Archive for October, 2007

The wonders of language

October 26, 2007

Sorry we’ve been absent for a few days. Had another computer crisis. Lost our Internet connection on Monday because no one told us that if there’s a storm, it’s a good idea to disconnect the Internet wiring. We had a lightening strike nearby and it blew the socket on Alison’s computer for our Internet connection. It took six phone calls and nearly three days to get a partial fix – move the Internet software to Martin’s computer.

Anyway, heard the following ‘funny’ from a client. A new member of staff at a local supermarket has been giving people bags of sugar with their breakfast cereal. Why? Because the breakfast cereal is ‘sugar free’. Quite a smart mistake, we thought, and the supermarket owner thought it was funny too, fortunately.

We have embarked on Konknni lessons again and are starting to realise why people don’t understand us. To speak Konknni there’s a minefield of different tongue positions and facial expressions/grimaces that simply don’t happen in English. Still Alison thinks it will be good for her facial muscles.

Offstation 3: mind the gap

October 15, 2007

One of the great things about living in another country from the one you were born in is you acquire a different understanding of words and phrases you thought you were familiar with.

Today’s special is ‘mind the gap’. Yes, we’ve been on the Delhi Metro again and very fine it is too. Spacious, clean (you can tell it’s new!) and, once you can find the entrances, easy to use.

Notices saying ‘mind the gap’ apear by all the doors in the trains. However they also need to put somewhere else – at the entrance gates. As regular readers of this blog will know, Indians don’t do gaps. If they see one, whether on the road or on foot, they fill it. However if you do this at the entrance gates to the Metro (similar to the ones on the entrance to London Underground), the gates jam and won’t open.

This morning we witnessed a considerable crush. There was only one gate working, someone had got stuck going through with lots of luggage, the next person had pressed straight in behind them, followed by everyone else who could step forward. Hey presto – no one moved. It took three police officers and two Metro staff several minutes to free the trapped passenger, get everyone else to back up (that was the difficult part), then almost manhandle people through the gate in a semi-orderly fashion. It’ll never catch on.

Seriously, the Delhi Metro is a great development in a huge, sprawling city that’s difficult to get around never mind get your head around. The sooner there’s more of it, the better. Especially a link to the airport – hint! (By tomorow morning would be good.)

Offstation 2: shuttle

October 14, 2007

When someone says to you that a train is a ‘shuttle’, what springs to mind? In our minds, it means a train that goes back and forth regularly. In Delhi, it can mean a train that only runs twice a day. We waited in vain having missed the train we were supposed to catch (still not asking the right questions). Only to be told that not only had we missed our train, there wasn’t another one for more than eight hours.

Still, it put us into the hands of a taxi driver who carried us round for the day and enabled us to get much more done than we would have on public transport. Even if we usually had to stop for directions several times for each destination. We got there in the end.

On the subject of travel, in the past three days we’ve submitted ourselves to two luxury coaches (booking in advance helps – it means you don’t have to sit at the back and get bounced up in the air with every pot hole); a hair-raising ride up and down mountains to Mussoorie (half way down this morning, Martin casually announced ‘ no wonder they call buses going over cliffs “mishaps” – must happen all the time’); two cycle rickshaws in Haridwar; and the Delhi metro. The latter is a great success. At least it will be when Indians learn the art of travelling without 24 tons of luggage. It it’s a problem on the overground trains (no storage space) it’s a bigger performance when they try to get through the security gates.

Offstation update 1: slow train to Delhi

October 13, 2007

Writing this from Mussorie – a hill station established by a British army officer. Very refreshing, cool, beautiful blue skies etc. Enjoyed, if that’s the word, a lengthy train journey up to Delhi. Took a different train to our normal Goa Express and found ourselves on a circuitous route through Gujarat and Rajasthan to reach India’s capital.

We were late leaving the station and by the time we reached the Northern outpost of Goa, we were running 1.5 hours behind schedule. Over night we somehow caught up the time and by the time we arrived in Delhi we were 1.5 hours ahead. Go figure.

Modern garbage collection comes to Margao (almost)

October 9, 2007

Picture the scene. Martin is sitting peacefully reading one evening last week when he hears an unusual but unmistakable sound – that of a wheely bin making its way up the street. Yes, we now have green bins courtesy of Margao Municipal Council (MMC).

They will replace the open iron bins that have adorned the streets for the past however many years. The emptying of the new wheely bins is already a source of amusement. The lorry to do the job has one mechanical arm for lifting each bin. Not on the back, as in the UK, but to one side. It is lowered gently through most of the movement before descending with a clatter through the final few feet, ideally placed to clout any unsuspecting motorist, scooter rider, pedestrian or dog who happens to be in the way. When the bin is lifted, the arm doesn’t tip it completely, so a man sits on the top with a rake to remove the litter. The whole process still seems to us to involve a multitude of people as bins are carted to the cart, rather than the cart being brought to them.

Still, we’re not complaining. The open iron bins were often overflowing and rubbish was scattered by the scavenging birds and dogs. The new wheelies are a potentially vast improvement in aesthetics and smell, never mind general health. Of course this all overlooks the big question remaining over Goa’s garbage problem – where to put all the rubbish once its been collected. But well done the MMC for making a step in the right direction.

To Delhi… for a cup of coffee

October 8, 2007

We are now preparing for the Delhi trip, the prime purpose of which is to have a cup of coffee. Not that we have reason to believe that Delhi coffee is any great shakes but Alison would like to join The Indian Association of Chiropractic Doctors and the cup of coffee is a prerequisite. Alison tried to join in December, but the powers that be insisted on the cup of coffee. Alison has been unable to make an appointment for the coffee despite several attempts, so we travel more in hope than expectation. While we are in Delhi, we will also go to the British Embassy (visas), see more sights and sites and go shopping. If Alison does have that cup of coffee and joins the IACD we want to go on up to Mussorie in the foothills of the Himalayas and chill out (chill being the operative word – it’ll be a bit colder than Goa) for a day or two before heading back to Goa.
On the subject of visas, other essential paperwork has been presented through the right channels and it’s all gone very quiet. We’ve long since stopped holding our breath for a result.

One week

October 8, 2007

We’ve just completed a busy week and tomorrow we head for Delhi, Dehra Dun and Mussorie for eight days.
Sunday 1st October was a day of rest but at the end we were tired out. Up for the beach run at six. Prepare breakfast for guests who had come to watch the Japanese F1 Grand Prix. Much rejoicing with as the race unfolded in the rain. We then drove down to a deserted beach where sea eagles whirled overhead and we rescued a beautifully coloured four inch long grasshopper from the sea. The smell of the sea and countryside was delightful.
Tuesday was a Gandhi’s Day and an official holiday but as usual we were caught unawares when many businesses closed on Monday without notice. Our schedule for the week was shot and we muddled through; like all the rest of India we guess.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday produced a lot of patients for us and we exceeded our previous best week’s takings and that made us feel as if our practice is going to fly high before long.
On Wednesday we travelled yet again to Panjim to present paperwork for renewal of our visas. The next stage is a visit from the Margao police to take a statement. We found a good warehouse with fabrics and furniture so we are beginning to get a picture of what the flat will look like when we redecorate.
On Friday we scootered to Palolem beach at the other end of Goa from Panjim and set up a clinic in a private house and started with a few patients. We hope this will become a regular trip as the journey goes through beautiful countryside with magnificent seascapes. Palolem is a beautiful beach and there is small ex-pat population there.
Saturday was all work.
Sunday 8th October was near enough a duplication of the previous Sunday without the elation of a successful Hamilton in the Chinese Grand Prix. We have become a TV venue for friends who live outside Matgao when there is something special they want to see. That’s because of the frequent power cuts they suffer. Here in Margao we have had only one or two a week for quite some time now.

If you want something that kills, see the chemist

October 2, 2007

You can buy just about any medication over the counter in India. Even things that technically you can only get on prescription. Tell the chemist the symptoms and they’ll give you the pills, usually without asking many questions.

However our latest discovery is that while it’s OK to self medicate (and potentially damage) yourself, woe betide you want to kill any animals. If you want ant powder for example, or Pest Seal (great for keeping the ants at bay) you cannot just pick it up anywhere. You have to go to a chemist and ask for it.

We’re pretty sure some of the bug killers would be banned in the EU, however they do come with very big warning ‘poison’ notices. But no dosage instructions. Ah well.