Archive for April, 2011


April 28, 2011

Our beloved politician Mickky Pacheco has just been sentenced to a year’s simple imprisonment for assaulting a government employee… back in 2006. He is not being incarcerated yet; he has one month to appeal. Assuming that the appeal action will take only half the time of the original case we are looking at seeing him inside sometime in 2014 if the appeal is not successful.
Remember, this is the same chap who has been reported to be on a murder/manslaughter charge!


Death of a saint or charlatan

April 28, 2011

Sathya Sai Baba died recently several years before his self predicted demise. He had a magnificent send-off with heads of the Indian Government et al in attendance.
At the age of 14 he declared himself the re-incarnation of Sai Baba, a revered saint from way back. He gathered an immense Indian and, to a degree, world-wide following as well as an immense fortune (now being haggled over by various parties from state to family). His message was peace. He performed ‘miracles’, which were easily perceived sleight of hand tricks to enhance his image. Amongst the accusations against him was sexual abuse of boys.
How much space would you have given him?

Alternative Thinking.

April 23, 2011

We arrived at our clinic on Thursday afternoon to find it closed. A note explained the closure to the fact that the following day was Good Friday. It was not there at close of play on Wednesday. We normally reserve Thursdays for work other than our manual therapies, so we had re-scheduled the Friday patients for Thursday afternoon. So as usual we were well inconvenienced as were others who wanted to use the gymnasium and Wellness Center.

This all comes under the heading of Alternative Thinking or possibbly just Not Thinking. Alternative implies Indian rather than Western. Consider the following story.
A notorious criminal has now managed to escape police custody on five occasions. It seems that the escape plan is the same each time. It is no more than the prisoner obtaining a doctor’s certificate and on the way to the hospital shaking off the guards and running. Has no-one thought to shackle the man? Well, yes they have and it’s been discussed in the media. We surmise that the policemen given the job of escorting the prisoner have not been told of his propensity to run off.
Bureaucratic communication is not good in India.

Of course, there can different interpretations. Here’s one. The prisoner could be in the pay of a politician, who pays the police not to do their job.
In this world of smoke and mirrors who knows? Certainly nobody seems to care.


April 19, 2011

We cheered quietly about six weeks ago when, after three or more years of work, a small section of dual carriageway on the main road south out of Margao was opened. Well sort of opened, it’s still a mess but a much better kind of mess. We guess that it will be another year before it actually looks and works like a dual carriageway. However, the nightmare of crawling trafiic negotiating floods, seemingly anchored JCBs, potholes, different levels, cows, pedestrains, buses stopping wherever etc. is now over. The nightmare of faster flowing traffic on a dual carriageway dealing with oncoming traffic (on both sides and in the middle) while the latter try and figure out how to get to the other side of the central reservation, begins.
The problem, as ever in India, is lack of planning. We have decided that town planning in India is impossible due to the probability that no one from the various infrastructure departments ever talk to each other. A good few probably don’t even know that others exist.
Today in the papers, there is a wonderful picture of workmen going hammer and tongs digging a trench full width across a road. It’s obvious the road has been very recently resurfaced. This is confirmed by the background scene. Sure enough, there can be seen the hot mixing (tarmac) machinery and people hard at it. The diggers were only minutes behind them!

At this time, all over Margao, all the central and most main roads are difficult to navigate because of assorted holes that have been started (surface roughed up a bit), completed (30% of road unnavigable), abandoned (ditto), partially filled in (surface roughed up a lot), and overfilled (raised as much as 6 inches). None have been smoothed off and hot-mixed. Many seem to be opposite bus stops. This work has been organised (Well, what word would you use?) by the Electricity Board. We can only guess that project managers (Do they have those?) failed to remember that we get an annual monsoon, which effectively halts infrastructure projects, and have only just reminded the bosses to give the go-ahead. We can only hope that they will have reached the stage overfilling all the holes by the time the weather sets in. At least we won’t be disappearing into undetectable waterfilled pits.

Magic chappals

April 19, 2011

Martin’s chappals (sandals) disappeared one Sunday morning when we went for our crack of dawn beach run. First thoughts were that it was theft by one of the many underprivileged, then maybe dogs. It was a small matter anyway, the main inconvenience being the running in of a new pair.

Three weeks later, we nearly ran over a pair of chappals lying in the beach car park. Alison went to check and returned with Martin’s chappals. They appeared to have been used as they were in worse condition at the time of disappearance. So we dismissed the idea that dogs were the villains, but are left pondering why they were returned. Or were they? Perhaps the thief had taken them off while he went about some nefarious business barefoot and was mightily disappointed to find that his prize had gone.

Scrambled eggs

April 19, 2011

Continuing the Return of the Bulbuls story.
The following night a third egg appeared; all was well. Two days passed quietly and then on the next afternoon all hell let loose as the bulbuls defended the nest against a marauding Koel. The koel is of the cuckoo tribe and they generally lay their eggs in crows’ nests, but perhaps any old nest with eggs will do. They are egg eaters and will sometimes take defenceless chicks. The male koel is all black with menacing red eyes, the female is more like UK cuckoos, but still has those eyes.
The bulbuls won this round and life returned to normal.
Yesterday, Martin returned from work and found two smashed eggs on the floor under the nest. The third was still in the nest, but the nest had broken away from its moorings on one side and had tilted far enough to jettison the others.
We think the construction rather than the Koels was at fault, but we’ll never know.

Although Martin wired the nest securely back the bulbuls have abandoned it and are happily inspecting the rooms in the house, presumably preparing for another attempt.

Back in India before leaving KL

April 19, 2011

One of the great (!) things about India is that you’re pretty much back as soon as you check in at the airport.

You know you are flying to the sub continent when the party of four in front of you have 15 pieces of luggage between them, including four huge flat screen TVs. Some of the bags are overweight, requiring repacking, and all of this is taking place in front of the check in desks. Suffice it to say there was no access to most of the check in desks because this party of four were occupying the floor space.

As we were early, we were diverted to the premium check in so that we could proceed.

Malaysia has been a treat. Lovely scenery, friendly people, and things work. It’s amazing how easy it was to get around and do what we wanted to do as complete strangers. On departure I told the immigration official what a lovely country he has. He invited me to come back soon. Enough said. Can’t wait.

Our first visit to Kuala Lumpur

April 13, 2011


Twin Towers and National Mosque

Due to having a fairly early morning flight to Mumbai, we decided to journey back from Borneo a day early and spend and afternoon and night in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (KL).

It’s a stunning modern city. Clearly prosperous, spacious and so easy to get around. From the airport there are buses and combined bus/trains that get you to KL Sentral (hub railway station) in an hour. Once at KL Sentral, you have a choice of a monorail and under/overground system which is very easy to use. Tickets around 2 ringits (5 ringits to the pound) allowed us to journey right into the heart of the city. We took in the Petronas Towers and the Kuala Lumpur tower, before making our way to the main tourist/shopping centre.

We found an Irish bar and enjoyed A few pints of Guinness and ‘proper’beer, before decamping to a Japanese restaurant for sushi and sake. We met interesting people, including an American working in the oil industry and a German couple who run a dive centre in the Maldives.

We’re not big on cities, and of course we were spoilt by staying right in the centre with easy transport. Not sure if we’d like it so much commuting in from the suburbs. There’s no doubt a reason why the airports and the Sepang Grand Prix track are an hour out of town. But for a first visit it was so straightforward – I’d like to go back.

Sabah observations.

April 13, 2011

Nothing exciting seems to happen.
Everything is clean and well maintained. The large car park opposite is swept by hand everyday!
People adhere to traffic rules (and we guess a lot more rules, to boot)
Road markings and signage are good
Public transport is well-organised, efficient and clean and not overcrowded
English is spoken pretty well, without much pidgin
White skins are not items of curiosity, even though there aren’t very many in evidence
The locals are restrained and not noisy and very friendly. Apparently the noisiest people are Korean tourists
The equatorial climate seems more comfortable than Goa’s
The Malay language seems simple enough
Beautiful coast line and hills. Acres of gloomy palm oil trees.
Comfortable mix of religions
All very tame after Goa and India. Just what we needed.

Return of the Bulbuls

April 13, 2011

During the winter we have seen six bulbuls in and around the flat. Most have come in and inspected the new paintwork at one time or another and they have also explored other rooms where they hadn’t ventured previously.
Ten days back, Alison waded through a collection of leaves and twigs on the lounge floor. Our original couple had decided that the prime nest site was to be in a purple Divali lampshade. After a lot of noisy building the nest was completed on day 7 and now there are two red speckled eggs, laid on consecutive nights.