2004-07-25 09:38:01 UTC
this saying remained true until the early sixties when life suddenly changed
for the Anjunians.
To my knowledge, there was no hotel in the whole of Anjuna in the fifties.
The only eatables which were prepared and made available in the evenings
were "pittache bhoje, mirsango ani milam ani khottkottem". Also, there was
only one "dukorn" or "Taverna Licenciada" (liquor shop) in the whole of
Anjuna in Gaumvaddy and that was known as "AVOICHEM DUKORN". It belonged to
an elderly woman, Mrs. Pundari Shirodkar who was colloquially known as
PUNDORGEM and commonly known as "AVOI". The liquor shop was located on the
main road behind Krishna Porob's house, on the edge of the property just
above the fields. It was a small mud house which had a wooden door and a
small window opening, both facing the main road. The sitting room was quite
small, around 10 X 10 feet. It had a small wooden bench placed in it. A
door on the wall in the sitting room led to a small store where Avoi stored
Avoi sat inside on a wooden chair by the window opening from morning till
night. The window had a small wooden shelf from inside on which she placed
the glass with the requested fenni in it. Liquor bottles were placed on a
small wooden table which lay next to her chair. Most of her customers asked
for the drink through the window opening. If I remember well, the cost of
liquor in those days was around 8 annas for Madd bottle and 10 annas for
Caju bottle (one rupee had sixteen annas). Her daily customers were
laborers, masons, bullock cart riders, etc. Most of these people could
afford only an anna drink. They would arrive at the window and say ?Avoi,
ghal ghe maddancho eka anneancho?. Of course, she would get bulk orders for
full bottles from individuals whenever there were occasions like baptism
ceremonies, litanies, weddings, deaths, etc. Her regular customers were
four elderly men from Gaumvaddy - one of them was Simao Fernandes. They
would finish their morning work and visit Avoi for their afternoon drink
exactly at twelve o'clock. How did they know the time? They would look at
the sun and say: "bara horam zait eilint vo zalint" and straight away head
for Avoi's dukorn. They would have only one anna drink and return home for
lunch by 12:30 p.m. after which they would have a nap. In the evening, they
would sit at Avoi's dukorn for longer time and consume two annas drink each.
They mostly sat on the bench in the sitting room. Unlike the present
generation, elders of the past strongly believed in principles and followed
them. They never crossed their drinking limit except on feast days - three
times a year (1) Advogad Saibinnichea festak, (2) Sam Joaochea festak ani
(3) Sam Minguelichea festak. Avoi used two-in-one (half and full peg) brass
type official "filsao-acho peg" measure which nobody could argue about. She
also used small glass measures which were equivalent to the "filsao-acho
peg". Avoi died in the seventies. She was around 103 years old. To me,
she looked the same from my childhood until she died - an elderly, slow
walking, soft spoken woman. After she passed away, her family did not
cancel the liquor licence but kept on renewing it regularly, but the dukorn
or mud house gradually gave way. Her son, Khuxeali, and his wife,
Chandrawati, began selling liquor at home under the same license. Avoi's
only grandson, Ramesh, was crushed to death under "SAMRAT" bus in the mid
seventies when he was going for a morning bath at the well opposite the
cross. Presently, Avoi?s granddaughter, Ujwala, has built a structure on
the spot where her grandmother had the dukorn and started ?ANIKET
Bar-n-Restaurant? in it and is doing quite well.
Until the forties, Avoi was the only legal liquor seller in Anjuna.
However, in the early fifties, a person named SOCRATES FERNANDES arrived
from Morjim, settled in Anjuna and he also started a dukorn in a rented room
in Antonio Brito's house in Mazalvaddo, and his dukorn came to be known as
"Sakratisachem dukorn". There was no display of board at that time. After
Socrates died, his wife, Piedade, renewed the license in her name and named
it "Taverna" - Proprietor: Piedade Fernandes. After she passed away, her
son, Placido, renewed the license in his name and named it "Placido
Bar-n-Restaurant" which still exists on the main road.
In the mid sixties, another liquor shop began in Gaumvaddy - that of
Gajanand alias Gojo which came to be known as ?Gojo?s Bar? and it continues
to date in a corner next to "Rock Industries" (he also owns the ?Palm Grove?
at Vagator). This liquor shop was followed by another in Mazalvaddo.
Nelson D'Souza from Duler, Mapusa along with his friend, Antonio set up
"Nelson's Bar" in Antonio Brito's house which was until then used by Mrs.
Sabina D'Souza to sell Wax Candles and Coffins. Hence, she was known as
"Sobin Mennkarn". Coincidentally, Sakratis also initially had his dukorn in
the same house before he was asked to shift it across the road.
Around the same time, James D'Souza from Tembi converted his house into a
business place and started "Rose Garden Bar-n-Restaurant" in it.
Simultenously, Michael D?Souza from Gumalvaddo set up another small bar at
Tembi and named it "Bhor Bhag".
This is where the competition began and a woman by name ESMERALDA D'SOUZA
from Sorantto ward built a structure, named it "STARCO Bar-n-Restaurant" and
began a hotel business in it. Esmeralda's was the first structure in Anjuna
built solely for hotel business. Esmeralda's husband, Michael D'Souza,
worked in Kuwait. Her sons, Vency and Francis were at school, but she got a
lot of help from her relatives and local boys to start the business.
Esmeralda was a shrewd woman. She knew how to do business and attract
foreigners to her hotel. She quickly learned the trick of the trade and the
business picked up very fast. Most of her foreign customers called her
"Esmeralda" but there were others who called her "Santa Esmeralda" ? just a
foreign expression which had nothing to do with piousness. Although
Esmeralda did not speak fluent English, she managed her business very well
and was able to handle her foreign customers satisfactorily. Esmeralda was
well built and had a pleasing personality. She always had a smile on her
face. She was a cool lady and knew how to deal with different situations
whenever they arose. She always wore a Goan dress - ?vistid?. The
foreigners liked her simplicity.
By the mid seventies, the number of bar-n-restaurants in Anjuna kept on
increasing and so did the competition. However, there were only two main
competitors - "Nelson's Bar-n-Restaurant" and "Starco Bar-n-Restaurant", but
"Starco" did better. Most foreigners began flocking at the "Starco" which
also provided various businesses to others. My late brother Manuel had his
store "MANUELO" just round the corner of "Starco" where he also parked his
cars and motorcycles. He did very well in his business. Frequent night
parties took place at "Starco" which meant good business to motorcyclists
and car owners. Thus, a motorcycle and car stand was established just round
the corner of "Starco". Almost every youngster from Anjuna regularly
gathered around "Starco" premises resulting in a big crowd of boys who came
to be known as "STARCO BOYS"!
I had resigned my job in Bahrain and was home in early 1981 when Michael
returned home sick from Kuwait and passed away within less than a month.
Vency and Francis were still at school at St. Michael's Convent School at
Vagator. Esmeralda was in mourning and needed someone trustworthy,
preferably a non family member, to take charge of her business temporarily,
and this is where I extended my help to her, as I had known Esmeralda and
her family since long. I assured her of my support and helped her at the
hotel and counter during day time and whenever there were parties/gatherings
Esmeralda was a very kind and compassionate woman. If anyone needed help,
she was always there. Besides providing jobs for the local boys at her
hotel she also indirectly provided different types of employment to many
youngsters in Anjuna. Although she was mild in nature, she was very strong
and courageous. Her hefty build gave her an edge over men to handle her
business. She was a very friendly person. She spoke very little and I
think this was the secret of her success. I never heard her criticize
anyone. When new restaurants began mushrooming in Anjuna, she would say
"Konnui babddo pott bhorum, mojem giraik mhaka ietelench", and indeed she
was right. Her usual customers continued to patronize her hotel and the
others too got their customers. In those days, new hoteliers paid local
boys to bring them customers. So, boys would coax foreigners to give up
"Starco" and join new hotels, but they failed.
Esmeralda never paid attention to gossip; she did not have time for that.
However, sometimes we would talk about the effect of drugs on Anjuna
youngsters and feel sad. She would say to me: "Kitem tori kor re Domnic,
amche bhurge pirdear zait voitat" and I kept on assuring her that I was
doing my best but that I could not control each individual. Little did we
know then that the monster would invade our families in time to come!
Esmeralda did not go through any Hotel Management or Catering Courses and
yet she succeeded in establishing a hotel business in Anjuna. I was very
sad when I read in Goacom Daily News Clippings of July 21 that she passed
away on July 20. I am sure many foreigners worldwide who had known
Esmeralda will feel sad at her demise. Esmeralda was one of the first women
to contribute in the development of the present day Anjuna. Her death is a
great loss to us. She will be remembered by the local people, as well as
foreigners, not only for her business and her kind nature but also for the
landmark "STARCO" that she created for Anjuna. At the beginning of the
article I mentioned that Mrs. Pundari alias Avoi was the woman who began
legal liquor business in Anjuna early last century and now we are proud that
another woman, Esmeralda, created a landmark in Anjuna.
Every time I went home on vacation, I made it a point to step in Starco and
say a hello to Esmeralda but unfortunately I did not do that on my last
vacation home due to business. The moment I would step in her hotel she
would ask me "Arre Domnic, kosso assai tum? Kednam eilai re? Kitem
ghetolo?" I would say "Kaim nam go" but she would go inside and bring me a
bottle of beer, open and give it to me. She would also instruct the waiters
to place at my table whatever snacks were available. If I visited her with
my family, she would leave the hotel, take us to the house, which is just
behind the hotel, and treat us with drinks, snacks and food. I had done
very little for her but she was ever grateful to me, and this is what I did
not like of her because of which I sometimes hesitated to visit her.
In the late sixties through the eighties buses from European countries
arrived in Anjuna with foreign passengers. On their way back, they picked
up passengers for Nepal. At least one bus departed Anjuna for Nepal every
month. So, the organizers of the trip would display posters and ask
interested persons to contact Mr. XYZ at "STARCO". The departure of the bus
also took place from "STARCO". Those days most of the foreigners gave their
mailing address care of Mrs. Esmeralda D'Souza (STARCO) and one could see
the mailman arriving and delivering dozens of letters and parcels daily at
"Starco". Of course, he was happy because he received good tips for his
In the seventies through the nineties, North Goa had two famous places -
O?COQUEIRO in Porvorim and STARCO in Anjuna. "Starco" became so famous that
every foreigner knew its location. Any foreigner who arrived in North Goa
would be asked to arrive or meet at "Starco". The foreigners knew they
could get the best they wanted at "Starco" and Madam Esmeralda made sure
they got the service they wanted. For the locals as well as the foreigners
the landmark in Anjuna was "STARCO" and it continues to be the same despite
dozens of hotels and bar-n-restaurants that have flourished in Anjuna.
If you come across a person who has been to Anjuna and he/she asks you
"where are you from" and you tell him/her "I am from Anjuna", he/she will
immediately question "Are you from STARCO"? Thus proving the fact that
"STARCO" has become one of the landmarks of Anjuna!
On behalf of all Anjunians abroad, I pay tribute to Esmeralda through this
article and convey our deepest sympathies to Vency/Maggie, Francis and all
the family members.
May Esmeralda's soul rest in peace!
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