We have had many renowned people in Matharpacady , but Tyronne has been so different. Every ‘event’ in the Village always saw Tyronne visiting the residents personally to encourage their participation in various ways. I even joked with him, that we would need a monument dedicated to him for such service, which kept the fabric of unity in the Village.
He is the last person to want himself featured prominently on any forum; but invariably his determination to serve, brought him on several committees.
He schooled in St Isabels and started working early in life. With two years of work experience he joined the Britannia Industries Ltd Co. where he served for 33 years. His dedication and hard work was recognized by the trust reposed in him, during his tenure with the Factory Manager’s Office.
“ I remember the times when requests for donations of biscuit hampers and boxes by relatives, friends and Charitable Institutions were taken up by me, and people’s hearts were gladdened, when the approval was granted by the Factory Manager.” His years of secretarial service helped him to be astute in following up with important matters concerning the village and municipal authorities.
He has been on the Cross Committee for the past 50 years. Those were the days, years ago when the Cross Feast was the high point of the village calendar. However the Vespas ( one day prior to the Feast) was the main day. The Village square and avenue in front of the Oratory, had a border of Flags from different countries draped on either side. Potted plants would be specially brought down from Bapty’s Garden adjacent to the bungalow behind the Holy Cross Oratory… here is where the late sisters, Lily Baptista (Founder of St.Isabel’s , Daisy (Principal) and Violet(Supervisor Primary School) stayed and actively participated in the Cross Feast. Monarch Society has now replaced their bungalow.
The ‘Village Band’ gave us the flavor of things to come a fortnight earlier when Frank Gonsalves (chello), Rene Rico (double bass),Francis (clarinet) Eusebio (chello) , Joaquim (trumpet), Arthur Sequiera(violin), Jennifer (piano) would practice. Charlie Gonsalves conducted the choir. Later Royden Gonsalves and Vinod joined up with the double bass and violin.
The Cross Feast was usually held on the morning of 3rd May after the Vespas on 2nd May . A lot of preparation went into the days before the feast. The Baptista brothers Dennis, David and Stanley along with Cliffy ( Tyronne’s brother) and many others were the silent volunteers behind the scenes. The Cross Committee planned well ahead. The entire Litany of Prayers were prayed in Latin, a language few of us really understood.
Years later the prayers were prayed in English . Percy Pereira’s stentorius voice was well remembered when he raised his voice in prayerful intercession. Later Sammy Leao and Martin Cardoso took up the baton . Peter Miranda never failed to back up the hymns with his electric organ. The daily novena prayers ended with traditional distribution of boiled gram . On some occasions vitamins or farsan was distributed.
Subsequently many more younger people got involved leading the prayer with guitarists and organists to accompany the choir.
The Feast became the main day on 1st May, which was also dedicated to St. Joseph the Worker.
The Cross Committee became more innovative and included an entertainment programme after the Feast Mass. At one point there was even a Village Dance, which was later replaced by skits, choreographed dances by children and Housie; not forgetting the provision of some substantial snacks.
Christmas was heralded in the village by the aroma of homemade sweets and cake. Tyronne’s sister Audrey( may her soul rest in peace) is fondly remembered for her delicious sweets. She was also an expert in embroidery , needle craft and flower making for weddings and important celebrations.
The big Christmas Star of the village , was central to bringing all the big guys of the village to join up to fabricate a huge star over the weeks ahead of Christmas. This work would be done late in the evenings, away from the public eye on the Viegas terrace. Those were the days when the young people enjoyed just hanging out and sang away with the guitar and bass box accompaniment. The big star has now given way to numerous smaller stars hovering at all parts of the village, which gives it a sparkling look , and draws numerous visitors to the village at this time.
Tyronne reminisces “Diwali was celebrated with fireworks in the heart of the village and at Dr. Micky Mascarenhas’ home.”
“The Rosary Church Feast , in Mazagon, was one of the days when Kite Flying ended with mass participation and many released their kites on that day.”
“ Years ago , Carnival was held in the village and Peter Miranda was King Momo. I prepared the scroll, which was then read out by the King in jest” remembers Tyronne.
Tyronne has served on the Board of Trustees of St Isabel’s School, since the past 27 years; he is now the Managing Trustee for the School, which is mainly a Girls School, and has over 1600 students. Earlier it was a co-ed school before 1968.
Tyronne is also a Board Member for the Bombay Institute of Deaf and Mutes since past 10 years. It is the oldest institution of this kind.
He stays at a quaint cottage called ‘Anthonio Rest 1936’. A painting of it has been specially done by Tyronne’s niece , Trudy, and is proudly displayed on their sitting room wall.
The year 1936 signifies its renovation, but the cottage is actually more than 100 years old.
Like many homes in the village , the walls were thick and reinforced with stones and other material before the repair and renovation.
Tyronne persisted in following up on civic issues and Govt policies. Hence when the Development Plan of the city, prepared some years ago, showed a road passing through the village ..it was successfully thwarted through the intervention of St.Isabel’s School and the Matharpacady Resident’s Welfare Association (MRWA)
Even a Fish Market proposal in the vicinity of the Village was avoided with the cooperation of St. Isabel’s School, Monarch Society and the MRWA
St. Isabel’s Management succeeded in getting a favorable judgement from the Bombay High Court to stop the set up of the market in the stilted area of Monarch Society behind the Cross Oratory.
His involvement on these committees also helped in followup with BEST for Water Supply and Electrical supply problems.
Tyronne’s message finally to us is “ have an open mind .. we may not all have the same view; so let’s be tolerant and have a listening attitude . Let us pray for our people, to be united and work together.”
Its no wonder that you see a small gathering of Village residents , praying at the Cross every evening.
Matharpacady still survives despite the various fears arising from the gradual onslaught of redevelopment in the city of Mumbai. We hope it shines as a beacon of hope to many , and even to the numerous tourist groups that visit this pearl of the past.