THE ISLANDThe pilot takes the helm and the anchor is hauled. The engine comes alive and the boat settles into a steady rhythm. The holiday-makers take their seats. A group of friends, a couple with 9- year old twins, and a lone gentleman. Conversation is minimal. A sudden breeze on the port side sprinkles a spray. The twins squeal with joy. A school of dolphins! There, there, they point excitedly. A baritone voice whispers; schools are for fish my dears, dolphins swim in pods. In no time, there’s a smile on every face. After all, strangers are just friends who haven’t met yet. Slowly, almost magically, the island takes shape - a tortoise in silhouette! This is Cintacor.
Vasco da Gama. Manuel António Vassalo e Silva.
1498. Vasco da Gama leads the first Portuguese ships to the Western coast of India. As they sail north along the Konkan coast they discover a natural harbour formed by the islands off Karwar, which they name Cintacora. The early settlers introduce India to potatoes and red chilli peppers. Little do they know that, over the course of time, these ‘exotic’ vegetables will become ubiquitous across India. 1961. Manuel António Vassalo e Silva leads the last ships out of India. This was the end of a four and a half centuries old imperial history. One quiet, seemingly trivial, outcome of these significant events was the passing of the island into the hands of an Indian family. That was 120 years ago.