Monday, January 21, 2008
Memoirs ... of a voice from the airwaves
This is about the most bizarre thing to do while encountering a book: try to read it from the ending! That's just what I did with the autobiography of someone you might know, a lady called Imelda Dias. So one is still trying to put the pieces of the jigsaw together; but it was an interesting read. Most of Goa of a particular generation -- those around here in the 1960s and 1970s -- would probably remember the name "Imelda" (or even Imelda Tavora). She then was the most popular announcer in the State, at a time when radio was the unquestioned king of all the mass media. (Forget about TV, which didn't exist here yet, and newspapers were far smaller.) So I began reading her book with the Epilogue. This chapter took me to my schoolboy days in the 1970s, and the music that Imelda played for all of us via the radio. It came through loud and clear on Sunday afternoons. It came on Friday nights. It came in the afternoon siesta time on weekdays. All the names of the programmes sounded so very fresh -- 'Your Choice', 'Latin Rhythm', 'Your Favourites' and more. Many readers would probably even recall the sign-off name "Yours truly, Imelda". This book is about the Goa that was, touching a bit on colonial Goa and the period just after 1961. Those were times of change and uncertainty. But they were nice times too, in a way. Imelda's book tells the story of the Catholic elite of the times, the nostalgia with which it looks back, and life in the "good old days". Subtitled "An Autobiography of a Woman Ahead of Her Times", this is also a story of a woman going against the trend, settling for a divorce in the 1960s, and facing the patriarchy of Catholic Goa of the times. It's a book edited by Margaret Mascarenhas, editor of 'Skin'. Spiced with the gossipy details of Panjim's life in the 1970s, parts of the book are very engrossing. But one couldn't believe all one read, even if this only incited one's curiosity to learn more of those times. Besides her boarding years in Pune (then still Poona), this story talks about life in All India Radio, what it meant to be a political refugee of sorts in Salazar's Lisbon post-1961, and stories of love and romance from another era. It's a good read for anyone who grew up in the Goa of those years, and one would not hesitate recommending it (2006, Rs 250, printed and published by Imelda Dias, pp 189, hb). With an catchy title like 'How Long Is Forever' and a covered mostly in black-and-white cover, this is a book that would catch your attention. Strangely, it isn't very well displayed in most bookshops. Friends I mentioned it to, had all not come across it either!