Vaz & Family's Visit to Goa - 2004.
23 Apr. 2004. The Times of India .
Vaz in love……..with Goa.
18 Ap. 2004 Goan Observer. The
Vaz Family in Goa
17 Apr. 2004 Navhind Times.
to set up scholarship for Goan teacher
Goan in the House of Commons
April 23, 2004
Vaz in love……..with Goa
just sometimes one comes across a prominent political
figure who leaves an impression. My meeting with
Keith Vaz along with his wife Maria was one of those
times. Actually, it wasn’t so much Keith Vaz
the politician or personality who impressed but
rather ‘Keith Vaz, the man ….the Goan
from Bastora but born in Yemen, Keith lived there
till the age of 9, before moving to England. Though
he may not speak Konkani his love for Goa and his
Goan roots cannot be hidden. This is his umpteenth
visit to Goa and he just can’t seem to get
enough of this land. He and Maria even had their
honeymoon in our ‘Beautiful Goa’.
Vaz the person comes across as someone with
charisma, a good sense of humour underlined
by simplicity. His wife however, would describe
him as a failed comedian (laughs as she says
that) but also a very good family man. I’m
sure there are many who know him, who would
beg to differ with the failed comedian part,
a family man is something, he cannot give enough
importance to. Even in his term in office, in
the government of Tony Blair, his ‘silver
lining’ on stepping down was that he would
be able to spend more time with his family.
Though plagued by various accusations during
his term and ill-health towards the end of it,
which eventually led him to step down, it remains
a fact that seeing his children twice or thrice
in 2 years wasn’t his idea of quality
time with his family is what he enjoys the most.
An ideal weekend getaway would be, surprise surprise…..
Goa! “Goa is our favourite destination, the
beaches, the culture…..we love it all”,
he says. “So accustomed were our kids, Luke
and Anjali,” aged 9 and 7 respectively, “to
the beaches in Goa that sometimes they would mistake
beaches in other countries for Goa, though now they
food is another of Keith’s favourite things.
If Sorpotel is his favourite dish then for his wife
Maria, it’s the Goan Fish Curry Rice. Bebinca
is also one of the Goan delicacies they can’t
get enough of. It’s even been decided that
the first pet they get after going back home, will
be named Bebinc. Keiths love for the Goan culture,
heritage, people and all things Goan is admirable.
He firmly believes that Goa with all its diversity,
is truly a role model for the world.
April 18, 2004
VAZ FAMILY IN GOA
was] catching up with British MP of Goan origins
Keith Vaz and wife Maria, children Anjali and
Luke holidaying in Goa . I'd missed the earlier
talk wherein he'd predicted that India is headed
to become the “powerhouse of the 21 st
century” and presumably modern-day Goa
has a role to play. He was busy giving an interview
to Sandesh Prabhu of the Konkani daily Sunaprant
(which has recently revamped itself) who later
confided to me that amongst the questions he'd
asked Mr. Vaz was one to do with the Gujarat
happenings and Mr. Vaz feigned ignorance (naturally,
40 percent of his voters are Gujarati in his
British constituency of Leicester in the U.K.)!
Mr. Vaz is one very politically correct British-Goan
(more British) politician with a bit of his
heart in Goa, although neither wife nor he are
Goa-born, he's Fiji-born and she's Kenya-born
and both are now long time citizens of the U.K.).
Maria said she doesn't cook but both Keith and
she get nostalgic over Goan food which their
parents used to cook and while in Goa she's
been shopping for masala, especially her favourite
recheado masala (a wet masala redolent of Kashmiri
red chillies, cumin seeds, black peppercorns,
onion, ginger, garlic, tamarind, etc., it is
now available in sachets). Oh yes, she would
like a home for holidays in Goa and is giving
it some serious thought. Maria Vaz is an advocate
in London specializing in immigrant cases and
from all accounts is a lot more eloquent than
her husband when she wants to be. Both were
being hosted to the Nostalgia evening by one
of my favourite people from South Goa , namely
Datta Naik of Margao, a gentleman with vintage
taste, a Renaissance man…a vanishing breed
April 17, 2004
to set up scholarship for Goan teacher
Panaji , April 16: Mr Keith Vaz, the first ever Minister
of Asian origin in Britain’s House of Commons,
as also the longest serving person of Goan origin
in the British Parliament, will set up a scholarship
for a Goan teacher to teach in a British school for
a period of one year. “I am sure the scholarship
will help that person to develop his or her skills
and hope it will attract people of good calibre,”
Mr Vaz said.
scholarship is in memory of his mother, Merlyn Verona
Vaz, whose family hailed from Calangute and who expired
in the United Kingdom in October 2003. Merlyn Vaz
was also the first Goan to be elected councillor of
Vaz, now holidaying with his family at the Leela Palace
in Cavellosim, told The Navhind Times, that the scholarship
will be for a Goan primary teacher to teach in the
UK for one year, all expenses paid. “They can
teach in the UK, particularly in my constituency of
Leicester where my mother was a councillor. If it
works out, then we will extend it to other professions.
One of the reasons I came here is to take advice from
people on how best to deal with this,” Mr Vaz
said a selection committee will be appointed locally
here in Goa to which applications from the candidates
may be sent. “We will get the rules and regulations
in place and then invite applications from Goan teachers,”
Mr Vaz said.
to boost the youth exchange between the UK and India,
Mr Vaz regretted that the British government’s
scheme called the Commonwealth Working Holiday Scheme
and started since August 2003, for young people from
the Commonwealth between the ages of 20 and 30 had
attracted poor response from Indian youth. “Anyone
in India between those ages can qualify. We received
only 46 applications in Mumbai out of a country of
990 million people. So people don’t know about
this scheme. It allows a young person to go to the
UK for 2 years to get a job and finance himself. “That
is tremendous exposure and would allow proper exchange
between our two countries,” Mr Vaz said, adding
that presently only Australians and New Zealanders
were availing of the scheme.
of the conditions is interested persons have to show
they have income in India to support them. They also
need to demonstrate they will come back after the
2 years is over. When asked how much money that meant,
Mr Vaz said its a matter of judgement. “Clearly
if you look out for a job in the UK, you will be able
to finance yourself. This is one way where people
from India can come and work in the UK for 2 years.
But that period will give them enormous amounts of
experience and exposure,” he said.
Vaz also favoured a visa application centre in Goa
for those wishing to travel to Britain. “During
my 3 years as foreign office minister, we set up visa
application centres for Britain at various places
in India like Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Pune. They have
been remarkably successful. I did not manage to get
a centre opened in Goa though I wanted to. I think
the British Consulate wanted to see more demand. Now
a lot of Goan people have to go to Mumbai to make
their applications or do it by post,” he said.
the need for Goa to have such a centre, he said there
are still issues here of nationalities that are unresolved.
“People claim European Union citizenship by
descent, their Portuguese connection. These are complicated
issues that need to be sorted out. The visa centre
would provide a useful service, because it is self-financing.
It would not cost the British government anything
to put up,” he said.
said Goa governments in the past had been receptive
to the idea. “It’s a long campaign and
I think it would be good having seen the success of
these centres elsewhere. We want to see an exchange
between England and India,” he said.
also spoke of the need to boost tourism here by introducing
more direct commercial flights from the UK to Goa.
“I shall be pursuing Air India to introduce
direct flights from London to Goa. Lots of people
go through Mumbai and then come here. That is an extra
day. Direct flights would also give a boost to the
(Goan) economy,” he said.
Vaz admired the “remarkable development in Goa”
and said he loved to come here because “this
is where our origins are”. His wife, Ms Maria,
who has just been elected the President of the Law
Society of London and his two children, Luke and Anjali,
are with him. He is scheduled to leave for the UK
on April 18.
Goan in the House of Commons
Born in Aden in 1956,
Britishi Labour Party
MP Keith Vaz later migrated to London at the young
age of nine. His petite wife Maria Vaz nee Fernandes
— hailing from Velim, South Goa — was
born in Kisumu, Kenya, before she migrated to England
at the age of 14. Maria now holds the prestigious
post of president Middlesex Law Society, England.
(And drawing comparison to that of Hillary Clinton,
Keith jokes that he may just have to switch roles
and back his spouse after the completion of his
Attracted to politics while studying at the Cambridge
University in the seventies, he claims that he has
been involved in political activities for 17 years.
First elected as an MP of Leicester constituency
in 1987, he was selected by Prime Minister Tony
Blair as a Minister for Europe (Foreign Office)
in 1999 for a two-year term. Keith now serves as
a member on the legal affairs and constitutional
matters committee in the House of Commons. Keith
informs that he represents his 73,000 constituents
irrespective of their race, creed or culture, out
of which 60 per cent comprise British traditionalists
and the rest 40 per cent are British Asians. “But
now there is a good mix with the new constituency
— Leicester (East) becoming the second most
Asian seat in the House of Commons. This was not
the case when I was elected earlier, when most Asians
came from East Africa,” Keith discloses.
Keith’s favourite pastime is watching soap
operas in London, Maria confesses that she enjoys
every free hour she spends with her children. In
Goa, they enjoy walking on the beach. Having visited
Goa for half a dozen times, the Vaz family (including
nine year old Luke and seven year old Anjali) just
adore the beaches. “With the kids terming
every beach, they visit as “Goa.” Even
when we visited Egypt, they thought they were in
Goa,” explained a very doting mother.
next thing about Goa, that they love is the Goan
delicacy Bebinca, and having purchased 100 packets
of Costa’s Bebinca, they have already decided
to name their pet dog, cat or fish “bebinca.”
While Keith’s favorite Goan dish is Sorpotel,
Maria fancies the Fish Curry Rice with Pomfret.
Their only dislikes being the late hours that Goans
have their evening meals.
regards the family following the Goan happenings
back home, Maria and Keith comment that the world
wide web has made Goa, their next door neighbour,
besides they also regularly subscribe to the Goan
monthly Goa Today. As to Konkani, they regret that
while they cannot speak the language — Maria
claims to understand it and loves tiatrs of Prince
Jacob — they both love Goan mandos and say
a trust has been set up to preserve this beautiful
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