It is nearly 5 pm when we (my friend and I) decide to call it a day at Old Goa or Velha Goa. We have spent a wonderful day in this culturally and historically significant part of Goa by exploring some of its monuments and also a museum.
As we walk out of the last of the monuments we have visited, I switch on my cell phone to call DJ, the driver of the car we have hired for the day to come and pick us up. (I had switched it off earlier in the day when we were dropped outside the first of the monuments we were to visit that day). My phone pings notifications furiously and to my surprise, I see notifications for 16 missed calls and 12 text messages — all from DJ.
When I call him up, DJ almost faints with relief. “Oh Madam, I thought something had happened to you.”
“What made you think so?” I ask him, surprised. “I did say that we would call you once we were done for the day.”
When DJ picks us up, he repeats how relieved he was to see us and asks if we saw all the monuments in Old Goa.
“Of course not ! It’s impossible to see all of them. We visited 6 monuments and 1 museum.”
DJ actually stops the car and turns around to stare at us. ‘You spent 8 hours and saw only 6? I have brought people here who have done all the monuments in less than 2 hours and then headed to the beach.”
I just shrug. As we drive off, I can sense DJ’s puzzled gaze at us. A gaze that seems to ask just what we did we do the whole day in Old Goa?
Are you also curious about my day in Old Goa and what I did there? Well then, read on… 🙂
It took me 4 trips over 27 years to come close to understanding what people say about you.
It is said that you are not just a destination or a place, but a state of mind. Rarely a day goes by without coming across a write-up about you in a newspaper or a magazine or a blog. Many of these write-ups are so gushy that it is almost embarrassing to read them. But it does reveal one thing: it was love at first visit and an almost instant attainment of that “Goa” state of mind for those who wrote the articles.
Not for me though. I visited you 4 times between 1986 and 2013, and you have always been a destination for me, and memorable for all the wrong reasons (for the first 3 trips, at least). I wasn’t impressed with you after the first trip or the second or the third trip… As for the fourth trip, we’ll come to that a little later. Let me tell you a little bit about the first three trips.
The first trip was organised by my school in December 1986. It was a road trip and I was one of the 90-odd students who travelled in 2 MSRTC buses from Pune to Goa. My recollections of that trip are largely of motion sick co-travellers and vomit all over the bus; smell of fish, wherever we went in Goa (yeah, I’m a vegetarian); a blur of church and beach visits, each one indistinguishable from the other; diarrhoea and the hunt for public toilets with water… It was a poorly organised trip and I know that you were not entirely to blame, but… I didn’t take to you at all.
The second trip happened four years later in December 1990, a mandatory field trip in my third year of college as part fulfillment for a BSc in Geology. This time I travelled by train with 20-odd classmates and 3 teachers.
In a quiet bylane of Old Goa is The Museum of Christian Art. Perhaps the only one of its kind in Asia, the Museum showcases Indo-Portuguese art from the 16th to the 20th century.The Museum’s collection includes furniture, sculptures, ivory and metal artefacts, textiles, paintings and books from the 16th to the 20th century. On a visit to Goa last month, an afternoon spent at the Museum turned out to be the highlight of my entire trip.
The Museum’s collection is extremely well curated and presented. While it is difficult to choose a favourite among the ones I saw at the Museum, I had no hesitation in choosing one for today’s post on Christmas Eve.
“The Holy Family”, a 20th century set of ivory figurines mounted on wood, was donated to the Museum by the Albuquerques from Anjuna in Goa.
While the 3 figures in the centre are very clearly Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus, I’m not sure who the two figures on the extreme right and left are. Maybe St. Anne and St. Joachim, Mary’s parents? I loved the delicate details of the figurines: the expression on both the women’s faces and drape of the robes, the look of wonder on Jesus’ face.
As always, whenever I see such exquisite works of art, I wonder who the artist was and what went through his/her mind while creating “The Holy Family”?
Dear reader, did you like these figurines as much as I did?
Wish you a very Happy Christmas 🙂
The Museum Treasure Series is all about artifacts found in museums with an interesting history and story attached to them. You can read more from this serieshere.