Archive for October, 2011

Indian Grand Prix

October 29, 2011

During the run-up to the start of this Sunday’s first FI in India the authorities were testing emergency service response in event of a crash causing life-threatening injuries to a driver.

All was going well until the ambulance driver couldn’t find his way to the hospital. The official who was in the role of the injured driver had to tell him to give up the search as the delay would have caused him to dead on arrival.

Only in India?

Divali

October 28, 2011

Divali – the Festival of Lights – is probably the most popular of Indian festivals and the date as is normal is governed by the phases of the moon. To plan for the exact day in advance seems to be a conundrum, but no matter, as everyone eventually agrees to a date, this year Wednesday 26th October. In Goa, the formula is different from other states. Here we celebrate the death of a demon by the god Rama (we think). This year the politicians have forked out overly large sums to pay for the construction of straw effigies which are burnt. Why this year particularly? Elections are on the horizon.

Firecrackers and assorted fireworks are let off for about 36 hours more or less non-stop. There’s a public holiday and a jolly time is had by all. The weather is unseasonably humid and hot.

We went to a small Divali party, did puja to the goddess Lakshmi, lit candles and a bonfire. Martin lost the two bike keys while doing the boy scout wood gathering work, Alison had spares.

Next morning the petrol lock key had been mislaid between garage and bedroom. Now the bike couldn’t be started or at least would only run until the contents of the carburettor. 30 minutes searching was spent without result. Martin decided best course of action was to replace the lock;job completed in about 90 sweaty and irritable minutes. Next up was getting duplicates. Another sweaty and irritable 90 minutes establishing that neither the two Margao key cutters (one legal the other illegal) had Enfield key blanks.

Anyway the bike was now useable. Then of course he found the missing key… lodged in his helmet! To add insult to injury, a phone call from the previous evening’s hostess immediately followed the discovery announcing that the errant keys had been located.

As always in India, immediate action is rarely a good choice.

Visa Run Pt 5

October 22, 2011

We didn’t want to leave Sicily, but it was time to start heading back home to face up to a new project at work. So back to Clows Top, pack up with the stuff we have to buy in England because we can’t get in India. One item that no-one seems to get the hang of in India is yard brooms and deck scrubbers. We sense that if these were available India might start to look more finished and less like a permanent building site. Mind you, that’s probably unfair to most Western building sites, which look considerably tidier than most of India, but you get our drift.

Uneventful re-entry to Planet Goa and life has trundled on as normal, with only a weekend conference to disturb the waters between the last week of September and today 22nd October.

Annual Visa Run Pt4

October 22, 2011

So back to Clows Top, Worcs, an early morning run along the banks of the Severn and preparations for a few days in Sicily.
Alitalia flew us to Catania, Sicily via Rome, put our baggage on the wrong plane, which caused a ruckus on our arrival. However the wrong plane came in 90 minutes after ours with baggage. Bus ride along the Autostrada to Taormina Giardini, five minute walk to great hotel/apartment/restaurant set up. The latter was near enough empty as the season had officially finished the week before. Great timing. The Mediterranean out front and the railway line out back. Martin sampled his first Italian coffee and had to agree with Alison that the Italians probably make the best coffee in the world.
Alison’s research had paid off as usual and we found ourselves ideally placed for
1 Catania, second city of Sicily, baroque, easy to reach by bus/train, best fish market in Europe (says Rick Stein), easy going street scene, worth several visits… a million miles from Margao.
2 Taormina, medieval hilltop town, 15 minutes by bus, 40 minutes on foot straight up the hill, complete with (disappointing) Roman theatre, worth two visits
3 Mt Etna, by bus 40 minutes, not sure how long to the top; we didn’t go, just admired the smoking thing from 20 miles distance. She didn’t put on a display for us. Best view was from the incoming flight (sit on the port side)
4 The sea, restaurants, bakeries (how to start the day Italian style), shops, not the branded ones, local ones; clothes, food, wine; all there, right.

Sicilians are delightful. Despite their almost zero English and our almost zero Italian, understanding didn’t seem a problem at all. We saw neither hide not hair of the mafia (disappointing or a relief?). On our last visit to Kefalonia, our previous Med retreat, we felt that the Greek-ness had disappeared, over-run by Euroland. So Sicily has taken over as our Southern Europe hotspot.

PS Despite many trains the railway was so quiet it didn’t trouble us. Even when workmen arrived in the early hours to do track repairs, they made a huge effort to be as quiet as possible. India take note.

Annual Visa Run Pt3

October 22, 2011

Monday saw us in Dorset for an hour or two, while we visited nephew Nick and family. Like Alison’s parents place in Worcestershire, Nick’s house and the position in English countryside makes us consider one of the things we miss about England. The same thoughts arise when we arrive in Henley the same evening to stay with friends who live on an island in the Thames. Nice to be able to go to a pub by boat, have a drink, and then motor home after, without the concern of being stopped by the police.
Next day on to High Wycombe for a meeting with our accountant before heading back to Birmingham to collect our visas. No problem there, so we can now enjoy the remainder of the three week ‘out of station’ without the worry of not getting a visa.

Annual Visa Run Pt2

October 22, 2011

Granddaughter Ebony

En famille

North Cornwall cliffs

Then followed catching up with UK paperwork, family news and generally beginning to wind down. Weather turned for the better and a trip to Bewdley proved very pleasant. We were able to get several bits and pieces which are difficult to source in India.
We headed for Cornwall on Friday. Easy going as the school holidays were about to end and tourists were all heading back the other way. It was good to be with our Cornwall family and the weekend and following Monday was non-stop. Mixed weather as we were catching the tailend of Hurricane Irene. Padstow was still heaving with tourists and now seems like a place to be avoided rather than the picturesque fishing village of twenty years back when Martin lived there. This popularity can still be attributed to one man, Rick Stein of Seafood Restaurant fame. He collects businesses in the area.

Annual Visa Run Pt1

October 22, 2011

VFS office Birmingham

After a busy August we headed for the UK on our annual visa run. The rules are still not clear and as we found out subject to change without notice. The paperwork gathering was tedious and added to a new business project made for a stressful run-up to departure.
We chose the most direct route back Goa-Quatar-London and after leaving home at 2.00am (taxi driver thought we were leaving at lunchtime and was fast asleep when we phoned to find out where he was) we arrived at Alison’s parents in Clows Top Worcestershire in the early afternoon. It wasn’t too warm.
Next day we presented at the visa office in Birmingham to find that the rules for certain letters had been changed without notice. Needless to say this caused problems with 4 documents. However the officer said she would recommend waiving the rules in our case. Result? Visas were issued in the fastest time ever and by the time we arrive back home we will have wasted 4 weeks of visa time! Ho hum.

Better than a mango?

Out of the ordinary

October 22, 2011

Apologies to those who follow the Goan Crazy blog for the break in transmission. We guess that after five years here, we now accept most of those things that we originally found odd, amusing, hilarious, incomprehensible, tedious, frustrating, childlike and different from life in the UK. We just forgot to continue with these notes. However, a couple of events yesterday sparked our enthusiasm for blogging again.

On our commuting runs to work we are now inured to the anarchy of the roads, to the clapped out public transport and wagons, to the ruinous state of the roads. We always expect a bus/lorry to disintegrate before our eyes, but until yesterday this hadn’t actually happened.

Alison and others were sedately or otherwise negotiating the potholes on the main road back home, when a loud bang brought traffic to a halt. Everybody needed to look. The front wheel off a bus had broken loose and was trundling gently down a side road having avoided all obstacles. Only the driver and the cleaner were aboard the bus and were unharmed if slightly alarmed. The bus looked a little more battered than usual. Alison moved off before the road became permanently blocked.

Returning home after a dinner out, we were met by a large rat on the stairs. He looked a little drunk, we’d had a couple too. We wanted to go up and he wanted to go down but he didn’t want to negotiate a passage past us although we were quite happy about that happening. The three of us performed an odd kind of dance while we advanced, circled and invited him forward on the stairs. It all sorted out satisfactorily in the end. And so to bed.