- Brian Mendonca
Today, the final day of the Goa Arts and Literature Festival 2017 in Goa opened with the exclusive book release of The Portuguese Impress: Glimpses of the Portuguese Possessions of Goa, Bombay and Bassein by Teresa Albuquerque in the august Mandovi hall of the International Centre, Goa.
In his opening remarks Vivek Menezes, curator of the Festival, spoke about how indebted he was to the writings of Dr. Albuquerque. He fondly recalled how she had visited GALF in an earlier edition. Condoling the death of Landeg White and Eunice D'Souza, he spoke wistfully of Dr Teresa Albuquerque who also passed on this year.
After the book was introduced by the publisher Leonard Fernandes, it was released by Archbishop Philip Neri Ferrao, Patriarch of the East Indies and Archbishop of Goa and Daman. Dr. Teresa's son Fr. Sunder Albuquerque attached to the Bishop's House in Colaba, Bombay and Lulu, her son-in-law, had specially flown in from Bombay for the occasion.
The Archbishop spoke of the sweep of the book and how Ms. Albuquerque meticulously researched the Portuguese outposts in India. He began with an anecdote about the perception of Goa in the eyes of a traveller who observed that Goa had its own special charm. This charm, the Archbishop put down to the Portuguese influence. Dr. Albuquerque's book gives readers a glimpse of the essence of the Portuguese way of life -- the 'impress' -- through her outstanding work.
Ivan Arthur, former national creative director of Hindustan Thomson Associates was invited to speak next. Ivan, the author of A Village Dies (Speaking Tiger, 2016) spoke about the days in Anjuna with Dr. Teresa Albuquerque. He recalled how on a trip to Chapora fort in connection with Dr. Teresa's research, he accompanied Mathew Albuquerque to a certain spot when Dr. Teresa's was unable to climb that far. Dr. Teresa's directions were unerring and they found what they were looking for. It showed how meticulous she was with her research.
I am eagerly looking forward to reading this book. The maps help take me back in time and the quaint names of the places like 'Tana' make this discovery that much more rewarding. As one nibbles into vignettes of history from the book, whether it be on the botanist Garcia da Orta, or music for the silent screen, or Goan tailors in Bombay one cannot but help notice that Teresa supped well of the banquet of history. What set this singular life apart was that she, with her beloved husband Mathew, set her impressions down in writing for posterity.
To look at a place we currently inhabit, whether Goa or Bombay, through the prism of its history is to understand the layerings of culture across time, which we apprehend only in its final form. It is the accidents of history which make the centuries more intriguing -- a herculean task which Dr. Teresa Albuquerque has executed with finesse. This is her farewell, her swan song. It stands tall as a paean to her meticulous scholarship.
The publishers of the book are Cinnamon Teal, Margao, Goa and all credit to them for making this book happen.
Albuquerque, Teresa. The Portuguese Impress: Glimpses of the Portuguese Possessions of Goa, Bombay and Bassein. Margao, Goa: Cinnamon Teal, 2017. ISBN 978-93-86301611. PB. 379 pp. Rs. 450. Cover image from an impression of the city of Goa by Jan Huygen van Linschoten.
Photos at ICG, Donapaula, Goa taken by Brian Mendonca on 10 December 2017. Pix of the book, courtesy the publishers.