On the first day of college, an ‘Orientation’ was slated in the mid-morning and we all looked forward to it. The ambiguity of the word left us wondering about the nature of the orientation, viz. would it be an orientation about teaching practices? Would it be one about NAAC procedures? Why was this orientation so critical for the teaching faculty?
The speaker was Jovito Lopes. Lopes went on to cover a range of issues from health care, water resource management, and teacher effectiveness. He kicked off with the hymn ‘Count Your Many Blessings.’ Signposting sugar as the number 1 killer in heart-related diseases in Goa, he cited a case of how leaves found in Goa could be used to propel out kidney stones – rather than opting for expensive laser surgery. Stressing on communication in the class he urged the staff to empathize with the students. ‘Students don’t need us,’ he reasoned. ‘Everything is there on the internet.’ ‘But we can develop values, character and critical thinking.’
Lopes was India’s chef de mission at the Lusofonia games in Lisbon 2009 and was closely associated with the 3rd edition of the games in Goa in 2014. In fact, he said when we needed a break we should make the time-out sign! His wide range of experience interacting with students as a member of the local managing committee of Don Bosco college, Panjim, and now with Prudent Media, made him present his ideas with an elan I envied. His marshalling of his power point presentation with numerous clips, jokes and anecdotes was quite effortless. He had an original, if wry, take on the 21st century where everything could be suffixed with ‘LESS.’
At the end when Lopes asked for feedback some zeroed on to two slides they felt should be modified. Mired in a predictable, linear way of thinking we could not care ‘LESS’about the larger picture and value the wealth of information Lopes had so painstakingly prepared.
As I sat on Bogmalo beach in the gathering dusk the same evening, I was thinking that Lopes’s presentation was an orientation for life, not just an academic year. As we sang ‘Count your many blessings’ as a family in the sand (some of it blackened by tar) I felt it would take a lifetime to unpack what Lopes had said. His dire predictions that Verna would be out of water in a few years, and his appeal for in-house expertise to do something for Goa showed how concerned he was for the environment.
Nursing my Woo-woo – a cocktail at Joet’s bar and restaurant founded in 1979 -- at the deep end of the near-pristine Bogmalo beach, I watched Russia and Slovakia battle it out on the screen for the European championship. The young couple who we had seen coming to the beach at dusk were still there. Locked in embrace they just held on to each other as the waves lashed the shore. This was life. It was too precious to let go.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 26 June 2016. Pix of Jovito courtesy Goa Football Development Council gfdc.in. Bottom pix of Joet's from ixigo.com