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   Frankly, I do not understand why... (July 30, 1996)

Frankly, I do not understand why Mr. Romesh Bhandari wants to be in Lucknow. Panaji is a far better place to spend your old age in, especially where the governor stays.

The governorís residence in Goa is known as the Cabo. It is on an isthmus, if I know my geography correctly (a narrow strip of land joining two land blocks across the water), you enter the Raj Bhavan gates, drive down the strip, and on the other side is the residency. A white structure, fruit orchards all around, like a Mexican haceinda.

But, of course, it is Portuguese, not Mexican. Portuguese governors used to stay there, now Indian governors do.

There were stones steps that lead up to a grand hall, with paintings on walls. That is the reception hall, and behind it is a smaller drawing-room, where, I suppose, governors in the past used to meet their visitors. Most of the furniture is old European, and there is certainly an air about the place.

The one governor I met there, Mr. Jagmohan, who later went on to Kashmir and was (is) as controversial as Mr. Malhotra (Turkman Gate), was sitting in a smaller office, facing the verandah and the sea. He said he was using that office out of choice, is I do not know whether Mr. Malhotra and other governors used that or returned to the grand audience room.

I have not seen the rest of the Cabo, but the gardens are extensive (there are precious mango trees and the governor sends mangoes to his friends all over the world) and there are stabless, though no horses. The kitchen, when Mr. Jagmohan was there, had Goan cooks who prepared Portuguese dishes. And Portuguese food, especially the seafood, is outstanding. When in Goa, and it not invited to the Cabo, you may try it at Hotel Mandovi.

The Raj Bhavan in Mumbai serves meals in grand style at banguets. The guests stand between the table and the heavy chairs, bearers behind each chair, the governor and the chief guest walk in, nodding their heads in greeting, sit down, then the bearers behind the chairs push them all together for the guests to sit down. Almond soup is served and evrybody waits for the governor to dip his spoon in it. Outside, the police band plays British and Indian military tunes. And, no, you do not send requests to the band, it is not done. There is one more rule of etiquette. The moment the governor has finished his dish, all the dishes are removed, no matter whether you have finished your or not.

The food, unfortunately, is indifferent. The reason is: at the Cabo, the food is Portuguese, or Portuguese-Goan, at the Mumbai Raj Bhavan it is British, or Anglo-Indian. A little Chutney Mary.

Yes, Goa is best. Mr. Malhotra should use all the clout and influence that he is supposed to have with the government and get back to Goa.

 
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