Archive for November, 2009


November 24, 2009

Traffic in most of Goa’s major towns and larger villages suffer from serious congestion a lot of the time, not least because of inadequate planning, poor road building and worse maintenance and lack of enforcement of traffic laws. In Margao the latest initiative has been to announce a new scheme of no entry here and there at a major junction. The announcement in the press on the 17th November, albeit garbled (directions are not a strong point here), said there was to be a month long trial to be enforced from 18th November.

So far the announcement appears to be all that has happened apart from a traffic cop being beaten up for trying to enforce it. We regularly negotiate this junction and nothing appears to have changed.

There is no will to get the job done. We guess there can’t be any money to be made from the scheme therefore it’s not going to happen.


It’s that ‘iffy’ time of year again

November 24, 2009

Films are big in India

It’s towards the end of November, the time of year when anyone of a sane disposition stays away from Goa’s state capital, Panjim. Why? Because it’s IFFI – the International Film Festival of India. We’re not sure how many years Goa has hosted India’s premier film festival, but every time it’s the same old story. Politicians mouth platitudes about how Goa is ‘a premier destination’ for film makers, but all around chaos ensues.

The opening ceremony, due to start at 5pm, doesn’t start until 5.45 – which is just as well as some guests were still wandering in after 6pm
Mobile phones were supposedly banned from the auditorium for the ceremony, however not only did guests enter with phones they continued to use them. Bags are not allowed in, but most women carried their handbags. Children under 18 were not allowed into the ceremony, yet people took toddlers and babies in.

The guest speaker had to tell the photographers to shut up because they were bickering loudly while he was speaking. Despite a supposed limit on ticket numbers to keep it within the seating capacity for the auditorium, many people had to stand.

And that’s just the opening ceremony – the real fun begins when the overbooking of screenings becomes apparent. The critics and people involved in films cannot get in but some politician’s cousin three times removed will get front row seats for themselves and their entourage.

If all this seems a bit petty, think of the security implications of a ticketing system that’s out of control at a public event, and allowing a ban on mobile phones to be routinely abused. And this for an event that takes place every year, so there’s no excuse to keep making a mess of it. And all this when the Goa is in a ‘high state of alert’.

If a major national annual event can get stuffed up, what price the Commonwealth Games?

Temperature plummets

November 12, 2009

Monsoon brew (14)

Cyclone coming

The edge of a cyclone centred about 250 miles out to sea has clipped Goa… and in some ways it’s been very welcome too. We are sorry that it’s moving steadily northwards away from us. Apart from the temperature plummeting to 25c and staying quite low, we had tropical downpours to match the worst that monsoon throws at us and gusting winds, not a patch on a good gale coming in from the Atlantic, but exciting enough.

We were aware that something was afoot on Sunday when we’d decided to ride the Bullet out into the countryside; it started to drizzle steadily, unheard of in November. It was a great day out away from the city and exploring an isolated village that has changed little over the centuries and dining in a 200 year old restored Portugese house. The menu was also 200 years old, which interesting as food preparation has not changed that much in Goa. After lunch we biked to the “Moon” temple on top of a remote 1000ft hill. There has been a temple here for 1500 years and the visit was quite atmospheric. We’re tempted to go up there for a full moon festival.

The downside of the storm is that (as usual) power supplies were interrupted, traffic was disrupted and it made for a good excuse for the market traders to hike the price of fresh produce.


November 1, 2009

Lantern Fruit art Dindi shrine
After two weeks the Divali Festival of lights is beginning to dim, but that doesn’t mean to say that festival season is on the wane. This full moon heralds a Margao only festival which covers two days. It has disturbed us in previous years but we haven’t bothered to find out what it’s all about. That’s changed this year. We promised that if we were woken we’d get up and go have a look.
Sure enough at 1.30 in the morning Martin was woken by music about 250 yards away in the town square. Alison was able to sleep through.
The show was worth the effort. Top traditional Indian musicians from Bombay were in full flow, flower arrangements made from fruit, coloured flour pavement ‘paintings and beautifully crafted lanterns were on display. This was all topped off with a 2.00am 15 minute firework display. Not so good if you’re trying to get some kip.
This was the 100th Dindi festival which started after someone toted a photograph of a popular god around town in 1909 following the cessation of a plague that had struck the town. Apparently numbers were down this year due to the recent bomb. There seemed to be at least one policeman for every 5 spectators. There were even four rickety bamboo towers from which a couple of policemen observed the goings on. They looked to be the most at risk from death or serious injury.