From Saligao to Mandalay and back

Asia's first Gutenberg-inspired printing press arrived in Goa in the year 1556. Four and a half centuries later, Goa 1556 makes its debut. Publishers after our own heart, "they have "a quest to do things differently, and with goals that are different. Their aim is to democratise the production of knowledge.... in their own small, alternative way."

Among their first titles is Songs of the Survivors edited by Yvonne Vaz Ezdani. This book looks at migration by Goans to Burma and focuses on a dramatic point in history. The World War II Japanese invasion had a major impact on the lives of the Goans- as well as the other Indians- settled there. Ezdani lived in Burma till the early 1980s, along with a large extended family from Saligao that has largely since resettled here. "In an instant (during the War in 1942), the Goans' comfortable and serene lives were shattered and they were plunged into chaos and fear." Many trekked back to India, through jungles and mountains and streams, and the oral history of this generation, slowly fading away with age and memory, is recorded in this book. But some Goans even decided to stay on during Japanese occupation. When one reads their stories, the perils of migration and its impact become all that more stark...

Goa 1556 promises to bring out interesting titles- their Goa Readers are a planned series of texts, that explore diverse aspects of Goa, and the influence of this tiny region in diverse pockets of the globe. The first is already out as an e-book, and deals with critical essays on the media in Goa.

In our Culture section. Rs 295.