Archive for October, 2009

Goa Cultural Extravaganza and Afternoon Outing

October 29, 2009

Cindy - liberated
With much anticipation did 30 males from eight different countries, currently working in India, Martin included, get together last Saturday at noon in a seaside bar and restaurant for the opening round of Goa Cultural Extravaganza and Afternoon Outing aka Goa Pub Crawl 2009. Last year’s event was a resounding success and so it turned out was this year’s.

We visited 9 pubs during the course of the day and unlike last year only two were on the beaches of Goa. In between pubs there was a cold box stocked beer and feni to ensure we didn’t go thisty.

Greg (chief organiser) divided us into two teams complete with team colours. Highlights included: two villages rarely visited by tourists. It was like stepping back in time, if not to the middle ages but at least 150 years by UK standards: an excellent lunch in a bar with seating for 8; the rescue of a pretty girl from the clutches of Goan slave traders (see photo); a river cruise on a sea-going trawler, which ran aground; a boat race; a football match with villagers; a penalty shoot-out; bingo; a Goan ‘brass’ band; two first rate drinking and dining venues with a (horrible) singing competition; and finally a swim.

Martin’s Red team was comprehensively beaten by the Greens… but some of the ref’s rulings were highly questionable and the consensus (in the Red team) was that palms had been greased, this being India. We will admit to defeat in the singing contest, we were truly terrible, whereas the Greens seemed to benefit from a famous Welsh tenor with organisational talents, to boot.
Our last port of call was at the delightful Vivenda Do Palcahos – House of the Clowns…… how apt to finish there.

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Goan government moves to stop racial bias

October 23, 2009

Beach shacks

Beach shacks

The title initially raised our hopes that the racial bias referred to was against us ‘whiteskins’, but it turned out that some shack owners are biased against their own race. So there is now a clause in their contracts that states they cannot bar Indians and Goans from their shacks.
We suspect the reasons for the bias are i) foreign holiday makers have more respect for the workers ii) they tip better iii) they order more meals iv) they behave in a manner that is perceived as better than the indiginous population.
The new ruling will of course not address the matter, but it will make it easier for warring shack ‘owners’ to settle old scores and make mischief for competitors.

Goa Express

October 21, 2009

The Grim Reaper was riding the Delhi-bound Goa express this morning when it ran into the back of another stationery express in Mathura, near Delhi. At least 15 dead. It’s our favourite train, when north bound out of Goa.

Your time is up

October 19, 2009

Tired- after a busy day in Goa

Tired- after a busy day in Goa

We’ve done three years in Goa now. Goa is the size of Cornwall with a population 50% bigger. Comparisons can be odious, so we won’t make them; the reader can do that. But we give you a list of unnatural deaths over the three years, which would give some cause for concern if they happened in Cornwall or any county in England. The figures are estimates and arrived at through press reports. Hard facts are difficult to come by for the layman.
Murder. At least 2 UK citizens and 3 Russians, and probably 200 Goans/Indians.
In the last three years about 150 foreigners have died in Goa, a lot classified as ‘unnatural’ or ‘mysterious’ deaths. One example being a girl found dead on the railway tracks after falling from a train. Where was she? On the front of the locomotive or hanging from the last carriage?
Drownings (Sea, river and wells). Around 100.
Suicide. A guess, but most weeks there’ll be reports in the press. Say 500+. Curiously in Goa many women hang themselves.
Road kill. A guess, but on many days there’ll be a report in the press. Say 1,500.

And now an exploding scooter takes two more. Or one more. The media don’t seem to know or have been prevented from knowing; it seems to have lost interest.

There is little transparency in India, but a lot of smoke and mirrors.

More on exploding scooters

October 17, 2009

Security around the bomb blast site

Security around the bomb blast site

It’s remarkably quiet in town today. We’ve kept an eye on the e-press. They are busy re-editing the columns and sorting out facts from wild guesses. Originally one report had a senior policeman talking about the explosion being caused by
i) a bomb
ii) gelatine
iii) normal scooter explosion

That has unfortunately disappeared; we do hope the original is in the hard copy. We are certainly concerned about our scooter suffering a ‘normal scooter explosion’.

Another story that has been and gone is that 4 bombs in brown paper bags were found in Vasco (the main port in Goa) at 12.30pm thrown from a lorry by worried driver and passengers. A likely tale!

The (now both) dead are reported to be out-of-staters belonging to a right wing Hindu group. We can’t envisage why a right wing Hindu group would be wanting to bomb people celebrating the most important Hindu festival of the year. But then again, we are in India.

Diwali and exploding scooters

October 17, 2009

Exploding scooter. Margao

Like Xmas, Diwali comes round once a year and when it comes it brings good cheer, etc.etc. The date is governed by the phase of the moon; even so there seems to some confusion as to whether the right day is Saturday or Sunday. No matter. Another name for the occasion is Festival of Lights but it’s also a festival of noise, at least in Margao, Goa. Firecrackers, maroons and fireworks announce the beginning of the holiday and continue announcing for anything up to ten days. So we were not surprised by a loud explosion 100 yards down the road at about 9.30pm.

A particularly irritating neighbour sets off firecrackers at regular intervals throughout the night and at just before 4.00am the local band and mobile shrine arrives with obligatory firecrackers. This year Martin decided to get up and have a look.

He passed a bunch of indolent cops and asked if it had been a quiet night and they said yes. Not a word about the exploding scooter and they were sat opposite the site!

Martin caught up with the band and shrine, was immediately blessed and given an orange and baddam, a holy sweet. On the way back home he passed several family groups who had turned out to pay homage or whatever to the shrine. They all offered him baddam and it was a thoroughly fun atmosphere.

We can put up with a few sleep deprived nights and try not to grumble… all the festivals are really so good natured, innocent and childlike we can’t be manky about it.

When the day eventually gets going we check emails and find that our friend Andrew, currently in the UK, is asking if we are OK seeing as how we’ve been bombed! We check the press for their lurid and inaccurate accounts of ‘panic seizing Margao’. We guess that maybe the two men involved were carrying some kind of mining explosive (gelatine in the press) or maybe a large firework, which got overheated in the dicky of the scooter. Sadly (or not depending on your politics one has died and the other is on the danger list. We wouldn’t rate our chances if we were astride Harry the Honda in similar circumstances. Ouch.

An interesting start to Diwali 2009.

Bats

October 17, 2009

BatBat (4)

This fellow has visited us on two consecutive nights. One picture shows it caught on a ceiling hook. There didn’t seem to be any damage and it flittered off into the night once we’d released it. The bats seem very disoriented when they are in the room; keep bashing into walls and furniture. Makes you wonder how they can be so accurate when hawking for insect fodder.

Panic grips Margao after ‘bomb’ blast

October 17, 2009

Apparently we’re on ‘red alert’ after a ‘bomb’ blast last night (sometime between 9pm and 9.45pm, depending on which paper you read). The ‘bomb’ went off about 100 yards from our flat, behind the church for those of you who’ve been here.

Rest assured, panic has not gripped our particular section of Margao. We heard the blast and took no notice (!). India’s noisy at the best of times and it’s Diwali, which is celebrated with lots of firecrackers and the local band doing their bit at 4am.

We’ve written ‘bomb’ in inverted commas because it’s not entirely clear it was a bomb. Could have been inappropriately stored fireworks. However given that both scooter rider and pillion were seriously injured and one of them has since died, a bomb sounds a reasonable conclusion.

At least we now know why the police presence was so strong when Martin went out to photograph the band.

Rain

October 1, 2009

Blessed rain has been falling for nearly 48 hours now. Temperatures have dropped to seasonal norm or even a little below. Can this herald a proper winter? We sincerely hope so.

We can’t help being British with our built-in weather fetish, but we did think it would be reduced when we shipped out to Goa three years ago. We were led to believe that the climate only became slightly uncomfortable for a couple of months a year. Wishful thinking or what? Still the weather is more predictable that in the homeland, there’s something to be said for that.