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Talking Location With author Pamela D Holloway – Goa

16th November 2019

TalkingLocationWith…    Pamela D Holloway, author of The Portuguese House – Goa

As a writer, I don’t ponder on what to write. I am just faced with a situation or an idea, and the story starts to write itself in my head.

With my latest novel The Portuguese House, I was making my second visit to India – this time to Goa, and as we disembarked and walked out into the hot sunshine of Trivandrum, I saw a sea of the most brightly coloured saris I had ever seen.

On the drive to our hotel, the poverty alongside the road was evident.  Mean dwellings built out of palm tree branches, and frequently roofs covered with plastic sheeting to endeavour to keep out the monsoon rains when they arrived.

Pamela D Holloway

Small children, some barely old enough to walk, played dangerously close to the busy unmade up road.  Overloaded buses with ever blaring horns overtook motorbikes carrying families of two adults and frequently one or more children. Dogs and the occasional cow or bullock roamed freely, and amidst this seeming chaos our driver cheerfully talked non-stop. The constant pot-holes were making us gasp as we bounced about on the comfortable seats.

Occasionally we passed large shabby-looking houses, some derelict, others in modest if shabby order. Between bumps, I asked the driver about them, and he informed me they were the homes built when the Portuguese had colonised Goa. This information lodged itself in my head and led, of course, to my researching it further.

Pamela D Holloway

We drove up the peaceful drive of the hotel the contrast to what we had driven past firmly etched on my mind.  At that point I had no idea that the idea of a book was already taking hold in my head!

The beach was amazing, it seemed go for miles, and we walked every day finding something different to enjoy. The people we met from the fishermen to the owners/staff of excellent beach restaurants, where the staff were almost surprisingly cheerful, helpful and friendly. The smiliest people I felt I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. Having expressed an interest into the making of Butter Chicken, I was invited into the tent where the cooking took place and shown how to make it wondering all the time how it could possibly be a safe environment as the flames from the pan rose almost to the roof of the tent.

While sitting on a sunbed recovering from an invigorating swim in the sea, a young man approached me and tried hard to sell me a silk scarf. His right leg was severely deformed, and as he struggled away I felt so mean that I called him back and purchased a scarf that I neither needed nor wanted.

After that I saw him most days. He told me his wife had just had a baby, and after a few more days and armed with some fresh fruit I accompanied him to his tiny one-roomed hut. The mat that they slept on was laid out on the floor for my benefit, and I sat down offering the fruit I had with me as a token gift.

As I left their home wondering what I could do to help this young couple, I noticed several men on motor-bikes parked quite near the huts. It was an area I had not been to before, and I somehow felt their presence was threatening. I walked faster and was glad when I was on familiar territory again.

The next day when I saw my lame friend, I asked him about them.  He looked around before he spoke. “I have to pay them, we all do, the beach sellers – they take money from us every day. If we don’t pay our homes will be burnt or our families hurt.”  It was a side of Goa I wished I did not know, but I did, and I was aware I couldn’t change it.

A rickshaw ride a few days later proved a similar learning experience in a different way. I asked the rickshaw driver as he pedalled furiously where his home was. “My rickshaw,” he answered proudly. I must have looked shocked. “Ah Madame, it is good. Before I slept on the pavement now I have a comfortable bed.”

These people were inspirational to me, and I knew there was a story. I am so happy that I have shown in The Portuguese House how the local people will help and will love to help. Perhaps I should have dedicated my book to the people of Goa.

Thank you so much to Pamela for sharing such a beautiful and at the same time very sad side of Goa.

We have a giveaway running until 30/11/19 to win one of five copies of Pamela’s books. Enter HERE.

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