Personal Tributes
to Pascoal

Family Trees

About the Author



In 1946 Pascoal was transferred to Mombasa. His hard work had merited acknowledgment. He was selected for the post of Provincial Office Superintendent of the Coast Provinces - an appointment demanding considerable responsibility, initiative and organising ability. His duties involved handling financial and personnel matters, thus relieving the Provincial Commissioner of much day-to-day routine. He occupied this post till 1948.

Administration Offices, Mombasa

Being in Mombasa was a most welcome change, not only for Pascoal who had seen so much service in the bush. The entire family was glad of the opportunity to be living in a big city. They were allotted Government quarters on Ganjoni Road. Tim recalls the railway shunting track not far from the house. He also remembered the big mango tree just in front, and his occasional delight at finding a ripe mango on the ground early in the morning. There were mostly Goan civil servants and their families as neighbours so they soon had a large circle of friends.

Moreover, the two boys began to attend what used to be known as the White Sisters' Convent School, run by Missionaries. At 7 a.m. the school bus picked up the children.

Sanoo and Tim each carried a sandwich and some fresh orange juice to sustain them during the recess. At 12 noon school closed and within the hour the school bus would bring them back home.

Meanwhile Pascoal had already come home, had his lunch, a nap, and was on his way back to office on his Raleigh bicycle. He always dressed immaculately, in full white: a short-sleeved white safari jacket, white drill shorts, white pith helmet, white leather shoes and long white socks. He worked till 4.30 p.m. and came home finally in time for tea at 5 p.m.

Pascoal became a member of the Goan Institute and sometimes he would ride there in the evening for a game of tennis. Esmeralda could not accompany him daily; but he usually took one of the boys riding on the cross-bar of his bicycle. It was a treat for them, specially to go with their father to the clubhouse after the game for a nice cold drink.

Home again for supper, and then a stroll down Kilindini Road where invariably they ran into friends. Sanoo recalls with a tinge of sadness how their dog Rover one day got run over by a speeding bus. It cast a pall of gloom over all of them. But that was soon lifted with the arrival of an addition to the family.

Raymond, the third son of Pascoal and Esmeralda, was born on 8th July 1947 in the private nursing-home of one Dr. Sheth. He was a premature baby and was therefore placed in an incubator for some weeks. It was an anxious period. In fact, at one point while still in the hospital, when it was feared he might not pull through, the infant was baptised. But soon after, his strength picked up and he was later baptised formally in church.

The Goan Institute

In Mombasa there was no dearth of entertainment and socialising. The Goan Institute of Mombasa was established in 1901. In the course of time it underwent frequent changes of name and venue.

In Pascoal's day it flourished and organized a variety of sporting events. It also hosted some matches. There is an old snapshot in the de Mello family album featuring Pascoal in the Kenya Asians team that played field hockey in a match against a visiting South African team.

Mombasa Goan Institute

There were frequent dances held at the Goan Institute which were very popular with the Goan community. Pascoal and Esmeralda invariably attended. But they also enjoyed dancing at home, and the boys liked to watch their parents gracefully glide across the floor of the living room. Music was provided by their new acquisition - a second-hand Ambassador radiogram (a record player on top of and integral with the radio). They waltzed to the strains of their favourite records, the 'Blue Danube', La Paloma' and 'Cruising down the river'. At other times, they both played violin duets after dinner, with the fond hope that this would motivate their boys to take up playing the instrument. But that was not to be...

Pascoal with his unfailing charm, developed a number of contacts in Mombasa and through one of them he got passes to visit various ocean-going liners which called at the port of Mombasa. This gave the boys the rare opportunity to go aboard the old "Queen Mary" and the "Queen Elizabeth". The non-officer ranks on these vessels were mainly Goans : chefs, waiters and stewards. They were only too glad to offer their compatriot the best liquor, cigarettes, chocolates etc. - a rarity in post-war austerity!

Yet for little Sanoo the highlight of those days in Mombasa were the times when his father often took him riding on the cross-bar of his bicycle right across town to the Blue Room restaurant for a bowl heaped high with delicious dollops of ice-cream!

Meanwhile, on 6th August 1948, Pascoal suffered the loss of his dear mother. She expired in Goa and was buried the same day in the cemetery of Anjuna. She was seventy-five years old at the time.


All this time, Pascoal was working zealously at the District Commissioner's Office,. His efforts were duly recognised. Accordingly, in 1948 he was transferred on a promotion to the Secretariat in Nairobi to take over from the retiring Chief Establishment Officer.

It was not long before his affable manner, his flair for organisation, together with his command of English, became evident and resulted in a quick promotion to the Special Grade in the ranks of the old Asian Civil Service - a most rare and coveted promotion for Asians at the time!

Furthermore, this senior position in the Civil Service entitled Pascoal to a privileged long home leave of six months every four years, with first class passage paid both ways for him and his entire family, on the local trains as well as the ocean liners plying between East Africa and India. How wonderful it was to take such news home!

Long home leave

It was 1949, two years after India had attained independence. The struggle for freedom had hardly any impact on the Goans in East Africa. Tim revives his memory of that first trip to Goa that the family made in 1949. They boarded the B.I. liner "S.S. Karanja". The cabin was luxurious, the food service excellent - waited on hand and foot by fellow Goan stewards! Good entertainment every evening, with duty free cigarettes and alcohol!

After the enjoyable crossing which lasted for seven days the ship docked at Murmugao. The baggage took so long to clear that the family had their dinner of fish curry and rice at a restaurant on the pier. From there the de Mellos took a taxi and boat ferries and eventually arrived at their homestead in Anjuna.

At last they were home. Pascoal dreaded the thought of returning to a home bereft of his dear parents. But the house looked welcoming; it had been very kindly reopened by Pascoal's sister, Luizinha. She had swept, dusted and cleaned it and together with Esmeralda's parents, were now there to welcome the weary travellers and fuss after their grandchildren.

To the boys, life in Goa was a totally new experience. It was fun speaking Konkani most of the time. Goa was marvellous, specially for little Tim who was simply enthralled by the oil lamps which Pascoal lit, one by one, as the sun was going down each evening.

There was a particularly bright one in the living room - the Aladdin lamp with its broad shade protecting the delicate mantle that glowed so brightly! It was only brought to the dining table when there was company; otherwise dinner by the light of the big hurricane lamps was the routine.

For Pascoal Goa was always THE DREAM. At home again for six months, there was so much to do. He took pride in improving and renovating the old home of his forefathers, now that he could afford to. But the pace of life in Goa is always slow.... so the boys remember workmen in the house from they day they came to the day they left.

Nothing disturbed Pascoal. He was on holiday. He revelled in the simple delights that home in Goa had to offer. The usual well-bath, and of course fishing. With his usual foresight he had brought along a proper fishing line, hooks and lead for weights. His companion and mentor at this stage was his father-in-law. They fished by moon-light searching for the prize "addo". Sometimes they were lucky.

But soon, before they knew it, the days and nights flew and it was time to go back to Africa.

 Back to Contents Go Top