Almost every morning as I travel to work, I cross
the Kadamba bus with the broad signage proclaiming MARGAO-MALVAN.
Why not? I said to myself. With three days in
hand, we set off on a Saturday at 12 midday. The Goa section of the road till
Banda is fine but getting to Kudal could be rock and roll. As you get nearer to
Malvan the quality of roads is colour-coded on Google GPS. Blue is good, grey
is bad and red is pathetic.
After doing 100 kms. we found ourselves in Malvan,
Sindhudurg district by 2.20 p.m. At Hotel Shirgaonkar a prawns thali was
Rs.320. I opted for the mutton thali. After the delicious Malvani food, we set
about finding a place to stay. The meagre 20 huts at MTDC, Tarkali, 7 kms. away
from Malvan city were full.
We chanced upon Blue Water resort which looked
clean and inviting. We opted for a 2nd
floor room which afforded a gorgeous view of the beach, a stone’s throw away.
The host was kind enough to give it to us for Rs. 3500 per night (breakfast
I was determined to see dawn rising from the sea
from my bamboo chair on the balcony. In the dead of night the roar of the sea
sounded terrifying. An unseen force was pulling me, pulling me into its watery
locks. Grieving over loss, the darkness signified death itself. One act could
end it all.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the quality of darkness
began to change. Shades of grey revealed
forms where earlier there was a wall of black. Dawn was breaking. I had
survived kalaratri - the dark night of the soul.
The next day we went for the 8 a.m. Sunday Mass in
Konkani at St. Peter’s church. It was a little distance away from our resort
and on the way back we pressed on to the boating point, sangam – where the sea meets the river.
After breakfast we set off for Sindhudurg fort.
The fort was commissioned by Shivaji in 1664. You approach it by boat for it is
built in the sea. Sadly the sprawling ruins have no historical information or
signages to guide the tourist. As we neared the docking point we saw scuba
diving enthusiasts dipping over the boats which were anchored midstream. Against
a deposit of Rs. 100 visitors to the fort are given a jute bag to put their
waste. This UNDP initiative was however met with scant regard by the visitors.
We bought six.
The rock garden was not enjoyed very much since it
was well past 3 p.m. and we were hot and hungry. After lunch at Shirgaonkar we called it a day
and returned to Blue Water. Onion and potato pakodas waited for us with hot tea. After a restful night we
returned to Goa on Monday at 12 midday – but not before Queenie picked up her
masalas from Deulkar Kirana stores in Malvan. Dwayne also had his pockets full
of shells from Tarkali beach.
‘From’ is a word that is part of a sentence which
suggests a relationship between two things, viz. I took the milk from the
fridge. So when the name of a film is John
From you begin to wonder. The title of the film also does not give away
which language it is in.
The character John From does not exist in the film
as a living person. He traces his
provenance from a time when American airplanes dropped food packets over
Melanesia in the Pacific ocean. When the natives asked who was the god from the
sky, they were told ‘John from America.’ ‘America’ seemed to have got lost in
translation and the saviour was simply christened ‘John From.’
The movie is about Rita, a bored teenage girl who
is infatuated with a photographer, twice her age, who moves in to an apartment
in the same complex where she lives. Rita’s parents don’t seem to have the time
for her or her adolescent whims. As Rita
falls head over heels for him, she begins to be interested in the subject of
his exhibition, viz. the peoples of Melanesia. She is enamoured by the exhibits
– some bizarre and fearful – of skulls,
canoes, head gear and photos.
Uncanny circumstances bring them together, as
though the spirits from the island have come to bring the two together.
Suddenly the window bangs, announcing that her love-interest has returned from
work. An eerie all-enveloping mist pervades the place as though a presence is
With a little help from her friends, Rita steals
his car. When she grandly returns it to him, he feels indebted to her and love
The movie, though slow on the uptake, grows on
you. The gradual immersion of a Portuguese girl into an otherwise alien
culture, is gradually and convincingly done. The high point is when Rita paints
her face and neck in the manner of the natives of Melanesia.
In the early part of the movie the girl and her
confidante Sara listen to Western music with beat, swaying their bodies to the
rhythm. But as mysterious things begin to happen, the background score is
replaced by women’s voices from Melanesia.
The pristine beauty of the sandy beaches of
Melanesia is contrasted with the block cubical apartments of Lisbon or ‘the
monotonous microcosm of concrete’ as Alfonso Rivera, reviewer on cineuropa.org,
The fascination of a young girl for an older man
is a challenging theme. Lolita, the classic novel by Vladimir
Nabokov comes to mind, so also the film American
Beauty starring Kevin Spacey.
Youth is seen as rejuvenating and the elixir of life – or what’s left of it.
How will it end? the viewer wonders. The
astounding conclusion is thought-provoking and beautiful.
(2015), the Portuguese film, directed by João Nicolau starring Julia Palha and
Filipe Vargas was screened recently for the Semana
da Cultura, Indo-Portuguesa, Goaas
part of the IXth Lusophone Film Festival at the Maquinez Palace,
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 8 October 2017. Pix courtesy, imdb.
me as I write. To me this is an epitaph on India. Or rather, the India that I
know. The cold-blooded murder of an activist and senior journalist leaves us
speechless. We do not know where to
It is the
duty of the Fourth Estate to be a watch dog for the public. But when freedom of
speech is muzzled or so brutally suppressed, one wonders how one can continue
to presume a mandate for governance.
have been on the front line to bring social change. Some have paid with their
if not all, is manufactured. Powerful
lobbies sieve information to curate it for the public. Which is why there is no
real news anymore. Soft journalism has made us a vegetative society, unable or
unwanting to know the truth.
I look up
the website gaurilankesh.com. The
Kannada website proudly proclaims the issue date in English as 6 September 2017
– the day after Gauri was shot. So the struggle will go on. The battles in the
vernacular are not the battles in the English press. Which is why Gauri chose
to be an independent journalist with her own website to speak out her mind.
Gauri seems to be a pyrrhic victory. The goons who did her in have done her a
favour. The groundswell of support for her has evinced a keen interest in her
outspoken critique of government. More people are aware of her work through
social media and through her website. Her championing for the cause of the
minorities is well-known.
assignment for undergraduate students showed how deeply the youth feel alienated
by recent events. One queried the violence in India. Another called for ramping
up security for women journalists, and a third decried the dictum of death for
dissenters. Gauri’s greatness was that she could traverse the world yet chose
to throw in her lot with the poor, the marginalized and the voiceless. From
Bengaluru she could reach out to Dadri.
She lived a life of conviction. On her own terms. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*’From Darkness Lead Me to Light.' Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I. III.28. Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on 1 October 2017. Pix courtesy firstposthindi.