Archive for October, 2012

From City Centre to the Jungle

October 13, 2012

Our new home, Casa Mingusta

Margao has its upsides, but it’s not now a place that we willingly choose to live now. Its upsides  have finally been put into second place by the downsides. Coping with daily increases of uncontrolled traffic is the last straw and has finally pushed us into the decision to move.

We are heading inland to a little village called Macazana, three kilometers beyond Curtorim a village we visited six years ago and liked. The headline says ‘jungle’ but it’s not.. but the townies we tell all say Macazana is out in the jungle. The setting is rather special with a view over paddy fields to the River Zuari and the Western Ghats as a background. The building is quite new and has never been occupied; we are taking the upper floor which has three sheltered balconies so we will be able continue with our outdoor lifestyle

View from Casa Migusta, Macazana



Bulbul – The Great Escape

October 13, 2012

This blog from June. Second breeding attempt of 2012.


All three eggs successfully hatched and Mr Useless was set to work on foraging for feedstuffs. He’s quite good at this although inclined to go for the biggest berry or the biggest insect, which the fledglings can have trouble getting down their gullett. The humans stand and gawp at our activity. To get rid of them we freeze and they seem to get bored with the immobility and wander off.

Twelve hours too soon the largest of the three tries out his wings, and reaches the window ledge. Hardly pausing to get his breath, he’s off again. Not strong enough to gain any height he hits the roof of an extension building and lies winded. He stays there not moving for an hour or so. Then another attempt, again, no height and he crashes against a wall and makes his way to a corner on the ground. Later he’s spotted by a human who has come to clean the yard. She packs some grasses into a small box and lifts the chick into it. Later still, as the sun is setting another human takes the box and  it is returned to near the nest. Half an hour and a few insects later, he’s ready to have another go. This time he can keep enough height to reach the safety of shrubs. No 2, follows shortly. No 3 (the runt) decides to leave this escape business to the following day.

So now it’s a case of shepherding the three of them until they can fend for themselves. Had to see off the crows, the kingfisher (Halcyon Smyrnensis) and some squirrels who were showing too much interest in the youngsters.

Agoraphobic Bulbul

October 13, 2012

About three months ago the bulbuls produced three eggs in the re-built nest at the bottom of the stairs.This was the third nest this year. For some reason, Mrs Bulbul abandoned the eggs after five days. However at the end of September they re-built the nest in the dining room lantern and she laid four eggs of which three hatched about a week ago. Foraging for food has obvious been good as the hatchlings soon filled out, feathered up and overfilled the nest.  As they settled for the night, Mrs B was sitting on a pile of feathers with three beaks protruding.

Today saw the usual preparations for the first flight and the two larger fledglings made no bones, after a trial flight round the dining room, about heading for the trees outside. The runt of the family had other ideas and although flying quite well decided that the great outdoors was not for him/her. It spent a lot of time exploring the house with exasperated parents trying to shepherd it out of a window. Each time it arrived at an open window and looked out it seemed to shudder, then retreat to the safety of the house. It’s dusk now and they’ve given up the struggle and the fledgling is comfortably ensconced in the ‘tool shed’ on a soft rag. We’ll see if it can overcome its agoraphobia tomorrow.

Later. Still there in the morning and looking uncertain, but eventually it took flight into the great unknown,not before the parents had taken a parting shot at Martin by dive bombing him.

No 2 Account

October 13, 2012

We need to open a second current account for our business now that there is a second income stream at work. We have been with our bank for more than eight years.  Simple enough request you might think. But this is India.

Our Personal Banker referred us on to our Business Banker, who referred us to the Assistant Branch Manager who referred us on the Branch Manager, who referred us back to our Personal Banker who had to ask the Business Banker what to do, who had to ask the Assistant Branch Manager what to do. Then they had to find a clerk to find the requisite papers.  All that remains to be done is to complete the forms with identifying photos etc. etc. and try to find the right Manager to process them.

We’ll try again after a good night’s sleep.

Things that go bang in the night

October 13, 2012

Most Indians seem unable to plan with the sole exception of weddings that are timed to the minute in conjunction with the stars.

Every year the owners of  the building we live in hires workmen  for some ad hoc renovation work. Unfortunately all the work involves breaking rock-solid concrete.  So there’s some poor s-d with a small hammer (never a lump hammer) and worn down chisel chipping away all day vast areas of wall or floor or ceiling. The whole building echoes with the sound.

This year there’s a new twist.  Someone has decided that there isn’t enough space at the bottom of the stairs for furniture to be moved in and out (not sure how they’ve managed over the last thirty odd years). This work has involved ripping up the stairs themselves. These are in regular use, obviously, for ingress and egress, except at night. So last night at 8.00pm the hammering started. At 10.30 pm it stopped. At 10.45 pm the circular saw for trimming tiles started. Tiling here is  much more difficult than in the UK. This is because the workers aren’t trained to measure twice and cut once and they don’t use tile cutters, tape measures or anything except the circular saw. It’s a case of keep trimming until it fits. It took two men four hours to lay 14 tiles a couple of days ago. Anyway at 3.30 am the work was complete. They’d obviously learned a bit as they had managed to lay 21 tiles in the 5 hours (and kept us awake in the process).

The Gas Bottle

October 13, 2012

The national government struggles to get anything changed and when it does manage to change something it usually has to backtrack as the opposition gets its teeth into the issue. However last week the government did manage to raise the price of diesel (there is a national strike over it today) and cap the number of subsidised gas bottles to six each year. As luck would have it our gas bottle ran out at the same time. We are miserly with gas usage and a bottle lasts us about 9 months and don’t bother with a spare.

The bottle can be delivered but as we are not in a lot of the time it could take three months before the planets are in line for both parties to meet. So Martin flags down a rickshaw and arrives at the gas bottle depot, which consists of a 10’x10’ office and a piece of muddy ground with loaded lorries parked on it. Martin is told that his book has been ‘blocked’ and no reason was given. Not prone to fits of violent temper, Martin surprised himself when he hit the roof and the manager rushes from somewhere to find out what the fuss is about. It turns out that the government while restricting the number of subsidised bottles allowed to a consumer also insists that if you are not using a bottle at least every six months you are blocked! Haven’t figured that one out yet.

Anyway, after supplying the manager with photocopies of various documents Martin was allowed to get a new bottle sans receipt, with the advice that he should visit the office in six months time and get a dummy bill which would get him round the six month rule. it’s still a case of everything has to be done at least twice.