Roosters on the roof

ALL BUT THE MOST unobservant visitors to Goa will notice that some houses are decorated with models of roosters or saluting soldiers. These models often adorn roofs, but can also be found attached to other external parts of a house.

The roosters/cockerels were commonly added to houses, which were built in the Portuguese era (before 1960), and indicated that either their inhabitants were Catholic and/or pro-Portuguese.

The saluting soldiers (‘soldados’ in Portuguese) might indicate that someone in the house had been in the military. Alternatively, some people, who had been in favour of Goa becoming independent of Portugal, added these after India had ‘liberated’ Goa from Portugal.

In addition to poultry and soldiers,so.e houses are decorated with lions. I have seen it suggested that these are in remembrance of the Kadambas, who ruled Goa during the 3rd to 5th centuries AD.

Despite many modern buildings sprouting up in Goa, there are still plenty of picturesque old edifices to enjoy. And some of these display the decorative features described above

Our local library saved from closure

THE NOTTING HILL GATE public library is close to where we live. It consists of three main rooms. Two of them have beautiful painted stucco ceilings. The third, which might have once had such a ceiling, does not have one now. However, it retains some wood panelling with an upper carved wooden margin. Each of the rooms retains the remnants of fine stucco work on their walls. The library occupies much of the ground floor of a large house at the corner where Pembridge Square meets Pembridge Road.

I asked one of the librarians about the history of the building housing the library. She believed that it had once been a large private residence, which the last owner had given the local authority many years ago. She told me that in addition to the library, the house has fats on its upper floors. Sadly, the ceilings have to be restored often because there are often water leaks from the upper floors.

A few years ago, there was a real risk that this branch library would be closed by the local Council (The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea). Vigorous protests by the branch library’s many users and other locals saved the place from closure. To reduce running costs, the library is not always open, but access is possible at odd times almost every day of the week except Sunday.