Archive for October, 2008

Bring on the Band(h)

October 21, 2008

October has been virtually rain free and cosequently hotter than average. The highest recorded temperature since 1970 happened a week ago. It slows us down but doesn’t seem to affecting our health. But we do wonder if it’s getting to the politicians and their supporters.

Odd things happen (odder than usual that is). A minority group leader is attacked with hatchets in a restaurant by 7 hoodlums; he is trying to bring a case against the son of a politician who has alledgedly raped a minor of German origin. The politician says there is no connection. Yeah, right!

Today there was a bandh (strike) called by the BJP, in Goa the opposition party and in India right wing Hindu nationalist party. Bandhs are illegal but that doesn’t stop them happening. Ostensibly the bandh was called because of desecration of temples and police ineffectiveness over the 500 incidents. Shops don’t open, buses don’t run; those who open the premises are attacked by the rabble who come round looking for strike breakers. Goa was effectively shut down; the government and police were, as usual, powerless. Violence was minimal as 95% businesses were too frightened to open. Three buses were stoned and some minor damage was done to a well known restauarant that opened in Mapusa in defiance of the bandh. This was where the leader of the BJP was able to grandstand, objective achieved, but at what cost to Goa? Some of Alison’s western clients cancelled their appointments because they were advised it was too dangerous to travel in to Margao. And this at the start of the toursist season. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Still it made a nice change to be able to get around a traffic-free town but we had to travel out for supplies.

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Incorrigble Indians

October 18, 2008

Just a few snippets from daily life here that you would simply not see in the West.

Martin was queing in the supermarket the other day. Well, queing is a loose term. In India it’s about elbows out and try to keep your place. He chose the line with just one woman in front, and she only had two items. Or so he thought. What he didn’t know was that while the woman was preparing to pay, her son and mother were in the shop getting other items. So while Martin patiently stood there, holding his eggs to stop them being dashed from his hands by other shoppers, more and more items kept arriving in the basket in front of him. Imagine the riot if you tried this in Sainsbury’s.

Then there’s traffic rights of way. We have a newish bridge over the railway line and bollards have been put in place to allow scooters and motorcycles only onto the bridge. At least that was the plan. However the bollards haven’t been placed well enough so Alison followed a rickshaw over this morning. No doubt someone will try a small car at some point.

Talking of cars, the parking situation (or lack of) -already dire in Margao – has now reached problem status in Colva. We noticed our friend Toff had placed a ‘polite notice – no parking’ sign outside his restaurant. So we asked him if he wanted us to move Hari, who was parked on the street. He said no, that wasn’t a problem. But he did have problems with Indians who drove their cars up onto his forecourt, between the tables where people were eating, blocking the entrance to the pub!

As they say, only in India.

Things that go ‘screech’ during BBG meetings

October 13, 2008

We’re members of the British Business Group and once a quarter, we go to meetings, hear speakers, chew the fat and generally have a sanity check about doing business over here.

The last meeting was at a new hotel in Panjim and every so often, this strange screeching sound was heard from outside the conference room. This being India, everyone ignored it.

It turned out to be a succession of people getting stuck in the lift. We did say it was a new hotel? You take your life in your hands with anything mechanical over here.

The Western rules of anatomy don’t apply here

October 11, 2008
Anatomy - not as we know it

Anatomy - not as we know it

Alison has come to the conclusion that the anatomy she learned at college does not apply in India. If she gives her patients exercises that should relieve their pain, she gets complaints that it hurts more. Or people experience pain in areas that aren’t under stress during the movement.

If Alison uses tests that are supposed to provoke the problem, they give relief. Go figure.

Interestingly a colleague who went to school with Indian children commented that she noticed that if some minor physical injury occurred, there was much wailing and fuss. If something serious happened, the Indians were much more stoic. If anyone can shed further light on this, Alison would be appreciative.

The boat race – but not was we know it

October 11, 2008

Snake Boat

Snake Boat

We caught sight (on TV) of the Kottyam Boat Races, an annual event in Kerala involving various sized crafts and crew numbers from around 10 to more like 100 in the big ‘snake boats’.

The Thames in early spring it was not, for a variety of reasons. For example:

During the Oxford and Cambridge event, the commentators know who’s who

There’s coverage of the start
The course winds round bends in both directions in an attempt at fairness
Spectators don’t swim in between the boats (or float in rubber rings and upturned boxes to view events, or water ski back up the course between races)
If someone sinks, the commentators talk about it.

Still overall it was good fun. So much so we would be tempted to find out when next year’s event is and go along. That’s assuming anyone can tell us when it will take place more than 24 hours in advance.

More confusing holi/holy days

October 9, 2008

It’s a wonder anything gets done in India between mid August and December.

Everywhere you turn there are religous festivals and public holidays, some of which appear to be moveable feasts.

Just when we were hoping the fire cracker erruptions would disappear from the middle of the night and the electricity board people might do some work after the protracted Ganesh holiday, along come Eid and Gandhi Jayanti (the Mahatma’s birthday).

Each of these is only supposed to be one day, however which day? Gandhi’s birthday is 2 October, so that’s simple, but Eid (the end of Ramazan) is determined by the phase of the moon. Most of the time. According to the Goa Government calendar (specifically purchased to sort out the public holidays) Eid was on the Friday 3 October. However in their infinite wisdom, the Government decided to move it to the Wednesday. They made this decision on the Tuesday evening – see previous blogs about forward planning, the lack of.

We were with friends when the fun started. If you have children, imagine the chaos of suddenly finding your children were not going to be at school the next day. And what did this mean for their homework, which they’d been told to hand in on the Wednesday. The Government response to the chaos? What was the problem? Everyone reads the morning papers?

Needless to say Government departments had all three days off! Still we should have known Eid would be subject to political interference – whatever the date, Pakistan always celebrates the day before India.

Now we’re on to Navrati (Durga puja), which celebrates the triumph of good over evil vis a vis Rama defeating Ravana in the Ramyana. And today is the most auspicous day – Dussehra – just don’t ask us to explain how many other names it goes by.

Never mind. It will soon be Divali (the festival of lights), then it’s St Francis Xavier’s death day (preceded by nine days of celebration, if that’s the right word), then heavens above it will be Christmas. Personally we’re praying Easter is late next year.

No Smoking

October 2, 2008

We’ve been coming to India since 2000 and within a couple of years we’d learned that smoking was banned in all public places (and of course universally ignored).

We were surprised to learn that from today (Thursday – Ghandi’s Birthday) the government has imposed a ban on smoking in public places.

We guess there must have been something in the small print that over-rode the original ban. Who knows, the government certainly doesn’t.