In the spring of 1989 , I was posted at the Centaur Lakeview Hotel , Srinagar. At the earlier posting in autumn of 1988, I had a bad time adjusting to the suddenness of that trip, and was terribly homesick.
Hence when I got news of this second posting, my family decided to help me by also taking a holiday at Srinagar during this time. We had Karen ( nearly 3yrs old) and Annalize ( 1 and 1/2 years old) with Anjean and my Mum along for this trip.
They took the flight to Srinagar via Delhi. I was thrilled to receive them at the airport.
As I looked throught the terminal glass, I first saw Karen, who looked so lost amid the other passengers. When she saw me, her face brightened up as she wondered what I was doing beyond the glass panel. Finally all came through the formalities of checking out of the terminal., and it was a grand reunion of family with me.
We then proceeded to tḥe Hotel Brown Palace for their short holiday. I was granted 4 days leave during this time , to be with them.
The hotel was quaint with the comforts of a medium hotel. The family room was spacious and well furnished . The General Manager gave us a warm welcome. He also cautioned us about the cold weather at night, and hence sent extra heaters.
We had dinner and retired to the room since they ( family) had travelled and needed to rest.
The room looked cosy with heavy curtain at the windows. We started all the heaters.
Soon it was lights out and all in bed. But the night was still young when little Annalize cried and cried with the cold….despite the heaters., .. we could do nothing., except cover her as best we could.
The temperature ,.was too low; the heaters made no difference, but we survived the cold night.
As the sun rose next morning,,and the weather changed a bit to become warmer, we met the .General Manager again. He enquired “ how was your night ?” … with a twinkle in his eye .
“ The heaters were not helpful , and our little ones could not bear the cold .” we responded.
“ Its not surprising , that you felt the cold. Your windows were open. I noticed this on my round last night,”
So with this embarrassing bit of information we made ,sure that the windows behind the heavy drapes were closed.
Thus the remaining nights were peaceful, and we enjoyed the stay , and sightseeing in Srinagar.
Malcolm’s bravery showed as he lived through the years, facing his challenges with acceptance.
He had a good track record having served in Gulf Air, Emirates, and Mahindras , where he served for 14years of which the last 4 years was with its Travel desk .
He was jovial, outgoing, fond of a good life, and good food.
He had a wide circle of friends and at the end some very good friends ..Ratnakar Shetty, Winnie, Jason and myself.
His story is a saga of living alone for about 20 years. His friends were very helpful to him. I began to understand Malcolm during this time.
His favourite game was hockey . In fact it was through his links with Hillary Gomes, well known in hockey circles, that he began his final tenure at Mahindras. He accompanied the F United women’s hockey team to Dubai, Canada and New Zealand .
He represented his school and college teams in hockey too.
One of his friends Cherian, recalls Malcolm’s conversations later dwelt on his passion for hockey, the airlines (his career) and a wish to visit places of pilgrimage . That wish was fulfilled when he made a trip to Holy Land with a group led by Cherian many years later.
He grew up in Bandra and I was surprised that one of my good friends Shailesh was a friend of Malcolm too. I asked Shailesh to share some interesting incidents , when he knew Malcolm then, but he was too embarrassed to share some crazy things they did when in college.
My earliest memories of Malcolm was when he was at Gulf Air. He was a ḥandsome and popular young man . At that time I was with the Air India Dining Facilitiies , and he often visited the snack bar outlet at the ground floor adjacent to the Gulf Air office. Of course with his wit and good nature , he was generally in very good and interesting company.
His career graph improved when he joined Emirates and helped a host of people who needed international tickets to be confirmed. There was a time when he had two mobiles in his hand , speaking to different people , while solving their travel requirements. Malcolm also helped me at different times for my ticket confirmations or to get a good deal while booking with other airlines. Today times have changed ever since bookings can be done online.
A travel agent friend recalls when he approached Malcolm for a waiver on excess baggage for his passenger. Malcolm looked at him, stamped the voucher and left him with ‘choice words’ for his passenger. “Tell him to take it and ………..!”
During the last 4 years at the Travel Desk of Mahindras, Malcolm enjoyed his work. Captain Pandey HOD of the Aviation department of Mahindras greatly appreciated his work of coordinating the Pilot’s programme.
Malcolm lived a lonely life at Mazagon. He once mentioned that it is not easy to come to an empty home. He had good friends who were his anchor. They visited him and even had an occasional party .
His career ended when his health began to gradually fail . The few friends kept in contact with him . Ratnakar Shetty his former boss, took on a role of a father figure to guide him in important matters . Winnie was a dear friend and former colleague, who checked on him and visited occasionally with some favourite food items. He liked ‘Kane’ a Manglorean fish preparation. Any green curried preparation was always welcome. Anjean and I too, knew Malcolm’s favourites, Goa sausages , sorpotel, pork vindaloo, veg au gratin and fried prawns . He loved to hear his piano being played on. I occasionally obliged , with some simple tunes to keep the piano in tune. I visited him with Holy Communion , as a Eucharistic Minister, and even otherwise to chat for sometime.
His two good friends , Richard and Jimmy visited him often to check on any requirements. His neighbours Sunny and Maxy , too were helpful, to him. He had relatives Swithin and Blossom staying near him who were always willing to help when needed.
His final years were a struggle due to failing health. Visits to the hospital were frequent and the list of medicines quite long, He was very organized at home not only about these medicines, but also with the cleanliness of the home .
Jason recalls that Malcolm liked the NonVeg Club Sanwich , from the Bandra Gym ,and waited for a visit from Jason and his father. He relished it slice by slice. One cannot forget his interest in ‘ Housie’ at the Catholic Gym, which he enjoyed with his friends on a Sunday.
Malcolm was financially stable and did not require any monetary assistance from anyone. He was generous. The elderly maid who worked at his home finally became very sick and went to her nephew’s home. Malcolm ensured that she was given a monthly sum of money for her medical care, until she passed away.
Winnie and Shetty arranged for two ward boys to care for him towards the end, by day and night, and also a regular supply of meals. Shetty ensured that the wardboys were monitored , through phone calls and guidelines for them.
My last visit to Malcolm was sad. He had gone down in health and my brother Gerald his doctor, recommended hospitalisation. Its a pity that within 15 days he breathed his last , Those days were consistently in the ICCU. Two friends were constant visitors. Jason from Bandra and Winnie wḥo commuted from Santa Cruz. Winnie was with him the last evening , and Malcolm had tears in his eyes, when he heard his name being called. He knew it was time to go. That night my mobile rang at 2.30am . Nitin his faithful wardboy , informed me that Malcolm was no more.
I must mention that Malcolm made his peace with God . He left with a heart of forgiveness and reconciliation. He received the last sacraments and holy anointing before he departed.
He is at peace. His sufferings ended. Sadly, due to the corona virus lockdown, only 5 persons were at his funeral.
Many of us missed bidding him farewell. Shirley a relative, Jason, Winnie and Fr Shavito were present with the undertaker Abbas who was very helpful .
In Cherian’s words “ His soul finally embarked upon a joyous journey of peace, happiness and eternity .
Adieu, Malcolm, auf wiedersehen! Our prayers are with you.“
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.
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.