Archive for August, 2007

A new definition for the term ‘car pool’

August 31, 2007

An article about planned underground car parks in Panjim intrigued us on two points. The first is the report was on 30th August and included the fact that these car parks will be ready on 1st September. We are not aware of any digging in the areas mentioned so guess that the report means 1st September some time before 2032. The second point is that drainage in Panjim is notorious for not being able to cope in monsoon resulting in floods, so we envisage they will not be in use for three or four months of the year, unless they can be converted to swimming pools.
Anyway, if we are around to see the completion of these underground swimming pools/car parks, we want to go and listen to the noise. Many Goans have difficulty in reversing their cars (it’s not part of the driving test, not that many bother to take the test) and many cars are fitted with reversing tunes. Home Sweet Home, Jingle Bells, Fur Elise, Silent Night, Here comes the Bride, sound-alike mobile ringtones and Happy Birthday will combine with scrapes, bangs, crashes, bumps and the normal reflex horn blowing to surely make the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s worst cacophony.


Which Form 1 did you have in mind?

August 30, 2007

Our company secretary has decided that we haven’t got enough to do, so he’s furnished us with a list of documents to produce. All manner of forms (18, 32, 2, 20B, 23ACA) plus associated certificates some of which we have and some of which we have never heard of..
Still at least it’s reassuring that he seems to know what needs doing, although it’s a bit disconcerting when we present Form 1, we are to be told that it’s the wrong Form 1. How many Form 1’s are there?

We redid our DINs with the Co Sec the other day. It took two hours!!! He asked for much more information than other advisors have done. We surprised ourselves by being able to provide it all. Mind you Martin now has a bad back from carrying round the reams of paper required.

The joke of all of this is that if you talk to other Goans, you get two responses. 1. The Forms are easy. 2. Why isn’t your bank/accountant/Co Sec whoever doing this for you?

The answers are they’re 1. They are not easy, there are no guidelines and our advisors keep making mistakes that we then have to sort out.

A case in point. We require our bank to produce a ‘know your customer’ certificate. Our bank has already written to Martin’s UK bank once. However our Indian bank didn’t ask for the right information, so the UK bank haven’t provided it. Alison has now drafted a letter for the Indian bank to send to the UK bank. If you ask the Reserve Bank of India (the people who want the KYC) about the process, they will swear blind that all the Indian banks know what to do. Well we have news – No they don’t. A month has now gone by trying to extract a piece of paper that when it comes will do little more than state the obvious – that Mr Bale has a UK bank account and that his bank’s staff have met him. Oh and that he’s good for money that has already been transferred to India.

Give us strength!!

Rant over.

Situation normal

August 26, 2007

Well, there’s not much to blog at the moment as there’s not much happening, hence the blog title.

It’s been raining all night and our DIN forms have been rejected yet again (we have lost count of the number of times). The old reason of ‘documents not attested’ is still being rolled out, so we’ve decided we need a new ‘attester’ – and we’ve found someone who has managed to get DINs for other foreign nationals, so there’s hope. However this time we also had a new problem. We had been told that the reason our DINs were being rejected was because our proofs of identity (passports) didn’t mention our fathers’ names. So we would be better to use our PAN cards, which do. Wrong! Foreign nationals have to submit passports.

So, this coming week will see another assault on the Ministry of Company Affairs. Once more into the breach, as they say.

In the meantime it’s stopped raining so we’re off to the beach for a run.

That little word called ‘no’

August 21, 2007

There is a Konkani word for ‘no’ – ‘nan’. There is also a Konkani phrase for ‘I don’t know’ – ‘mhaka kabodna’. However both word and phrase are alien to the Indian psyche and rarely used.

Take today’s example. We’ve broken the glass top on our coffee table. So off Martin goes to the shop across the road which advertises furniture repairs including glass cutting. Do they do glass cutting? ‘Yes’. Can they provide us with a new table top? ‘Yes’. When can they do it? ‘Oh we can’t do it’. But your sign says ….. ‘That was the previous people’.

No wonder everything is so long winded.

Paying bills online the Indian way

August 19, 2007

Never let it be said that India is anything other than a test of resilience. Today’s triumph is that we’ve managed to pay a telephone bill online. It’s only taken 11 months, one change of bank account and three changes of telephone number to get this far. Oh and we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve filled in the form to register so that we can pay bills online (get this – it’s an online service but you have to place the request in paper format!)

Still, today’s development will see an end to trekking over to the phone company’s offices only to find we’ve not got enough cash with us, or it’s a cheques only session and we haven’t got the cheque book.

The next step in the masterplan is to get our credit card up online. According to the people who email us from the bank’s helpline, the card is already registered and can be viewed. However whenever we try ….guess what!

Anyway, time to retire for the day and bask in the glory of one piece of administration successfully accomplished.

The gas man cometh

August 13, 2007

We ran out of bottled gas on Sunday. How typical – we run out on the one day the gas agent isn’t open. However, we have a microwave, which covers most culinary exercises, but it is a bit tedious boiling for ten minutes the eight litres of water we use most days. We guessed there were a few hurdles to jump before we could get delivery of a new bottle. Hurdle number one (cleared) – we were able to find the red book required to order a replacement. Hurdle number two (cleared) – we were able to understand the instructions (ring in the morning, delivery in the afternoon). Hurdle number three (cleared) – We ordered the new bottle at the first opportunity Monday morning. Hurdle number four (taken at the second attempt) – was to get the bottle delivered pronto. But, of course, it was not delivered in the afternoon during the hours specified.

At this point, encouraged by Martin, Alison went into Indian mode ie self-centred ‘I want my gas bottle and I want it now’. Alison was so effective, the woman at the delivery service put the phone down on her. So Martin phoned up to chastise her for rudeness and to let her know that he would take up the matter with a) her manager b) the supplier. Before he say anything other than his name he was told rather briskly – ‘it’s coming now’.

It really did come ‘now’ , within 20 minutes.

Thief Thrashed

August 10, 2007

We have seen this kind of incident on several occasions. If someone is caught in a criminal act, causes a fracas or is involved in a traffic accident a crowd soon gathers. Depending on circumstances the scene can turn ugly very quickly. We will easily avoid the first two scenarios. Should we be involved in a traffic accident we will leave the scene and go straight to a police station to report it. We think that whatever the circumstances the blame will be placed on the outsider or the foreigner.

Snake stops traffic

August 7, 2007

Click the following link for the latest on road delays in Goa. In the UK we’ve seen chickens and ducks holding up the traffic but we doubt black cobras have much of a role.


August 7, 2007

The day we moved into our flat in Margao in April, workmen were erecting a new street lamp in the small square outside. An elegant pole with three arms. We thought it an odd place to be sited as two of the lamps were sited over the roofs of houses and partially obscured by the branches of trees. So far it has not been connected to the mains so we don’t know how good it is at illumination.

Now the monsoon has started, strong winds get up. The branches of the trees are busily smashing into the lamp arms and one is already askew and the post is being loosened. We wait with bated breath to see when it crashes to the ground.

Contractors have nearly finished burying electric cables; their last effort involved removing the attractive bpavement tiles in the main shopping area. The cable burying was completed quickly and efficiently; however the contractors have not replaced the tiles, leaving drains open and uneven muddy pavements and therefore more hazardous than usual. The tiles are being stolen. It seems that the council did not include re-instatement of the pavements in the contract. Reports say the council now cannot find a contractor to complete the job; we suspect they are being held to ransom over the price. Ho hum, no doubt something will be done later.

How do we know who you are?

August 5, 2007

Following on from the previous blog about knowing who people are, we’ve uncovered an interesting identifier commonly used in India – father’s name. Almost every time we’re asked to fill in any forms, or sign any legal document, the wording will include our names followed by ‘son of …’ or ‘daughter of …’.

We have filed five applications so far for Director Identification Numbers, only to be rejected on the grounds that there’s a mismatch between our names or our addresses (between the form and the supporting documentation). Leaving aside the failure of any Indian body to get our names or addresses right (Mrs Bale Alison, and Ascanio Costa Raod are just two of the options in circulation at the moment), we’ve been advised that one of the reasons for the refusal is our passports. Specifically, although passports are quoted as an acceptable identifier, UK passports don’t name your father. Indian ones do and father’s name (as opposed to NI number, or date of birth, for example) is the key identifier.

Ho hum! So we have to use our PAN cards (tax references) instead, because these do include father’s name. Little does Alison’s father know just how many documents he appears on!