Author: Braz Menezes Genre:
ISBN: 978-93-80739-36-6 Price (PB) : Rs. 295 Mail Enquiry
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Lando is ten year old Goan boy in Nairobi, and the book starts with him being scolded by his mother. Lando’s pet dog, Simba, has been creating matata for Mrs. Gelani. Matata is Swahili for trouble, and the dog has been chasing the neighbour’s pyjamas on the clothesline!

From the first para, you’re likely to get hooked. The story is catchy, told in an easy style, and gives us a young boy’s perspective of what it meant to be growing up in colonial Africa (and Goa) during the middle part of the last century.

In the first few pages itself, we encounter life in Nairobi. From the Asian-only colonies, to the clubs, the Dr. Ribeiro Goan School, Catholic religious life there, and more.

Then, in a flashback, this novel takes us back a generation. Lando, the main character whose name is actually Orlando, narrates the story of how his father Francisco (Chico) Menezes of Raia reached Africa, as part of his battle to escape from poverty-prone colonial Goa in the 1920s.

In the guise of a novel, author Braz Menezes undertakes the ambitious job of narrating the story of the East Africa Goan, or Africander, as he was called in his heyday. As someone who grew up with many from this group, the book helped to fit in quite a few pieces of the jigsaw for me.

Toronto-based author Braz Menezes — this is his first novel is a retired architect and urban planner. Like the protagonist of this book, he too traces his roots to Raia and Loutolim. Braz concedes (in his acknowledgements) that there are some “persons named in this novel [who exist in real life], although they appear as fictional characters only.”

Braz believes that fiction is good when it reads like non-fiction; and, better still is non-fiction that sounds as if its made up! This works gives us a bit of both, in good mix.