Last night I dreamt I traipsed down to Fontainhas again.... that beautiful Latin corner of Panjim, that is still old Portugal, complete with faint strains of the fado emanating from the pretty yellow houses, lining the quaint, narrow streets.
A light staccato Portuguese chatter in the air accompanies a piano or two from the upstairs Academia da Musica. What is it now - five decades, yet it lives in my river of dreams? My best friend had a crush on Eunice Lima Fernandes. She was very pretty, gorgeous lips, and he was besotted. He lived not too far from her in Fontainhas, but as far as I was aware, worshipped from afar. We had all joined Dhempe College in Miramar that year of the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971. We had both begun Science. Eunice was in the same year. Her brother Angelo was our hero's good friend, though I doubt he knew lover boy was smitten. Just me - and Ivo Guia-Furtado who played superb violin next to the San Sebastian Chapel, naughty Carlos Albert opposite, 'Piqun' Armand Aquino next door, and 'Baba' Servulo, the young guitarist enmeshed daily in the pangs of his own unrequited love, even as nightly his 'Vandals' beat group tripped the light fantastic. Fontainhas has changed since I dined there a few years ago. The Academia moved to Campal, as the Kala Akademy. Hordes of tourists trudge the narrow streets. The pretty young 'mistis' girl pharmacist Jesuina is gone - I lost count of the number of razor blades and toothpaste tubes we infatuated lads wastefully bought, just to catch a flash of her eyes, and a hint of her dimpled smile. Of course the rustic little bridge still straddles the creek like it does in Alfama, Lisbon. And you can still hear the faint whisper of Portuguese. Five decades have come and gone. The beautiful young damsel now produces an original 'orchata', smooth as a summer breeze. How have the years treated her? Memory illuminates beauty like an Old Master's painting. The poet Robert Frost had a crush on a pretty thing called Sabra, which went nowhere. He married his high school sweetheart. Many decades later in a strange twist his secretary came across the poet's letters, and found Sabra. I leave you to find out what happened next. Who is lucky enough to marry their childhood crush? I did - that's another story! What about our own hero? Well, he married another! A dozen years ago, we met up abroad after almost four decades. Of course, he remembered Eunice! But between us the mists of time had drawn up an invisible curtain. From best friends, we carried on a sporadic relationship, which stumbled on a petty disagreement one cold winter evening, and we have not seen each other since. We are just too different now. Still our carefree days in lilting Fontainhas come alive again in my dreams. Elegant belles sip Eunice's creamy orchata on the roofed gallery steps as gentle Ivo Guia-Furtado (it was he who introduced me to Remo) still plys a haunting fiddle, the notes dancing in the moonlight, "Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you!" Francis ............................................................................................................. > and Spain." Below is the story of the recent revival of the > drink in Goa itself.... > > By Eunice Lima Fernandes De Sa > > For me, it was not the great nutritional value of almonds > (omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, fibres, Vit E) or its health > benefits, like being antioxidant, lowering blood sugars, > cholesterol, pressure or helping in skin tone, that attracted > me to this almond drink called Orchata. It has always been > the taste. > > I have loved it as my summer cooler, winter warmer, as a > teenager, nursing mother, and now as a senior