Two postcards

Who is Phond Sawant?

I must have posted a query to the Goanet list in 1998 as I researched a rebellion against the British on the border between Goa and Sawantwadi. It was the first time I had used an archive and encountered the archaic Anglicised spellings that British officials used for names unfamiliar to them. What was Tuppeh Banda? What was Munneree? Did anyone else know of Phond Sawant and his seven sons, who aquired legendary proportions in my mind as I traced their story. I may have sent out a general query, and to my delight, received two postcards.


One, dated November 10, 1998, answered all the questions I vaguely remember posting.






‘Phond Sawant was a very shrewd Raja of Sawantwadi in the late 17th century.’ An explanatory list responding to my queries followed: Pednah was Pernem, in Goa. Malapem was Malpem, Saturdeh was Satarda Taluka, Sanklee was Sanquelim and Tuppeh Banda was Sindhudurg. There was another entry on Tuppeh – the distance travelled on horseback in half a day.

M. N. Sirdeshpande of Panjim had filled out two postcards and mailed them to my hostel room in JNU.

The second one was puzzling.


It began with rhetorical questions, whose direction was not quite clear to me. ‘Who were these people? Diogo Rodrigues, Miguel Vaz, Estevam Rodrigues, 15 July 1583? What happened on that fateful day?’

I was new to the history of Goa and the events that were impassioned and problematic touchpoints in the popular imagination.

‘1654 Rev. Don Braz do Castro, Lakhem Sawant, 1666, Keshav Naik Desai, Raulu Shenvi Desai, Chanda Rane Desai, 1667., 17th December 1531, 23rd May 1536 – 1560 to 1774 Inquisition, Rewade, Manode, Piln, Satroji Rane. 1741, Parode, Melay, Talwade, Desai’s Revolt, 20th September 1772, Kodal Taluka…Govind Sinai Borkar, Gulele Desai, Rayajee Naik Borkar’

…Should you need to know more about the history of Goa, please write to me..’


I don’t know if I ever wrote back to thank M. N. SirDeshpande and I still don’t know the import of all the names, though some have become familiar over time. I was delighted, however, to get a response from someone I didn’t know and to have communication from another person interested in the field I had just discovered, appear in my mailbox. It is another matter that the rigours of academic writing meant that most of what I would write would remain alien and distant from the people I most desired as readers. A combination of fascination with older books and fear of people meant that I never looked up M. N. SirDeshpande on my research trips, though the postcards were stored among my papers and carried wherever I went.

O Goano

image: A detail from O Goano, 1916, Central Library collection, Panjim, Goa

O Goano – defensor dos interesses dos Goanos

Bilingual weekly in Konkani and Portuguese, Rs. 3 in India Ingleza e Portugueza, # 24, Anno 1, edited by Francisco Pascoal Fernandes

6)O goano 1916-2 - Version 2

Jan 11, 1908

This issue had 3 pages in Portuguese and 9 in Konkani. The first page edit covered A emigração Goana, the Sociedade de N. Senhora da Piedade de Dabul, Associação Christa Indiana. The paper offered reasons for readers to join the Goan Union. The column Ailem anim Poilem listed distinguished visitors. Amchea Ostorienchea adavac was a serialised story by F. F. Balistor. Entre Nous commented on the social life of the city. Other columns included Goenchi bugol, Pai ani put, a short moral account by Miss. M. A., Goenchi Khobor, Mumboichi Khobor, Indiechi khobor, Pordessanchi khobor.

The serialised novel Siegfried and Genoveva was advertised. There were five pages of advertisements.

Jan 18, 1908

A column discussed Parlamento Colonial de Goa. A poem by R., Amche Goencar Covi, Assolnecho colo was about Dr. R. Ubaldo Paes and potra by Sonsar Sodica

An advertisement for Bolaikechi Vatt by Jose Salvador Rodrigues for 8 annas appeared. The ad was inserted by A. B. Saldanha. News items included, ‘Amche Goencar coni’, and ‘Xinn o Goanacho Goa Xara thaim’.

Feb 8, 1908

A poem, ‘Portugalchea Patxaia anim techea mucutt putachem morn’, by J. I. Campos

On page 9 of this issue, the Empire Cinematographer at Dhobi Talao advertised  Jivac Bhogta Tosslo Program, free for women, soncraracho dis.

June 13, 1908

This issue of O Goano had about three and a half pages in Konkani and carried obituaries, prices of mangoes and comments on taxes in India Portugueza. It had news from Goa, or, ‘Goenchi Khobor‘, ‘Pordessanchi Khobor‘ and religious news. ‘Goencho ostoreo Mumboint‘ by Deolalichem Correspondens expressed shock at seeing Goan women playing cards. The Temperance Society, the Carpenters’ Society and the Goan Cooperative Society were publicised.

The Bandra Review, another journal, mentions the Bandra art circle, Little Flower literary circle, the Jassamine, and the publication of the young women’s sodality of Karachi.


There were advertisements for restaurants by L. M. Soares, for the goldsmith Pandarinath Narayen of Rivoncar and Co., and for the confectioner Pereira: ‘Marine Lines stesssona codde anim Grant Road stessonacodde. Meuta chotta hajri, jevon, aiscrimm, cold drinks, chea, cofi, côcô…kekam‘. The Goan drapery stores in Girgaum, advertised themselves as ‘Hi Goencar bhavanci Compani, jennim aplea bitor Rs. 40,000 bandvol punzaum hem voddlem loz caddlam, anim soglo vepar Europac than haddun victat.’ J. C. Fernandes and Co., engravers, and Peter John Braganza, Undertakers and builders of altars also advertised.

Pereira’s Hotel in # 318, Horta Baixa, advertised itself, ‘Hem puzad ugoddlear zalim ogllim don vorsam. Zaite iscoliche burgue, empregad, vattsur, khoxec bounnar anim baileam ganvche yete vete vepari, ravon gueleat anim rautat. kiteac?

Suat chodd bori, vareachi anim saudic faideachi, jevonn borem nitoll anim ruchichem anga meuta decun. Ec pautt eun poilloiat anim maguir sodancal yeteleat. Vincharat.’ João Pereira

Books sold by Furtado’s

Gorjechi and Ufegachim Pustocam‘ were sold at Furtado and in Mapusa, Panjim, and Assagao. The Grammatica Musical, for instance, was available for 6 annas. Furtado’s advertised Catholic devotional texts and school books. Sixteen books were priced between 4 and 8 annas.

Diccionar Concani-Portuguez by Ignacio Xavier de Souza Rodrigues was sold for Rs. 1 and 8 annas.

Jinsanvar Kontha Nazuc Tosso Budivont by P. A. Colaço.

Christa Purann,  Padre Thomas Estevaumchem, ‘tench jem Goeant cholta.’ ‘Akhem, novean xaplam, sabar xecdde vorsam uprant – bhas porni Marathi‘.

The issue of August 22 advertisted Cathecismo em Concani, Tufan zolm anim Morn – cannim cunvor Pericles hechi, and bori dekchi khobor, for 2 annas each

The issue of October 17 advertised the following books:

Concanim Comic Cantarancho Album

Bandar Sucachem

Boli Conanim baxen for 6 paise

Duddvancho sambal for 3 annas

These were books by Sebastião J. Dias advertised in this issue:

History of St. Francis Xavier

Emperor Carlos Magno

Khoxalponnacho Ghorabo

Dog Iscoliche Burgue

Berthold anim Techi Ojapanchi Choturai

Moral e Civilidade

Concanim Poilem Pustoc

June 20, 1908

This issue contained articles in favour of preserving the comunidades in Goa.

Indieche khobor‘ carried the announcement that the Indian government had passed a law that those accused of sedition and conspiracy would not be easily released.

Other news stated that among Hindus of India remarriage among widows was permitted.

June 27, 1908

The União Goana had begun a fund for education and declared that there was a need for a Caixa Escolar, a schooling fund for the poor.

August 22

Other issues carried news on the state of agriculture, on the spread of beri-beri

The English college in Arporá in the current year had 550 students, 50 of them interns.

A club of Hindu goldmsiths was formed in Margao, called Dayaradna, intended to promote reading amongst members.

August 29

Papal jubilee. House for Goan Women. A collection started by Goan women in Bombay to send a congratulatory address to the Pope yielded so much money that they decided to  found a home for widows and young women who came to the city to make a living.

A Reunion of goan women – the first reunion, was promoted by the Goan Union (União Goana) which had a presence in 46 different place with d. Amelia Viegas as President and d. Albertina Pinto e Paes.

October 17, 1908

The Real Instituto Luso-Indiano staged a tiatr in Kalbadevi’s Princess Theatre, Elephanta building. On the same day, Carlos Magnacho tiatr was performed by Douglas Comic Opera in the Gaiety theatre.

November 21, 1908

Rajput Hamlet anim Bapaichem Bhutt. Hi ec ruchic nattkantli canni assa. Bhau bhavac vi ghalun marta anim tache baile codde cazar zata. Hamletacho bapai voilo mog. Mel’lo bapui bhut zaun puta codde uloita. Pixeponnachem focann! Nattkaiancho tiatr…

Bacaulechem Ful –  Four and a half annas

Advertisements for medicines Zhadd Paleachim Goenchim Voctam

Goan tooth powder was sold for 4 annas (Dr. V. L. Corganvcar’s Goan Tooth Powder for 4 annas, is enough for two months), as well as Goan Ball amrut, Goan fever pills, and Goan strengthening pills.

This issue recommended Goan sarsaparilla for disrupted sleep: ‘Hem vocot sogott nitoll jem piddear zalam caim vaitt piddem anim vaitt rogot bolaik piddear corta.’

On November 17, the Goan Union Dramatic Club, Dom Carlos Dramatic Club came together and performed Conde de Camerino at the Gaiety Theatre.

Jan 7, 1910

An ad for the novel Battcara

Puta! Lahananchea sangata boum-naca

Hem vortouta ec pustoc, theatrachem, jem dacoita coxe porim Goenche battcar ditat te duc aplea munncareac. Cone porim battcarache put pauta to Bombaim. Papa-mamanchi addchor, choleac Bombaim. doddunc anim tachi zabsal, vachtoleac pott bor ansoita. Battcara xekim putac lagon Bombaim pauta anim castam soddunc cabul zata Gaon Uniaum-an bhitor soron. 

Goan Union (União Goana) in Karachi, Ahmedabad, Bombay. A notice on how the union offers all manner of assistance.

Concanim bhas boroitanam, sabar boroupi ap-aple riti pormonnem ocxeram zoddtat, anim bhaxecho soglo gondon cortat vachteleanc. Hea passot Unianvan, team boroupeanc uttaim corun eke riter Concanim boroup caddlam anim somestac magta te riti pormonnem borouncheac.

Uniantche fantte assat 46 zago:

Kharagpur, twelve places in Amravati, Igatpuri, Dhond, Ratlam, Godhra, 4 places in Sholapur, Bhusawal, Bhopal, Abu Road, Aden, Ahmedabad, Nagar, Akalkot, Allahabad, Alwar, Amritsar, Baroda, Bandilwi Barsi Road, Beira, Deolali, Ghaziabad, Khandwa, Lahore, Meerut, Mhow, Nagpur, Rampur, Narmada, Shimla, Lucknow, Thana.


A catalogue of Konkani publications


Image courtesy Goenkarancho Daiz, Margao



With the reopening of the printing press in 1821 in Goa, after its initial introduction in 1556, the proliferation of print was restricted in the first few decades of the century to publications in Portuguese. Marathi and Konkani publications appeared later. By the beginning of the 1860s Konkani publications produced by and directed at a readership quite distinct from the Goan elite emerged. The print market of Bombay allowed groups other than the Goan elite access to print.

o concanim

image courtesy the Central Library, Panjim


Of the large numbers of blue and white-collar migrants who had begun to shift out of rural Goa, substantial numbers began to secure white-collar jobs as they had a rudimentary education in parish schools in Goa. If the Goan elite had secured a foothold in the academic and professional circles of Bombay, they were outnumbered by the massive migration of Goans largely from the Old Conquests of Goa. The distinct and separate forms of print generated by the Goan elite and the Goan working class in Bombay were shaped by the institutional structures of British colonial governance in that city. Simultaneously, print in the Kannada script began to circulate and eventually developed a wider readership than that for the Roman script.

The linked catalogue was an attempt to collate available information on this phase of Konkani print. Anyone able to convert this into searchable text and one that can be edited with more information about authors and printing presses, please do so or write to

Catalog of late nineteenth century Konkani publications


Letters from Bombay, 1956 – George Lobo, Mazagon Dock, and the Voice of Freedom –

This post was possible because of contributions by Lydia Lobo and family, of letters written by George Lobo when he was Labour Officer at Mazagon Dock Limited.  These letters are between Lobo and Nicolau Menezes who was involved with the liberation movement, initially with its underground activities, and later with the underground radio station, Voice of Freedom.

George Lobo was eventually sacked from his position for his political participation. Subsequently, he was appointed to the Indian High Commission in Glasgow. (source: Diana Pinto) Details in Lobo’s letters reveal the connections between trade unionists, white-collar workers and anti-colonial movements in Bombay. It also has signs of the struggles against racism that continued within white-collar enterprises owned by Europeans after Indian independence.

Those familiar with the history of the city will find mention of the riots in Bombay over the formation of linguistic states, following the submission of the States Reorganization Commission Report. Eighty people were killed in January 1956 in Bombay.

Lobo also mentions the Azad Gomantak Dal, a militant organization in Goa, Lambert Mascarenhas, and his own involvement in the Goa Liberation Council, set up by Aloysius Soares, intended to be a platform to unify those with political differences.

img186 23-2-56 pg1


img188 23-2-56 pg3

img189 23-2-56 pg4


img191 23-2-56 pg5


In a letter to the General Manager at Mazagon Dock Ltd., Lobo argues for equal pay for European and Indian workers on the ground that such differences would create dissatisfaction. He makes an appeal at the end: ‘When you took over at the helm of the Dockyard a feeling went through all ranks, and me in particular, that a new era cutting away from the past, was commencing in this Company…However…certain things have taken place which have disillusioned many of us in officer ranks, leave alone others, particularly in the ranks of Indian Assistants.’

Following his victimization by the management, Lobo made a representation to Shantilal Shah, Minister for Labour, in which he discusses both, his positions on equal pay, as well as his links with the Liberation movement.

img168 11-1-56 pg1


img196 6-4-56

This is a representation to Morarji Desai, then Chief Minister to the government of Bombay, drawing attention to the effect that the victimization of Lobo in Mazagon Dock Ltd. could have among the Navigation companies and seamen’s unions which had many Goan members.
















We thank Diana Pinto, Lydia Lobo, and Sandra Lobo for these materials and invite other contributions at