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When 80 is just a number...

His profession may be that of an advocate, but over the years, Adv Govind Usno Bhobe has also become known for keeping alive the traditional salt businesss by carefully maintaining his salt pans in Nerul. ‘Govindnama: With a pinch of salt', a memoir on his life was recently released on his 80th birthday

Story: BHARATI | PAWASKAR | 03rd December 2017, 03:50 Hrs

A man of substance and character, Adv Govind Usno Bhobe lives many roles and is always in the news. A noted advocate, a passionate gardener and a writer, he spills pearls of wisdom and spreads contagious excitement. For some he is a godfather and a guru. A pillar of strength and an inspiration to all, this grand grandfather from Nerul lives for others. A happy-go-lucky personality compared to a Vatavruksha, the banyan tree that spreads far and wide giving shelter and shade to many beneath it, one finds him always in pursuit of knowledge. Apart from his court work, Advocate Bhobe is also known for his deep attachment to the traditional salt business in Goa, meticulously maintaining his salt pans in Nerul. 

And as the advocate recently completed 80 years, his large family of 87 members who fondly refer to him as Baba decided to put together a book on his life titled, Govindnama: With a pinch of salt.
In the preface of the book, his daughter-in-law Madhavi Bhobe shares, "The thought of putting up this memoir for Baba occurred when we were discussing what would be the best gift for him for his 80th birthday. Baba's strength lies in the bonds with his family, and what was a better gift than a collection of anecdotes from his loved ones? Thus, Govindnama: With a pinch of salt, took shape." Released on the occasion of his 80th birthday celebrations, the book is meant for the family and is privately circulated in Goa and abroad - wherever Baba's kit and kin live.
"The book weaves together pieces received from family members and friends. A little research on Baba's life, sieving through old and new photographs, his newspaper articles and interviews with a roller coaster ride - zooming high up with what all had to say about him and then dipping low on learning about the hardships and struggles he went through to be what he is today. The title was inspired by his profession - law. ‘Nama' means a written document. Paired with his passion to keep alive the traditional salt business, which is under the threat of extinction," shares Madhavi. As one turns the pages of this book which is a transparent documentation of Bhobe's life, one gets insights into his versatile personality.
"Baba's life is very inspiring, especially for the generations to come. He is an ideal example how one can bear the brunt of life on himself and let others in the family bloom and blossom. One among eight siblings, Baba and his brothers shared the responsibility to take care of their big family and also to educate themselves. Baba is BA, MA, LLB and LLM. How difficult it was for a person, in those days of utter poverty and family responsibility, to earn and learn - only Baba would know. We respect his determination. This octogenarian's zest for knowledge is unending, even at this age. One must salute him," says Siddha Sardessai, Baba's son-in-law and an architect in Goa.
It was Siddha who took the lead to conceptualise a video which includes all 87 members of Bhobe's family tree, the eight siblings (four brothers and four sisters) and their GenNext including the great grandchildren. But there were difficulties. All are scattered across the globe, some in Goa, others in Mumbai and still others abroad. It took a little over six months to interact with all and include everyone in the video.
"Baba loves his home, his garden and his mithaagar (salt pans). Other than his family, these three places are very dear to him. So we decided to include everything in the video. After a lot of brainstorming we, S x 5 + M (Siddhesh, Sweta, Siddha, Sanam, Samah and Madhavi) zeroed down on video and a book," reveals Siddha. The theme, ‘Mile sur mera tumhara, toh sur bane hamara...' (We can create a harmonious melody when we all sing together), was apt to bind this all in one thread. "We assigned a role to each member to lip-sync to the lyrics. I did a part of the shooting at Dapoli where the family had been on a holiday and at Nerul, Baba's home, his garden and his salt pans. Those abroad managed to do their shots as directed by us and sent us the clipping," says Siddha. "It took us 15 days to put everything together. It took me 10 days for editing to get the final product in hand. Then we released it on a big screen in a family gathering before uploading it on YouTube. Today more than 3500 people have viewed it (and counting) and we are getting positive comments from all."
The book Govindnama was released at the same time in the presence of family and friends at Nerul. "I could not have asked for more than such wonderful words of love," a content Baba aka Govind Bhobe exclaims.

(Link to YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aIsl8pUB78 , Link to book on Issuu: https://issuu.com/siddha75/docs/govindnama)

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