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 damsels? >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, posthumously). 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 internationally. 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 country. 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 Chand. 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 forgotten. # # # # 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.