Arrival, Calicut 1498

1498. Calicut. That night (May 20) we anchored two leagues from the city of Calicut, and we did so because our pilot mistook Capna, a town at that place, for Calicut. Still further there is another town called Pandarani. We anchored about a league and a half from the shore. After we were at anchor, four boats (almadias) approached us from the land, who asked of what nation we were. We told them, and they then pointed out Calicut to us.

On the following day (May 22) these same boats came again alongside, when the captain-major sent one of the convicts to Calicut, and those with whom he went took him to two Moors from Tunis, who could speak Castilian and Genoese. The first greeting that he received was in these words: “May the Devil take thee! What brought you hither?” They asked what he sought so far away from home, and he told them that we came in search of Christians and of spices. They said: “Why does not the King of Castile, the King of France, or the Signoria of Venice send thither?” He said that the King of Portugal would not consent to their doing so, and they said he did the right thing. After this conversation they took him to their lodgings and gave him wheaten bread and honey. When he had eaten he returned to the ships, accompanied by one of the Moors, who was no sooner on board, than he said these words: “A lucky venture, a lucky venture! Plenty of rubies, plenty of emeralds! You owe great thanks to God, for having brought you to a country holding such riches!” We were greatly astonished to hear his talk, for we never expected to hear our language spoken so far away from Portugal.

Vasco da Gama, 1498

(Source: The Internet Modern History Sourcebook http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1497degama.asp)

India Journal III

It is interesting that the Chinese and Arabs are already on these Southern shores of the Indies and yet have not delineated their boundaries or staked out their territory.  Instead, they trade freely in the spirit of migration – something less familiar to us Europeans whose sea faring expeditions are financially driven.  Give me their conviviality instead of my avarice.
da Gama’s Ghost

Mar Outro

os caminhos multiplicam-se, mar de nome outro, até a uma índia que já não sei aonde ficara. ponho os pés na terra, e cai-me o mar do corpo, até ao chão, até ser a sede o único ponto salgado na minha boca seca de sabor a mar.

da Gama’s Ghost, de outros mares

India Journal I

South of the splendid city of Goa lies the verdant land of Cochin.  This maze of islands is a veritable feast for the starving traveller. I have eaten my full of strange fruits of which the guava remains among my favorite.
I am enamored of this landscape and think of taking respite from my journeys for a few months.
Da Gama’s Ghost