Old Goa

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The former capital of Portuguese Goa from 1510 to 1843 (Mid Ming, through Qing Dyansties and Minguo and early Peoples Republic periods). Today all that remains of this once thriving metroplolis on the spice trade route are massive rather overpowering and ominuos black stone and white washed Cathedrals, Churches, Convents of the Jesuits and Dominicans. And the final tomb of the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier. Wide green lawns separate the monumental cathedrals and tourists and local christians stroll around and attend mass next to Francis Xavier's dessicated cadaver.

Why I arrived here on New Year's Day morning, January 1, 2007, I had scant knowledge of the history of the city. it look benign and neglected, with old structures from Portuguese colonial past other than the churches. i was lulled into a sence of peace, thinking of the past and the christian missionaries searving here to succor to sick and ill and convert them to the compassionate word of Jesus. I enjoyed my visits to all the churches, attended morning mass, listened to the hymns, strolled the grassy grounds and even visited the small chapel where Francis Xavier is said to have practiced. It is at the end of a dusty lane, unpretentious and neglected. I felt a sense of awe and compassion in the air.

For one week I enjoyed the quiet ambience of the new Goa, Panjim; walked the colorful streets and savored the delicious seafood and read R. K Narayan novels. An idealic week. But while I was there I had a hint of the truth of Goa. I visited some Hindu temples in Ponda a small town in the hills 29km away from Panjim and found temples that had been moved there to escape the Inquisition. This pricked my curiosity. I was startled to find reference to the Inquisition here in India!

Now I have read some history of the 250 years!! of barbarous tortures committed by the Portuguese Inquisition priests and officials on the helpless native, non-Christian and non-Roman Catholic populations of Goa. And the man who called this horror down on them was none other than the 'saint' (!!!) Francis Xavier! I feel shamed that I enjoyed myself in Goa when the cries of agony of Inquisiton victims still float in the tropical air. I will never return to Goa! It is a cursed place!

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