Wednesday 7 July 2021





Maids, cooks, dog walkers, gardeners and drivers

We were finally allowed all our helpers three weeks ago and I am blissfully happy. No more sweeping, mopping and cooking, ironing, gardening and no more moaning! 

Swapna has transformed our lives with her cooking. She can cook anything. I am removed from all cooking duties and relegated to reheating the lovely dishes that Swapna makes. The boys have spent most mealtimes joking that the food is definitely not mine as they can eat it!

Swapna and Grace turned up early on the first day ready to do a big clean and to make some meals. Grace gets here at 7:00 and starts her routine and the house is now much cleaner. When I mop it is all smeary, when she does it, it sparkles. She walks backwards and forwards more, emptying and refilling the heavy bucket whereas I can't be doing with all of that, hence her floor cleaning skills are much better.

Swapna had gone to her other house that she had worked for (on that first morning) but the people had said that her job was no longer there as they wanted a live in maid. The people had not paid her either in the lockdown, but she was quite stoical and got on with things. This meant that she could come at a similar time as Grace. They work together at the same time now.

This has worked really well for the past few weeks as it means that by 11:30 I can let Andy wander wherever he wants without worrying that he might slip through an open door or be a pest following Grace and Swapna around.

 Butter chicken ( Max tried some of the beer too )

 Apple pie

Mango cheese cake



The gardener came back and made a big effort on the first day, cutting the grass and sweeping but I’ve only seen him once more. No doubt he’ll turn up again to sweep the leaves. Although in the lockdown, I did wonder why we bother with him as there was no difference in the garden. Only the grass needs cutting every month or so and we have a mower that we can do it with. I think his days may be numbered….

Our dog walker, Mohammed or Andy’s bestie as he likes to be known, came back too. It was strange because in the lockdown Andy adapted well and didn’t look for Mohammed in the mornings. But now he’s back, Andy is up bright and early and looking out the window waiting for his pal, wagging his tail.


The Oven

 The oven decided to break down just as we got this wonderful woman who can cook anything that we ask her to.  The oven had been dodgy for a while. It is old and tired. The shelves inside are not secure so if a heavy dish of food is put on a shelf, it is touch and go whether the dish and the shelf will fall down. This has happened a few times and the food has spilt out. We also had to use a wooden spoon wedged into the drawers at the side and put it across the top of the oven door to keep the oven door tightly closed or the heat would escape through the gap and warm up the kitchen which is already hot  enough anyway.

 The day started off with what we thought was a power cut (which we have all the time, especially on a Saturday or Sunday when we can have guests over for dinner.) Swapna said, after a while, that the power was working elsewhere on the circuit. This was when the power came back on after I had been to the circuit breaker cupboard and fiddled with all the switches. But on one side of the kitchen nothing worked.

So, I sent a message on the app that we have to the community maintenance department as my electrical fixing skills were at their limit.

After a couple of hours, two electricians turned up with one screw driver each, (not bad, as they usually share one between two) and they set about finding out where the fault lie. All the appliances were unplugged and gradually turned on and when it was the turn of the oven, it blew the electrics out.

The electricians decided to pull out the oven as it is underneath the countertop. By this time, Swapna and Grace had left so there was just me to direct the electricians. They were busy poking their screwdrivers into the live sockets when the doorbell rang, so I went to answer it, pleased that I might not have to witness an electrocution. By the time I had come back (they were still both alive) but had snipped the wires from the back of the oven so that it was rendered unworkable.  I was secretly pleased because it looked like we needed a new one now. The oven was now stranded in the middle of the kitchen. With a shrug of their shoulders, the electricians said that was it and that we needed a new oven.

I persuaded them to put the oven back in the shell so that it was not in the middle of the kitchen, tripping everyone up. The gap the oven had left, had tiny bits of old food lying there and Andy was eagerly trying to lick every morsel he could, and he was in the way and obsessed with the gap.

The old oven with the bare wires protruding at the back  I  have just realised the electrician wasn't wearing his mask properly. He's wearing it as a chin strap.


Luckily, Swapna had made a curry we could microwave or cook on the gas hob so we were safe for dinner. On the previous days she had cooked so much food that we could supply the whole of Palm Meadows. All of that could be microwaved so we had a few days of food if we had to wait.

That night, we managed to measure and find an oven on Amazon. Andrew contacted our landlord who said to go ahead and order one. It came in a couple of days.

We needed a new socket to be fitted so I contacted the electricians again. On the day the oven was due to arrive, they turned up, removed the oven outside the front door (thank you very much) and fixed the socket ready.

But nothing is ever simple in India.

The new oven was delivered later in the day and the delivery driver left it outside (they don’t bring it inside, it’s not their job) so now we had two ovens blocking the doorway outside, one old and one new.

The electricians came back but they said they don’t carry the oven inside (it’s not their job) so I had an oven, a new socket but no way of getting the oven inside for the electricians to connect it up unless they decided that it was their job. It wasn't, so they went off again.

Andrew came home and he brought the oven in. (I’m pleased he decided that it was on his job list.) We unpacked it from its' box but then realised that the oven wouldn’t fit in the space with a plug attached. The socket needed removing again.

So, the electricians had to come yet again, (only one screwdriver now)

This took us to Friday and Swapna had a long list of cooking that she needed to do in order to get everything ready the weekend.

After much deliberation the oven was in place and switched on. The electricians were triumphant and pleased that they had connected the oven. Yay!

Swapna then spent the next five hours cooking every dish she could manage ready for the weekend. I had to stop her at the five-hour mark as she wanted to bake biscuits and cakes and we already had more than enough food.  It was like she was in a frenzy and cooking everything that popped into her mind. She loves cooking.

 The new oven installed and actually working.



Milo has just told us that his water heater is not working tonight so it looks like we (I’ve) got to go through it all again with the electricians…


Tree Planting at Micronclean


One of the doctors that has been working closely with Micronclean was pleased to be asked to plant a tree in his honour. This meant that we got to have a trip out to the factory (even though there was still a lockdown, of sorts)

The doctor in question loves the James Herriot books so Andrew bought the book that James Herriot's son had written. The doctor was really pleased with it.

This was only the second trip out of Palm Meadows in 8 weeks for Max and I, and the first for Milo, so we were excited and thrilled to be going somewhere. The trip to the factory means going on the motorway but it is a scenic route through the countryside. It is an enjoyable journey of about an hour.

When Milo goes to the factory, he truly believes that he is in charge and was so excited to sit next to Andrew as Andrew gave a speech to all the staff and to the doctor. Milo was nodding at the right moments and looked like he understood everything. Max is doing a photography course for a school project and he was taking as many photographs as he could.

We went outside for the tree planting and it was all rather pleasant. We had some photos taken and then had the wonderful coffee that one of the ladies makes.

The plants and grass around the factory are growing well.

 Milo helping.

Andrew was recorded talking about Micronclean and what they do. The doctor was interviewed too on camera.

Dr  Pandu is in the middle

Milo in the main chair.

Most of the current staff.
 (That lamp post needs to go !)

 Dr Pandu and his tree.

The Coles always have to have a picnic!

 I haven't found out why yet but when there's a presentation to someone they always have a shawl put on them as they receive their flowers. They keep it on for a few minutes then take it off.

 The blue band  I am wearing has a chip in it so that we could get into certain parts of the factory.

 The photographer wanted to take photos of us when everyone had left.




 The Orphanage.


After the success of giving food packages to people in the surrounding villages, Andrew went to visit a local residential home for orphans, children and adults who are physically and mentally challenged. Andrew took more food packages and had a look round. Apparently, the home is run purely from donations and these are hard to come by.

Andrew is going to go back when the lockdown is finally over to see if there is a way of helping them. Meanwhile, we will we see what we can do. The boys are raiding their books shelves, cupboards and old toy boxes. 





 We still have a night time curfew and the weekend curfew was lifted last Saturday. Food shops and essential services are allowed open until 9pm and restaurants are allowed open until 9pm too. There is a curfew at 9pm (although food deliveries are allowed 24/7)

We are waiting to see what will happen next week but the cases have dropped dramatically.

The vaccination drive is going well, and the hospitals are reporting that they are coping. The government is reminding everyone to be on their guard to prevent a third wave.

 We were a bit shocked to discover that our Covishield vaccines are not recognised in the EU even though they are produced from the same place as AstraZeneca. It is just called Covishield here. Apparently, it is supposed to be sorted soon. Fingers crossed or we will never be allowed in to Europe again. Although, as long as we can get to the Maldives, then that is fine! 

 The papers are saying that the hospitals are getting ready in case the third wave targets children. There are differences in opinion from doctors as to whether this will happen.

Meanwhile, there is more debate now about the need for children to go back to school. It has been well over a year since most children entered the school gates (March 2020).  We are waiting to see what happens next with everything.


This the app  that we use to communicate in the Palm Meadows community. It is useful especially if there is a snake sighting (two last week, one cobra and one viper and our friends had a snake on their upstairs window ledge!)) or something that needs to be discussed.

The cobra caught last week two lanes down .


Last week we had a terrible incidence where a dog slipped his lead and attacked one of the gentler dogs who was walking on his lead with his owner. The poor dog needed 13 stitches in his ear.

The injured dog owner posted the sequence of events and what had happened. The committee had to get involved to ask the other owners to pay for the treatment and to keep their dog muzzled when he is out (as they claimed they could do nothing about what had happened.) Apparently, the dog is from a farm and so is not a calm dog, appearing aggressive and obviously liable to attack if he gets loose.

 All seemed to be sorted but then various people started to give their opinions. One person suggested that all dogs be banned from walking inside the complex, (joggers too) and that dogs should be walked outside of Palm Meadows and not in the lanes here. I could envision all the sensible people rolling their eyes at this suggestion. It would be extremely difficult, as you would have to walk your dog through the lanes of Palm Meadows to get outside so that would defeat the object. The messages started to go back and forth (dog lovers versus dog haters). It can get quite personal and some of the comments are rude -and stupid!

The topics can go on for days. Most people do post sensible solutions and opinions but some suggestions can make you laugh out loud at their ridiculous nature.

It does provide entertainment though.

The Weather

It is monsoon season and last month we had quite a bit of rain in the afternoons and it was cooler with a strong breeze.  In the past couple of weeks it has been so hot and sticky and there has been little rain. We have had to put the air conditioning on at night again so that we can sleep comfortably. But it made me think how lucky we are that we have the air conditioning, sometimes the fans are not enough.

Weekend away 

We managed to go away for the weekend just gone.  It was close to the factory again. We stopped at a small farm that had a swimming pool and only two guest rooms.  The chap has spent a year building it and we were the first guests.

 There were two beautiful Macaws in a huge cage. They spent a lot of time saying "hello".

Andy and the bigger boys.

 There were no mosquitoes so we sat outside and watched a film

 This was actually on a small hill that we walked up to watch the sunset.

 Andy went off his lead for the first time.

 He also dug his first hole and he laid down in  it and then his friends copied.

 The pool and the setting were beautiful.  

Milo and I spent most of our time in the pool. It had warm water and was quite large. The weather was very warm and calm.  We went on a few walks and we let Andy off his lead for the first time. He was such a good boy. We went with some friends to the farm and Andy just follows their dogs (they are bigger boys) He had such a good run around and came back whenever he was called. As there was a lockdown /curfew for the weekend it meant we had to get there because 7pm on Friday night. We stopped for three nights, coming back on Monday morning when the curfew was lifted. For one twenty minute window I wondered how it would be to be build a place like this farm with a swimming pool. Then as we all talked about it, the rules of India, the paperwork, the fact that we are "foreign", we decided it would never happen.

We just have to hope they open the swimming pools soon!  


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...