Bridge Across Troubled Waters!


Come rain or shine, these 2 colonial siblings – Damao Grande & Damao Pequeno – are inseparable! In fact, the river Daman Ganga is looked upon as a mother embracing her 2 children under the watchful eye of San Jeronimo with his 2 giants and a dog guarding the Gate of the Damão Pequeno fort.

On the 20th of June 2004, Damão Grande & Damão Piqueno reached out their little hands (Damao in Portuguese means ‘Give me your hand!’) once again towards each other at the inaugural function when the newly repaired bridge was thrown open to the public.

The evening air was jubilant with never-ending motorcades, the headlamps turned on and horns blowing non-stop; throngs of people crossed over from both sides with even our colonial cousins from Silvassa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli joining in!

A startling revelation was that the flow of humanity, oblivious to the new bridge, proceeded triumphantly across it without even a pause, right through the streets of Damão meeting fellow Damanese and exchanging pleasantries like it was New Year’s Day!

It is this bonding that the people of Daman have, irrespective of caste or creed, which is unbreakable and has withstood the test of time. After all, everyone has been ‘baptized’ in the waters of the Daman Ganga!

The bridge came down again only 2 months later in August 2004 due to torrential rains and man seems to have given up this time around but nothing seems to ever dampen the spirit of the people of Daman.

Copyright © 2005 Noël Gama

Candle-light Vigil

Big Daman Cemetery – dusk, November 1st
All Saints’ Day observed by Christians on the 1st of November is also the eve of All Souls’ Day morphing solemnity with somberness as, come dusk, the church bells begin to toll while the congregation silently winds its way to the cemetery to light candles at the gravesites of their dear ones.

I have participated in this ritual for decades but last year, I accidentally stumbled upon a custom unknown to most of the people of my hometown, Daman!

As I cruised down a lane called Badrapor that night, I noticed through the swirling fog that most houses had brightly burning candles on their front porches. Here was an uncanny similarity to what I had read in my French textbook in school, about the way All Souls’ Day was commemorated in the countryside of France. But there was no French connection in this erstwhile Portuguese colony of Damão. Could there possibly be a chance this custom had somehow found its way to tiny Badrapor, which was the landing ground for the Portuguese over 400 years back? How come the rest of the population of Daman so steeped in custom and tradition was not even aware of this?

Badrapor, Big Daman – Dusk, November 1st

Curiosity taking the upper hand, I parked and walked up to the door of an elderly lady who explained that the candles were meant for the departed souls who would be visiting their homes on the eve of All Souls’ Day between dusk and midnight.
As I settled behind the wheel of my car on that serene November night, I could suddenly see the spirit behind such customs and traditions, the flesh and blood of the surreal. I could not help but look up at the star-studded sky for a flitting moment and then beyond into eternity as my lips whispered those three little words that my soul was saying – R.I.P.

Copyright © 2005 Noël Gama

The Song of Daman

Let me introduce you to Daman with the lyrics of a song I wrote dedicated to my home-town:-


This is the story of Damão
My sweet little home-town
And if you are a visitor
You’re bound to hear it somehow

For the talk of the town, is the town itself
The story is short you’ll see
But it sure is the best place
In the whole world for you to be

‘Da Mao’ is Portuguese for ‘handshake’
Peaceful people we are
We still make lots of salt dear
Down by the riverside

In Damão we are all good friends
And related to one another
We all do great business dear
In the name of personal favour

Many wonder, ‘why do we need
The little light-house at all?’
With 350 bars my friend
Daman’s the world’s wettest place

We have three wonders which please don’t miss
The jig-saw puzzle over the creek
Is nothing but an upside down
Three-piece, rusty, old, hanging bridge

The old fort which could never be
Invaded from the outside
Is now being invaded dear
Righta from the inside

The aquarium’s rare fishes, caught
From the Daman Ganga River
On the brink of extinction have earned
The distinction of ‘endangered species’

And last, but not the least dear
We too have our share of beaches
Devka Beach and Jampore dear
Sister-concerns of Singapore

So can’t you see, we are self-sufficient
And just to make it more convenient
We have our own currency dear
Which is strongly anti-apartheid!

Noel Gama

Copyright © 1989 Noël Gama