For many a Goan… a home away from home
A documentary on the Goan Clubs (Kudds) in Bombay recently went viral on social media after being shared on ‘Goencho Balcao’, an online entertainment portal. Originally created in 2011-12, it evoked a sense of belongingness in men who have lived in these clubs
Relocating to a bigger city in search of better prospects is a story everyone is familiar with. The loneliness one can feel, away from familiar people and locales, can be isolating. Offering reprieve and a sense of home to the people of Goa who chose to travel to the city of dreams, Bombay, were the Goan clubs or kudds there.
A documentary on the Goan clubs in Bombay was created by students of Sophia Shree B K Somani Memorial Polytechnic, Mumbai to showcase their lifestyle and current struggles. The same was recently uploaded by Goencho Balcao, Goa's first official online entertainment platform that connects to Goa’s diaspora. Bustling neighbourhoods with flourishing clubs that numbered to over 250, it is saddening to see that many have succumbed to the ire of development and are struggling for survival. However, just the word ‘kudd’ brings back cherished memories for those who lived in these dormitory styled rooms. With each village having one and sometimes two clubs, these were gems of Goan heritage tucked away in a cosmopolitan city. William Britto of Goencho Balcao explains how the documentary made it to the video portal. “The documentary was made by the students of Social Communications Media Department, Sophia Shree B K Somani Memorial Polytechnic batch of 2011-12 under the guidance of Jeroo Mulla and Anjoo Daswani, Sunayana Sadarangani and Anita Parihar. “The documentary is directed by Vinelle Vaz. Aamir Khan Productions produced the film. Goencho Balcao showcased it to the world as it was not noticed and lost amongst many other Goan documentaries. It was a tribute to my cousin, Brito Xavier Fernandes, who was an integral part of the documentary. He expired in Goa this year in a road accident. We tried to find the people involved in making the documentary but all have moved to different parts of the world and could not be tracked down; we have given due credit to all involved. We wanted to keep the documentary alive along with the legacy of my cousin. We received 6,300 views in a month’s time and I am glad to say that Goencho Balcao is shaping up to be Goa’s entertainment archive.” After the documentary was shared online, it created a buzz with men, young and old, who have lived in the club at some point in time. “Men, who lived in Bombay Kudds before shifting base, expressed their memories, especially spending time after a hard day’s work. I heard plenty of stories of the club from my cousin, who was living there before he shifted to Goa. Unfortunately, the number of clubs is decreasing year by year and many are closing down as they are being sold to builders. These clubs were a home away from home and a great bond of brotherhood,” adds William. From a sleepy village of Pirna to the bustling city of Bombay, Francis D’Cruz made his journey to the big city confidently as his father, Michael Nicholas D’Cruz, was living in the village club. The club was like an extension of the village, where everyone knew one another. “The St Francis Xavier Club of Pirna was originally near Crawford Market and was shifted to the ground floor of Goan Society Building at Tadwadi, Chira Bazaar. On the ground floor, we had the company of clubs from the villages of Cuncolim, Sirlim, Marcel and Carmona, with the Aldona club on the first floor. I moved into the club in 1965 and the building must have been over a decade old then. The founding club must have been much older. It was instituted by the village elders for the younger generation who didn’t have any accommodation in the city,” explains Francis, who used to pay rent of Re 1 per month in 1965, which later was hiked to Rs 5 in 1988. He was a member of the club for just six months but has very fond memories of living there. “The rent had to be paid on the tenth of every month. If you are a member and residing in the club, you had to pay the full rent. If you are abroad, you had to pay 50 per cent and if you are going to Goa, you were exempted from the rent. If you fail on pay the rent on time, then you had to pay double the rent and if you failed on three occasions, your membership was cancelled and you had to leave. The club was open to villagers of Pirna only and there was no caste system. Family members were allowed to stay in the club for a maximum of 15 days,” he remembers vividly. Joseph Simplicio D’Mello lived at the Moira club at Valentine Street, Dhobi Talao for 15 years, enthusiastically following the rules and regulations of the club. “The club was open to bachelors only. We were given the space for one trunk and place to sleep. We would get villagers visiting for a day or two, especially seamen and businessmen passing through Bombay. We had a big altar in the hall with the statue of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the patroness of Moira. Some members who had retired from work would also put up at the club. There was no constant number of members living at a time but we had a good time since I had family members living in the club,” says Joseph. Elaborating on the duties of each member, he says, “Each member had to assist in the cleaning and other duties like filling water. However, each one had to do their own cooking. The rent had to be paid on time or there was a fine for late payment. Recently, I learnt that the building was taken up by an hotelier and the club no longer exists. Every village had a club earlier and now many are facing a sad situation.” This slice-of-life documentary that offers us a peep into the beauty and strength of community has indeed touched many hearts but the condition of these kudds is disheartening as they form the beginning of many a happy story.
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