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Home Food for Thought The Konkan Coast My early growing years, in Mangalore.

My early growing years, in Mangalore.

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South Kanara, (Dakshina Kannada) 


All of us are  products of our experience, and our past influences our present.   Many of the incidents in my life will be reflected in the lives of many others, who will see it mirroring their own lives.   It would be a good idea, that they too record their memories for the benefit of their children.


Hampankatta, in 1934

Hampankatta, the commercial centre of Mangalore , is not far from the sea on its west. I was born to Stella Mary and John Pais, in 1934 on the upper floor of the Catholic Bank building, which also housed its first Secretary, my maternal grandfather, Mr. John Manuel Castelino. The Milagres Church, built some 450 years ago, was situated just a few meters away from the Bank.

My maternal grandfather retired as the head master of Milagres School after serving it for fifty years. Many leading people of Mangalore studied under him during his time. He was well respected by his peers for his intellectual abilities, and was instrumental in founding the first bank in Mangalore that was run by Catholics, the Catholic Bank. He also helped in founding other institutions like the Catholic Club and the Catholic Provident Fund Bank. The Catholic Bank merged with the Syndicate Bank in the 1950s

My paternal grandfather Joseph Pais (Juze Pais) was a well-known coffee planter in his day.. He married Regina Saldana, on his 20th birthday, on 18th May 1880. He built his coffee plantations from scratch, with his close friend Saturnine Mathias, his distant cousin. They walked fifty to sixty miles, hitch-hiking along the way -  (in those days there were only bullock carts),  plucking and eating tender coconuts from wayside coconut trees, and living on beaten rice.   During his time, he was one of the wealthy men in Mangalore, and was a  generous benefactor of many Catholic institutions, like schools, churches, and hospitals.   On the inside surface of the outer wall of the left verandah of Milagres Church, there is a marble slab of benefactors, who contributed to build the new church. The first name is of our grandfather, Joseph Pais. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles. Miracles or Milagres is pronounced as Milar, in Portuguese. He was also the first benefactor of the Kankanady Fr. Muller's Hospital .

Juze Pais, built a house in Balmatta, which was his home and all his children were born there and lived there until 1934, when it was auctioned as a result of a family tragedy and insolvency.  It was purchased by my father's cousin, who in turn sold it in 1945.   This latter owner sold it to the Nazareth Convent, which now houses their premises in the family compound.   The main room ('sal') of the old house  is retained as the Chapel, and all the rest have been demolished and rebuilt as a modern structure.    This was the house where my father was born and grew and got married, and it all ended in the year I was born, in 1934.    All the grand children who have become priests, have said Mass in this Chapel.

My maternal grandfather moved to a house on the Coelho lane after his retirement.  This area is known as Falneer. It was a beautiful house with gothic style windows and glazed floor tiles . There was a shower in the bathroom, and we used to be taken often there in summer when there was no water in our well in Jeppu. On the right side of the house was a lane, which led, through a steep rising steps, to a road that met the Silva road. A fascinating stream flowing under a small bridge greeted us at the entrance of this lane. We could see fish swimming in it in the clear running water. I used to often stand on the bridge on my way to the school, and watch the wriggling fish with great admiration


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