doubt the fact that it has brought into English translation stories written in Goa’s many literary languages, besides English— Portuguese, Konkani and Marathi—and has as a result captured the inner rhythms of Goan life, which would perhaps be otherwise impossible. As captured in the blurb of the anthology, Ferry Crossing captures themes that vary from the touching naiveté of first love, a favourite trope of upper-caste writers in Konkani, as in Chandrakant Keni’s “Innocence”; to the humiliation of poverty, brought to the fore in Konkani by writers from Goa’s Bahujan Samaj, in this case represented by Pundalik Naik’s “The Turtle” and “When An Ass Mounts A Cow”; it frames the clash of egos among rural elite in a manner that Gip would have approved of, narrated here by Tivolem’s author Victor Rangel- Ribeiro in “Senhor Eusebio Builds His Dream House”; to a vignette in “Theresa’s Man” by that chronicler of South Goan catholic life, Damodar Mauzo.

Reflected In Water

Last, but most certainly not the last, on our list of recommended readings for that cerebrally exciting Goan holiday is Jerry Pinto’s Reflected in Water. Reflected as a book does just that, it reflects the many imaginings of Goa as they occur(ed) through time and space. The book has excerpts from a Dutch traveller in 16th century Portuguese-India, follows a modernday Indiana Jones on the trail of St. Francis Xavier, achieves contemporary brilliance as a book for including a graphic story that could emerge only from the mind of a Bombay Goan, and has oodles more stories, reflections and accounts of Goa. The book has precisely 44 contributions by a host of people who could have some claim of a relationship with Goa. Pinto, for sure, did not set out on a Holy Grail quest to distil all that was purely Goan, did not exclude the non-Goan from representing Goa, and made style and content the only criteria for inclusion in this book. For this reason, Reflected in Water is perhaps the best Goa gift you could give a friend.


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