‘I Want to Ride My Bicycle’ – Musician Caitan Lawrence Fernandes (Goa Musician) and his favorite mode of transport

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“I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my bicycle. I love my bicycle. I love my bicycle.”

These oft-repeated words are on the lips of Caitan Lawrence Fernandes, who has made cycling his favorite mode of transport. He does not say it as eloquently as his smoothly turning bicycle wheels. His bicycle has taken him from his residence in the village of Veroda, Cuncolim, to different places in Goa. His bicycle has made him explore many different places.

Caitan is in his early forties and cycles to his two other loves: football and music. Music is now his bread and butter. He is called on regularly to play his bugle at village feast novenas.

Village brass bands playing at feast novenas have become scarce over the years, and Caitan is one of the few musicians trying to maintain this Goan legacy. He also stands in on drums for the brass band as needed.

He also sets the fireworks going at feast novenas, but one incident almost claimed his life. He became engulfed in out-of-control fireworks once during the Ambelim feast. Fortunately, he came out of the agony and pain to live another day and to cycle his way through Goa.

The scars of the fire are evident on his lips and face. The first accident was not demoralizing, but rather made him more determined and stronger.

Caitan has faced many tragedies in life. Losing his wife at an early age, leaving him with responsibility for young children was one such tragedy he has faced down through an iron will.

Football is his love and cooking his profession, which has taken him to the Gulf. His neighbor and another native of Cuncolim, Avertano Furtado, played the role of Good Samaritan. Furtado’s catering company in Kuwait gave Caitan his first professional break in the culinary arts. (Incidentally, Furtado, in the 80s and 90s, helped many a Goan make a living in the Gulf through his company.) Thereafter, he served on oilrigs based in Singapore and in Dubai.

Caitan played football with other boys in his ward, but his love for the sport, in this socceroo heartland of Goa, is profound. Argentinean football legend Diego Armando Mardonna is his all-time favorite.

Among current Indian footballers, he likes Sanvordem-born Alvito D’Cunha. An intent Vasco Sports Club fan, Caitan adores the older generation of footballers.

Recalling one incident he would not forget in a hurry, he narrated that at one Rovers Cup tournament at Mumbai he could not manage to get a ticket for a match between Mohan Bagan and Dempo at Cooperage. Left with no alternative, he climbed a nearby tree to have a glimpse of the final match. The police were spoilers for Caitan, as they landed a few lathis on his back before he was brought crashing down to the ground.

Caitan affirms that he has been a frequent spectator at matches at the Nehru Stadium at Fatorda, on the outskirts of Margao city, and adds that only once was he given a free pass for a match by a fellow spectator.

A deeply religious person, whenever he travels on his cycle to Panjim, the capital of the state of Goa, he attends mass and then proceeds to his onward destination. The stop is at Verna for mass, and while returning from Panjim, he has lunch at Cortalim. He also makes it a point while returning from Panjim to garland the Cross at Bambolim, an important beach resort in Goa.

His cycle trips have taken him as far as Borim and Cancona, at the very extreme ends of Goa, and to Sanvordem and Sanguem, the easternmost point. He also makes it a point to cycle his way to match venues in Salcete wherever the Cuncolim intervillage team plays.

“Franky Pereira is my favorite Cuncolim player, and so far I have traveled to Majorda, Benaulim, and Curtorim to watch the inter village matches, not forgetting my bicycle rides to neighboring villages,” he points out with pride.

Bicycle rides have become far and few between with the advent of other modes of transportation between Goa’s villages and towns. Caitan is one of the rare breed who continues his daily activities by bicycle as his mode of transport.

Article by Armstrong Augusto Vaz

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