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