Goans in Pakistan, the small community which made a difference

GOANS in Karachi before and after Independence of Pakistan --
and their impact on lifestyle has run deep and long.

By Menin Rodrigues

If there was rhythm, colour and distinction associated to
lifestyle in the Pakistan of 1950s, 60s and 70s, it came in
part from the magnanimous contribution of the miniscule Goan
community of Karachi. This made a real difference, setting
precedents for today's gurus in music, sports and fashion.

These enterprising people from the tiny region of Goa, along
the west coast of South Asia and of pre-partition India, have
been living and working in Karachi, then a prospering fishing
village, since the mid-19th century.

Goans continue to live in Karachi today, about 5,000 odd, but
are relatively quiescent. Up to independence and a decade or
two later, this hard-working community played an influential
role in the city's growing prominence as a major seaport,
business hub and a stylish cosmopolitan metropolis -- a
sister-city to Bombay and a match to London's grandeur! The
many landmarks, now forlorn and almost forgotten, are
testimony of the city's eminence.

          PREAMBLE: The magnificent sandstone-building of the
          Karachi Goan Association (1886), requisitioned for
          two years as a Senior Officers Club during World
          War II and which also played host to the Duke of
          Windsor then Prince of Wales and the First Governor
          of the Province of Sind; the legendary portals of
          St. Patrick's High School (1862) and St. Joseph's
          Convent (1861) and the elite mansions, palatial
          houses, clubs, pubs, discotheques, gourmets,
          bakeries, theatres, 'koors' and gymkhanas in
          upscale Saddar; were the epicenters of all music,
          cultural and sporting activities of Goan-life.

This is where Karachi's lifestyle originated. Remember the
'Club' scenes in early Pakistani movies -- the disoriented
'western' dances and clothing, the quintessential
saxophonist, trumpeter and drummer, the drinks and sexy

>From the historic hockey defeat inflicted on Bhopal Wanderers
(comprising of several players from India's gold-medal team
of the 1936 Berlin Olympics) by the mostly-Goan school-boys
team of St. Patrick, to the securing of Pakistan's railway
lines in 1947 by Frank D'Souza (Member, Indian Railways
Board) on the request of the Quaid-e-Azam; and from
Archbishop Joseph Cordeiro becoming Pakistan's first
Roman-Catholic Cardinal to the staging of Karachi's first
Gilbert and O'Sullivan musical operas in the 1950s; are just
a few milestones etched with Goan livery and legacy that will
remain part of Pakistan's and Karachi's untold history.

          When on May 31, 1935 at 1.30 a.m., the great Quetta
          earthquake killed 75,000 people with one big jolt;
          a Goan Manuel Mendes working on the Sukkur Barrage
          Scheme was given charge of clearing the city of
          debris and corpses with teams of over 400 sappers
          and miners. He did it with dedication,
          determination and distinction.

The delicious ceremonious cake made on the occasion of
Karachi's first civic reception on August 25, 1947 in honor
of Quaid-e-Azam Mohamed Ali Jinnah, Governor-General of
Pakistan Dominion, was prepared and baked at the famed P.F.
Pereira & Sons, Bakers & Confectioners (Estb: 1922). The
other top Goan bakers of that time included the Misquita
(famous for its hot-cross buns, still in operation as its
brand name survives) and Lawrence bakery, respectively.

When Pakistan came into being in 1947, the prominence of
Goans was evident from the fact that one of Karachi's first
elected Mayors was Manuel Misquita; it was a time when the
city's judiciary (C.M. Lobo and brothers Edward and Herman
Raymond as Judges of the High Court), the armed forces (see
below), municipality, police (see below), customs
(Cincinnatus D'Abreo as Collector Customs), telegraphs,
hospitals, educational institutions, the port trust, railways
and the world of music, sports and fashion, were without an
iota of doubt, ruled by this highly educated, talented and
law-abiding community. In 1952, Noel Misquita became the
first Pakistani student at the Harvard Business School.

          The Garden East in Karachi today was 'officially'
          the old 'Cincinnatus Town' but unfortunately not
          registered at the municipality. The roads and
          streets of this amazingly green locality with
          stately mansions with airy verandahs and sprawling
          gardens are still known by the names of Goans who
          built it e.g. Britto Road, D'Cruz Road, Pedro
          D'Souza Road, D'Abreo Street, Edward Street.
          etcetera. GRE today is a concrete jungle of
          apartment blocks.

Men who served the Pakistan armed forces with honour and
distinction were Colonel Eric Cardoza, Lt. Col. David
DeSouza, Major Joseph Lobo, Major Kenneth Cardoza, Cdr.
Stanislaus DeSouza, Cdr. Arthur Cardoza, Lt. Cdr. Phillip
Menezes, Air Commodore Charles Zuzart, Air Commodore Arthur
Zuzart and Flt. Lt. Reginald Nazareth. Flt. Lt Rudy D'Souza
was in-charge of the combined Armed Forces Band.

The Police force included Walter Rodrigues, Tony Rodrigues,
Cyril de Souza (SP and formerly Principal of the Police
Training School, Shadadpur), Eric Mendonca (SP), Cyril
Almeida (Karachi's famous SP Traffic), Anthony Franco, Ronald
de Souza, Martin D'Souza, William Monteiro and Eddie Martyres
(who at the request of the Pakistan government, wrote 'The
History of the Hurs').

There are no Goans in Pakistan's armed forces or the Police anymore.

          MUSIC: It is 1947, Pakistan is born and we don't
          have a national anthem! But by 1953 -- imagine a
          country without an anthem for six years! -- there
          is sufficient information, evidence and conviction
          among the Goan community that the musical score of
          the national anthem of Pakistan, officially
          attributed to the well-known Ahmad Chagla, is
          seemingly the work of the classical/Gregorian music
          genius Tolentine Fonseca, a master Karachi music
          composer of very high distinction. The national
          anthem of Pakistan is one the finest in the world
          and soothing to the ear when its musical score is
          read and played correctly by a complete military
          band repertoire.

(If any reader has information about Tolentine Fonseca, any
evidence of his contribution, his family, relatives,
neighbours or friends, do write to me at men...@gmail.com --
the least I could do is to try and endorse this historical
claim, officially with the Government of Pakistan. If this is
true, we can give this Goan the credit he deserves,

          Goans and music go hand-in-hand, it comes naturally
          to them. In the early years, having a piano in the
          house (bought from Pakistan's only known piano
          store, Hayd's on Elphi, owned by a Goan), playing
          in the legendary brass band of St. Patrick's School
          where reading music was essential to playing an
          instrument; and being part of bands that thrived in
          numerous night-clubs and discotheques, made Goans
          the most-wanted musicians in those days.

The 1940s and 1950s were the golden period of Goan
contribution to classical, jazz and blues music in Pakistan.

The musicals and operettas produced by these geniuses were of
a very high standard. These included the Gilbert and
O'Sullivan Musicals; the Mikado (music by J. Vincent Lobo and
directed by Teresa/Trixie D'Abreo); Gondoliers (music by
Charlie Lobo), and Trial by Jury, Pirates of Penzance (music
by Prof. Terrence D'Souza), Iolanthe and the HMS Pinafore.
All of these famed Savoy operas were held at the KGA Hall,
which also boasted of having one of Karachi's largest
all-wooden floors for ball-room dancing.

On the other hand, the St. Patrick's Dramatics Society (SPDS)
under the direction of the late Fr. Tony Lobo, produced such
wonderful plays as A Man for All Seasons, Agatha Christie's
Ten Little Indians, The Mousetrap, The Happiest Days of our
Lives, Dry Rot, House on the Lake and Cinderella -- a
tradition which carries on to this day at St. Pat's but more
suggestive of its glorious past at the Karachi Grammar School
(Primary), thanks to headmistress Norma Fernandes (now
retired), who acted in some of the SPDS plays in the 1950s.

Later in the mid-70s, Pakistan also had the unique
distinction of having produced the world's most recognized
musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in Karachi with Bobby
Fredrick in the lead role, Victoria de Souza as Mary
Magdalene and the brilliant Arthur Turner as Judas. Macbeth,
a satire, was another blockbuster stage production in 1976
directed by Walter D'Souza and with Clare Braganza in the
lead role of Lady Macbeth.

Among the most outstanding music teachers in 1950s and 1960s
were Prof. F.X. Fernandes (it is believed that Prime Minister
Liaquat Ali Khan sent his sons for music lessons here), Max
Sequeira, Rozario Fernandes, Patricia Duarte (her family
built the majestic Duarte Mansion in Saddar) and Prof.
Terrance D'Souza (who's father Prof Leo D'Souza was the
principal of D.J. Science College).

          These maestros taught music, both in theory and
          practice, and were renowned for their mastery and
          talent. Among the trained voices of that era were
          sopranos Carol & Winnie Lobo (also referred as the
          nightingales of Karachi); the indomitable Phyllis
          Rodrigues; altos Madge Sequeira, Eugene D'Souza,
          Theresa Raymond, Hilda Freitas, Esther Menezes; and
          the basses Vincent Lobo, John Sequeira and Neville
          D'Sa. Today, Austin Freitas, the baritone par
          excellence, is an accomplished vocalist.

The best jazz and blues band of the late 1940s and 1950s was
the 'Janu Vaz Band' with a full range of saxophone, trombone,
trumpet, clarinet, double-bass and the percussions.

The crave for club bands started early in the 1950s with the
virtuosity of master-musicians such as saxophonists Alex
Rodrigues and Don Gonsalves; several trumpeters,
double-bassist David William and drummers Basil and Rudy
D'Souza. The Felix Carvalho Trio (father and sons Chris and
Tony) were musicians of exceptional talent, all readers and
players of classical and jazz pieces.

The trend encouraged the formation of the 'Rocket' in the
late 1950s with Mark Fernandes, trumpet; Rudy Wilson, guitar;
Sabby Vaz, accordion and Malcolm D'Souza, drums; and in early
1960s by the 'Drifters' with Peter Paul Fernandes, Manuel
Fernandes, Ronnie Rangel (Popat Lal) and Edward Mendes
playing at the Taj Hotel Cabaret.

One of the first Pakistani popular musicians to have made a
mark and pioneered the trend that has set in today was Norman
D'Souza. His band, the 'Talismen' (comprising Norman,
brothers Norbert and Hilary Furtado, Martin Fernandes and
Julius Saldanha) was the first Pakistani band to have won an
international contract to play in world-class discotheques in
Singapore and Malaysia in 1974, where even the
world-heavyweight champion Joe Frasier once came to listen
and dance to the sensational music of the Talismen. Norman
was also the first Pakistani pop musician to have been
interviewed 'live' on the famous Zia Mohiuddin Show on TV in
the 1970s.

Goan musicians who have played a significant role in
providing backup music to the resounding success of crooners
Alamgir and Mohammad Ali Sheikhi have been the saxophonists
Alex Rodrigues, Don Gonsalves and Hilary Furtado and of
course drummer Richie D'Souza.

          In latter years, the 1990s when Junoon made it big,
          marketing itself as a three-piece rock band (Salman
          Ahmed, Ali Azmat and Brian O'Donnell) it was the
          back-up drumming of the nimble Malcolm Goveas which
          contributed to the band's huge success, locally and

Another well-known Goan today is Roland de Souza, of
NGO-Shehri fame, an electrical engineer who justifiably
advocates the plentiful wrongs in Karachi's urban planning
and other civic issues. Incidentally, Roland is a skillful
pianist and guitarist of high caliber, now devoting his
talent to the St. Lawrence's Church senior choir.

          Goan women were not far behind in pioneering trends
          in music in the 60s and 70s, with the Xavier
          Sisters becoming the first Pakistani all-women band
          to perform to live audiences, including stints on
          Radio Pakistan. Then there were Cesca Domingo, the
          vocalist and the versatile Hilda Pereira,
          considered among the first woman guitarists of the

Goan musicians who dominated the popular music scene from the
1950s to the 1980s/90s can be classified in four decades.

In the first decade from 1950 to 1960, the prominent band
groups were the Carvalho Trio, Janu Vaz Band, Soares Brothers
and Rockets; in the second decade from 1960 to 1970 there
were Drifters, Keynotes, Moon-Glows and In-Crowd; in the
third decade from 1970 to 1980 there were Talismen,
Blackjacks, Dad's Gratitude, X-periments, Communications,
Underground-4, Axe-Attack and Vision and 1990 onwards, which
produced individual talents such as Keith Venantius
(Barbarians), Candy Pereira (Milestones), Louis (Gumby) Pinto
and others. The latter (Gumby) is a celebrity drummer in
Pakistan today.

          SPORTS: The five hockey players whose names will
          standout as legends in their own right in
          pre-partition India were Goan boys from Karachi.
          Lawrie Fernandes, Pat Mendes, Julius Tellis,
          Marceline D'Costa and P.P. Fernandes (Olympian) who
          on their day, were far superior to the famed Dyan

These spectacular hockey wizards masterminded St. Patrick's
School team winning several major hockey tournaments played
in India, including the Beyton Cup, The Cabral Shield, Yousuf
Ali Tournament, the Aga Khan Cup and other trophies.

A number of Goans have represented Pakistan and contributed
to sports with unique distinction since 1947. The well-known
personality of O.B. Nazareth was dominant; he drafted the
constitution of the Hockey Federation; was the first
Secretary of PHF and the Co-Manager of the country's hockey
team to the London Olympics in 1948.

Milton D'Mello was also in the London squad. Another
brilliant Goan forward was Jack Britto who donned the green
shirt at the Helsinki Olympics of 1952.

          In cricket, Mathais Wallis and Antao D'Souza played
          test cricket for Pakistan and brought many laurels
          for the country. Wallis was recognized as having
          the "safest pair of hands" by none other than the
          great Sir Garfield Sobers and considered to be the
          best slip fielder Pakistan ever produced.

Wallis played 21 test matches for Pakistan and some his
historic performances include his match-winning innings of 64
& 45 runs against the mighty West Indies in the Dacca (Dhaka,
Bangladesh) Test of 1959. He also gave valuable support to
Hanif Mohammad's marathon (world record) innings of 337 runs
at Port of Spain in 1958; and scored a century when Hanif
played his world-record first-class innings of 499 runs at
the KPI ground in Karachi in the 60s.  He also served as a
national cricket selector and was the captain of the National
Bank of Pakistan team.

Michael Rodrigues, now an orthopedic surgeon in the US was a
five-time national table tennis champion of Pakistan in the
early 1960s, while in badminton, the lanky Mennen Soares
played for Pakistan in the Thomas Cup World Championships in
late 1950s.

Later in 1987, the tactical Lenny Dias represented Pakistan
at the Asian Billiard Championship in Bombay, and in 1988,
teenager Earl Cordeiro won the first Pakistan National Junior
Snooker Championship. High Jumper Michael Gomes, sprinter
Paul Francis, hockey players Terrence Andrade, Evarist
D'Souza and Victor D'Lima all played for the Karachi teams in
the national championships. A mention must be made of John
Permal's supremacy as Pakistan's champion sprinter for ten
long years (1964 to 1974) -- though like others mentioned in
this piece he was not a Goan.

In the domain of track & field athletics in the 60s and 70s,
Goan girls were very swift and went on to win the titles of
"fastest women in Pakistan" (West and East wings) several
times in a row, these included, Sophie Fernandes, Delores
Almeida, Rosie D'Lima and Sylvia D'Mello; and in latter years
Cheryl Lucas. In badminton, the fleet-footed Coral Barboza
was crowned the national champion in 1974, and in table
tennis Yvonne Fernandes played several national tournaments.

          FASHION: The gentry who are now in the age group of
          50s, 60s and 70s will probably recall names like
          Jack Braganza, Colin D'Souza and Dominic Fernandes
          as tailors and outfitters of exceptional quality.
          Jack in particular was tremendously popular and his
          large, trendy and welcoming store on the
          intersection of Sommerset Street in Saddar was
          forever busy with the gliterati and who's who's of
          Karachi, all clamoring to get into suits made by
          Jack's cut.

As far as fashion statements were concerned tall, sleek and
beautiful Goan damsels, notably Marilyn Pereira (whose father
was the Trade Commissioner for Portugal in Pakistan) sported
everything from the mini, midi and maxi skirts of the 70s,
including various combinations of jeans and tops. They were
also the first set of local models that did Pakistan's first
black-n-white TV commercials.

When it came to formal wear, glamorous gowns were a hit at
the numerous Balls held at the KGA, the Beach Luxury, the
Loco, Metropole, Boat Club and at the residences of the
ambassadors and later consuls-general. Ballroom dancing,
including the Waltzes, Fox Trot, Tango, Rock & Roll,
Cha-Cha-Cha, the Twist and later the Hustle, were a fad and
every Goan boy and girl did it with grace and in style!

          I am told most of Karachi's historical moments were
          captured through the lens of that famous and
          prominent Karachi photographer, the late I.
          Sequeira who would probably have a treasure trove
          of pictures. It would be appreciated if anyone in
          possession of some old pictures would like to share
          it with me for archiving them as part of
          Pakistan/Karachi's history.

CONCLUSION: The Goan community of Karachi gave Pakistan its
first taste of world-class contemporary music, classical,
jazz, the blues and pop; it gave the country some of its most
eminent personalities, renowned sporting heroes and national
champions, and lastly dictated a lifestyle that transcended
into the culmination of what we see today -- the
reincarnation of Karachi of yester years.

It is unprecedented in world history how a small community of
people could wield so much influence in a country of their
adoption, before and after its independence. If it was the
philanthropy of the Parsis which gave Karachi its glorious
landmarks, it was the Goans' cultural way of life and
abundance of talent that won a 'special' place for them in
the history of the country -- which regrettably, is all but

# # # #

Note: This piece was originally scripted for the prominent
Karachi newspaper The Dawn. I would like to thank all people
with whom I made contact with to derive the information
stated above, in the hope that it is accurate and factual.

The purpose of this article is to record historical facts and
archive contributions made by Goans in Pakistan for the
benefit of future Catholic generations here and in all parts
of the world. If you would like to share information or
clarify on some information noted, you are welcome to write
to me at men...@gmail.com

About the Author: Menin Rodrigues is a businessman in
Pakistan, he is a Member of the Pastoral Council of the
Archdiocese of Karachi, Member of the Board of Governors of
St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Colleges, and in his spare
time researches, collates and writes about the past, present
and future of Catholics/ Goans in Pakistan.

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