Unique literary treasures

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October 30, 2022 | 04:50 IST

Unique literary treasures

Heta Pandit is on a wonderful journey documenting the architectural heritage of Goa through its majestic and time-tested houses. An independent researcher, after writing her first book 25 years ago, has gone on to write nine other books and is now launching her 11th book, ‘Stories From Goan Houses’

Dolcy D’Cruz

J

he landscape of Goa was completely different and serene if we go back 25 years. The houses had their own characteristics and quirks and when the researcher and founding member of the Goa Heritage Action Group set foot in Goa, Heta Pandit found a sense of belonging. With houses in different locations, Mumbai, Panchgani and Goa, her heart always yearns for Goa. “I feel more at home here. You could call this house in Saligao my soul spot, my sweet spot. It’s funny but even when I’m in Goa and traveling all over the city, I can’t wait to get back at my house. Of course, my dog ​​Goru and my cat Ginger have something to do with this sweater!” says Heta Pandit as she shines with joy. With 25 years of educating her readers through her books, she describes his literary journey: “My journey began by writing on heritage and environmental issues in 1982 in Bombay (now Mumbai). It began with articles on specific buildings in Bombay that were in danger and certain areas threatened by a callous development. When I arrived in Goa in 1995, my journey accelerated again by writing for local dailies and magazines. Everything was then focused on houses as it was the most neglected segment of our heritage. Goanese. I am grateful t to Gerard da Cunha for thinking of releasing a book on Goan domestic architecture in 1998. I would say that book became a milestone in the journey,” says Heta. “Stories from Goan Houses” focuses on the lives, struggles and triumphs of the people who take care of the houses. With similar stories in many homes in Goa, Heta and her team unfortunately had to limit themselves to those presented in the book. “The stories the owners told us were so vast that we could have made a book about each house. My team and I have been working on this book for two years. That’s about how long it takes for a book to come to fruition. Remember, we have to stop our photos during the monsoons and that slows us down a bit. But we use that time to edit the photos, finish the interviews and other mop up the details,” she explains. Having written ten books on the history and architecture of Goan houses, the only feature of a house that Heta feels is the soul of the house, is the kitchen. She adds: “It’s always the kitchen that is the heart and soul of a house. It does not matter if the house is modest or large, it is always the kitchen. That’s why we’ve included kitchen photos and many home recipes in the book. That’s why, when we restored my house in Saligao, I insisted that we turn the old kitchen into my bedroom. common house. All houses have revealed their inner selves; their traditions and customs followed. “What’s most charming is that some of the houses I visited 20 years ago that weren’t doing so well then have now been restored and are absolutely stunning. It’s the power of awareness!” adds Heta. The book also contains a wonderful set of Goa houses, which adds more depth to Heta’s telling of the stories. “It’s really a nice balance between photos and interviews. There were times when I did the interviews and collected the stories while Daniel D’Souza, the photographer, was taking the photos. There were times when I collected the stories on another day. He there were also days when Daniel, our videographer Aaron Monteiro and our communications consultant Harihara SS went to a house alone and took the photos, planned the chapter and the videos for the media,” she explains. Furthermore: “I owe the research process to our colleague Er Alinto Coelho, who did much of the preparatory work, established the contacts and fostered the interaction between me as researcher and author and Daniel, the photographer. I knew enjoyed many of the homeowners featured in the book, but it was Er Alinto who did the legwork and facilitated the research project. Vivek Menezes wrote the foreword to the book and he even organized the Literature segment at Goa Heritage. Campale party. He invited Heta to release the book on November 15 at the event which will be open to everyone. However, the first release of the book will be at a private event to be held at Figueiredo Mansion, Loutolim on November 13 for family and friends and home owners featured in the book. Sharing time between different homes was child’s play before the pandemic. “I had a routine. I used to go home to Panchgani the last week of every month. Pay a little attention to the maintenance, to the accounts, to give a helping hand to the staff. Then off to Bombay to spend some time with my nephew, Farhad and our four cats. The pandemic has changed that. I couldn’t travel and everyone involved learned to rely on the phone to report problems and find solutions. Now, I find that the new system works in our favour. I don’t need to travel as often and can spend more time in Goa,” says Heta. November 5.

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