Archive for November, 2007

Home game

November 30, 2007

Alison’s parents have just completed their first visit to Goa and in the process we have discovered more of Goa’s history, landmarks and things to do and not to do.

We have realise that South Goa where we live is more scenically attactive than North Goa. That you really can see dolphins on a boat trip and they appear to play to the audience. And there’s a lot to be said for the old Portugese houses… they are attractive and they are cool without AC.

Taxi driver’s are becoming greedier but can be charming and fair. Ticket collectors on the trains are eager to extract fines and more if they can. The roads are in a worse state than we had appreciated. And modern buildings don’t have to be eyesores.

No one else is due to stay with us any time soon, but we do have a wedding to go to next week (UK friends having a Hindu ceremony) plus more friends arriving over Christmas and into the New Year. So that should keep us occupied, when we’re not working that is.

On and off, rather than up and down

November 23, 2007

We have a new sun parasol, designed to allow us to water the plants on our roof terrace without impersonating some doing a walk over hot coals.

It’s dark green and already replete with its first bird strike. Though if you didn’t know it, you could get very confused trying to put the parasol up. It comes with two instruction stickers, the first of which says ‘on/off’. Don’t ask us how you’d go about implementing that one. It does also have an up/down sticker, however the instructions are the wrong way round. Stll, it does go up because we ignore the directions.

We’re enjoying Diwali here – the Hindu festival of lights. You certainly cannot ignore Hindu festivals. We went to a birthday party on Wednesday evening. Came home at gone midnight and were awakened again at 4.30am and for the rest of the night by fire crackers and marching bands. The fire crackers have been going off intermittently ever snce. There are times when we think we’ll be glad it’s all over.

And whose ‘poti’ are you?

November 21, 2007

The Konknni language continues to confuse. If it’s not different dialects eg Salcete versus Bardez, it’s the tendency to have two words with the same spelling in Roman script but meaning different things depending on how you pronounce them. For instance, ‘char’ either means ‘four’ or ‘the rind of a jackfruit’, depending on whether the ‘ch’ is pronounced as in ‘church’ or as a ‘ts’ eg ‘tsar’.

And today’s discovery is that there are three words for husband ‘ghov’, ‘ghorkar’ and ‘poti’. However you have to be careful with the last one as it also means plastic bag if you’re talking to a Hindu. As the Hindus and the Catholics aren’t necessarily immediately identifiable, perhaps we’ll just learn the first two.

Sticking with all things literal, if you’ve noticed a few typographical errors creeping in, we apologise. Alison learned to touch type on an English keyboard and the one we now have is American – so some of the keys are not where she expects them to be. Also, the new keyboard is made in India, so it has some variations all of its own. For example, the key that says ” actually produces @ and visa versa. Just as well we’re only trying to learn to read and speak Konknni, not write it as well.

On the road in Goa

November 14, 2007

Their visit to India continues to live up to Alison’s parents expectations. Yesterday they were treated to a taxi driver who couldn’t drive. He stalled the car before they’d left the hotel car park and, when he went round a roundabout the wrong way and nearly took out a cyclist, Alison’s Dad was tempted to get behind the wheel himself.

Then they experienced the classic of the motorcyclist who overtook them only to turn immediately left in front of them. They made it to Margao, where the driver managed to make contact – with a pedestrian. Fortunately no serious harm was done, even through the individual chose to open the front door on the passenger side and confront Alison’s father rather than the driver over the incident.

Mum and Dad saw the funny side.

Goa is also continuing its assault on all things technical. This time it’s Alison’s dad’s mobile phone, which has somehow locked him out. Try to ring it and all you get is a voice telling you it’s ‘out of coverage area’. So it’s a trip to the phone shop this evening to sort it out. Nothing changes, as they say.

Goa lives up to expectations

November 12, 2007

Alison’s mum and dad arrived in Goa yesterday and already the state has fully lived up to their expectations. The flight was fine but the second they were on Indian soil, all the carefully laid plans of the past few months began to unravel.

First – they were early, a fundamental error in Goa as even being on time is considered bad form. Their plane touched down half an hour early, shortly after another charter. So their welcome to Goa consisted of a tortuous hour plus getting through customs and immigration in an airport that, for all the recent rennovations, still doesn’t have the capacity to handle two plane loads of people at once. Still, we consoled them, things have improved. If they’d arrived in the same way only three years ago they would have spent two hours plus on the process and most of that standing outside on the tarmac.

However once they got outside the airport things really got interesting. Their tour rep advised them they couldn’t stay in the hotel they’d booked as there was a problem with the water, and would the Intercontinental Hotel be OK? Quick phone call to us, in which we confirmed that as the Intercontinental is around two hours from Margao, no – it wouldn’t do. The alternative was a hotel near their original choice but which isn’t officially open yet. Cue thoughts of a building site where the swimming pool should be.

We dashed off the meet them, having briefed a Goan friend who knows lots of people in the hotel trade in Goa to find out if the stories about the original hotel were true (they were) and what deal could he strike to make this OK.

Bizarrely, and as so often happens in India, it’s all worked out for the best. When they said the hotel wasn’t officially open yet, all they meant was its press launch isn’t until the end of November. It’s a lovely hotel, not quite on the beach but close enough and with a free shuttle to and fro, plus mum and dad now have a suite rather than a room, and free taxis to Margao and to the original hotel and use of its facilities. Oh and they have an all inclusive package, too, not just B&B. So far so good, but watch this space!

All well and good. But it does beg the question why does India have to be like this? Alison’s parents are in a different category to most people visiting here as they’re coming to see us. Most people will pay one visit to India and if it doesn’t go well, they won’t come back. There’s huge potential in India if they ever get their act together. But that’s a big if.

The post-monsoon cleaning bug

November 9, 2007

We’ve been busy tidying up the flat, doing some decorating and detailed cleaning now the rain seems to have stopped. And come up against our perenial problem here – the time we have to spend fixing things that are broken.

We bought a now mop and a wide dry/wet sweeper for the floors. German design – hurrah; made in India – boo. The dry/wet sweeperhas followed a typical path.

1 It’s good, easy to use and quick
2 On first use, Alison took a slice out of herself because the extendable handle didn’t lock in place properly
3 Martin examined it and uttered the now familiar phrase – ‘I think I can see what’s wrong’
4 A bit of struggling and stretching of plastic late, the handle now locks properly
5 On second use, the head fell off (because it doesn’t fit properly and we’ve managed to lose the nut that may or may not have been there in the first place to hold it on.

At least we have clean floors and we haven’t needed the Araldite yet.

The Formula One community need to hope the new Indian team don’t make their car in India. If they do bits will fly off at all kinds of inappropriate moments.

On the subject of things breaking, having only just transferred our Internet connection to Martin’s laptop, said laptop stopped working this week. We took it into a local PC shop and much to our surprise, it’s been fixed. Did take a reminder to order the part, though. Still it’s good to be back in action from home.

Another bat in the bedroom

November 2, 2007

We’re well used to having a mosquito bat in our bedroom, for ‘frying’ the insects that bite us. However we briefly acquired a new type of bat the other evening – black, with a furry body and wide wing span. He (or she) made its way into our bedroom and stopped to rest on the mosquito net. Must have been a baby, or a small adult with poor radar, very cute. Once s/he had rested we helped them on their way out of the bedroom. Having flown round the room and into, rather than through, the door a few times, the bad took up residence on Martin. Clung to his trousers then started climbing up him. We finally disloged him/her safely onto the ledge outside. Hope s/he survives.

While on the topic of wildlife, we discovered weavels in the chick peas the other day. Heaven knows how these things get in as all foodstuffs outside the fridge we keep in jars with screw top lids. Just shows we’re not getting through the produce quick enough.