Archive for December, 2011

Christmas greetings

December 20, 2011

Christmas Greetings to all our readers.

What? No snow?

We still are not used to warm weather at Christmas. Santa Claus looks so uncomfortable in the heat and carols have been a little tiresome already. When we rule the world Christmas carols will be banned before Christmas Eve, and then only the Kings College Cambridge Choir variety allowed.

We are heading up north for a holiday, into rural Rajasthan, to look at palaces and ride horses. It will be cooler but less Christmassy, with few Christians.

We wish you all the best of health and prosperity for the New Year.

Martin and Alison

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Liberation Day – bah!

December 20, 2011

Monday was a holiday to celebrate the heroic Indian Army kicking out a couple of hundred Portuguese soldiers and the administrators in less than ten days from this Cornwall-sized state of Goa. The Portuguese (often mispelt here as Protugese) had been in Goa for 450 years, not doing much good, but not doing much harm either. They were a thorn in the foot of the Indian government.

There are still many who think that this ‘liberation’ was ‘not a good thing’. A friend’s response to Martin’s question ‘Are you celebrating Liberation Day?’ was simply ‘Bah!’

Half Marathon tortoises

December 20, 2011

One of the things that has cut down on blog time has been The Goa River Half Marathon. We only bothered to think about doing it last year, but this year we knuckled down and got on with 12 hours or more training per week. This went according to plan apart from starting a non-incapacitating knee problem for Alison and a missed 10 mile run for Martin when he was suffering from something akin to gout, but probably just a small foot muscle problem.
The great day dawned (for us) at 4.30am when our faithful taxi driver collected us and delivered us in good time to the start point at Baina Beach. The event was well organised (makes a change) and bang on six we left and head off north with a setting full moon on the left and a rising sun on the right. Having cleared the city of Vasco da Gama it was a pleasant run along the banks of the Mandovi. As we passed the one third mark (7 ks) on the out-and-back course the Kenyan front runners were hurtling homewards. Slightly dispiriting; we did feel like tortoises.
We both completed in about 2 1/2 hours, Alison coming around sixth in her class and Martin having beaten half the field and lost to the other half.

We’ll be there next year if we can fix Alison’s knee.

Double coconut ceremony

December 8, 2011

As mentioned in the previous blog the roads have been a nightmarish mess. Usually there is at least one serviceable road out of Margoa centre at any one time, but not for a year. Electrics, sewerage and running repairs, total lack of planning, slow working practices, poor quality materials and application, and an inability to complete anything are the cause. The blame falls squarely on the politicians.

This does not stop one of them complaining bitterly that another is busy trying to take all the credit for overseeing the farce. What credit, we ask ourselves. If it was us we’d be trying to distance ourselves!

We’ve read recently that a new bit of road has been recently opened near the airport. It needed two separate coconut ceremonies to get it open because two politicians both felt that this achievement was down to them.

Iffy and St F Xavier

December 8, 2011

Actually it’s IFFI International Film Festival of India. This annual filmfest usually opens in Panjim but this year our beloved Chief Minister, Digambar Kamat, persuaded the organisers to open in Margao, his constituency. The festival is usually a mess and so it was this year but with the added fun of Diggy blowing his own trumpet and yapping on about ‘beautiful’ Margao and having his pic taken with a film star.

You have probably gathered that in our opinion Margao is an unholy mess. Bad roads (they’ve been digging up most main roads for well over a year now); very little parking; poor traffic policing, low grade modern housing, derelict old buildings, garbage-littered streets. That said, there are many occasions when we are delighted to return to Margao from an out of state trip. It’s better than a lot of towns and cities in India.

However, there was not enough controversy over Iffy this year so the media stirred it up saying that it was inconsiderate that the festival was being conducted at the same time as the nine day St Francis Xavier event and showed disrespect for the religious sensitivites of the 30% Christian population. St Francis you may recall, is the patron saint of Goa. He spent a few years here before heading east and dying somewhere in the Orient. His body was preserved and shipped back to Goa, where it has remained sort of intact. He’s minus a few bits where fervent worshippers have nicked a body part or two and word has it that he is falling to bits.

Diggy presided over the closing ceremony in Panjim but he was still in ‘beautiful’ Margao mode.

Susegad

December 8, 2011

Susegad. Ah, there’s a word. It’s Portuguese, meaning? Laid back, carefree, hospitable, easy going, all of these and more. It is slowly falling out of use as the stress of making money bulldozes the old Indo-Portuguese lifestyle into touch. Much like the Southern European countries are now Euro-fied so Goa becomes Indo-fied. It’s a loss, but an inevitable and unstoppable loss.

However, small pockets of pure susegad remain, many run by enterprising foreigners who understand the concepts of preservation, restoration, conservation and maintenance.

Long live Casa Susegad halfway between Ponda and Margao in South Goa. Starting with a near ruin of a 150 year old Portuguese house, Norman and Carol braved the bureaucratic nightmare of property purchase in Goa
and set about the slightly less nightmarish restoration etc. Five years down the line, they now have a thriving 5 bedroom B&B hotel/guest house. Google Casa Susegad Goa for the full story.

T

Casa Susegad

his where we stayed after the aborted motorcycle trip to Murudeshwar.