Explore Goa’s syncretic culture, and uncover the heart and voice of its people through stories in Konkani.
Damodar Mauzo takes Tara and Michelle on tour around Goa, capturing the essence of the taxi drive through his book: “The Wait and Other Stories”, a collection that weaves together Goa’s cosmopolitan reality. How is Goa standing strong in the face of growing intolerance? How does one aptly represent the diversity of a place like Goa? And what does it really mean to be a Goan?
Tune in to find out the contemporary reality of Goa beyond its glittering beaches and clubs.
Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
Produced by Aishwarya Javalgekar
Sound edit by Kshitij Jadhav
‘Books and Beyond with Bound’ is the podcast where Tara Khandelwal and Michelle D’costa uncover how their books reflect the realities of our lives and society today. Find out what drives India’s finest authors: from personal experiences to jugaad research methods, insecurities to publishing journeys. Created by Bound, a storytelling company that helps you grow through stories. Follow us @boundindia on all social media platforms.
I have my own way of writing I finish one story in one sitting, I cannot go to sleep, leaving the story half complete and then picking up the next day next day I lose the thread. So that is the reason why I finished the story. Sometimes it is two o'clock in the night, sometimes three or even four, but I finish it, and then go to bed.
Tara Khandelwal 00:27
Welcome to Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara Khandelwal.
Michelle D'costa 00:31
I'm Michelle D'costa. And
Tara Khandelwal 00:33
in this podcast, we uncover the stories behind some of the best written books of our time
Michelle D'costa 00:39
and find out how these books reflect our lives and our society today.
Tara Khandelwal 00:44
So tune in every Wednesday to enter a whole new world with a new author. And a new idea.
Michelle D'costa 00:51
Yes, and after three years and 2 million listens we are back with a fall factories and five
with hard hitting questions and life changing books.
Michelle D'costa 01:01
So let's dive in. Hi, everyone, we can't wait to speak to them with our mouths oh who's lovingly known as pie in Goa. He's a great writer who celebrates go as richly pluralistic heritage. He has chronicled go as fluid cultural identity, including the cosmopolitan reality of contemporary Goa, where Hindus, Catholics, Muslims, they all find ways to coexist. And he's 78 years old. He's famously known for being a shop owner in majorda, his village in Goa. And he has fought for companies statehood, he has fought for the constitutional recognition of conquering, and I'm super proud of that, because I'm a Mangalorean. And my mother tongue is also a company. So we are here to find out how his characters have reached a global audience through company and find out about the changing landscape of cola over the past 50 years. Welcome, sir.
Thank you. Thank you, Michelle. Thank you, Tara.
Michelle D'costa 02:07
So you know, just to begin, so what I really want to understand is, you know, what I've read is that you know, your inspiration for characters comes from the actual customers who visit your shop. I don't know if you still run the shop. But so can you tell us how do these ideas for stories come to you? Are they actually from the characters who visit your shop? Or you know, is it your imagination? Do you actually play around with that, because we know that you know, most of your writing is fiction, you've written so many novels, so many short story collections. So please tell us a little bit about your characters and the inspiration.
Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much. I'm very proud to be part of this podcast. Well, Michelle, what happens is, I think as with all the writers, all the characters that appear in my stories are fictionalized characters, real real life characters, but they are fictionalized, the very term fiction itself means it is not real right. So, I rent a shop for nearly about 50 years, and I close down 10 years back now, the customers from my own village, almost all the people had to come to my village because my shop contains everything that they need, I met all the needs of the villagers right from sugar and rice and salt and cement and all those besides that also, whenever somebody dies, the people want a pair of gloves for the dead body or they need some bottle of spirit denatured spirit the during the olden days, there was no mortuaries or no other arrangements to be done. So, these to inject denatured spirit in the dead bodies to retain for next two days. So, everything that is required by the village, I was keeping at my shop and therefore almost everybody whether it's school going child or an old man had to come to my shop. So, I was very close to my people in my village. And I was so close that the most of the people would come not only to buy things and take away things, but at the same time, they will share with me their intimate feelings sometimes whatever quarrel happens at home, they will share with me sometime this summer advice also. So that is how I was buying to almost all the villagers. So that helped me to pick up the stories that I had some Genesis I found in the life of my neighborhood, people and people of the village so somehow you know it click the I was I graduated in 1966 Then go I was just liberated and peep government wanted people to join them for jobs. Somehow I never I would never, you know, keen on taking up any job. So I prefer to run my ancestral shop in the village. And that is how I remain connected with my people who in turn, gave me enough material to write about.
Tara Khandelwal 05:25
That's so exciting. So, you know, you must have met so many interesting characters, the course of your life, and I love how diverse the storytelling is. Because I actually live in Guam half of the year. Oh, I never really knew this side of Guam before reading your books. Because when we think of go we always see the beaches, you know, but I always associated also company with Catholics. Yeah, like Michelle, but in this in this story, you really bring together how Konkani as a language is a binder for all religions, and you really show a side of GWA that is very pluralistic, and that is very diverse, which I really, really liked. And actually, one of my favorite stories in the book in your short story collection of eight is burger. Because in that story, all these tensions come together, and you show the harmony amongst different religions. In the story, you know, their two best friends Sharmila Irene, and they share that defense with each other. And one day Irene shares her beef burger with Sharmila, who is a Hindu. And she doesn't realize that this is that what she's done is sort of a sin for Sharmila to eat beef. And actually, sir, I was reminded of something that happened in my childhood. So I, yeah, I used to have a Gujarati neighbor, a friend, she was the same age as me. And I am a non veg. And one day she came to my house, and I was eating fried chicken. And I said, I said, Oh, why don't you try this? It's like biscuit, you know? And she's a vegetarian. And she tried it. And she, and she loved it. Other later, my mom told me, Oh, you know, she's a vegetarian. So it really reminded me of that.
I'm very happy that I could connect with people like you, with the changing times. These notions also are changing, isn't it? So that is the reason why I think that story, that particular story burger can connect with many people.
Michelle D'costa 07:27
Yeah, so I'm really curious. Uh, what inspired the story? How did you actually create Sharmila and Irene? Because, you know, I also know that you have three daughters, you know, is it something that they have themselves encountered, you know, in school, or, or, you know, maybe their friends, you know,
it's not exactly that on the country. What happens, you know, in Goa, whenever I was invited to any wedding parties, they would have some chairs, dishes spread. And unfortunately, they will serve us some sample size vegetarian food thinking that we do not eat, sometimes the pork and beef and other mutton and chicken, but I allowed them, they did not know that. So, they would sell us some tuna and samosa, I was irritated by that I discard it and go to the the spread to enjoy it. And when my children were growing, my wife is a vegetarian, but not religiously vegetarian, she would have chicken rasa, but not eat chicken pieces like that. But then my children when they went to the table, I always advise them, whatever you like, you can take. But if you don't, like don't eat, so it doesn't matter whether it is beef, or pork or mutton or chicken. So this is how I brought up my children. It often happens whenever we went for picnic. Sometimes, we shared the snacks, and that time, some children were very apprehensive, or asking questions like, Is this fish? Is this mutton? Then I don't want to eat something. I was puzzled by this question. So why should they bother about it? If parents are bothered, it's fine. But I think whenever I went to my Catholic friends houses, then my advice to my children was the same. It whatever you like, probably I got this idea of when similar thing happened with others when I saw a friend's child going to the table and then the other, their parents pulling them, don't eat that don't eat that, you know, this I don't like probably, that my thought or my ideas had to come up through the stories. My closest friends are Catholics. I live in a village which is predominantly Catholic. I never thought there the other nor day ever given me the treatment as if I am the other. So this is how I am brought up in this village. And in this atmosphere, that is why I think I felt like writing that story.
Michelle D'costa 10:04
Yes or No, actually, I can totally relate, you know, especially that you mentioned the parties and all of that, right. Like when we have this buffet system, we usually have all of this. And I remember once, I think it was a vegetarian guest, she had taken pork and she was like, oh, so tasty. I've never had funny this. Funny, but what I would say, I think this is the secular nature of India, that that, you know, you're actually trying to portray your stories, which is very rare, right, these days. And also, because, you know, Tara mentioned a childhood memory. I just remembered one incident, you know, so actually, I was born and raised in Bahrain. And, you know, over there, we used to take pains to go to school. Different ways to have bacon sandwiches, okay. Obviously, I mean, I didn't understand or I didn't really know that, you know, of course, because it's an Islamic country. You know, having poke is not really, you know, entered it. So what happened once was I had a fight with my classmate. And, you know, she threatened me, she said, I will tell this girl so she said that I tell this girl that you're having poke Oh, my God, I got shit scared?
Tara Khandelwal 11:12
Yeah. Yeah, no, I think that's what these stories do. You know, even for me, these stories are so relatable, you know, with the cab driver and you know, the gentleman thief, that it really makes you think of your own life. And, you know, when we were discussing the book, you know, Michelle is obviously her mother tongue has company and companies. And then we were discussing how you've done so much for the language and how you identify as a company writer, which is actually all encompassing, because it's spoken by so many cultures, you know, and the language is the connector between all these cultures and religions. So, I wanted to ask you, so, what is it about the company language that is so interesting to you and what can we do to sort of spread more awareness about this language?
In fact, I feel sad when people ignore company. Sometimes people just casually mentioned that small language is like conquering, I don't like that term, why should companies be called Small the number of speakers is small, as compared to the number of speakers of other languages, there is not a single idea that I cannot express in my language, any sentiment I can express in my language, and that is why I think primarily by hook up to writing in concrete, I write in English I write in Marathi, I can write in Hindi also. But my creative writing has to be incompetent because I find the right kind of expression for writing or expressing myself I think, I can get very intimate in or rather I can catch every nuance and notion that I want to express in my language, I think pumpkiny has the language has suffered the most as compared to other languages, not only in India, I would say, in the world, there will be hardly any language, which has survived the onslaught of history, and also geography, geography because there was an exodus of people. When conversions were happening in Goa, many 1000s of people left the shores of Goa and settled somewhere in Karnataka to Mangalore and beyond. And up to Cochin also in Kerala. These people carried their language with them. And for last 405 or nearly 500 years now, they have been speaking, conquering at home. This is really amazing, because people's love for the language to keep up that roots. They have been keeping the language alive and that is the reason why cockney has survived the onslaught, the Portuguese had passed a decree in 1600 84. banning the use of company not only in writing, not only in other matters, also in speech, nobody was allowed to speak. In spite of that people kept the language alive. It remained lingua franca, throughout the centuries. It may be accepted. And data and 150 years of the beginning, October 16, ended at Paul's decree was passed to bend the company, that's all Yeah, but then our language and news, some push I thought, and when I took up to writing, there were hardly any people who were writing literature in company. Everybody speaks Cokely there is a very popular form. We call it theatrical. Yes, theater. Yeah, theater, theater theater, but it's the form drama form itself is called theatrical. It is very, very popular. Can you imagine? One theatrics is shown nearly 100 And plus times, we have to call them century shows. So DeAndre is so popular among the masses. This love for language, low for theatrics, that is instrumental in keeping the language alive for so many centuries. After the liberation of Gaza, unfortunately, concrete had to suffer at the end at the expansionist nature of the neighboring states, where madrasta wanted to go on to be aligned to them. As a result, they claim that cooking is the dialect of Marathi. So, we had to fight a long battle to prove that company is an independent literary language and to get the rightful place in the Constitution of India, because it was out of the Constitution when constitution was framed. Goa was under colonial rule. By the time company got recognition at the state language as a constitutional language. Nearly about 30 years had to pass. But after that, we did not look back. I think, in long strides, cockney writers are going ahead, and the company writers could catch up with the literature's of the world, only because the cockney speakers in Goa, they were well versed in Portuguese. They're the best of European literature was translated into Portuguese and came to go for our readership, like Stefan Zweig was very popular among would new Portuguese, the readers, then there were Marathi writers who were best known to go and readers, because most of the Hindu they prefer to read in Marathi because Copening was not available. So the people who went to Karnataka, they kept up company alive, they also wrote, using the same Canada script that they learned in schools. But then they kept the language alive. Again, this company people were very close to Canada literature. So they knew that literature stents were there their bar should be, so they kept on striving to raise their bar. This is the reason why cuchini writers could catch up with the rest of the mainstream Indian languages. Yes, it is a long struggle. And I think I have as much love for Goa as for company, that the reason why I took up to write in company,
Michelle D'costa 17:40
yeah, we love that. It was like a fun history lesson. You know, and actually, you know, so many few people know about the Portuguese colonial history, right? It's mostly the British. I really found that very, you know, very insightful. Actually, very few people know that company has five to six scripts. Yes. You know, I don't think any other regional language has that many scripts, right? There's a devnagri the English and when
not without reason also there was reason for that, yeah. Yes. Now, why itself company is written in Devanagari. And also quite a few right in Roman script. Why Roman script, because there was a ban on company, they went to Portuguese school, by learning four classes of Portuguese up to premiere of growl, which was compulsory that time, nobody would master the language and they had their own expression to write. So, they use the Latin alphabet to write company. So, this is how Roman script is used. The tonnara script is used for company the people who went to Kerala they learned Malayalam, but they use Malayalam script to write company Yes, this script is written in PI script, the all the Muslim people who went and settled along the coast of Karnataka, particularly Butker areas, they went to their schools, where they learned what to do and then they use pesto Arabic script to write company. Yeah, exactly. Add it to our wealth in a way of course, yes, because over over the centuries, they could keep the language alive in different tongues and different scripts. But at the same time pray we feel that if only all were to write in one script, probably it we could have a bigger outreach, because now it is difficult for us. If I write in Devanagari script, I'm not reading Kerala in Malayalam, those who are accustomed to Malayalam script reading. Now, today when good things are happening, people are realizing so gradually, they are turning towards one script. Now in go up, all the Catholic or Hindus they go to calls and learn opening in Devanagari script people in Canada they are aware of this situation they are making an effort to come closer to the oven agree and in Kerala, it is to their credit that realizing that they cannot reach out to greater readership. They are also almost given up Malayalam script writing and they are writing in devnagri script. That is why I'm proud and happy today. That company is going ahead in long strides.
Michelle D'costa 20:36
Yes, yes, definitely. So, and I really liked that, you know, you shared so much like for all our listeners who probably wouldn't have been aware of the richness of the language, I think now, you know, now they know. And I have something funny to share before I asked you the next question. So so, you know, we speak in Concord, and since we are in Bombay, obviously, you know, people speak Marathi. So whenever, you know, like, you know, if, for example, as a family if we want to, you know, share something, you know, if we have to whisper something also actually we can't speak in company, because it's very similar to Marathi, you know, so actually they do, yeah, I understand it. But anyway, so you start talking about, you know, different religions that are in Goa, I think one of your stories in your book was an absolute favorite. So it's called Yacine, Gatling. And Austin is actually about a Bengali driver who, you know, I would say shapeshifts, based on his customers, so he actually tries to find out, you know, if he actually looks for their surname, and finds out whether, you know, they're Catholic, Hindu or Muslim, and then he changes his name, he changes his whole form, you know, the way he speaks. According to that, I found it very interesting. And also the different languages he learns, or, you know, for example, he learns Russian, because he realized that some landlords are Russian and they don't know English, you know,
it was the customers that the tourists will come towards.
Michelle D'costa 21:55
Yes, yes, exactly. So so, you know, I really want to know, how did the story take form? You know, like, do you know, a driver like that? You know, or, or is it something that you've created just to show the diversity of religions and languages, there was
a biopic were being made on me by site Academy. And the director, Eric come with the team of the filmmakers team, and they were doing the shooting, meeting people getting interviews of others are also interested in me. And one day, they wanted me to come with them to the beach, to do some shooting. And they're hired a cab for their stay in Goa. So I happen, they made me sit by the side of the driver, then they just brought it inside the rear seat, four or five people have them. So as I on the way, I just casually asked the driver, what is your name? I write ask him company. It took quite a few seconds, which puzzled me which surprised me. Why should you take so long to tell me his name? Was he rather apprehensive that it should tell company if he tells his name as a Muslim, then probably I wouldn't like him? Or was he thinking that if I am a Catholic, he may not like me, if I say Hindu name. You know, that's what I thought this was all my imagination. But because it took quite some time to tell his name. I got this idea. And then what happened? They wanted to shoot me lightning at my table. I pulled a paper and pen. And they told me to keep writing something. So what do I write? Then suddenly, I realized that I had met that driver. So I kept writing about the driver. i What is your name? And he says this And then, you know, after a para, I realize that I already started writing a story. And then after the shooting was over, I set one day and completed that story. That is how it happened.
Tara Khandelwal 24:09
Thanks. So because that is a very distinct question. I'm always very curious about how, you know, authors create their characters, and especially the history about Coconino. Michelle has always been telling me that, oh, you know, about Mangalore and how her language came to be so? Yes, so I've got a little more context about my friend as well. You lived in Goa. And so I want to know, you know, what's a day in your life? Like, what is your daily routine? And we actually have a podcast with an author called Clyde D'Souza. And it's all about Golden stories. And he's called it so say God stories from guar because he's very much wanting to take this to say God philosophy and tell everyone about it. So what is your day like? What is your everyday routine and why and what does to say God mean to you?
I have a shopkeeper. But what in the sense last 10 years, nearly 10 years, I have closed the shop. But I had my own routine. Like any other shopkeeper, I would open the shop at nine in the morning, close at one o'clock, one to four was my lunchtime and then I needed siesta to say 333 45 and then come back and open the shop at 4428. I was also running a liquor shop, I was also running a bar, where people would like to come and see it and drink and spend some time. But then I was very clear about one thing I wanted to reach home before 830 to spend time with my family. So I used to close the shop, pull the shutters by eight o'clock, and the people would get too angry and annoyed. They said we come to drink, spend some time enjoying friendship with others, and you want to go as back at eight. Then another thing I noticed some people, they did not have enough money to take home a kilo of rice, they don't mind spending 10 rupees, five rupees on the liquor, I'm talking about the olden days. And I felt sad that they don't have money to take home to their children, some biscuits or some sweets, but they don't mind spending on liquor like this. So this is one reason another reason why I made it a point to close the bar at eight o'clock and also this job. So this was my routine for my writing. Late in the evening, that at night, after my wife takes the children to sleep, I would sit around 930 10 After 10 and continue to write until the story is over. By the way, I have my own way of writing I finish one story in one sitting, I cannot go to sleep, living the story half complete and then picking up the next day next day I lose the thread. So that is the reason why I finished this story. Sometimes it is two o'clock in the night, sometimes three, even four, but I finish it and then go to bed. So this was my routine. About to say God, I will tell you one thing. This to say God they have leaving people now, wrong notion they have interpreted wrongly. We prefer to live lazily no actually living in is to say that style is the best way. Because we all have these stressful days now. Even the laborers would go in the morning, even the rain as we called them, toddy tappers, or coconut packers, they would climb the trees around 830 In the morning, finish by 1130. Well go back home, eat and rest that rest is very, very important. We call it siesta. Siesta may not be equivalent to sadness, you know, we wanted this rest. And then we will resume at four and four to eight beings to say God is taking things in your stride, not getting stressed out over some petty matters. And that is the right kind of lifestyle. I feel. Unfortunately, by now, the people of Guam are almost given up that cigar attitude.
Michelle D'costa 28:30
Yes, yes. No, I totally understand that because especially you're also Bombay, you know, people say it's such a fast life. It's so stressed out what you know, I wish we had this like work life balance, like you mentioned, you're like we can adopt this as a god. Attitude also. So I actually, you know, so the first time I encountered your work was really ages ago. Okay, so when I was in Bahrain, I was actually actively looking for, you know, books written by Indian writers, because we I mostly found, you know, works by British writers, American writers, you know, in the bookstores. Yeah. So, what I did was then, you know, I consciously sought out books, and then I came across your vocabulary, which was your novel, that one you the Sahitya Academy Award. And what I liked about it was because I was in the Gulf, obviously, you know, so the story follows the story of a house help who goes all the way to the Gulf, you know, for obviously, to earn a living for her family. But when she goes there, she she learns this harsh truth that, you know, in addition to being a housewife, she's also a mistress to the sheikh over there. And, and I really, you know, for the first time I understand also, there are writers who write the truth, you know, what I mean? Like, like an activism kind of story. So I really want to know, so what inspired you to write that story? I'm not sure if you've been to the Gulf anytime, or you know, so was it based on something that you had seen firsthand or and you know, what is the story mean to you now, years after the book is out.
Now, the time is changed now? No, no women go to gulp to serve as is. And that was the Time, you know, I'm talking about late 60s and 70s, when a goer was getting lots of money orders from East Africa, but soon after Goa was deliberated. All the East African countries also were liberated. Now that got independence. And as a result, the goblins will live there, out of scared of being driven away, or those who were already indulged in the exploitation of the people over it, the traders, they also tried to leave Africa to return back to go or to go some other places like Australia or England or Canada and the US. But that was the time when people stopped getting money from outside. So there was certainly they found the doors were open in Gulf countries, particularly Kuwait, and other places like Bahrain, and then they found there's a good chance they are getting but it was mainly for the IRS. So they won't mind the poverty stricken people in Goa, they prefer to go there, and they face the somber Beloff, some very settled in good houses, but some were exploited sexually also. So this is how I came to know when I came to know him because the people of my village whenever they saw a well dressed woman were just returned from Kuwait or other places. They would call her COVID Canada and that COVID camera with Kenneth COVID. Corinne, the woman from Kuwait. But when they call Kuwait come there was a stigma attached to it. So it smelled foul. So what I did is, I tried to find out. Meanwhile, another story I would like to tell you, there was a young girl of adolescent girl of about 15 years will come to my shop with a brand new BSA bicycle. Today you will find young girls going to college with their own car. Similarly, that was the time I'm talking about the 70s when this girl will come to my shop with a brand new bicycle and buy some chocolates, Cadbury slabs and just share with her colleagues. That would be at least three or four girls with her. She will buy a Coca Cola and then give others also, there was not a time when people were getting pocket money like this. And not at least within village. If we were to go into the city probably we're getting some pocket money. So how was it How was this girl spending so much? Too much pocket money was he was interested with. I was really surprised. So then somebody mentioned that could push a motor package Zilla again, Mike with Canada. Yeah. But does it matter to her? She has mother working in Kuwait. She's getting a lot of money. So I didn't like that comment at I wanted to know about it. Suddenly, I found this girl was a regular to my shop. And for some days, she did not turn up nearly a month or so. One day she returned, and again with the same form. So I asked her for a long time you were not not seen. She said my mother had come from COVID. So I spent time with her. I say I was curious to know she said she has gone now. And I asked her what she has she brought for you. Then she also was in good mood. She said she brought me some perfumes and she brought me some cloths and some dresses. I then asked her Oh good. So why didn't you go with her? She said, I told her mom. Now that I will pass SSC. Next year, I will go to Kuwait you don't. And mother was angry. She said that. She will not take me ever to quit. So that was the comment I was surprised with. So why should a mother not like a daughter to go to Kuwait? And so that worked there. So probably there was something then I went on inquiring so what I did is I interviewed about 50 or so people who had come from Kuwait, and on vacations. But then were hardly Yeah, but there were hardly women, most of them their men. By the time already the days had changed. People men were also in demand. But there was there were very few women who always talked, you know, all good, good things, which I didn't want to know. I knew you can earn a lot of money there. And then there was one woman who shared her views with me. Of course, what she was telling me is as if this is somebody else's experience. She will say my boss was very good. But that woman or boss was held fully advantage of like that. But then what happened is, she was very close to us, my family. She was another five or six years older than me. But she was like my sister, and we always treated one another in the same manner in Goa in my village, and she was our neighbor when my poor father so that my grandfather and my father lived along the coastal path, this girl belong to this feature poor community. I asked her, I would like to talk to you. She said, Come over anytime. I said, what time we stood. She said, come at around five 530. I said, Okay, fine, I'll come to your house. Then I went to her house, which was crowded, all children were talking loudly. And she said, Let us go to the beach and sit there. And then I let us talk. The bridge was very close, about 150 meters away from her house. And I sat there on the sand. And she went on talking, I went on questioning, and she went on answering. And it was a lengthy story, as she told all the things about how is the life in Kuwait, how that sense storms happen. And what happens when sent stumps happen, or what happens on Fridays, and how Goins go to churches on which day and how they make camaraderie near the church, the nicest ones, so they found camaraderie there. And then she also told me, the setups of their houses, the rich erupts, where the how the, the sitting room is called sulla are, what it's called, where our kitchen is called. And all that they are routine, she told me how she was given a separate room, and how our boss would interact with her wife, and how she would go every Friday to her mother's place. And then their children were brought up in UK, the rich people, all these things he told me and I went on scribbling writing on my notepad, and that it was almost Sun Sun had already dipped in the sea. And it was dark, but there was no end to her telling, I went on the writing on my notepad I could not see the page only the light I had what the light reflected by the sky. And by 738 I was through, I came back home excited. And I told my wife, now I am ready to start writing. And that is how a chameleon came to life. So, you know, it was it was about my people. That is the reason why I always throughout this novel, I don't she was a victim of sexual exploitations. I would not regret bringing her Carmellini in my novel as an independent woman. And I celebrated her womanhood if I am not wrong. As a writer. I did not accuse her. She was not a war at all. She was not a keep. She was a woman. That's what. So as a mother, as a mother, I wanted to portray her and that is exactly what I have done.
Michelle D'costa 38:53
Yeah, no, I actually saw that comes across really well. Because what I think is, you know, what it is you went out of the way to find out about the truth, you know, like this investigative you know, investigative, I would say quality within you to find out and for me, you know, I have like an insider's look, kind of because we had a household for over 30 years. So she lived with us. You know, she's like one of our family members. At this time where I went to go also we lived with her so she lives in Agha sai again, a village life. So she said, you know, Michelle Nautica? Shaytan Warta and all of that it was it was a lot of fun and I really miss that one main reason you know, when I speak concretes the convicts of go and and mango and so many people are confused, or you can go
because you see the language is one dialect may be different.
Tara Khandelwal 39:43
Thanks so much for sharing all of these stories. It's sort of So, so interesting to hear about your process and Michelle said the investigative part as well. So one thing that you know we read is that your house is protected by security since 2008 18 You've had police security because following the intelligence inputs about a threat to your life, and you also said that every writer is an activist. So how has it been for you? Since 2018, when you've had to sort of have the security?
Well, it's just an addition to my family rather, because this is a 24 hour duty for them. They change every day, when security personnel comes on in the morning goes next morning, and the other one takes over. So anyway, this has become routine to me, and I'm not bothered about them. One thing is good is they keep away from coming very close to me. Of course, when I drive they were in my car, when I go them somewhere they are around with me. Now, you know why the security is given to me when Gauri Lankesh was assassinated. And before that, you know, many deaths happened to our Narendra Dabholkar. And then my friend or Govind pansare, A, M kalburgi. kalburgi, was by my colleague, rather senior colleague in a project, when unfortunately, they were killed and when Gauri Lankesh was killed, as it people found that my name was in the hit list their hit list of the perpetrators. So they informed the Home Ministry Minister of Home Affairs in Delhi, an intern, they asked the state government to provide me in the security, I was myself surprise, I had never had any direct threat to my life from anywhere. But yes, I do speak with they don't like when I say they don't, who do not share the same ideology, or the same views, which I express, and I don't mix up my words, when I speak out. Of course, I never heard others, but I express myself very clearly about the ideas, the ideology, or rather, how I want go to be how I lie, I would prefer India to be because I am an admirer of the diversity of our country that finally builds up the unity. So diversity I see in unity. And that is what you will see in my writings. But unfortunately, there are some people who do not like my views, and they think, probably to do away with me that will stop but I don't think so. I'm not scared of it. On the country. Now, probably in my next tourist, you will find some my peers or some security people appearing somewhere. So anyway, for any writer, anything that happens will add to his life experience. So okay, I'm fine with them. I would rather prefer to do away with it only because, you know, sometimes they tell on your privacy, you know, your privacy, you lose your privacy, when I drive to some place with my wife, I would like to share with her something, which I cannot. But other than this, it is not a menace for me. I examined my stride.
Michelle D'costa 43:41
Wow, I wish I really wish that all writers could be as brave as you because I do think that, you know, in a way writing is also you know, to be courageous, right? If you don't write what you feel and what you think, then it defeats the purpose. But sir, recently, you know, I saw a photo on Amitabh gorse social media, actually, and he had posed this photo with you. And he also shared his very lovely caption about how staying with you, you know, and his friendship with you. So I know and we've also interviewed him on this podcast. So I always wanted to know a little bit about your friendship, you know, not just with him, but let's see with other writers, like you know, do you have like a writers circle with whom you share your drafts, you know, to get feedback. What is it like?
I think I don't especially make friendship with big data is no young writer also is as close to me as Amitav, Ghosh, Amitav Ghosh. Many other writers from India, the rest of the country, I was very close to you are an inter Murthy. Very close rather, during his last days, He also expressed that the mother if you were very close to me, I would have lived little longer he said, in a male yes tall but to be on the same wavelength and writers, I think most of the writers, you know, lean towards the left of the center. Materially the only because they have this compassion for the marginalized, for the oppressed, also suppress people. So these people you're very are very close to you and we share the same feelings, whether it is an inter Murthy or Balachandran, a muddy, or the weather damage their mouths or Amitav Ghosh, but I'm as close to Amitav Ghosh as any student going to school or going to the University studying literature. And I think that is precisely why my people back in go Lau me and I allowed them know that. But I'm, I don't think I deliberately mix up with writers alone. No, I writers are very much part of the society in which we live. We have marbridge for sale, who is an extremely, extremely good novelist. They help Wonderlic night in go out with also a very, very refined playwright, we have many writers, and I'm blessed to have a writers like Rabindra character, who also won the the first ever nanpi to company some 15 years back. But then these people also treated me as his equal. So I'm very happy that I had a good upbringing among the writers around me. And today, as I move about going to Delhi or Mumbai or Bangalore, I meet writers who are very close to would become very close to me, even writers, with a stranger to me, put us back today, they feel as if we are very intimate friends. And that that is how I think writers communities should be.
Tara Khandelwal 47:06
That's very heartwarming to hear. So it's very inspiring that you're 78 years old, and you're going strong, you're still thinking about your next stories. And you're so disciplined with your writing, you have so many things that you want to say. So what are you yet to cover about GWA that you have not covered in your stories?
I think there is a lot of things, waiting for me to take up to writing to write. By the way, you are not mentioned my latest novel, which is published in Canada, in Canada, in Marathi and British this year it will also be published in English, tolerated by Jerry Pinto.
Michelle D'costa 47:49
this novel is due tomorrow. Should I commit suicide or others? Should I stay? Yeah, should I kill myself, or I have a cup of tea. It's funny, but then those were read or acquainted with the cow bear, Albert Camus literature, they will realize this is a famous quote, which I can attribute it to arbit come you should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee. But the miles are novel, coffee, and tea. The lovers of coffee, and lovers of tea are the two different clarity I would say the two different characters and traditions to the people this novel, I have dedicated it to the readers of the new millennial, because I think they will easily connect with this novel. And I have found it happening in Canada and into miniatures gone into Marathi. I find the young people liking the novel. So I'm very happy about it. And this is how I think my next writings will happen. I have a lot of things to write about. My novel, which I was writing about the gay characters is yet to find right time to finish it. So I'm afraid. Unfortunately, this nanpi award has come my way. Fortunately for me, but unfortunately to my writings, writing has suffered because over the past year, I've been moving about so often getting invites here and there and as a result, you know, I'm not that I'm basking in the glory, but at the same time, yes, the writing suffer, but I'm sure this will come to an end by the within the next two three months. And I'll dedicate myself to writing
Michelle D'costa 49:51
Yes, yes, no, we totally get it sir. Because you know, we speak to so many writers and they say that you know doing all these extra events apart from righty right be it forecast the opposite event. It does take time away from writing but I'm really happy that you are the award. I mean much well deserved. You know. So thank you. So we have a we have a fun quiz now. Okay, so I'm going to give you some options you will pick one word from it. Okay, let's go. One common item that gets sold out really fast at your shop. One chips to detergent, third, Pan chips. Okay. Which company script Do you enjoy? The most? One did not agree to Roman. Third, Canada, fourth, Malayalam, fifth, Pashto Arabic
devnagri. Of course because it is the original natural script of concrete. Yes.
Michelle D'costa 50:49
Okay. What do you love about your village? majorda one the people to the food third the language the people. or so? So it? Okay, your favorite company word? One Vardo. To morgue? Third question.
Of course morgue.
Michelle D'costa 51:11
It says Tara morgue means love. So he's Pickler. Oh. Okay, now this is the last one favorite female character you have ever created. One Mini two car meeting. Third there is. Got to meet him. Awesome.
Tara Khandelwal 51:31
Okay, awesome. Thank you. So okay, so now we have another section. It's called reading recommendations, where we ask you for book recommendations. So the first question is that, what are the books that you read for fun?
I don't think I read for fun as such. But then see it I read in company I read in Marathi, I read in English mainly. So I would prefer to read in company, but when I am not satiated enough. Then I go to English, next and then to Marathi.
Michelle D'costa 52:05
So So can you give us some recommendations, please like maybe one or two books you recently read that you really liked?
Yeah. In fact, right now, what I read is Murakami. Haruki Murakami is my favorite. And any particular book well, it's a collection of short stories. I forget the title of the book, but then the average short story I like so and then 100 Years of Solitude is my all time favorite by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Yeah, lovely books on our plate, when I read Abdul Razak Goodna. After his novel, I was curious to know about his writing. So I read about I read his paradise, huge novel, which also brings out the history of African people, particularly about the migrants. There is another book that I like,
Michelle D'costa 53:08
wow, really? Yeah, really, I think classic books, okay. Um, two books you think should be taught in schools in Goa? Like something let's say you know, literature, which is not part of their syllabus, but you think they should be added?
Yeah. For the students of company, I would prefer one is up somebody up somebody the novel, voluminous book written by Mr. Habitual sale, which speaks about the olden days, particularly when the conversions were happening in Goa. And it's written with a compassion with the, you know, chop, corner for the people of God. And there is it is very carefully written. So I, I would say, the student of God should read that at another is what lancar what like God is a novel written by with a Bembry, it speaks off the Inquisition time. It's a period novel. So I would prefer this being taught at university level, and even college level.
Tara Khandelwal 54:31
Wonderful. Okay, so So now we have our last section of the interview, which is a rapid fire round, so you can answer in one word or one sentence. Yeah. Okay, so I'll start one completely fictional character from your stories that you would like to meet in real life
the protagonist of the gentleman store
Michelle D'costa 55:00
Okay, so you haven't met him. That was one of my questions.
I met him, but this is my creation. Nice one whom I met was different. I will just tell you one thing. One day, a friend of mine, died prematurely. So I went to pay a condolence visit to his family, his wife and child, his daughter shared with me that he was a very progressive minded person, an activist. She said, there was a thief who entered his or her house, in the middle of night, midnight, and this man saw him and that's when he thought the Thief Thief was scared. But he made him see it. He gave him tea and talk to him. All that and suddenly, I found this Genesis for this story.
Tara Khandelwal 55:55
Wow, I love ya know, I just love those origin stories of all the stories. Every story has a story behind it. You know? That's very good. Write a book about the story. About some Oh wow. Yeah, I would love to have you on I would love to just go on and on asking you about the origin of the stories but we don't have the time but I'd love to read the book when it comes out. Okay, so continuing the rapid fire round. One good dish you recommend everyone should try?
The popular one or even extraordinary? Something?
Michelle D'costa 56:39
Like your favorite so
woman who money eats fish curry, they call it woman. Oh.
Michelle D'costa 56:49
What is the most common male name in Goa?
Earlier it was Aton Aton is Anthony or Antonio, Anton. And among the Catholics and among Hindus. I would say Ananda was very common those days. But now people have taken pensi to new new type of Yes.
Tara Khandelwal 57:15
One thing that your village majorda is known for.
Galena is the watermelons. Oh, wow. Oh, yeah. Okay.
Michelle D'costa 57:26
Okay, the last one, one unique characteristic of Govan people that you love.
I will say compassion. And also against to say God.
Michelle D'costa 57:39
Yes, I think this this brings us to a lovely end to a really, really interesting episode. You know, one of the most looked forward to episodes of mine, you know, so because since I read car reading so many years back, I thought, okay, one day I should interview the others. I'm so happy I could do today. So thank you.
Thank you, Michelle. Thank you. Thank you. We're allowed to see you and you go out somebody.
Tara Khandelwal 58:04
Yes. To your many more of the stories, we had new stories.
Thank you. Thank you.
Tara Khandelwal 58:12
So here we are, where the end of yet another journey into the many worlds of Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara Karneval.
Michelle D'costa 58:21
I'm Michelle D'costa. And this podcast is created by bound a company that helps you grow through stories. Find us at sound India are all social media platforms.
Tara Khandelwal 58:31
So tune in every Wednesday if you live, eat and breathe books and join us as we discover more revolutionary books and peek into the lives and minds of some truly brilliant authors from India and South Asia.
Michelle D'costa 58:47
And don't forget to keep your love for stories alive for books and beyond.