Friday, 9 December 2011

Floyd's India: Viva Queimada

Advertising veteran, Neville Gomes unveiled the book, ‘Viva Queimada’ at St. Andrews auditorium on 6th December, 2011. It was unveiled amid a theatrical act focusing on the eclectic customs of the East Indians community. The attendees present were well established honchos from the advertising and communication business amongst others.

The book traces the roots of a 500 year old community, delving into its customs, cuisine and way of life. The book gradually weaves through the period from 1498, when the Portuguese first arrive to the advent of the British, the Maratha siege and so on. Encapsulated through a twenty five year period timeline, it captures interesting happenings from around the world and the subsequent events on East Indian turf.

Viva Queimada a tribute from Neville to his late wife Sandra Gomes progressively sketches how the community was bestowed with the title, ‘East Indian’. Depicted through interesting and captivating images it showcases the East Indian way of life, Portuguese era built churches and forts, high achievers and well known personalities who have done the community proud. It cites how the EI folk sought education from the Portuguese established schools and then went on to being employed with the East India Company in strategic professions such as Customs, Port Trust, Railways and in the WACi as well.

Research and historical reports threw up interesting finds at every turn. The book draws a parallel with the erstwhile East Indian earthen ware, wooden spoons and similar cooking mud vessels used in Shakespeare’s home. It also illustrates how similar the Amish art of quilting is when compared to the East Indian art of quilting or godhri making. The Amish describe the women in particular as quilting bees, where a group of women gather collectively and weave together a quilt of many colors. Few East Indian women as well still keep up with this tradition of laying pieces of cloth together and then stitching them up.

Completed over a period of four years, Viva Queimada sketches the lives of East Indians spread over Chaul, Revdanda, Gorai, Bassein and Bandra to EI’s settled in Australia, Canada, UAE and New Zealand. The team was intrigued and eager to meet diverse personalities from the field of sports, law, journalism and other strata of society. It was also an occasion for the team to reach out to the families of those personalities who had received a special commendation for their services from HRM.

The book priced at Rs 2500/- and Rs 10,000/- for a special edition was officially released by Gerson da Cunha the notable stage, film and advertising personality. The book is available with Kripa Foundation, Ummeed and Women’s India Trust.

Friday, 25 November 2011

In love with Usha Uthup

I am in love with Usha, after all who will not fall in love with Usha Uthup post her stellar performance at Celebrate Bandra. She enthralled the crowd and probably woke the birds in the nests too. With old time classics like ‘Those Were The Days’ to ‘Things’ to ‘Jambalaya’ to the hip shaking ‘Apdi Pode Pode’…. She truly got the crowd going. The two hour on stage act was absolutely gripping and splendid. In between songs she amused the crowds by completing her sentences with the typical pao ‘What men’ suffix or flaunting her six yard saree or showing off her traditional footwear too. 

Beginning with the musical, Big Spender from Sweet Charity, she continued with hits from the late 50’s to 60’s and ofcourse her signature hits like Fever, Feelings and Dum Maro Dum. She also did sing Feelings in a Chinese and Malayalam accent which got the crowd going bananas. Overcome and overwhelmed by her performance the audience kept applauding and tapping their feet. An aged woman around eighty also rose from her seat to shake a leg to the resounding soulful beats.

Usha it a true performer and entertainer, she mentioned that she began her humble beginnings in Mumbai, studying at a Convent school and how she moved on from there to wining the celebrated Padma Bhushan title. It was also interesting to know that she was the only singer to perform at a night club in traditional Indian attire, the saree. 

Ending with the track ‘We are the World’ and ‘Hava Nagila’, her performance was truly spectacular and in true Bandra style, dam good men!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Picturesque Tarkarli

Get on to a bus or drive roughly 495 kms from Mumbai and head to Tarkarli in Malwan. Tarkarli lies in the Sindhudurga district and has been acclaimed as the paradise beach of Maharashtra. Its pristine waters and immaculate white sand beckon every enthusiastic beach bum.  You could even travel by train and get off at the nearest rail head, Kudal and then journey to Malwan. Thereafter a quick ten minute ST bus ride and you are at Tarkarli. 

You can choose to stay at MTDC or at any of the many resorts that line the coast or else settle down at any house cum resorts that offer you shelter too. The MTDC resort is well maintained with clean rooms, reasonably priced food and the Kokum syrup is the best refreshing drink and a truly must have. If you have a keen eye for nature at Tarkarli you can spot a langur leaping high above from tree to tree or even sight an array of Kingfishers perched close to the shore.
After a brisk walk on the beach, a quick swim and a speedy shower we headed to Malwan. The stuff you can do at Tarkarli, Malwan includes snorkeling, trekking the Sidhudurg fort and go Dolphin sighting. As eager as we were, we rushed ourselves into some snorkeling gear, post instructions from our local guide and leaped into the azure sea.  Sighting gigantic corals which were over four hundred years old along with the various schools of fish that seemed to be leading our way, the sight was truly breathtaking. Our guide gently led us along the periphery of the fort, where these beautiful sea creatures swam this part of the vast sea. Plate Corals, White Corals, Cabbage Corals, Glass fish, Parrot fish and an Eel which seemed to be veiling itself from potential danger, are few of the names I recall. It was then that my learning’s in geography suddenly flashed through my mind and how fish were abundantly found in the continental shelf thriving on its rich vegetation.  

As it was only around ten feet deep the sunrays easily reached the bottom of the sea bed and hence shoals of fish rambled along for nourishment.  Seeing the sea turf come alive, reaching out and touching the many fish, stroking every coral we passed, while sunrays  passed though our fingers, the 30 min experience underwater was absolutely amazing. Our next day Dolphin adventure didn’t prove to be fruitful though, but we did spot a giant turtle floating upon the gentle waves.
Apart from snorkeling you can also trek the massive stone walled Sidhudurg fort. The interiors of the fort, house many coconut trees, scattered dwellings and a little temple at one end. It also boasts of having the only well preserved hand or foot print of the Great Maratha warrior, which we weren’t keen on spotting though, considering the fort’s vast stretch.  Our fort trek and underwater endeavor cost us Rs.350/-. However the next time it will certainly be snorkeling only. 

Many of the house cum resorts offer breakfast and a well laden Malwani style lunch and dinner. If you enjoy sea food that you must have the fish thali and bite into some freshly caught fried crispy fish. You could then down your meal with some cool solkadi

The principle of Susegad is well adhered to and is typical of the way of life across the far flung villages of Maharashtra and Goa. So ensure that you grab your lunch before its Susegad time, cause the lunch houses will open again only post 4:30 in the evening, which then goes without saying is ‘chai time’. You could choose to lunch at a small hotel or resort and listen to some sizzling Bollywood hits or watch a Marathi movie, filled with gallis at the house cum lunch homes.

If you have time to spare and nothing much to do at Malwan, you can jump onto a bus going to Kudal and then take a bus to Vengurla. The local ST bus will cost you Twenty Four bucks per seat or you could encash Four Hundred for an hour and fifteen minutes auto ride. Once you reach Vengurla you can get onto an auto again and head to Sagreshwar the nearest beach which is 3km from Vengurla. Vengurla is one of the other pristine beaches along the Sindhurang district which also has clear blue waters and powdered white sand. The beach is scattered with many tiny Star fish, just like Tarkarli that throng all along the stretch. Turn it turtle and you can chance to count its many ten thousand like tentacles. When at Vengurla also visit the local market, which is very similar to Crawford market in Mumbai and probably as old as it too. 

The only resort that lines the shore is Mermaid beach resort which offers a decent stay at Rs.2000 per night. Besides water sports, you can also hire a yacht for Rs 6000 for 30 mins and have your own party at sea accompanied with Bose like speakers and of course your quota of booze as well. 

So ensure you visit Tarkarli and Vengurla for its clear waters and white sand and of course Malwan for snorkeling. The best time to visit is between October to December.