23 Feb 2020 | 03:49am IST
CARNIVAL MEMORIES OF AN ERSTWHILE NEWBIE IN TOWN
If the Carnival of
today almost works on remote, where event teams and managers and planners take
over like they would plan any wedding or a conference, in the good old days
(g.o.d) (and here we are referring to the g.o.d days of this author in
2004-05), it was a tad different. Float gurus like Fankit Martins and others
spoke to their teams, decided on their theme, worked on their costumes and
other material needed, that in turn spurring hectic activity down the line,
among many talents. If it took a village to raise a kid, it took a good part of
the town to get a float ready for the carnival.
And then there were others who were always the stars of the show,
The people of Panjim (and in every village) where traditional carnivals were
held and observed . We had one large group which in turn had some sub groups
and all such mini communities overlapped which carried out an important task,
meet before the carnival and have night long chat sessions on virtually
everyone and everything in town and the world.
While these intellectual discourses has very little bearing or influence
in the pre-carnival celebration
planning, the spirit of joie de
vivre, the Carnival spirit, does act as a catalyst for work-life to slow down,
leaving time for languid afternoon conversations- on the weekend, stretching in
to the wee hours of the evening.
The venue for these institutional chat- a- thons were those
institutions best linked with the carnival in Panjim- Clube Vasco Da Gama, next to the Garcia de Orta and Clube
Nacional, the 104 year old club which , barring an accident related hiatus for
three years from September 14 2014 (after the St Anthony dance in June) to July
13, 2017, has rocked to glory. The new avatar looks chic with none of its old
world touches gone. It re-opened with a bang with nostalgia, in every tone and
tune. There was vintage Braz Gonsalves
on the saxophone, his daughter Sharon and her husband Daryll and son Jarydd,
there was Carlos Menezes and his group and other singers. And what a party it
was with most of the old timers back. The Clube’s resurrection was theirs too.
In 2004, when our story of today is set, our motley crew consisted
of the late Bernadine Da Costa of SpeedBird Travels better known as our beloved
Dinito, Zito De Gouveia Pinto, the owner
of an infectious laughter and a mischievous mind, an erstwhile member of the
travel trade, whose imagination and mirth soared wide, regaling us with
anecdotes. They seemed fresh to me but even to those veterans in the group who
had heard tales of people in Panjim and Goa, Zito always came up with a new
twist which made the story fresh again. ( He could have been a journalist I
tell you). Then of course the Alvares
brothers Vasco and Ernesto, who ran the food and beverages enterprise at the
Clube then, whose father was one of the pillars of the Panjim Carnival. And
while they cooked the best food in town, they reserved perhaps the best for the
Carnival, where carne (meat) was prepared and consumed as if it was going out
of fashion. Well, it was in a sense with lent to follow.
Vasquito’s pork chops falling off the bone and his steaks with
pepper sauce were had for lunch or dinner followed by a quick trip to Clube
Nacional, where choris pao and urrack or feni would be waiting in the evening.
On Carnival day, another cast of characters were regular fixtures-
the Gomes brothers Shanon and Sylvester and their plusses. Ahem! These boys
were ringmasters on our turf on the Carnival route right in front of the Top
pub on Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, whose existence we hardly noticed
through the year, but became the most critical landmark during float watching.
We had stools and chairs and placed them strategically outside top gear with
many of us designated to dive in and out of the pub with refills. (Alas with
new conditions and rules, that didn’t quite happen now with the fervor of
And then the festivities moved to the lane adjoining Garcia de
Orta and the jardin itself lined with stalls, more food and wine. That spirit
still exists, where you meet people you haven’t for a year or more, sing and
dance with friends and strangers and do not have to ever decide where to party
on those days. The party is all over you.
At the very least Panjim and Goa retains that and even as some
politicians try and spoil the party, the
great wall of spirit of its people,
triumphs each year.