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Musicking Destination: Instituto Camões, New Delhi!

Happy to have been invited to perform a set of Portuguese songs at Instituto Camões, Embassy of Portugal, New Delhi on the 18th of July 2012. Couldn’t miss this great opportunity which, turned out to be an important milestone in my journey and more importantly, in my mission of popularizing Portuguese Pop/Folk music.

I live in Daman (Damão – a former Portuguese enclave on the western shores of India, which became part of India as recently as 1961) where there’s a strong Portuguese influence in the culture, music in particular. While Daman Day (2nd February), Daman’s biggest folk festival, celebrates and showcases its Indo-Portuguese culture, my blogs and websites help in recording, preserving and even propagating it to a certain extent.

As an award-winning writer of the Writers Bureau (UK) and author of Culture Wise India (Survival Books Ltd, UK), I’m now putting this experience into writing a series of books on the Indo Portuguese culture of Daman and in writing/recording new folk songs to complement the books.

It was a solo performance at Instituto Camões in my ‘Unplugged’ avatar – just me and my Ovation guitar and a digital vocal harmonizer – the others being, ‘Concert’ (Midi guitar OMB) and ‘Grand Concert’ (Arranger keyboard OMB). The songs were covers of contemporary Portuguese songs in the Pop & Romantic genres with a couple of traditional folk songs thrown into the mix as well. That’s about all you’d expect from someone who’s an HR Pro by day, author by night and singer/songwriter on very special evenings, like this one.

I’ll let these photographs (courtesy, Bhupendra Baria) tell the rest of the story…

Arrival at Camoes…
Tuning up
Must get the G-string right!
The Ovation is a great guitar – when I opened the case at the venue, every string was still perfectly in tune! And no – I wasn’t scowling… I’d rather squint than wear reading glasses – especially when fiddling with the G-string;)
More treble on the vocals, please!
For Guitar, my quick-fix is Bass @ 4 ‘O’ Clock; Treble @ 2 ‘O’ Clock
The audience couldn’t really know what to expect from a nonfiction author!
A few seconds in the dark before the ‘curtain’ went up!
The first song… about how good it feels to go back to my roots
Threw two trads into the mix – Encosta a tua Cabecinha – arguably, the most popular Portuguese trad in India.  One of the first songs my mother taught me as a little boy.
Interestingly, it’s from Brazil!
Followed by A historia que eu vou contar – I’d need to write a voluminous book to tell the story of a complicated woman. Not that I would succeed though. The songwriter tried to tell it all in just one verse!
Now, they know… a little bit more… as I tell the stories behind the songs
11th reason to learn the Portuguese language: You will better appreciate the songs when you understand what’s really being said between the lines of the underlying lyrics and like me, you may discover that “Saudades” is the God particle of the Lusophone world!
A change of rhythm and tempo – little snippets of the Pimba that’s played for the wedding march in Daman
Couldn’t leave without singing um ultimo fado
I’ve often been accused of singing only contemporary Portuguese songs; very few trads and never a fado – so I sang a song about the fado:)

Adeus ate um dia!
The Damanense – as also the Portuguese – goodbye is not really final… it’s always followed by an ‘ate logo!’


With H. E., the Ambassador of Portugal, Jorge Roza de Oliveira
I presented him a copy of my book, “Culture Wise INDIA” (Survival Books – UK) and made a commitment that I’d complete writing my second book, “DISCOVER DAMÃO IN DAMAN – The Insider’s Guide to the Indo-Portuguese Culture, Customs & Etiquette of Daman”
The ambassador said he’d be visiting Daman very soon!
A final caress of appreciation for my Ovation before she goes into her case
I couldn’t decide whether to take the Ovation or the Taylor 714ce Fall Ltd Edition. My friends on Facebook voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Ovation! Isn’t she ‘photogenic’? I strung her with Silk & Steel strings and played her with my fingers to get that clunky sound between a steel-string and a nylon-string guitar

High tea – Embassy lawns
Met faculty, students and the warm and cheerful staff. Many said they’d like to visit my hometown. Well, all were invited – for Daman Day 2013 (2nd February, 2013)


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Between the Sword and the Pen, lies the Guitar (Part-2)


Looking back down the road I’ve traveled, with a guitar case instead of a suitcase in my hand, I earnestly wish I could say, “So far, so good!” But in all honesty, it hasn’t been so. As throngs of my fellow Damaneses opt for Portuguese citizenship and leave Daman to settle down in Europe, more and more I feel like a stranger in my own hometown. The ever-expanding ‘Bribe Tribe’ is still foreign to me despite it being well over two decades since we got delinked from Goa. Come to think of it, I did not experience as big a culture shock in 1961 as I did when we were severed from Goa.

With only a month to completing 50 years of its liberation,  Daman had its biggest-ever protest march this November 24th. A young man spoke with such conviction on topics and problems that have been making a buzz on social media sites, perhaps fueled by similar protests elsewhere in the country. I could easily use this as grist for my songwriting mill and churn out a protest folksong – no music sounds as authentic as when the oppressed sing songs of protest but wouldn’t it be a crying shame? Our traditional folk songs were about poverty and its alleviation; never about oppression and alienation. And we had riches – we were multicultural, multilingual, multiracial and lived in sweet harmony.

I still need my guitar and the power of folksongs to help me along the way. Folksongs may age but they never get old like the one-week hit songs of today. That’s because they document our history, culture and values more authentically, enticingly and entertainingly than any history book ever could. My music teacher may have found solace in a bottle of wine but he left me the most enduring legacy. I believe that music is a means of experiencing as well as expressing freedom. And most of all, I believe that the guitar is a celebration of this freedom because you are free to ‘do-your-own-thing, any-which-way’!