Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Third Culture: Some aspects of the Indo-Portuguese Cultural Encounter

Alberto de Noronha, *The Third Culure – Some Aspects of the Indo-Portuguese Cultural Encounter*, Panjim, The Third Millenium, 2006, pp. 189, Price: Rs. 250, $15, € 12.
It is with a mix of sadness and satisfaction that I am writing these few lines about this author whom I did not get to know personally during my Goa phase of life. To enhance my sadness, I received the book by mail with a covering letter dated 16th October 2006 and signed by the author three weeks before he died. The tone of the letter written in Portuguese mentions the diagnosis of terminal cancer, which added to his advanced age of 80s, made the production of this book his last great challenge in life. Cites Sydney Smith who seems to have provided much needed inspiration: "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do only litte. Do what you can".Alberto Noronha ends his note with a humble request to me to provide some of my precious time to say if his book deserves scholarly merit. He hoped that my opinion could bring some weight of publicity in the Goa-based press. I feel honoured by the gesture of the author in sending me his book, which I shall cherish as "in manus tuas commendo" votive offering. There is little I need to add to the appreciation of the book in its Preface by Maria Aurora Couto. The book reveals a meticulous planning, a very liberal and critical mind, very up-to-date readings on the subject (including a reference to me on page 128, where the author cites a long passage in a funny mix of Portuguese and Konkani, which I did not even remember I had included in a paper I had presented at a local history seminar of Goa University but which I had never seen in print), and a pleasant and measured style of presentation. Since J.N. Fonseca's *Historical and Archeological Sketch of the City of Goa* or Claude Saldanha's *Short History of Goa*, we had not seen anything so comprehensive, unpolemical and readable on Goa and written for general public as this little book of Albert Noronha. The author and this book will remain with us and the generations to come as cultural representations of Goa that is presented in *The Third Culture*.