Archive for December, 2008

Holidays – caught on the hop… again

December 9, 2008

4 moons, which one is the hajj Eid moon?

The government calendar says that the Hajj Eid Festival is on Wednesday 10th December. We understand Hajj Eid is celebrated five days after the start of Hajj, so why, when four days after the start, we find that all government offices and many shops are closed today, Tuesday 9th?

We were offered one explanation and so far the only explanation as to why this happens.

The reason. The Head Imam will decide the day for the holiday by studying the state of the moon and will only announce the holiday at 5.00pm the preceding day. So of course, if he decides that he got it wrong when he told the government when they were preparing the calendar, a lot of people who aren’t Muslims will not know. Makes planning difficult. Only one out of six patients turned up today!

This explanation doesn’t quite work for us because we believe that the phase of the moon is predictable and has been so for hundreds (if not thousands of yeatrs) and anyway in this computer age, surely accuracy can be guaranteed. If anybody out there knows the real reason please leave a comment. Enlightenment will be sweet!

What a tolerant lot the Indians are if they can put up with variable ‘national’ holiday shut downs on account of the vagaries the imams who represent Islam, which is a religion followed by a small percentage of the Indian populace.


Confused of Margao


An Indian twist on meeting yourself coming back

December 3, 2008

Martin has just returned from the railway station, after a trip to book some train tickets. He was partially successful.

We normally book on line but there are ‘gremlins’ in the works of the Indian Railways site at the moment and the paying procedure isn’t working. So, off to Margao station.

Hampi’s the destination, over Christmas, and our original plan was travel out on 23rd and come back on 27th. At least that was what Martin wrote on the booking form. When the tickets were handed back, he thought he’d better check them and good job he did. He had been furnished with a ticket to travel out on the 23rd, all well and good, and to come back on the 17th. Nothing like travelling back before you’ve gone.

On explaining this to the ticket office, in true Indian tradition, it was all Martin’s fault. He hadn’t crossed the seven, so it was misread. The fact that it was the 2 and not the 7 that was misread was not acknowledged. An attempt to revise the booking then produced the news that the train on the 27th is ‘Wait Listed’ (ie already full but we probably would get on). We’ve decided not to chance it. We’ll come back by bus!

Martin’s cynical side tells him that the local Indian official will do anything to make a buck out of the whiteskin (skin tax, we call it) and this one had him we’ll and truly stitched up. Martin was going to grab all the paperwork and head to the stationmaster, but decided that the aggravation and cost saving wasn’t worth it. On the other hand the official may have just been stupid and needed sympathy.

And Alison will be deputed to book at the station next time.