History Hour 65 – “Studying your village: each tiny area holds a story” by Mr. Themistocles D’Silva held on Friday, 7th January 2011.

Each of Goa’s tiny areas is packed with history, and stories waiting to be told. That’s the experience of scientist Dr Themistocles D’Silva, who has recently worked on a book focusing on the village of Arossim.
Tucked away at the southern end of Mormugao taluka (just before the border with Salcete), Arossim is today better known for its scenic beach. But behind that lies another reality — of ponds and rice fields painstakingly built over the centuries; prominent individuals and one-room village schools that produced  scholars.

US-based Dr Themistocles D’Silva has spent several years of collecting information from Goa and university libraries in the United States. His efforts resulted in a book titled  Beyond the Beach: The Village of Arossim, Goa, in Historical Perspective. From its pre-Hindu and Hindu past, to its Catholic present, D’Silva traces the geography of his village, its etymology and some local social organisations.

Generations of villagers have depended on rice fields, village ponds and the sea for their sustenance, and the author also looks at the religious properties in the area — first linked to the pre-conversion
temples and now owned by the Chapel and others.

Researching on the issue, D’Silva came across the existence of slavery in the village, and he links up local memories with historic accounts of the same.

Tiny Arossim has a link with World War II, was affected by non-stop rains for over a fortnight in 1940, and lacks libraries or sporting facilities, the author points out.

The 180-page book lists priests and nuns from the village, and also prominent local personalities from the past. Giving a hint that Goa definitely lives in its villages — even till this day, though urbanisation is growing fast — D’Silva points out that Arossim was the cradle for judges, prolific writers, military-men, prominent doctors, lawyers, musicians and others.

Themistocles ‘Themis’ D’Silva studied in a one-room village school in Arossim, attended the local public elementary school in Portuguese, and then Loyola High School, Margão.

He graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, and obtained a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in the US. After post-doctoral research there, he took up a position in industry, and is credited with many patents and scientific publications. He recently authored a scholarly book on the Bhopal disaster, The Black Box of Bhopal.

Dr. Themistocles D’Silva

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