Mrs Suares is a sprightly 92 year-old Goan lady of education and culture. She was a schoolteacher, like her late husband. He won many awards for his teaching of Portugese and I wish I had asked her to recite me some verses from the Portugese Shakespeare, Camoes, who came to Goa in 1553.
RED rose the dawn; roll’d o’er the low’ring sky,
The scattering clouds of tawny purple fly.
While yet the day-spring struggled with the gloom,
The Indian monarch sought the regent’s dome.
In all the luxury of Asian state,
High on a star-gemm’d couch the monarch sat:
Then on th’ illustrious captive, bending down
His eyes, stern darken’d with a threat’ning frown,
“Thy truthless tale,” he cries, “thy art appears,
Confess’d inglorious by thy cautious fears.
Mario Miranda, the famous Goan cartoonist whose sketches enlivened the long deceased Illustrated Weekly of India, drew an hilarious send-up of a traditional upper-class Goan family: Papa clutching a copy of The Lusiads, Camoes‘ epic poem, Mama in afternoon frock seated decorously on an armchair and two children arranged at the parents’ feet like obedient pets.
I imagine Mrs Suares belongs to this class. But she is not haughty and proud, but sweet and sad. She lives on her own in the lovely little township of Fontainhas, and misses her son who is in Portugal. All her working days she taught and brought up three children on her own after her husband died young.
Here she is, in front of a gracious colonial style dwelling, enjoying her evening promenade, upright and with no need of a stick, though she says she will have to start using one soon.
Comments from several Indian visitors on Tripadvisor complain there is nothing special about Fountainhas, “What is this blah-blah place?” “Very overrated”. I can only conclude that these tourists can’t tell the difference between a mud hut and the houses in this area that are reminiscent of old Lisbon.
Then I came across a young group of musicians practising “She wore an itsy bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini” and their leader kindly let me take pictures. I told him my daughter is a violinist and he said, “It is an honour, Ma’am that you are here.”