A Karachi Goan retracing his
Goan roots and helping
fellow Pak-born Goans reconnect.
By Krish Fernandes (Goa) for
the GOANTAK (December 29, 2009)
Pakistani resident of Goan origin, on a visit to Goa after 26 years to
retrace his roots Menin Rodrigues soon discovered that the world is
indeed a small place. Connecting Goans with their Pakistan based
relatives and networking with his own relatives, he has enjoyed his stay
in this tourist paradise. At a nostalgic evening Menin Rogdrigues shares
his experience and memories with Krish Fernandes over a cup of tea.
Before this visit, Menin Rodrigues last came to Goa in 1982. His current
visit to find, meet and reconnect with long lost relatives and friends,
and spend Christmas in the tourist land of Goa was highly successful. He
managed to refresh school memories and share them with fellow
Pakistan-born Goans and fellow friends, some of whom have come down for
the re-union from Bombay.
98% of the 20,000 odd Goans in Pakistan are residing in the port town of
Karachi. All Goans are from the Catholic community and despite forming
part of the minority community there, are generally safe and not
harassed in any manner. On the contrary, they are respected for their
contributions in the fields of education, medicine, sports and culture.
The volatile situation in the country isn't having an impact on their
"There are a total of about 150 churches in Pakistan and 15 dioceses' in
Karachi. The churches here were built by missionaries" he mentions,
proudly adding that the present Archbishop of Karachi, Evarist Pinto is
a Goan. Many other Bishops of Pakistani cities are also Goans he adds.
Enthusiastic about helping Pakistan-born Goans reconnect, Rodrigues has
created a website www.goansofpakistan.org. The website is a fruit of
around 20 years spent on well documented research and interviews of
elderly and other early Goan settlers in Pakistan.
Created with the aim to keep the cultural and sentimental bonds alive,
and he invites Goans born in Pakistan, or those with relatives there to
connect with fellow Pakistani Goans through the medium of this website.
Going down memory lane, he narrates how Goan influence in Karachi was
huge during the 1960's, with many Goan bakeries and restaurants
flourishing. "In those days a tiatr was held every two months. Slowly
Goan influence has declined" laments Rodrigues. "The last good tiatr was
held in the 60's. We want to organise another good tiatr," and while
assuring that a tiatr show will have an audience of atleast 5,000
Rodrigues, is the founding member of the Board of Governors of the
prestigious St. Patrick's College as well as St. Joseph's College, both
in Karachi and also a member of the Pastoral Council, Archdiocese of
Karachi. The two mentioned colleges have produced high profile
personalities like former Pakistan president Pervez Musharaff, former
Pakistan PM Shaukat Aziz, BJP leader LK Advani among others.
The quality of education in these two institutes is excellent, and is
helping students get good jobs, with multi national companies absorbing
students on campus.
The 100 year old Karachi Goans Club, which was founded by the Portuguese
and was then known as the Goa Portuguese Association is still running
and helping Goans in Karachi keep their culture and traditions alive.
Occasional picnics, get-togethers help the members in doing so.
A Goan at heart, Rodrigues doesn't fail to have Goan xitt-kodi on his
menu atleast once a week if not more often. Karachi being a coastal
area, this isn't much of a problem with fresh fish readily available.
Asked how he would describe his experience in Pakistan, Rodrigues' a
prompt reply was "loving it!"
His message to Goans is- "protect your culture. As long as we know where
our roots lie, we will continue to enjoy the connections we have shared
He feels Goan should be positively promoted not only to the elderly but
youth, especially through the technological means available in today's
He described his holiday in Goa as a pleasant experience and urged Goans
to keep Goa as natural as possible.
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