Visit of Ambassador of Portugal to Daman on 12th Nov 09

The ambassador of Portugal came on a one-day (unofficial) visit to Daman along with the Goa-based Consul General on the 12th of November 09.

Though I couldn’t meet them, I was able to get my letter, requesting their intercession for starting Portuguese language classes in Daman, delivered.

My well-connected, UK-based friend and fellow Damanense, Victor Fernandes, gave both, a moral boost and a real boost to the project by forwarding the letter to the University of Aveiro, the Associativismo Sem Fronteiras das Comunidades Portuguesas, the Ministry of External Affairs and a prominent social worker in Portugal.

Here’s the text of my letter:


12th November, 2009
Dr. …
(Camp: Daman)
Dear Dr…,
Boas Vindas!
I take this opportunity to present you a copy of my first book, Culture Wise INDIA: The Essential Guide to Culture, Customs & Business Etiquette (Survival Books, UK) which was released on Amazon in May but most important for me, the first copy debuted in Portugal on 18th July 2009 and found itself in the hands of my long-time friend and mentor, Dr. Adelino Rodrigues da Costa (chief of Fundação Oriente – Goa).
I have mixed feelings – I wanted so much for my first book to be on the topic closest to my heart – Damão! However, the book does something for Damão because it gives Damão its first book author.
Loyal as I am to Goa, Daman & Diu, I mentioned in my book how and why the culture in this former Portuguese colony is different from the rest of India. But no two fingers are alike and so it is with siblings. These cultural differences though subtle, lend Damão its uniqueness, giving its people an identity of their own – the Damanense! This is the premise and essence of my forthcoming book, Viva Damão! The Indo Portuguese Subculture of Daman.
I’d like to mention here, with gratitude, that Viva Damão and three others in the series, have their genesis in one of my Blog2Book projects launched by the late Pedro Cabral Adão, former Consul General of Portugal at the commemorative function of National Day of Portugal, of Camões and of the Portuguese Community, in Daman on the 10th of June 2006.
Like my fellow Damanenses, I’m proud of my Portuguese heritage – the forts, the churches, the architecture, etc. – but what are these without culture? Our fort may not have made it into the elite Seven Wonders of the Portuguese World but it is culture that breathes life into monuments. And the Indo Portuguese culture of Damão is by far more Portuguese than that of Goa and Diu and thrives without sponsored efforts of any institution.
But there’s more…  our culture has spilled over to foreign shores, the UK in particular, and thrives there too. British community leaders are frequent observers at our social and cultural events, especially in Leicester and Peterborough where the concentration of Damanenses is densest – adaption is not on their agenda; they have adoption in mind! The worldwide success of World Daman Day 2008 & 2009 bear testimony to that.
But of all the cultural facets – art, religion, tradition, custom, language, music, cuisine, architecture and attire – language is not just the binding glue that holds it all together, it is the conduit through which culture is propagated. In this regard, I’m proud to say that of all the erstwhile Portuguese colonies in Asia, only Damão can boast that five decades after the Portuguese left, the mother tongue – a Lingua Mãe – of every newborn Catholic Damanense continues to be Portuguese, albeit as a dialect. Not only that – migrant traders from neighbouring states begin speaking the language in just 2-3 years, picking it up in their day-to-day interactions with Damanense customers! Can you say this of Goa and Diu or even Macau?
But Damanense youth yearn to learn standard European Portuguese which, unfortunately, was discontinued in the Institute of Our Lady of Fatima though the state board to which it is affiliated lists the language as an optional subject for the SSCE. In this connection, I’ve been in discussions with a newfound Portuguese friend, Dr. Henrique Salles da Fonseca, author of the blog, A bem da Nação, about launching a formal Portuguese language course in Damão on the lines of the one conducted by the Indo Portuguese Friendship Society in Goa. It is with this in mind – Ensino da lingua Portuguesa – that
I now seek your intercession and the resources of your good offices for bringing our project to fruition so that future generations of Damanenses can continue to say with pride, “Eu falo Português!”
Muito Obrigado,
Noël Gama
6 replies
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    Quando estive em Damão pela primeira vez em 1970 muita gente falava português ainda nas ruas, incluindo hindus e moiros. Aqui se vê a língua portuguesa mantida pelos cristãos de Damão sem nenhum apoio de Portugal. Gostei bastante de ouvir a missa e orações em Português todos os dias nas igrejas de Damão.
    Quando fui lá uns três meses atras, pouca gente falava português pelas ruas, mas em casa era português embora mal falado. Achei muito sossegado andar pelas ruas de Damão Grande.

  2. Joaquim Loiola
    Joaquim Loiola says:

    Am in complete agreement with the content of your excellent letter, as I had the occasion of seeing things for myself, on my only visit to Daman, five years ago. And, let me say in passing, I did find a few Damanenses speaking flawless Portuguese!
    You are doing a great job. Keep it up!
    Loiola (Goa)

  3. Noel Gama
    Noel Gama says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your encouraging words, Fr. Loiola. I’m hoping you visit Daman again – you know you have one more friend there:)


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