Archive for April, 2008

Snake superstitions

April 30, 2008

There are many superstitions in Goa pertaining to snakes. Here are just a couple for you, as told to Alison by a client who is British but married to a Goan.

Two Goan men were walking on a hillside when they saw a King Cobra. The snake was not close enough to harm them, although it did rear up to warn them off. One man threw a stone at the snake to ensure it came no closer. His friend was unhappy at this act as he felt it would ensure that the snake would follow him home and that seven more would join him. No amount of comments to the effect that the guy lived 2km away, and that he would be travelling by scooter and the snake wouldn’t be fast enough to follow him, made any impact.

Still if you find a snake in your house and call for the local ‘snake man’, you may find the local priest turning up. He will scatter some rice from the temple, say a puja (prayer) and apparently the snake will leave and you won’t be troubled by one again.

There’s something to be said for living on the top floor.


Finding time

April 30, 2008

Time outWe are not sure what exactly has changed, but we are finding time to go to the beach for a swim at lunchtime, to take the whole of Sunday off and generally feel more laid back about life. On the surface we should be having less time as the business builds. We are still dealing with visa and other bureaucratic problems where there has been no progress for six months. The weather is getting hotter and slowing everything down, but we are finding the time to relax. Perhaps the time is there because we have nothing left in our armoury to fire at the bureaucrats, we can only wait and hope.

The Enfield Kiss

April 25, 2008

From your motoring correspondent
Motoring correspondent 1963
Martin has just experienced his second Enfield Kiss. The first was circa 1962. The Enfield Kiss happens when the rider decides for some odd reason to dismount on the ‘wrong’ side and then finds that he has tried to weld the lower part of his leg to the exhaust pipe. This is usually not so bad if the rider is sensibly clad, but when he is wearing shorts, the direct contact produces a splendid heat blister and then a fairly deep wound that keeps getting knocked. The main problem in India is the heat and humidity and trying to keep the damned thing dry. Infection is a big concern here. We hear tales of riders who have been kissed and do not take proper care… the loss of a leg is not unknown.
Ho hum! Martin’s is mending well despite the fact that he keeps knocking the scab.

Monty Python and Fawlty Towers

April 21, 2008

They were supposed to come on Thursday to fix: 1) the gap in the new window frame in our treatment room (builder), 2) the leaking water pipe from the new AC unit just installed immediately above the gappy window which floods the room (AC Man) and 3) the socket for the treatment rooms AC, which blew up after we had run the AC unit about twenty times (Electrician).
You probably guessed already that none showed up, but at least the electrician turned up on Friday. He arrived ten minutes before Alison wanted the room for a treatment, but declared he’d fix the problem in ten minutes. He then disappeared. Twenty minutes later he was back with his mate, having gone shopping for the socket, just as the patient arrived. All three parties were happy to work in the same room at the same time! However, the two electricians then got into a heated discussion as to whether they could bodge the job as they had bought the wrong size box. They decided not, and another another twenty minutes passed before they came back with the right size socket and replaced the part in three minutes flat. It’s Monty Python and Fawlty Towers all rolled into one.

We await the builder and AC man’s arrival with bated breath… but perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath.

One week on. The builder has not put in an appearance and the the AC man has come and gone. He strategically wedged a piece of wood to divert the drip. This saved him the effort of getting a ladder and spending three minutes moving the drip pipe. It’s the Indian way and we are not going to change it!

Hearty Hitchhiker

April 18, 2008

Hearty Hitchhiker
Hathi is hindi for elephant. You can pronounce it ‘hearty’ and possibly be understood if you are pointing to the beast while saying it.
On the road to Columb, we overtook this fellow on the NH17, near the scene of last week’s breakdown. He really looked quite comfortable, just as if he was hitching a ride with the other guys who were sprawled all over the back of the truck. Stopping further down the road we scrambled for the camera and Alison got off a few shots as the wagon passed us and then a few more while we followed., before the jumbo truck pulled off into the filling station… we just wondered if he’d wanted a leg stretch, a pee and a jumbo burger. This animal is probably a money-earner for the owner who will parade round town centres on market days. Jumbo will be dressed up to the nines and give blessings to passers-by by touching the head with his trunk. Rupee notes and coins will be delicately taken from fingers by trunk to the mahouts purse way out of reach. It can be a bit of a slobbery experience as Martin found out in Mapusa Market. The elephants we have seen seem to be fairly well cared for… and so they should be, after all they are considered to be holy, like the cows.

On the way back we were stopped again by the police (No 11). The officious one demanded Martin’s licence, but was over-ruled by Katarina who came across for thank Martin for the treatment on her shoulder, which Martin gave at the side of the road last week when we were stopped. We know her name is Katarina, because on Friday a colleague (or maybe husband) of hers introduced himself to Martin in a shop to tell him that Katarina was feeling much better. Not only, but also on the same day Martin was hailed with “Hello Dakta!” by the officious one as both were negotiating traffic around Margao Gardens; maybe he’s not so officious after all. But it’s all becoming a bit unnerving to be focus of so much police attention.
Will paranoia set in? Watch this space.

Lorry coming. Yes.

April 18, 2008

Jumbo truck
We are both quite laid back as passenger or pillion but we still need to work on communication from the back seat.
We were in the middle of a village on the potholed road which forces traffic to a crawl. We think the authorities deliberately let village roads deteriorate in order to slow traffic without the need to spend money. Martin saw an opportunity to overtake the diesel-exhaust-belching truck ahead. There was an oncoming lorry, which he assessed correctly as going too slow to cause a problem. Alison assessed the oncoming lorry’s speed differently and expressed her concern by shouting loudly but incoherently. Martin checked for as many eventualities as he could and saw nothing untoward, continued on his way and completed the overtaking manouevre.
At journey’s end the matter was discussed and the decision we came to was that Alison could have just said ‘Lorry coming!’, which we decided was what a Goan backseat driver would say. In the above scenario, Martin’s response would have been ‘Yes!’.

Just another day at the office

April 13, 2008

The air conditioning unit hasn’t been working in our clinic for the past few weeks. A bit of a problem given it is approaching the hottest time of year here. Nothing wrong with the unit – the plug socket which has been spewing forth sparks ever since it was fitted has finally given out.

The electricians were supposed to fix it on Thursday, while we were in Columb. They didn’t turn up, of course. And we advised them they couldn’t come Friday morning because the room would be in use for clients all morning. So when did they turn up? Friday morning! Fortunately it was in a brief gap between clients and the electricians assured Alison they could fix the job in 10 minutes. They then disappeared for 20, returning with a new socket of the wrong size. There followed a brief discussion as to whether they could ‘bodge it’, followed by another delay when they decided they couldn’t and another socket would have to be purchased.

By this time the client had arrived. She said she would wait but then proceeded to sit down on the bench and tell Alison how she had been, even as the electricians were ‘doing the needful’ in the corner. Eventually Alison decided that as the client wasn’t worried about confidentiality, she might was well get on and treat. The electicians departed mid way though, leaving behind all the rubbish and debris from the job (Indian workmen don’t clear up).

Still, at least the air con is working now.

Another excuse for Martin to keep smoking

April 10, 2008

Alison at work in Columb
Alison at work in Columb
More from your motoring correspondent….

It’s Thursday and the day we hold our weekly clinic at Columb by the seaside, where business is slacking off as the temperature rises and the holiday season comes to an end. The journey was eventful in both directions. First there was the matter of overtaking a lorry in the middle of Balli village on the pot-holed and rutted road. As Martin drew out to overtake the diesel fume-belching wagon Alison started screaming… nothing coherent, but under the circumstances understandable. Her view was that an oncoming lorry was too close for comfort. Martin’s view was that there was enough space and time to safely complete the manouevre, which proved to be correct. Discussing the matter later we agreed that screaming had it’s uses but it would be better just to shout ‘Lorry coming’ (very Goan!), to which Martin would probably have replied ‘yes?’ then carried on regardless.

On the return journey Hari Enfield was descending the Ghats when the engine died with a series of impressive backfires. Finding ourselves at the furthest point from any habitation and out of mobile phone coverage, it was a case of DIY. Fortunately it was a simple case of a blown fuse, but, of course, no spare. Martin enquired of Alison did we have any silver paper? To which Alison replied – do you have any cigarettes? So we got out of trouble with the gold foil from a fag packet. Just in case you didn’t know, in this situation just wrap the foil round the fuse and hey presto! you’re on your way again.

Just an aside but we don’t know what caused the fuse to blow. But we’ll save that for another day.


April 9, 2008


Here’s Rosie, Suzie of Blazing Trails’ pet monkey. You may recall the tales of havoc she caused in a previous blog.

The other day she bit Martin and drew blood. His own fault of course. He wandered over to say hello forgetting that he had a bag slung over his shoulder. The bag contained wallet, camera, assorted paper and pens. Having shaken Martin’s hands politely, Rosie climbed up his trouser leg, grabbed the cloth bag and started crunching the contents between her teeth! Martin shook her off and scolded her. She responded by taking his hand and crunching a finger in her mouth. She received a mild slap and both contestants retired sulkily glaring at each other.

No harm done and for those who are now anxiously worrying about rabies and other dread diseases, allay your fears. Rosie is vaccinated along with all the thirteen dogs and two cats on a regular basis. Martin is not foaming at the mouth… well, not because of this incident anyway.

On the subject of pullovers ….

April 7, 2008

Touring Enfields

Further to the blog below, spare a thought for our friend Suzy. She runs Blazing Trails, an Enfield motorbike touring company. She leads the tours. When she gets pulled over by the police, 20 odd clients all pull in behind her! She normally gets waved through because the police don’t want the hassle of checking all the documents. And they’ve probably worked out that most if not all documents will be in meticulous order.