As Lorraine Alberto begins her Portuguese class at Goa University, students from the former colony are in short supply. Across Goa, a tiny coastal state once administered by Lisbon, there is little appetite for the territory’s 450 years of European heritage after a few short generations of Indian rule.
Ramshackle colonial homes and Bollywood’s increasing cultural dominance portend the disappearance of local history in a place where speaking Portuguese was once a passport to status and power.
My children don’t speak it at all,” Alberto told AFP. “They just don’t see the point of learning it.”
Those alive in 1961, when Indian troops marched into Goa and incorporated it into the rest of the country, recall an overnight transformation. India’s exit from the British empire in 1947 spurred many Goans to demand an end to Portuguese rule, but few expected so much to change so quickly.
“It was a very strange feeling … The changes came so fast,” said Honorato Velho, a retired school principal. The 78-year-old once lived next to the grandfather of Antonio Costa, Portugal’s current prime minister, and he fondly remembers a childhood peppered with European and local influences.
But his enthusiasm has not been inherited by the next generation.
“My wife and I still speak Portuguese out of habit, but never with our children,” Velho told AFP.