Archive for February, 2007

Two up

February 28, 2007

It’s been 42 years since Martin last rode a motorbike. OK, so a 102cc automatic scooter isn’t the same as 500cc Enfield, but we bought one yesterday,a scooter that is; Harry the Honda. It’s not so much the control of the machine that has caused some of the wobbly moments, it’s learning to cope with the unstructured driving habits at a higher speed than cycles, which have been our transport up till now. Most of the driving is done on the left. One big exception is junctions when you transfer to the right side of the road if possible; roundabouts or circles as they are known are generally taken on the left, but not always. It’s accepted that some people drive on the right side of the road, nobody gets upset. Road rage doesn’t seem to come into the equation.
Anyway, after Martin had 20 kilometres solo practice, Alison braved the journey to work in the centre of Margao travelling pillion. Suffice it to say we both lived to tell the tale and it looks like this mode of transport will become part of our way of life.

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Electioneering

February 27, 2007

The air is filled with the combined smell of burning wood and heated tar; road repairs are in progress outside our house. In fact, road repairs are in progress outside most peoples houses and businesses in Goa. However repairs are not in progress on large stretches of the National Highway 17.
The road repairs are not very effective due to not much money filtering down from government to contractor, most having been leeched away on it’s journey. Come monsoon a lot of the current work will be washed away and we will be back to negotiating the same potholes in September. Still let’s enjoy the temporarily smooth road while it lasts.
Oh! The title of the blog… well, all the local road mending is done once every four years just prior to the state elections in the vain hope that the people will re-elect the incumbent government. Seems to be a custom throughout India, but it fools no-one.

I feel a rant coming on

February 26, 2007

We had this quaint idea that once we had our residency permits (received today from the police) that things would get easier. No such luck. We’re trying to buy a scooter, paid for by the business; it’s tax efficient. Here’s a list of the paperwork we’ve been asked for (no joke or exaggeration):

Passport
Lease agreement on apartment
Resident’s permit
Memorandum and Articles of Association for the business
Certificate from the Registrar of Companies
Utility bill
Board resolution
Letter of Authority from our company
Company stamp.

We have spent the last five hours (again no exaggeration) putting this package together and returning to the showroom. Can we buy a scooter on the business? No! It transpires that because the utility bill is in martin’s name and not the company’s it is not valid. Also we copied only the permits and not the rules and regulation section or the initial application form.

So, we have to try again tomorrow armed with a bank statement in place of a utility bill, plus the other pages from each permit.

Off now to lie down in a darkened room.

Your life in their hands

February 25, 2007

Events have rather overtaken us since the last blog. Regular readers will recall Alison was going to present to an orthopaedic surgeon. It went well and she managed to get invited to observe some surgery today. So when teacher asks her what she did with her weekend, she can say she spent it watching a knee replacement done by a top Mumbai surgeon and her Goan contact. And an excellent job it was too – considering the state of the knees when they went in. Having seen the X-rays, you could say the surgery was well overdue. The surgeons are well on top of their job; no wonder India is fast becoming a leader in health tourism.
Then – more surprises – ring Martin to find out what’s happening and he tells me someone has seen our Back pain Internet site, telephoned and can they have an appointment this afternoon?
Of course! Surgery and a new patient – what a day. It all augurs well for our future out here.

Lent

February 23, 2007

What have you given up for Lent? It’s booze for us. Did you know that Lent lasts for about 45 days and that you can break your fast on Sundays?
The churches are in full swing with an increased number of daily masses and getting very good turnouts. We know this because the loudspeakers are at top volume. But unlike the run up to the anniversary of St Francis Xavier’s death they don’t get going till 7.00am.
Off to brief an orthopaedic surgeon today about our skills. This is down to Alison to do the presentation; chiropractic is much easier to explain than Bowen.

Patient No 1

February 20, 2007

Alison has her first patient on Wednesday at our backpain clinic. Hurray! The wife of a doctor no less. The doctor will be in attendance. No pressure then.

Formless

February 20, 2007

India is a dreamland for devoted form fillers and checkers (mainly bureaucrats) or a form-infested nightmare for those of us who’d rather not. There are regular shortages of power and other stuff. We never expected there to be a shortage of forms. But there is! Form 20 is one of several pieces of essential paperwork for the purchase of a vehicle. Vehicle sales in Goa have been badly effected following the inability of some government department to get enough of the said form printed. Surely a phone call would sort it. Also, almost all bureaucratic forms can be downloaded from the net, except… you’ve guessed it, Form 20! We think that as Form 20 costs the user 10 rupees that someone up the bureaucratic line is losing out on some backsheesh.
Naturally we will be caught up in this as we are approaching the time to get some mechanised wheels and give up the bicycles for getting to and from work. Yes! We’ve started proper work, having acquired a temporary clinic room while ours is still waiting for the workmen to start preparing it.

The wrong bike

February 18, 2007

Went to the beach yesterday afternoon to watch the sun go down. Cycling home afterwards, we stopped to buy some fruit. Alison cycled on while Martin paid for and collected the bananas. He then proceeded to get on the wrong bike and try to pedal home. Fortunately he was stopped by our friends at the fruit shop. The bike was parked where he usually parks his. Same model, same springless pannier rack, same amount of rust; but what he should have noticed was the floral saddle cover and the fact that he’d parked his on the other side of the road. What was he doing?

It couldn’t have been the beer, surely?

A nice cup of tea

February 16, 2007

Today’s blog could be entitled ‘Martin shows how much he’s learned about cope in India’. Yesterday was the big day for several meetings in Panjim (capital of Goa). It didn’t start well – our taxi driver was late, so at 9.30 we arrived at the Company Secretary’s office a minute after he’d left; we were assured his return time was 11am. Never mind, we had other jobs to do. So next we called on the British consulate. These people are a delight to deal with. We were given useful information on a variety of possible pitfalls and how to avoid them, all with a good sense of humour. Next we went to the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office) at the Police Headquarters. We had all the right paperwork and again were given useful information and a ‘please come back in eleven days’. Then we went to the correct RTO (Road Traffic Office) despite our driver wanting to take us to the wrong office. We want to obtain a ‘local’ driving license. Yet again we were politely helped and got the correct forms; looks like we’ll have to have a medical to get what we want, though. And it was still only 10.40. So back to the Co.Sec’s office. No sign of him, mobile switched off and the staff now say they don’t know when he’s due back. We ask the staff to find our paperwork but meet with dismal failure.
What to do? Get angry and return to home? No! Martin suggests a nice cup of tea.
It worked wonders. The Co. Sec. returned and completed all the needful; no wrong forms, nothing missing; job done.
Suffice it to say we don’t think we could have managed this amount of work and handled the logistics when we first arrived in Goa. Amazing how quickly you adapt.

Express delivery thanks to a man with a van

February 14, 2007

Believe it or not, sometimes things happen quicker in India than they would in the UK. Yesterday (Tuesday), we found out that a room was available in Margao for us to start working next week – that’s if we could get our equipment there by Friday. Enter Jose Fernandes, one of our neighbours, who owns a ‘goods carrier’ (an under-powered metal cage on wheels).
Yes, he could pick us up with our equipment on Wednesday morning, 9am. He turned up at 8.30 and we were at the premises by 9am, which caught everyone out. In less than 18 hours, we had found out what needed to be done, and got it done. A miracle. Sainthood next for Jose? He’ll certainly get the job the next time we need anything moving.
PS: India are playing Sri Lanka in a one-day cricket international two miles up the road, at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, today. Hope they win.