Monthly Archives: March 2020
Justino & Crowie- How Hotel ‘Dona Eliza’ got its name
This is a true story about Justino an artist of great calibre whose multifaceted skills showed up in various ways.
I was privileged to meet with him and his wife Sonja , when Anjean and I were invited over to their home for dinner. Anjean is a school friend of Sonja That evening was eventful as I had a very interesting and intense conversation with Justino. He described his art and how he goes about it. I was amazed to know that he never planned his work on blank canvas.. He shared how he begins at one corner of the page and continued to draw or paint inspirationally throughout the page to cover it in entirety.
I viewed some of his work and was stunned to see such drawings , with a finesse unimaginable.
I asked him “ Have you had any exhibitions of your work?” Justino replied “ I am not interested in doing so. I just enjoy my work . I certainly do not like to put a tag to my paintings. I’d rather give it away, than lose my peace of mind. The only time I had been given an award nationally was many years ago. My painting was sent for some exhibition in Delhi. I was surprised that they recognised my work for a prize.
He was encouraged in art by his father Peter (PAN)Lobo, since the age of 4 years . He gave him a special room so he could scribble on the wall. Justino uses various mediums, like pallete knife, pen and ink and even pencil. When he gets into the mood, something happens and he begins sketching free hand , even from below at the bottom of the page upwards. He continues, to sketch where his dream takes him. He brings out the female figure without any vulgarity . His humility shows, when he acknowledges that there are so many artists better than him. Some lived , but some may have died in the womb. He appreciates life, and rejoices at the time given to him.
Now we come to an interesting story. Every morning Justino spends time at his easel drawing or painting. ( he also does metal engraving art). One morning a crow came at his window and cawed as if to say “ give me some food” while Justine had some breakfast by the side. So he kept some of it on the window sill. Crowie ( so Justino named her) gobbled up the feed, and waited for more. .Justino obliged.
This practise continued the next day and even rest of the days at meal times. She is now a regular visitor eversince.
Soon Crowie got so familiar that she even perched at the top of Justino’s easel. You can imagine Justino’s delight to have sucḥ an admirer of his work .
One of the important projects which Justino worked on, was an ‘apartment’ project at a family property in Calangute. He was confident of his architectural talent , and with his artistic mindset, designed the entire project. His two sons , however had reservations about this project. They envisioned a hotel, rather than apartments for their future.
This did not deter Justino. With some deft strokes of his innate talent, he converted the ‘apartment’ project into a plan for a hotel within a short time.This project was accomplished in good time.
All that remained was to name the hotel. Thus started the episode of writing names on paper and stacking them on the table. An assortment of names came up for consideration. The stack remained on this table. They were quite frustrated as they could not come to any conclusion. After all, a name carries a lot of weight and gives the hotel a unique image.
One morning , Crowie flew into the dining room . She alighted on the table and began pecking and choosing the various pages on the table (with the shortlisted names for the hotel)
Finally after several pages being discarded on the side, Crowie pecked at one page, pulled it out of the stack and dropped it to the ground. Crowie then flew off.
Justino picked up that page , and looked at the written name…
It was ‘ Dona Eliza’, the name of his grandmother, and so this name remained for the hotel.
Justine’s sons Ashton and Ivan , are proprietors of this hotel .
I wonder if Crowie, will get preferential treatment when she visits “Dona Eliza”.
I certainly am waiting to see this beautiful hotel at Calangute ,and wish that Hotel ‘Dona Eliza’ will flourish and be a ‘home away from home’ for many tourists who visit Goa.
Oh and here’s some news , on Crowie’s last visit, a baby crow came along. Justino has now befriended Crowie’s growing family or is it Crowie’s way of introducing her family to Justino.
Why ? English Premier League & FPL
Do you agree that football is one of the most popular games worldwide?
And which League is the best ?
My interest began about 8 years ago, when I was aquainted with youth who were great lovers of football. So I wisely began following some teams at the top of the English Premier League , i.e. Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal. Sometime later I was told by a young Man United fan, “seriously you should follow only 1 instead of 4 teams, its not fair to back so many teams .” ( As one of these could be serious contenders to Man United which was one of the best teams at that time). So that was the time I decided to follow Liverpool.
Their theme song ‘ You will never walk alone’ always inspired me . However Liverpool did not fare very well , and most often was in the top 5 or at times even lower in position on the table.
Many of my acquaintances joked with me, “ your team will be walking alone” at the bottom of the league. I know and I’m sure most Liverpool fans will agree, that the resilience of the team and the perseverance to ‘never give up’, has been a significant part of the character of the team members.
Even though Liverpool slowly improved in their position since the past few years, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020, have been a revelation. They were remarkable in their victory at the UEFA Champions League in 2019 and that same year in the EPL , ManCity won with just 1 point away from runnersup Liverpool .
Liverpool also won the Nations Club World Cup in 2019 .
This year 2020 was even better, when they ran away with a margin of 25 points from second placed ManCity. To think that no team on the EPL can overtake them , is enough to consider them as Champions of the English Premier League. It will surely be cruel to see nobody being given the Cup, because of non-completion of the remaining match fixtures. This is a delicate matter, mainly due to the last 3 teams who are fighting to avoid relegation. I hope wisdom prevails to resolve this matter.
Now I will share a bit of my involvement with the FPL ( Fantasy Premier League). I had never understood how the points system worked with the selection of a team. Thanks to one of the young men Wendell, I learnt the ropes to form the team ‘Challengers’ this year. The previous years team was formed too late after the season had started so I was way down in the league table.
This year my team ‘Challengers’ did quite well to lead in two private leagues 1) GenSYS league table and 2) Londinium . In both tables my team’s current Postion is no. 1 . This came about with some constant watch and study of good players from the different teams. Many factors come into play, whether its a home match, form of the players, formation whether defence or attack oriented, and making transfers to get the best team. This foray into the FPL led me to watch even more matches in the EPL , as it gave me insights into the best football players from the other teams.
I am not surprised to see guys , getting their teams ready before the Friday deadline for team selection.This can be to the annoyance of others who are not involved, ānd find that enthusiasm difficult to digest.
In conclusion , I am overjoyed to see my team Liverpool on top of the English Premier League table and my team ‘Challengers’ also top the private leagues of the FPL that I have participated in.
I hope that the Corona virus pandemic will end in the coming months, and we will appreciate coming back to our normal lives. ….which will also include sports …and football….and the EPL.
In the meantime, we
STAY SAFE, STAY HEALTHY AND BE POSITIVE.
WE CAN TRUST ALMIGHTY GOD AT THIS TIME!
AT THE END OF THE ROAD IS A GOLDEN SKY
AND THE SWEET SILVER SONG OF THE LARK……..so walk on , walk on , with hope in your hearts.
Tennis Courts and Dreams
My love for tennis, goes back to more than 25 years ago. I remember playing the game with my eldest brother Allwyn at the Catholic Gymkhana. We enjoyed a good set and developed reasonable skills to play in the member’s tournaments and even represent the Gymkhana at a local tournament.
However as the years went by, and our tennis too ended. Among many reasons was the closure of the courts at the Gymkhana
I remember purchasing a book on learning the nuances of tennis and had passed on some of these tips in coaching my son Ralph when he was 8years old. Many things were discarded during my house repairs some time ago. This book however remained with me purely out of a dream of playing tennis again.
The year 2019 was very eventful when I was diagnosed with cancer. I recovered with treatment and in August departed on a 3 month holiday with Anjean. This holiday was a gift from our 4 children and covered Dubai, London, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
My dream of playing tennis again began in Dubai, with the Saldanha brothers . Ian my son in law was very considerate in arranging tennis sessions with his brother Colin and his father in law Alex.
Our first session was at Alex’s courts and the next at Colin’s courts. Ian and I played some good tennis , but with Colin on the other side and his fast serves ….we lost closely.
The second session was even better . I was quite adept at placements ; we still lost…with a tough fight. Ian and I shared a ‘never give up attitude’ .We ended with some cold beers and relaxed time with Colin’s piano accompaniment to our spontaneous songs
My next visit to a tennis court was at Glasgow. This just happened when I casually mentioned to a friend John Jackson over coffee, about my interest in tennis. He later spoke to John Coyle a lover of tennis himself, who arranged for us to play some good tennis ‘doubles’ with regular members. I played fairly well, losing the first set , and then winning the next two sets, rotating our partners.
The second session was the following week and happened to be a tournament. This proved a challenge for me. The tournament was played on a round robin basis of doubles . About 20 members many regular and established tennis players teamed randomly and points were awarded according to the games a person won. Thankfully I was given a handicap with whoever teamed with me. My game improved a bit and I was surprised that I could get some good volleys, cross court shots, and deft placements. To top it all, I got some good serves down the T . There was a winner and runnersup, but for me , the best souvenir was the group picture at the end of the mini tournament.
My final encounter with tennis courts was at tḥe Bombay Gymkhana. Courtesy Kirk D’Cruz a good friend , with whom I reconnected. He was gracious to host me for a couple of sessions at the Gym. We got into the rythm quite fast and were soon stroking the ball well. I was surprised that we could actually play singles and enjoy it, The second time we went for a session, I struck the ball so hard that the strings of my aging racket snapped . This was adequately compensated when Ian , my son-in-law gifted me an excellent Wilson racket on his visit to Mumbai.
Ralph joined us at the most recent session of tennis at the Bombay Gym on his visit from UK. He too had not played the game since the age of 8 years . When he got on court , I was stunned to see him hit the ball so well with tḥe correct style . He enjoyed the session a lot . From the sidelines I just admired his game, as he practised with Kirk and both had some power packed ground strokes.
We never got a repeat of these sessions , as Ralph soon returned to UK.
My fascination with tennis began in school, when I had not yet learnt to hold a racket. But I read every tennis article in the sports page from start to finish. One of my brothers even enquired , how and why I did that. Famous names of those days were Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Margaret Smith, and later,Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker.. and some more like Cliff Drysdale, Mats Wilander , Steffi Graff. We cannot forget Nadal and Djokovic !
As I end this note on tennis, I must also mention some books I’ve read on tennis players. Rod Laver’s ‘An Autobiography’…I always admired him the way he carried himself, with a quiet dignity and confidence, but a rocket on court, Andre Agassi’s , ’OPEN: An Autography ‘ he was very candid about his love and hate for tennis, Roger Federer’s ‘Biography’ by Chris Bowers, ( wonder when he will write his autobiography) , and finally Arthur Ashe’s ‘Days of Grace’ . the last was the most inspiring for the way he handled his unfortunate Aids infection through blood transfusion at the time of his heart surgery .
I liked his famous quote …..If I were to say,” God, why me? About the bad things,” then I should have said ,”God, why me?” about the good things that happened in my life. …
This helps me to reflect on the numerous blessings God has blessed me with, since all these years, despite my recent challenges.
Thank you Lord , for all these , even, for the dreams of tennis, being fulfilled.
An Experience of Wales
The trip to Wales by train introduced us to the peace, quiet and natural beauty. It entailed a train to Euston and thence to Birmingham, and Barmouth . The transit at Birmingham was just 10 minutes, but we made it. Then onwards to Barmouth via Shrewsbury, Machynlleth (where one coach of the train was detached) to proceed to LLwyngwril and onwards to Barmouth. The other coach went to Aberystwyth. The names were tongue twisters , besides keeping us alert to our rail route to our destination.
The journey by the seaside is breathtaking. On one side you see hills with sheep, quaint houses, and the sea view as the train chugged along.
Our little train was suddenly engulfed with school children . They brought liveliness into the compartment until they disembarked at their little quaint town, LLwyngwril.
We were received by Fr Alex at Barmouth. The station was very quiet. He arranged a taxi to transport us to St Tudwal’s , our home for the next 3 days.
When Fr Alex mentioned that he welcomed us to a sparse 1 star lodge , I was surprised to be given a comfortable room, with a view …St Matthew’s …normally the room for a visiting bishop. The remaining rooms were Mark, Luke and John. We had a view of the seaside, play grounds, township and the sunset.
We sat to tea and Scottish shortbread .
But ,dinner proved special as Fr Alex actually took the trouble to keep a menu card ready … for a special meal he prepared himself.
Salmon curry, Fresh Steamed Garden Peas, Veg fingers, and Toasted Pitta Bread.
It was meticulously planned with the table laid out . We enjoyed the dinner , specially with apple cider …which I grew to like a lot . the meal ended with tiramisu…
We thence decided to reciprocate with a meal prepared by Anjean and I . Fish Baffat , veg fingers, onion rings.
Breakfast was DIY , with a trolley kept ready very thoughtfully; all ingredients for a good breakfast were at hand to prepare.
Time at St Tudwal’s was memorable for the conversations with Fr Alex . He is a prolific writer and a contemplative at heart.
His favourite quotes…Spirituality …spending time with Jesus. … hospitality ….welcoming Jesus in our midst.
‘Pray your petition, listen to what God is saying and act on it’
. ‘In joy God whispers into our lives ’ ; ‘In times of difficulty , God shouts into our lives.’
On Saturday morning we were welcomed by Fr Alex to the main church. He was preparing for the Sunday service . He combines many roles in one. Pastor, Sacristan, and Mentor….along with help from the few parishioners who make up a congregation of about 12 people.
He has looked after all aspects of the church and explained the relevance of the paintings and carvings on the altar which begins with the Nativity of Jesus and ends with the Ascension spanning his entry into and exit from this world. The Last Supper takes pride of place at the Altar front.
On Sunday we attended the Eucharist. His homily left me reflecting on the few loaves and fish , and how God takes what little we have and multiplies it .
A parishioner from the neighbouring parish , also visited Fr Alex with the gift of a salmon that was caught and smoked specially for him.
I noticed several remarkable things at Wales. They have a language of their own , quite distinct from English. Most young people had moved to cities , so were noticeably absent .
People are very honest. Anjean had absentmindedly left her shopping bag one evening on a public bench . It remained there , until we returned, without anything missing.
On the third day we walked to the beach and enjoyed the windy walk. We saw a few people walking their pet dogs . Later we spent time at the pier . I met another visitor who recounted his time in India as a child when his father served as an officer in the British Army.
The sea gulls and the distant rail bridge made good pictures for my collection.
I left with one souvenir of Fr Alex…. his portrait picture , he requested me to photograph himself, for the new book to be published in January 2020. ‘Face to Face’ . I know and am confident that this book will be among the best of his, since its all about encountering the Lord Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament.
Our time came to an end when we left by train for the trip onwards to Glasgow, via Wolverhampton.
Thank you Fr Alex for gīving us a taste of Wales! We hope to see you in India soon.