Once upon a time, it was veterans like Thomas Vaz and VB Anand who created the image of Goa.
Their scenic picture postcards of the region showcased Goa’s (now fastgetting concretised) beauty to the outside world.
Thomas Vaz is a Mapusa-based businessman and artist, whose romance with the camera makes for an amazing tale. VB Anand came in from Tamil Nadu, and his own eye for detail and meticulous production did add great value to telling the Goa story. There were some other local producers too.
Over the years, there was a lull in the creation of postcards on Goa. Which was why it was exciting to come across the work of Joseph Dias, a Goan architect-turned-artist from the village of Utorda in Salcete, who has spent long years in Dubai.
Sometime in the monsoon of 2014, he started sharing his Goa-related drawings via Facebook, which struck a chord with me. Recently, he got into print with his first set of 12 postcards that focus on a Goa many of us grew up with.
His drawings depict the Goa that old timers all know, and visitors yearn for. The arrival of the Gulfie at Dabolim airport; the bullock cart and caminhaoes (old, Portuguese-time buses); the ‘kotti’ (coconut shell) converted into a torch; the alvorada of musicians playing outside a church feast….
Dias’ sketches are done with his architect’s precision. One shows the ‘addambo’, the giant-sized protective wooden bolt that ran across the full length of the front door of the old, traditional home of the middle-class Goan.
Yet another explains the intricate workings of the ‘adolli’ used to scrape coconut and de-scale fish. His ‘grandma’s kitchen’ takes us to a generation past, with its roofless bathing section in one corner, and the giant ‘moddki’ (pot) used to heat water.
Then there are those sketches which many didn’t even know about – How to catch a turtle in the local style, how to bake fish in clay, how to cook sausages in banana leaves, etc. “It requires a certain amount of the jolly villager life to experience such things. I was fortunate to have the best of both — city as well as village life”, says the artist.
Joseph says, “I access all my oldest memories of Goa and my childhood days and I sketch whatever I believe is fast disappearing.” He did these drawings to explain to his expat-raised sons about the Goa he knew.
Feedback has been great. Says Dias: “I guess most Goans living abroad are hit with nostalgia when they see my sketches. Their memories connect with mine and so they immediately ‘like’ my work. For example, the petromax, kott’tti torch, grandma’s kitchen drew many ‘likes’ on Facebook.”
While Joseph at present is torn between architecture and art, his plans include doing wall murals on hotel lobbies or public walls in Goa.
“If there are any caricaturists in Goa, they should be encouraged to set up small stalls along the Mandovi and other touristic places. I am reminded of Paris and the wonderful caricaturists who sit under the bridges filling tourists with much cheer”, Dias suggests.
Just at the time of writing, photographer-author Pantelao Fernandes has also come out with his set of photo-based postcards from Goa. Both Dias’ and Fernandes’ work are priced at the identical price of Rs 100 for a set of 12 cards. Architect-publisher Gerard da Cunha has also been spreading the fame of noted cartoonist Mario Miranda with a wide variety of his sketches converted into postcards.
Text: Frederick Noronha