Goa was probably the first colony ever of any European country and among the longest colonised by a single nation. While the meeting between cultures was not always happy, it was certainly occupies a very significant place in the history of East and West.
Four hundred and fifty years of Portuguese domination left its mark – but not as much as one would imagine for that time period. The result is an exciting mix of Indian and Occidental and a unique interdependence of the two ways. It is quite common to see Hindu women in bright saris accompany their catholic neighbours to church on a Sunday.
Goa is lined with excellent beaches and is home to wonderful old churches, temples, busy towns and sleepy villages. Goa is also a place with beautiful old houses, made in the Portugese colonial style, but heavily influenced by Indian features. These whitewashed buildings dot the countryside – some are lived in, some not, some solidly alive, others barely still standing. This is the one aspect that we was particularly involved with over the past two years since we began to renovate Siolim House. Goan houses are practical homes made for large families that began in a purer colonial style but then slowly adapted to India and proving a setting for typically Goan Susegad, which is a Goan term that tries to describe relaxation in a uniquely Goan way, and that, unfortunately, few others have in their vocabulary.
In 2001 Siolim House, built in 1675, was a finalist in the Asia Pacific Awards for Restoration by UNESCO, and received an Award of Honour.