Archive for May, 2008

Flame tree (we think)

May 23, 2008

Flame Tree

This tree is in the woodland behind our flat. It will flower for about six weeks and is a common sight in India having been imported from Madagascar in the 19th century and planted everywhere. (Note to botanical friends please feel free to correct if we’ve got this wrong!)

It’s companions include: the Jack Fruit tree, which bears the largest fruit in the world. I’ll try to get a meaningful picture as they are fruiting at this time with some whoppers. A Coconut palm, Tamarind, Mango and Almond trees and others which we haven’t (and probably won’t) identify.

Errata. We reported that no rains had fallen since February. We should have written March… Easter to be precise. It’s the heat that fries the brain. Thank you to our observant readers for keeping us on the straight and narrow.

While on the weather front, clouds are beginning to pile up on a regular basis. As we write, we haven’t seen the sun today yet, thank goodness. Bets are on for an early start to monsoon season, first week of June, and as far as we are concerned it can be a nonetosoon monsoon. It’s been too damn hot.

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Health and Nutrition

May 21, 2008

Alison spent two hours being interviewed by a reporter from the Indian national magazine ‘Health and Nutrition’. The magazine is interested in doing a piece on chiropractic. We are convinced that a one page spread (possibly three) will appear in the June issue. In contrast, the local press has not picked up our story despite our best efforts to arouse its interest. The reason could be that whiteskins are not flavour of the month/year because they cause all Goa’s problems!
We hope we have difficulties in handling the increased traffic that may arise from the article. There are only two registered chiropractors working full time in India… remember the population is over a billion!

Karate Kid

May 19, 2008

Karate Kid

Alison has taken up Karate to add to her Yoga and Pilates disciplines. She goes to three classes a week. Agnelo, the Black Belted instructor, takes the classes and reckons that Alison is making enough progress to take her first exams in about six weeks. The classes start at 6.00am and the Saturday class is on the beach.

Martin has declined the opportunity and will continue to rely on pugilism (Marquess of Queensbury Rules, of course) for his self-defence. Not that he holds out much hope of defeating the aggressor/s as on the two occasions when he needed these skills ( not in India we hasten to add) they proved inadequate to prevent a few cuts and bruises. Mind you the M o Q didn’t allow three against one, kicking or head-butting, so maybe Martin should be thinking about taking up Karate. Saturday morning finds him on a 10 mile beach run while Alison works out which leg is forward/backward, straight/bent, which way she should be facing and then trying to figure out what to do with her arms.

The heat of summer is steadily sapping everyone’s strength and we are beginning to long for the arrival of monsoon. We had a little rain yesterday, the first since February, but hardly enough to notice. This Sunday we are heading for Delhi, where it is hotter, wetter and less humid. We need to go there to chivvy the Home Office who have been sitting on our visa extension applications since December. Not possible to do it by phone or letter, has to be done face to face! Still it’s only a 2,000 mile round trip… might have time to go to the Temple at Khajuraho on the way back.

Getting the best from the Indian postal service

May 17, 2008

Today’s blog is courtesy of our company secretary – Shrikant Gaonkar.

We have to send him some paperwork (stamped, of course) so he can tell the Reserve Bank of India what they already know about our monetary transactions. We were going to send the documents to him using the Indian equivalent of Registered mail. But no – Shrikant had a better idea.

Apparently the best way to ensure prompt delivery is to post the letter without any stamps on it. That way it’s sure to be delivered so that the requisite fine can be collected.

There is a logic to this, somewhere. Truth be told we haven’t had much trouble with the Indian post. Apart from one internal letter that took three times as long to reach Chandigargh in north India than it would have done if we’d been sending it to the UK. Then there was the parcel with dvds that got stuck in Mumbai for three months. Some worker probably thought he’d got pornography – actually it was the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival.

We’ve even received letters with the address completely wrong. The doctor we work with received one the other day addressed to ‘Merrytown’ -go figure.

Enter the British Business Group (BBG)

May 9, 2008

Living proof that being in India gets to everyone, on Thursday night we attended a reception to celebrate the first anniversary of the British Business Group (Goa) – the BBG – an organisation we didn’t know existed.

It’s a networking/lobbying/forum/social/sanity check group, with other branches in India including Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. And it’s not just for Britons, it’s for anyone who wants to forge greater business links with Britain, so many of the members are Indian.

Not wishing to gloat but one of the nice things about being here from an ego perspective is that you’re suddenly a big fish in a small pond. In the UK we wouldn’t get invited to move in political circles. Here we sit next to the Deputy High Commissioner for India and get to quiz her (yes, you read the gender right) about anything we want.

And Alison gets to talk to one of her heroes. Due to the beauties of non-communication so common in India, we didn’t know that the guest speaker was Sir Mark Tully (ex BBC Asia correspondent, prolific author on India and still pretty much the best person to talk to if you want India explained in terms you can understand). It’s a slighty bizarre experience when someone you had meant to write to, and hoped to meet at some point, ends up standing right behind you! It was obviously meant to be.

As was our avoidance of a head on collision on the way to the event when a driver was coming at us in the outside lane! He wanted to go right but there as there wasn’t a gap in the central reservation, so instead of turning left and going up to the next gap, the one to his right was closer so he just turned into the outside lane in the wrong direction – straight at us and our driver. Interestingly whenever there’s any fuss about road deaths in Goa, or statistics on road traffic violations, no one touches the subject of poor driving. Or, as the police officer who took Alison for her driving test mentioned, ‘the lack of lane discipline!’

Defrosting the fridge the Indian way

May 9, 2008

For those who count such things, this is our 200th post, which must say something for our stamina. More fun and games on the electricity front this week, with a new variation on the ‘no light’ theme – ‘some light’.

We had a power cut yesterday afternoon – not an unusual event, however the power didn’t come back on after its customary 60 seconds break. At least some of it didn’t. Cue lots of confusion as we tried to work out why the air conditioning was working, as were some sockets in the kitchen, but no lights, doorbell, fans or TV. And why did our landlords have power, and our neighbours, and we didn’t? Much scratching of heads and turning trip switches from ‘on’ to ‘off’ and back did not shed any light on the problem.
So, plan D, call the electrician, who called the electricty department, who didn’t turn up (no surprise there. And so the next day, lo, we called the electricity department again. Following a convoluted conversation regarding where we lived, and which panel was affected (we’d told them the 17 digit number and they still didn’t know where it was) – power was restored, together with our humour.

And there’s always an upside – we may have a pool of water on the kitchen floor but at least the ice box has been defrosted.