Archive for May, 2009

Twins

May 31, 2009

No, not Martin’s daughters Tamaris and Samantha, but bulbuls.

On arrival back from the UK, the two eggs in the nest in the kitchen had just hatched and two of the ugliest chicks imaginable had arrived. Come to think of it, looking down their gullets they probably weren’t much more than stomach and intestines anyway.

We think that the male is involved in some of the feeding although the whole process seems very laid back compared with activity of Blue tits in the UK, but then they did have six or seven nestlings as opposed to two. The female sits on the nestlings at night despite there seeming to be very little movement in the temperature which hovers 32-36c at the moment. Presumably, she is more interested in guarding against predators rather than keeping their body temeratures high enough.

Since we wrote this the activity has increased in proportion the increase in the size of the nestlings; during the day there is a constant stream of insects and seeds delivered to the eager beaks. Housekeeping efforts have been stepped up too. They seem to be a hygienic couple. In the evening they spend 30 minutes or so sat on an overhead cable together.

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Jet Lag

May 29, 2009

The overnight flight home was uneventful and with only a one hour delay. We flew with Kingfisher that boasts it’s the best. Kingfisher passengers are ‘guests’, echoing British Rail’s crass ‘customers’ but with a lot more flair. The 330 Airbus was not as comfortable and much noisier than Jet Airline’s Boeing 777. Kingfisher’s food was better, but that was irrelevent to Martin as he was experimenting with the latest jet lag cure. This involves not eating for between twelve and sixteen hours and timing your meal in the destination country to meet normal feeding times. Apparently your body’s food clock will override its sleep clock, thus avoiding the jet lag. An added benefit is that the fast will kickstart the loss of 7lbs he put on during the UK visit.

It worked. Martin had not one jet lag symptom. Admittedly he was tired, but that was because the ‘guests’ behind us were elderly, couldn’t settle, behaved like children kicking the seats and heaving on the backs when they shifted position. When eventually they gave up trying to get to sleep they opened the window blind flooding our cabin area with light and talked loudly to each other. Martin decamped to a vacant seat but with not much chance of sleeping there. First he trod on someone’s glasses that were on the floor and surreptiously spent some time straghtening them out. Then there was the constant stream (excuse pun) of toilet visitors and being the seat facing a bulkhead there were the usual cross aislers who managed to kick, tread or lean on him during their nocturnal passage. Oh! the joys of long distance travel. Hope to be able to go Jet Airlines both ways next time. The passengers on Jet seemed rather more civilised too.

Notaries

May 29, 2009

When we first arrived in India, we were mystified that most documentation for bureaucrats and police had to be notarised. We weren’t familiar with this in the UK when as a rule photocopies were acceptable proofs. Anyway we soon learned that notaries were two-a-penny in India, and although not computerised and eveything was long-winded, it was not a difficult or expensive process.

When we returned to the UK, we felt that it might be useful to have some documents like passport, visa and driving licence notarised in the UK for further evidence of who we are in India. However, having located three notaries in the vicinity of Kidderminster we learned that one was on holiday, one had broken his foot and was not notarising, and the other could not give us an appointment until 27th (a week after we had departed). So we thought a trip to Birmingham would be needed as notaries didn’t seem so thinly spread.

Before going, we enquired about costs and time. The notarising process in the UK is not the same as in India. It takes longer; lots longer. Not a matter of minutes or hours, but weeks and lots more to-ing and fro-ing. The cost was heavy too. We stepped back in amazement and abandoned the whole idea.

But a word to the wise. If you are considering setting up in business in India and are not based there ie do not have a residential address, you have to get your documents notarised in the UK.

Visa Run

May 28, 2009

What a successful trip! Although we didn’t achieve the optimum visa (two years) we did receive one year without a six month kickout clause and with minimum fuss and only one small hiccup. The people at the visa office in Birmingham were a pleasure to deal with. May is obviously a good time of year to visit – UK looking pretty and not many people want to come to India.

Jet Airlines flew us all the way at civilised hours and, apart from the food, was excellent all round. Public transport from Heathrow to Godalming was good, if expensive. Alison started her KST course on Friday night, while Martin enjoyed Guildford to Worcester on British Rail.

We met up again on Sunday afternoon and travelled to Clows Top in Worcester to stay with John and Jude, Alison’s parents. Their bungalow is situated just below the brow of a high hill and faces south with magnificent views over a valley to the Malvern Hills. To the west on a clear day you can see the mountains in Wales. As usual the food and hospitality was top class and we had a great time despite the unseasonal weather.

We travelled less extensively than on our last visit, but managed to reconnect at Cirencester with Lynn our ex-riding instructor and Alison’s Matron of Honour back in 2000. Martin’s daughters with boyfriends in tow arrived on Friday, and together with Alison’s brother Phil and family we celebrated John’s 70th with a goose dinner. Then it was all over and on Sunday we were at Heathrow heading for home.

Thanks to all friends and family who helped us enjoy a delightful visit. We’ll be back again in September.

IndiaRail v British Rail

May 20, 2009

Slowest train in the world?

Slowest train in the world?

Martin has been making use of the public transport system for a couple of days while in the UK. BR seems to be taking a leaf out of the Indian transport system. Both buses and railways seem to have got their acts together. Big differences are greater comfort levels and speed (UK) and hugely lower costs (India), but otherwise it seems that the frequency and reach of the transport system in Britain is improving rapidly. Catering on Indian trains is good and inexpensive, not so sure about BR as a litre of Evian at £1.50 seemed too steep when lined up against its Indian counterpart at 15p and a bag of crisps just doesn’t reach the finishing line compared with a couple of samosas for 20p.

The cost factor is very striking though. For the £30 cost of a journey from Guildford to Worcester, Martin could have travelled 1500 miles in India 2nd class, making India about a 12th the price of the UK. However BR is noticably quieter, cleaner and faster, so you do get some things for the extra money. Not always a seat, though, so we’re told.

Rank Amateurs

May 20, 2009

Keeping an eye on the Indian press,we are pleased that Congress have won the Indian Lok Sabha (parliamentary) elections. Goa has returned one Congress member and one BJP (nationalist party) so no change there.

The Indian press does not seem to be that interested in the shenanigan’s of UK MPs. We guess that this is because the sums of money involved are miniscule compared to the sums that Indian politicians appear to remove from the national purse for their own ends. We are told that it in Goa it is impossible to get a vote without paying the voter and we suppose this is pan-India problem.

Anyway, from our perspective our MPs are rank amateurs when compared with their Indian counterparts. Perhaps they should all be lined up against a wall and shot.

Cold, Quiet and Clean

May 18, 2009

We travelled back to the UK on Thursday, Margao to Hazlemere Surrey, in a cool 20 hours. The airline is Jet Airways and they are good and currently quite inexpensive.
It’s taken a couple of days to adjust to the cold, quiet and clean. After ten months away the orderliness is striking and there is so much green. We are nervous about taking to the road and lapsing into Indian style of driving. We must not drive on the wrong side, join roundabouts or major roads without checking for oncoming traffic, undertake, use the pavements etc.

Offshore

May 12, 2009

We always understood that offshore meant ‘outside territorial limits’ not 10 yards from the quayside. However in Goa the law is being interpreted as the latter in the interests of everybody (except the punter) making money from floating casinos. When we first came here there was one ‘offshore’ casino, which we believe went out to sea, not very far let it be said, before they opened shop. There are now several, maybe ten, all tethered in the shipping lanes close to Panjim, the capital city. They have been asked to move to Aguada Bay, which is somewhat exposed to open sea. One of the casinos doesn’t even have engines. What to do? It’ll get rough in monsoon. Best to just ignore the requests and orders. It’ll take at least ten years before the authorities sort out who is responsible, let alone ensure the orders are compled with.

Day after day the newspapers grind on about the shenanigans to keep these floating casinos in business. They seem to be routinely closed down for some infraction of the law and the next day re-opened on appeal. Even the Supreme Court orders are ignored with impunity. Nobody seems to be in charge. It’s all great fun, even the operators seem to enjoy the game.

In conclusion, interpreting the law to suit your own ends seems to be a national past time.

WMD on Indian aircraft

May 12, 2009

Our friend Greg flew to Mumbai yesterday. He had to check his hand baggage in to the hold – because Jet Airways wouldn’t let him aboard as he was ‘armed’ with a skipping rope.

Reminds us of the time staff at Gatwick had a problem with Martin’s telescopic fishing rod. Excel Airways had no problem, as long as their staff took the rod on board and stowed it for the flight. However the woman checking the passports wasn’t happy and tried to hit Alison in the face with the rod as she grabbed it off Martin. And the X-ray people weren’t convinced either and were sure that checking it over was necessary for our protection. We pointed out that not even the fish were in that much danger!!!

We managed to lose a pair of pliers in similar vein, having forgotten to leave them behind after using them to fix a friend’s car en route to the airport.

PS Mrs RW Bulbul has produced only two eggs but seems OK with this sitting serenely in the nest watching our food prep and coping with the sometimes noisy environment. Mr RW Bulbul puts in the occasional appearance chattering loudly in the kitchen about how clever he is. Typical male.

Bill pay

May 12, 2009

Probably mentioned this recently, but despite the telephone company’s statement that you can pay online, we have not found the right way to do so. So, I walk round to the office where you queue to pay the bill, usual wait 15-20 minutes. Today I find that there is no queue. Why? It’s now automated and a computer reads the bill and issues a receipt. So there’s an improvement that works. Interesting to note that the clerk now has an assistant in his cabin. Why does the clerk in charge need this assistant, in view of his decreased work load? What does the assistant do? Well, we can tell you the answer to the latter. The asssistant works out and returns change. Why does it now take two people to do this? We can’t answer, but hazard a guess that automation has produced surplus staff who have to be found something to do.