Archive for June, 2010

Road Safety Week from July 1

June 30, 2010

Goa State Bus

In the 31 days of May we read that 46 people died on the roads of Goa. The paper reports that 11 were pedestrians, 19 were two-wheeler riders but fails to mention who the remaining 16 were. We assume that they were the occupants of cars. Why they are not specifically mentioned we can only guess at but sense that car drivers are somehow considered superior beings to lowly pedestrians and two-wheeler riders and shouldn’t be mentioned in the same article.

Anyway Road Safety Week has come round again. We are not expecting much criticism of the pathetic driving test and the lax policing of the roads. We are expecting the formation of local safety committees and much talk about how to get people on to the state run buses and out of or off their private vehicles.

To put this figure into perspective, the UK sees about 3,000 deaths on the road every year. If driving standards and road conditions in the UK were equivalent to Goa, we’d see more like 2,000 deaths every month. Conversely, if Goa implemented some fairly simple changes in its road design and driver training, you could cut Goa’s road deaths to more like 5-10 a month.

Let’s hope next May’s road kill doesn’t top 50.

The natives are restless in Mumbai

June 29, 2010

The lengths we go to - enter Mrs Joachim

Petrol prices have risen and so taxi drivers in Mumbai have been staging one-day strikes. Such unscheduled behaviour led a German male friend to dress as a woman to avoid a confrontation. Aided by his usual taxi driver (who has a family of six to feed so has to think twice about whether he can afford days off through strikes), they ventured forth in Mumbai. Read below for Joachim’s tale of ‘just another day at the office’ in India.

‘Coming from the Sea Link Bridge we entered Worli where an agitated mob of maybe 20 taxi driver blocked the road. Seeing us they started yelling and hitting with fists and bamboo sticks onto our car. Yes and then one wild rolling eyed superhero smashed in the rear tail gate window where I was sitting. In this moment Aziz picked up speed and forced them to jump aside. We escaped unhurt, luckily.

Needless to mention that there wasn’t a single sign of some police presence.

After all the business meetings it was time to drive back to the hotel nearby the airport. Now how to manage this? Aziz suggested I shall duck and hide and if we get stopped, he will say, it’s an emergency and I’ve to see a specialist in a hospital. It was about time to have one of my brilliant ideas. I went into a shop and bought a green scarf (mind the movie “Shopaholic”). Covering my face with this I disguised myself as a woman, sat on the front seat. Then I thought it might look strange if a wife is taller than her husband, so I made myself small by leaning back though it was a bit uncomfortable but kja kare?

Another thought suddenly struck me. I have to change immediately my habit of neither looking to the cars and pedestrians beside us nor to look at anything else. So Joachim, just look straight ahead and become one of the Black Ghosts even if it’s a green one. Actually beside it is a bit more than inhumane to cover your face and never feel the breeze in your hair, all because of some untamed lustful mind of males, you’ll at least come drastically aware if you suffering from a bad breathe…

What else to say than, we finally reached safely the hotel without further trouble. I felt so grateful for Mr. Khan and what he did for me so he got some extra money for his braveness and for the rear window as well.’

Shopping.

June 11, 2010

Shopping isn’t Martin’s favourite pasttime and in India it is even less so. Birthday present shopping was particularly stressful this year. Having selected a sports watch for Alison (right colour, size, not too many functions etc.) it was discovered there was no battery in it. Ten minutes of various staff faffing around not only failed to produce a battery, there was no sign of instructions or a box either. Of course nothing else like it in the myriad of watch shops in Margao either. The iPod was easier, but would take a week to ten days while it was shipped from Bombay. A folding table and chair set was ideal, but one chair disintegrated when staff demonstrated its foldability; and of course they didn’t have another. The only popcorn in Margao was mostly dust as it was riddled with weevils, but that’s another story.

However an unusual success was the card. In Goa all cards are saccharine and naff; most Europeans have long given up buying cards here. Although not a ‘proper’ birthday card, this was just right for Alison’s tastes, very English garden flowers…. and less than 10p!

Monsoon

June 6, 2010

A cloud appeared today and spent a minute dropping rain on us. Not good enough! Monsoon was predicted to arrive on 5th June but it’s still lurking a few hundred kilometres south of Goa.

It always rains on Alison’s birthday, in three days time, but this year it looks as if we’ll be out of luck. May is always a tough month weatherwise and we all look forward to a good soaking in June, when the temperature drops back to the high 20’s rather than the mid 30’s. People regain their normal good humour and get back to doing things, the dust settles and is washed away and desiccated countryside quickly turns green. On the downside drains overflow and towns flood (sometimes with sewage), prices go up for staples as transport gets bogged down in difficult road conditions. Inadequately maintained roads wash away, buildings, trees and railway cuttings collapse. Life gets on the move again while still managing to get bogged down.

Mickky (sic)

June 6, 2010

Our beloved State Tourism minister and local MP, Mickky Pacheco is up to his tricks again. His first wife is suing for bigamy and his long term girl friend has allegedly committed suicide by taking rat poison. After taking the poison she was ferried from a hospital here in Goa to a hospital in Bombay and then to a hospital in Chennai (Madras), where she succumbed. The press woke from their torpor and penned some confusing articles; Mickky’s enemies started stirring the pot and the police got involved. Mickky was hauled in for a ten hour interrogation on Friday and let go, having been advised that they would want to interrogate him further. Did they keep an eye on him? Not on your life! We guess someone has collected a princely sum to do a Nelson.

Guess what! They’ve lost him. He’s gone to earth. He is absconding. He’s done a runner.

Oh! We must also mention that Mickky has had the decency to resign from his ministerial duties and our Chief Minister says this event does not sully his government’s image.

Heritage Site – Goan style

June 6, 2010


It’s a quintessentially Indian scenario. Ten years ago today a 300 metre long ore carrier was stranded 100 metres from the popular beach at Candolim North Goa. In all probability she could have been towed off quite quickly.

The River Princess has been declared a state disaster. She still lies there decaying and causing dramatic erosion. Of course with each passing year the possibility of a clean simple removal becomes more unlikely as she starts to rust away. Each year brings promises from the government; more tenders go out with silly stipulations; obviously not enough bribe money is being offered by the various interested local and foreign contractors, so any action is stalled. Something is happening however; every so often someone seems to give her a fresh coat of paint.

So a decade on and the River Princess removal still a distant dream and brings with it the exciting prospect of the hulk being reclassified from a State Disaster to a State Heritage Site.