Archive for March, 2007

WMD

March 30, 2007

No, not weapons of mass destruction, although sometimes we wish we had some to get rid of bureaucrats, but The Ways and Means Department. The work for this department requires travel, a good deal of patience, an even temper, dedication and a resilient backside (uncomfortable seating and a three hour round trip on Harry).
We needed a certificate to complete some needful paperwork. This stuff is important for foreigners; without it we are not legally able to take money. We gave our company secretary the qualifying paperwork 20 days ago. It turned out that one document was missing (again) but as it was filed in a neighbouring office in the same building our man would get it. He told us that we need do no more; the whole shebang (32 x A4 papers/forms/certificates) would be processed… pronto.
Of couse nothing happened…zilch, nix, zero, sweet FA, despite phone calls and emails to all parties. So on Monday Martin went to the Co Sec’s office and sat while they located the paperwork (all had gone missing) for two and a half hours. When they eventually turned up a promise was given that the process would be complete on Wednesday. No it wasn’t. Another trip on Wednesday resulted in the head honcho not being there, but a promise was exacted by phone that the paperwork would be delivered on Thursday morning. No, it wasn’t. On Friday after another 3 hours on the road and 1 1/2 hours sitting in the Co Sec’s office, we had achieved our objective.
The inefficiency is breathtaking.

Clockwork – maybe – OK

March 28, 2007

Harry is due for his first service. Martin phoned to book him in. ‘Booking in’ was not understood by the receptionist and no alternative was offered. Something must have got lost in translating from Konklish to English. So Martin went to the dealership. A slip was given to him with no explanation and a mechanic tried to wrestle Harry away. As Harry was on ferry duty, Martin fought back and regained possession.
Then someone clarified the system. What you do is roll up when you are ready, they then take the scooter and service it, returning it to you within three hours… maybe. So it’s not exactly ‘while you wait’ but we suppose it has it’s convenient side.
PS
2 days later
Dropped Harry off for the first service 8.20. Told he’d be ready at 11. Yeah, right!
10.55 Arrived at the showroom to collect. 11.05 Set out for Panjim on Harry. Job done.
Wonders never cease.

Clockwork – not

March 26, 2007

Report from The Back Pain Clinic.
In our Marlow practices we had a steady stream of patients who arrived near enough to the appointed time. Occasional glitches occurred when someone arrived early/late, but the set-up was such that they were usually easily ironed out.
We are trying, but failing, to regiment our quickly growing patient list. Today is a fairly typical experience. Excuse the list:
P1 9.00-10.00
P2 10-10.30
P3 10.30-11.00
P4 11.30.
All simple enough.
Martin arrives at 8.50 to be told that his 9.00 am had arrived early and gone away but would return. He didn’t, until 9.50 and then at the same time as P2 (early) and P3 (very early). We sorted somehow, one treatment being done in the waiting room. P4 no show yet, but he was very late last time. Not conducive to sanity and good treatment! Time to work on a new apointment system, like ‘I’ll book you in on Monday’.
PS P4 did arrive only 45 minutes late… so it was a late and short lunch break. It’s a wonder that trains are generally punctual. Answers on a postcard.

Has anyone seen Harry’s rag?

March 25, 2007

Harry has his own cleaning cloth, the wipe him down from the morning dew, or from the water poured on him by accident when he’s parked in Margao. Martin left the cloth out to dry, wrapped round Harry’s front. Alison carefully put it away before driving off, then forgot to put it out again, so Martin thought it had gone missing.
Once found, he put it out to dry again.
That all happened yesterday. Fast forward to this morning and Alison goes to mop Harry down before riding off. Where’s the cloth? We didn’t have to look far for a culprit. Black and white, four legs and a tail. Must remember Muppet’s favourite toy is any piece of cloth she can get her teeth into! We suspect Harry’s cloth may never be seen again.

Power to the People!

March 23, 2007

Following the ‘No Light?’ blog, if we are observant then we can predict a power cut. There’s usually one at about midnight. We think this is due to a change of work shift at a power station in Karnataka (neighbouring state) from where some of Goa’s power is derived. Then there’s the gathering of paunchy, hands-in-pockets GED officials around a sub-station or a hole in the ground; this sighting is not a reliable gauge as to when, it’s more of an ‘imminent’ warning. If they start to puff up and look important, then they are about to pull the plug. Two men looking at trees and electricity poles and carrying a rickety bamboo ladder and a vicious looking knife tied on to the end of a pole, near a bicycle or scooter means there is a cut or there will be one within minutes. If they are on the move on bicycle or scooter… it’s the next village, not us.
An observation that tells us nothing about timing of powercuts is the sight of miles and miles of dug-up and dusty roadsides. The GED is burying electricity cables; the whole state is effected; all at the same time. It tells us nothing about powercuts because the cable ends are not connected and so don’t yet come into the equation. However,if they do get round to connecting the underground cables to the grid many of the problems, including that of electrcity theft which is rife throughout India, will be resolved. Power to the People!

No light?

March 23, 2007

When there’s a power cut and there are many of them, the locals go round to their neighbour to check that it’s not just their house affected. They ask ‘No light?’. So this is the term used for a power cut.
We’ve figured out the reason why so many. The GED (Goa Electricity Department) employs a regiment of officials whose task it is to cut the power, thus ensuring the safety of the army of GED foot soldiers. These officers must have employment so it’s a case of finding any excuse to find work. Here are a few. Replacing the neon tube street lights (they seem to last about three months before failing), lopping branches from fast growing trees (outside our house the tree was branchless when we arrived and now it’s fully fledged and attacking the cables), twisting together the ends of broken cables, finding ways to support sagging cables, connecting new buildings to the grid (Goa is a building site at the moment) and there must be more.
By the way, power cuts have ceased to trouble us. It’s a way of life.

Snake in the church

March 20, 2007

Not an everyday sight in Margao let alone Marlow, but on her way to work this morning Alison’s progress was halted while a snake was carried from the Holy Spirit Church across the main road. We guess the sixfooter had gone to confession or mass and scared off other worshippers, so he had to leave. Forgive him/her his/her trespasses.
The churches here are well patronised. The morning six o’clock mass on Sundays at one of our local churches is packed with the faithful overspilling into the street. We know this because we go for an early morning run on the beach Sunday mornings.
As we start to travel further afield in Goa we discover more and more churches. When we start not seeing churches we will know that we are in Indian territory (rather than Portugese). Apparently there is a noticeable geographical division between Catholic and Hindu Goa. We’ll let you know.

Ganesh – for Peter Moore

March 18, 2007

GaneshHere is a picture of Ganesh, our favourite (and Dennis’s) Hindu God. He sits in our bedroom and presides over our prosperity and success. We were given him two years ago, before we moved to India, but we have only just learnt that he is the first image of all Hindu gods to be set up in a new home or business. It doesn’t matter if he is not your favourite god, he’s always first in! He is ‘The God of Obstacles’ and jolly good he is at helping us get round them, but sometimes we think he has a good time setting them up, too.
The story goes that his father, another god called Shiva, cut off Ganesh’s head when he mistook him for a stranger in the house. Mum, a goddess called Parvati, was totally distraught… so Shiva sent out his men to find the head of the first sleeping being facing north. They came back with an elephant’s head ( I guess they didn’t quite understand what the head was to be used for), which Shiva placed on the boy’s severed neck and restored him to life. You can check out more of the story on this website .
PS I don’t suppose you’ll be interested but Ganesh says you should have a look at our backpain business website.

Back pain business

March 18, 2007

At last we feel that our new business is rolling. We have called the practice The Back Pain Clinic and that already seems to have created interest. We are not set up yet as we want, that will take another month, while the new room is being constructed, but the room we have is serving its purpose while we find out best practice; which days, which hours, pricing, advertising, website, public relations, record taking and keeping, how much of the local languages to learn and more.
This of course brings about various stresses and strains on our own mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. So we are practising what we preach – “Regular treatments” – to keep us in shape, Chiropractic for Martin and Bowen for Alison. We do find that these treatments do what it says on the tin.

Harry goes travelling

March 17, 2007

Harry and Alison have just returned from their first foray into Margao. They went the wrong way once, and had to contend with men trailing electricity cables across the road (which the men blithely seemed to think we would all drive over).
Alison is slowly coming to terms with two wheels, although the driving habits of a lifetime are proving hard to break. You know the ones, indicating before you change direction, stopping and looking before pulling out at ‘blind’ junctions. However Alison isn’t sure she will ever master the Goan art of proceeding at high speed into any available gap, horn blaring when the brakes might seem more appropriate. If she does master it, we’ll issue an advance warning of our return to the UK so everyone we know can get off the road!
Martin has also ventured out on Harry this week, all the way to Panjim. Don’t laugh, those you who are familiar with Goa, he went via Dabolim Airport. You can get to Panjim from Dabolim but only if you’re prepared to swim the Zuari, ‘mugger’ crocodilles and all. To be fair, he was trying to avoid some of the NH17. And he was not helped by the Goan art of locals not knowing where they were. Requests for which village he was in, and which way he should go, were met with a range of misdirections. But he survived, so did Harry. Just as well because, given Panjim is the bureaucratic capital, no doubt we’ll have to go there again soon. The paperwork he took to complete turned out to be incomplete. Now where have you heard that before?