Archive for December, 2009


December 26, 2009

We paraphrase from one of our delightful Christmas present books ‘The Queen’sEnglish’. It sums up our occasional feelings of total inadequacy in the face of the very different culture here in India.

It was not easy for the Raj to govern the Indian subcontinent with all its different races, languages, religions and unfamiliar customs. Evidence shows that demoralised and weary soldiers were sent to a camp at Deolali before they were returned to England, where family and friends would observe from the frail state of mind of the soldiers that they had spent some time at Deolali.
The town’s railhead at Nashik was oriented at the end of a south sweeping curve on the line from Bombay.

We leave you to work out the two colourful phrases concerning your possible opinion on the mental state of the writer (s).
Try saying Deolali out loud.


2009 Business Roundup

December 26, 2009

The McTimoney Centaur - Cheiron

All in all a good year, particularly as Alison has been pulling in most of the business and Martin has been fishing (twice).

Highlights are as follows:
We formed a Private Limited Company called Centaur Healthcare Services,the Centaur being the logo for McTimoney Chiropractic in the UK.
We missed our turnover target by only 1%, so some good predicting a year ago. Martin could have helped a bit more than he did but excuses himself that the locals find his work harder to get on with and fishing began to take on a priority.
Two months ago we completed our move to premises to a modern set up in the grounds of a top quality college. Going through gates is just like walking out of India! Manicured gardens, properly maintained buildings and equipment, no rubbish nor cows.
The British Business Group in Goa has been joined and should be a help in growth.
New equipment has been purchased.
An agreement to take over the running of six clinic rooms, three physiotherapists and massage therapist is in the process of being finalised (only two months behind schedule). Finding them enough patients to pay their wages is the first priority and we believe we can handle this. Currently they are only bringing in 50% of their salary.
Moving from disease care to healthcare, we are naming the new business The Chowgule Wellness Centre, Alison having firmly vetoed Martin’s choice of The Centaur Center – well really.

Low lights:
Big dip in turnover during monsoon, not aided by a three week holiday.
Can’t think of anything else.

A tough year ahead, but we’re starting it with a 10 day holiday, which isn’t so bad. Should be turning a profit before six months have passed… but this is India and we’re not able to control the future anyway. At the moment Ganesh is smiling on us.

January 2010

December 26, 2009

2010 Balancing Act

Late happy New Year Greetings to us all! We drafted a holiday blog and that went AWOL so we’ll try again in a few days. Meanwhile back at the ranch a few headlines from our arrival back in Goa on the 6th.

Alison was stopped by the traffic cops, because she gave them a reason to stop a white skin: Harry the Honda’s headlight was on.The cop had the decency to look a little shame-faced when Alison produced her Goan driving licence. What next? Stopped because we’ve left the indicator on?

A previous blog has mentioned a feeble attempt at smoothing the traffic flow. This scheme has been re-implemented for 5 days experiment. It actually works like a dream, but we think that next week all will be back to chaos.

Documentation for our renting 7 clinic rooms at Chowgule College progresses slowly and painfully and we expect that we will be fully installed on February 1st. We will then have a ‘Grand’ opening day. We will start big by inviting the Chief Minister of Goa to do the honours and wonder how it can possibly pan out successfully, but it will. The Chief Minister is the equivalent of the head of the Scottish Parliament, whatever his title, but size wise read Cornish for Scottish.

A few days back we had monsoon like weather with a couple of hours of heavy rain. That’s a first as far as we are concerned. Something to do with a depression loitering over The Lackshadweep Islands somewhere off the SW coast of India. Cloudy and lightning again today. The weather is generally cooler than this time last year.

All else seems well, apart from Alison’s persistant cold, in this emerald land that the government chooses to call it on its website. We’ll work out where this emerald bit is, someday.

The Idle Schoolboy

December 25, 2009

On several mornings recently we have been disturbed by someone whistling, totally without melody or tone, at 3.00am. Not really irritating, but distinctly odd and repetetive. Once when he seemed to be just outside in the road, Martin got up to tell him to put a sock in it, but there was nobody to be seen except a sleeping watchman.

On Christmas Eve morning, Martin was looking down into the driveway at 6.00am while it was still dark, or as dark as it gets in the city centre, and he saw a bird silently pottering about. He didn’t recognise it but was able to remember enough characteristics to identify it later in The Book of Indian Birds. He discovered that it was a thrush. We’ll quote from the book.

‘Dark purple blue, spotted with glistening blue etc. Male has a rich and remarkably human whistling song, rambling aimlessly up and down the scale, whence the bird gets its popular name of The Idle Schoolboy’. It’s classification is Myiophonus caeruleus, aka the Malabar Whistling Thrush.

Just wish he wouldn’t be so idle at 3.00am.

Myiophonus caeruleus

Lancelot, global traveller

December 25, 2009

Introducing Lancelot the Arthrostim.

Lancelot and Alison

Lancelot is a sophisticated piece of electonic equipment which Alison uses in her chiropractic work. Lancelot is expensive and 6 months new. Lancelot, we think, and Indian Electricity do not work well together, despite our best precautions. Lancelot broke down.

He returned to the US for a one-day fix but spent a month away zig-zagging around the world courtesy of DHL and UPS. He went east to west via Europe, the Phillipines and HK, not quite crossing the Equator. He eventually returned home with a new solenoid motor. The cost of the repair was zilch (he’s guaranteed for 4 years), the cost of his travels were the eqivalent of 8 chiropractic treatments.

We are not counting on him to survive the rigours of Indian Electricity and are biting on the bullet of six monthly extended trips to the US. Perhaps, we should purchase Guinevere so they can alternately circumnavigate the globe.

Short and sweet and sour

December 25, 2009

Good for another 5 years

Well! On the tenth visit to the RTO to keep the 15 year old Hari Enfield legal, Martin experienced the swiftest ever visit to these nightmare offices and came out feeling like an Olympic Marathon Champion. The medal was Hari’s registration book with a scrawled note saying that he is now registered for another 5 years. martin has a sneaking suspicion that the reason for the rapid passage was that everybody was itching to get away for the 4 day Xmas holiday and that the bosses had instructed that all the hurdles were to be removed. Thank God for Christmas spirit, whatever the reasons behind it.

Can it be true that Martin will not have to enter these gates of hell for another 4 years and 11 months? Place your bets and watch this space.

The sour bit is that Hari Enfield was treated to a new odometer and speedometer for Christmas, the old one having never functioned. It failed after 29 kilometres… MII (Made in India) and no guarantee, of course.

While shepherds…

December 25, 2009

Night Watchman

After midnight we returned home from Xmas Eve celebrations by the edge of the sea surviving the erratic behaviour of impatient black-suited and drunken motorists on their way to midnight mass (they were well late). The level-crossing keeper didn’t help matters by not opening the gates for a couple of minutes after the 1/2 mile long freight train had passed, while he finished what looked like some unnecessary tidying up the tracks.

Back home, in a fit of unusual generosity, Martin decided give our night watchman a Christmas box of Rs 100/-. This fellow has a full-time 6 days a week job working in a factory and is literally moonlighting for those few extra rupees to keep body and soul together. He cycles 30 kilometres or more to get here and back. No wonder then that he nearly missed out on the Christmas box, as it took some vigorous shaking to rouse him from his slumbers in his broken down plastic chair. His smile was worth the 100 bucks.

Happy Christmas and wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2010. Alison and Martin

The End of a perfect day or Silent Night

December 20, 2009

Merry Xmas to you allWe’ve just enjoyed a very peaceful Sunday. Learning a bit of Hindi, Xmas phone calls to friends, laundry, eggs and bacon for breakfast, a run before dawn followed by a swim as the sun rose.

Peaceful that is until 6.00pm. Some thoughtful people have set up two microphones and four boom boxes just outside the flat. We guess we’re in for a couple of hours of Goan style Xmas Carols and some shouting from the local priest about the joys of Xmas. Oh good!

Yesterday we endured what sounded like a rally for the Nazi Party with Adolf Hitler as the main attraction. It turned out that about a dozen people were attending a ‘driving out of demons’ session or at least that’s what it looked like to Martin who went to investigate… nobody would tell him or they really didn’t know what was going on and the rest of the locals were ignoring it despite the humungous noise.

Happy Birthday, Hari

December 20, 2009

Happy Birthday

Hari is 15 years old on Xmas Eve. This is a great opportunity for the beloved RTO (Road Traffic Office, which has a worse reputation that the Elecricity office) to make trouble because 15 year old vehicles have to be re-registered.
Must be something to do with Martin’s karma, but it all went smoothly… relatively. An initial two visits to the RTO produced two forms (without instructions) and some vague verbal procedural directions. He completed Form 25 (making only two errors) but was flummoxed by most questions on Form 1; it didn’t seem to be at all relevant. Armed with all possible documents and rubber stamps, he returned and presented. He was told that he needed another document (the six monthly PUC), that a pencil rubbing of Hari’s chassis number be glued (not stapled) to Form 25, an NPP certificate (No Prosecution Pending) and to pay a Green Tax; the last two at another RTO office in a different area of Margao.
The PUC (Pollution Under Control) was obtained although the testing machine did not appear to be working, the reading of Hari’s exhaust registering the same as fresh air.
At the second office he had to buy a ‘Green tax’ form. This turned out to be the same as Form 1 and had absolutely no reference to the said tax. Having struggled to fill it in, he went for help to another clerk who scribbled out all Martin’s efforts and just wrote Green tax on the form. Then it was on to ‘No Prosecution Pending’ clerk. With only a cursory glance,he just rubber-stamped it. Job done. Now return to Office 1.
To cut it short, three different officials checked that he had paid the Green Tax, two of them twice. The next instructions were to return in four days to collect the paperwork. ‘Then is finished? No more visits?’ said Martin in best pidgin English. Lots of head shaking followed… this means yes.
Four days later Martin arrived to be told that he couldn’t collect the papers, he should have turned up before 12. Three days later he turned up before 12 to be told to come back at 2.30. Nothing doing, Martin had patients… but he was told that the 2.30 presentation was for a vehicle inspection. ‘What inspector inspecting?’, says Martin. ‘Me, not knowing’ was the answer. Nobody else knew and the Assistant Vehicle Inspector wouldn’t tell him.
Eventually the inspection took place, such as it was. One look at the chassis number and job done. Others who were being inspected were getting a right going over, so God knows what Martin got right. Probably paying the Green Tax was the trick. An officialised bribe maybe? Who knows, nothing is what it seems here.

Papers to be collected on Xmas Eve, God willing.

It’s fine time again

December 13, 2009

No overtaking ?

Returning from a day’s labour in Patnem we were riding over the world’s longest bridge over the shortest distance two minutes from home, when the traffic cops waved us over. We have got used to them stopping us for a chat but this seemed a strange place to do it, mainly because it blocks half of the narrow carriageway. Cursing himself for not renewing the needful six monthly PUC (Pollution under control certificate) Martin prepared for a paperwork inspection when he realised that a chat was not the idea of the flagging down. The cop didn’t ask for papers however. As a bus nearly took us all out while it overtook a slow-moving rickshaw, he was accused of overtaking… which he had. He’d also been overtaken and it is a regular occurence on the bridge. Not that we’d noticed before but there are apparently 20 No Overtaking signs on the bridge!

The fine was Rs 600/- , commuted to 100/- presumably because the cop was feeling good today!

A fellow motorcyclist was also stopped at the same time for overtaking, but he didn’t get paperwork and he only paid Rs 50/-. There wasn’t a hope in hell of them stopping anything larger than a 2-wheeler because they would have blocked the only road from the south into Margao.

Two days later we were stopped again, this time ostensibly for a chat but under pressure to buy a flag for Army Day, which had occurred about a week ago. Rs 100/-, please. No way! He was more than pleased with 50/-. And now we hoped to be left alone for another couple of years.