Wednesday 14 November 2018

Halloween, Goa , Mala is mad


Having lived in a small village, we have managed to miss Halloween every year. Here in Palm Meadows, there are a lot of Americans so Halloween is big. All the houses who wanted to give out sweets were decorated and they looked lovely. The children and adults all met up outside of the clubhouse at 5:15p.m. to admire all the costumes. Then at 5:30 p.m. we were off, wacky races- children style, knocking on doors and requesting sweets!
I was on my bike supervising 4 nine year old boys who literally ran round the estate for 2 and a half hours! It was manic ! They were running across the roads, shouting at the tops of their voices and scoffing as many sweets as they could. Their goody bags got so heavy that they took it in turns to rest their weary arms by sharing my bike basket. At one point, I had one bag in my basket and one in either hand with my hands on the handle bars but I wobbled with the weight and fell off my bike onto the grass verge. A very kind couple stopped their car to help me up and check on me, Milo was traumatised as he thought I was badly injured although one of his friends was more concerned about whether the sweets were safe!
Max went off with his friends on his own but we did see  him occasionally as we ran round the roads.
It was good fun and they were puffed out but luckily the next day was the start of the half term holiday so going to bed late didn't really matter.


We are not quite sure how we managed to book another holiday so close to the other one in Kerala ( obviously we only look at one page on the calendar at a time!) but we were off again to Goa. We went to the capital Panjim this time. We got up at 3:00 am and were in the car by 4, ready for the plane at 6.  When we got there after a 40 minute flight, there were no extra guards to meet us this time.
Front row seats.

 We were in the hotel by 10 am, our room looking onto the sea.
This was the Marriott hotel and it was big and busy and provided lots of entertainment, especially people and dolphin watching.
There was an infinity pool that overlooked the sea and we could see dolphins and fish jumping out of the water. It was fascinating.

The pool and sea beyond.

The beach area in front of our room.

Milo enjoyed the crafts in the kids club

The room attendants made different things with the towels each day.

The free- ish wine from 5-7 pm

The entrance of the hotel

Just in front of our room was where the boat trips set off. There were streams of Indian families piling onto the boats. As soon as everyone was on the boat, loud disco music would be played and the people on board would start dancing. Then, as they approached the area for the dolphins, the music would go off, they would watch the dolphins and then, as they set off again, the music would start and you could see everyone dancing as they came back. Andrew was giving the boats safety ratings as some did not look that sea worthy, but this activity kept us occupied for quite a while and it was very amusing. It was lovely to see how happy Indian people are when music is switched on.

It was very hot and humid (34 feels like 38 it said on the weather report) and, in fact, we had to retreat in doors in the afternoon to stop the 3 white boys from burning ( but we could watch the boats from our French doors)

We had a courtesy car from the hotel and visited Old Goa which had very ornate catholic churches. The Portuguese had a big influence in this area transporting spices all over the world from the 1600's and a lot of buildings remain in the Portuguese style in Panjim.

After walking round the churches ( it was so hot and humid!) we went on to a spice plantation. We were greeted with lemon grass and ginger tea ( the boys were horrified!) and then we walked around with our own guide who was very interesting. He picked leaves and spices for us to smell and touch and explained how each one grew. This may sound a little boring but it wasn't at all. We realised that we didn't know how most spices grew. We saw pepper, vanilla pods, lemon grass, cloves, coffee, cocoa , the list goes on for ever. At the end of the tour, to relax your muscles, they pour water
that has citronella and lavender oils added to it, down your spine. It was quite wet, as you can imagine, but nice at the same time. Local ladies danced and sang songs as we entered a covered food area where there was lunch. We all tried the curries which weren't too spicy. We also bought quite a few packets of spices and essential oils.

Then it was back to the hotel to cool off in the pool and wait for the Diwali celebrations.

Which were rubbish!

Diwali is celebrated in Goa but not as much as Bangalore . There were a few fireworks in the distance and that was it. In Bangalore apparently it was like WW3 with firecrackers and fireworks going none stop! Well you can't have everything!

After our 4 nights and 5 day trip we returned to Bangalore.

Mala is mad.

As it was Diwali and as we were away, Arjun and Mala had the week off. Before we went, Mala had said to me that she could come in to clean. As it was the first real block of time off since she had started in January, I said it was fine for her to have the week off. She's only had a few days off here and there.
 She turned up Monday morning refreshed and ready to go. After a tour of the house, she declared she was not having another holiday as the house was dirty. She then set about cleaning like a woman possessed. All the rugs, chairs and anything that could be moved, were put outside. She then dusted and swept ( she still won't use the Dyson - I've given up !) and mopped and scrubbed.
Now to me, the house looked fine but to Mala it was a stain on her standards and she repeated several times about how she had said that she would come in and I had said no. Mala no more holidays, she kept saying.
I decided that maybe leaving her to the cleaning on her own would be better so Arjun and I went shopping. Mala gave us extra things to add to the list. So off we went to get out of her way.

An hour or so later the shopping was done, I helped with the unpacking. She had now lost the plot in her cleaning frenzy. She glared at the coconut powder said we had we had bought the wrong one. I immediately pointed my finger at Arjun to blame him! After a flurry of Tamil and lots of arm waving, Arjun was sent out again to buy the correct coconut product. I think he was pleased to get out of the way again!
Mala worked for longer than she's supposed to on Monday but she wouldn't go home until the house was up to her standards. She was beside herself that she hadn't had time to cook anything for us but I reassured her that I am able to cook meals and that we would all be fed and survive until she could make something the next day.
By Tuesday she had calmed down and was more settled as the house was now clean and she was back in her routine although the next time we go away I'll leave her to decide when she comes in!

Saturday 10 November 2018

New Factory, Wedding and Kerala

New Factory

The land has been finalised and digging has begun. To celebrate this achievement The Deputy High Commissioner was invited to the land inauguration ceremony. The company that Micronclean India is dealing with put up a fancy marquee with covered chairs etc. Simon and Andrew were pleased with their efforts as they had no idea that they were going to go to so much trouble.

I was at home that day as Milo was feeling under the weather so I didn't get to go but just as well. Every day in Bangalore it is sunny. If it rains it usually rains in the afternoon just as the school bus pulls up to drop off the children. But on the ceremony day, it decided to rain as hard as possible, all day, virtually destroying the marquee with the heavy water. They were all huddled under the umbrellas as they realised that the roof might split open! Simon, Andrew and Dominic ( the DHC) were all laughing but some of the team were not.

The design of the new factory.

 The super smart marquee

The Deputy High Commissioner ( still dry here and before Andrew had to escort him under the umbrella to his waiting official car!)

Everyone getting soaked

They are definitely not happy!

Trying to seek shelter on the edge of the marquee. Arjun was soaked too.

This could mean that they're going to get enough water to run the factory when it's built. They need to get the water tanks in now to save it all.

Luckily Andrew met with DHC - Dominic a few days later and they were both able to still laugh about the eventful land inauguration!


One of our friends asked me to go with her to a wedding. We both did not know the bride or groom but the bride was the niece of Petra's maid.  As it was short notice, we both didn't have an Indian sari ( the next shopping trip) but had suitable outfits.
We set off not knowing what to expect. It was a wonderful experience. We sat quietly at the back of the hall as it filled with people but we were spotted and made a fuss of. The Indian ladies were so kind and generous. They took us to see the groom who was outside in a small temple with people putting garlands on him. There was a priest in orange who was wafting things and incense around the groom. 

These ladies explained the ceremony and were so kind and generous.

The priest with his plate of "things: and the groom in the background.

The priest also kept going up to a statue of Ganesha and giving it offerings of food and milk.

After a while, the musicians, who were outside, playing drums and flutes and Indian instruments assembled and led the groom off towards the door. 

We went back inside to try and sneak to the back but, oh no, these kind people were having none of that. We ended up on the front stage taking part in the actual ceremony!

The groom entering the hall with his family

At the alter at the front there is lots of food on the floor and milk , for offerings.

The rice for throwing.

The bride and the groom have already "tied the Knot " ( he ties a silk rope around their hands to proclaim marriage) They are sat here holding a coconut together in their hands while people pour milk over their hands and rice over their heads.

We got to throw rice at the right moment ( when they are declared formally man and wife) and got to pour milk three times over their joined hands that held a coconut. We then had to sprinkle  a handful of rice over their heads. ( They looked quite messy by the end of the ceremony.)
It was an arranged marriage but with a slight twist as they had known each other for ten years and they couldn't take their eyes off each other so it was a definite love match.

During the  ceremony people went off to eat a meal. It was strange because it was like you just went to have the food. People went at different times when they felt like it. The food was eaten from a banana leaf and it was really mild. I was so pleased because I could manage to eat it and not offend anyone by saying it was too spicy. But I really enjoyed the food.

 The other strange thing about Indian weddings to us is the fact that it is so noisy. People talking, children running around and  the musicians were playing the whole time. ( lovely music though)

It was so kind of the family to ask us and they were so considerate explaining everything. we also got introduced to both sides of the family. At the end we got a gift in a cloth bag of a coconut, a special leaf that you chew and a coloured leaf. 

This young lady is 21 and would love a European husband! She spoke good English and had just finished her degree. She was lovely.

The lady that invited us and Petra


The boys had a few days off for the Desara festival and we looked online the week before to see if we could go anywhere for the four days. We came up with Kovalem in Kerala in the neighbouring state but further to the south of India.
We got up at 5 in the morning and were on the plane by 8:20 and then we flew to Thiruvananthapuram (no, we can't pronounce it either!) and it only took 45 minutes. 

The hotel car met us at the airport and the driver helped us with the trolley. As we were crossing the road, a security guard came to help.
 "That's kind", I thought," airport security don't normally help." 
But then he got in the car with us!
The driver explained that the guard had been sent by the hotel to protect us because there was violence in Kerala due to protests about women being allowed into a temple. 
We were slightly unnerved but there was no traffic and no problem and we went on a normal wacky races journey.

 It only took 30 minutes and we were there, in a beautiful hotel next to the sea. ( all by 10:30 in the morning)
Our room had a sea view and a view of the hotel's lake next to the sea.

As we hadn't had breakfast, we had some food by the pool looking at the sea in the distance.
Then, the boys were so excited because one of the chaps took us on a VIP golf buggy around the grounds of the hotel, right next to the sea on their private road. 
Andrew and I thought about how wonderful it was going to be to walk in the greenery for a change. 
No such luck ! M and M insisted on the golf buggy every time, sitting on the back seat facing backwards, laughing their heads off!

We managed to venture off to a local 'backwater' river trip that was interesting and allowed us to spot lots of local bird life including Brahman kites, herons, egrets, kingfisher and cormorants.

Update ! April 2024

  20 people sharing 2 menus! When we go to a restaurant, we seem to spend a lot of time trying to keep a straight face so that we do not ups...