Monday 29 November 2021


October / November

Getting away  :The farm and Goa


I think people that we know in the Uk believe that we are always on holiday. We do go for short breaks, usually a long weekend, or for four days but no longer. This is because there can be a steady build- up of the most frustrating rules and regulations and the system here can be unbelievable. This is one reason why. As you know, we have two sons and they have lived with us all their lives. We know what their names are

The other day, we got a message from school asking for their correct names. I wrote saying that we had sent all the documentation, passports etc every year for 4 years and the names were on those documents. I wrote their full names again.

I got a message back asking that school needed the passports for the correct names to double check that they were correct.

 Now, I know what my children are called, so I sent their full names and dates of birth again and said that I was not going to start photocopying all the documents once more. They already had them in their system.

Also, I said that sometimes school muddles their names, calling Milo, Milo James, instead of Milo Jay Matteo. Whereas Max is Maximus James Aston, so we don’t know which boy they mean if they muddle the names up. ( I do realise that maybe having different initials may have helped everyone, but I can get it right)

 I received another message saying that school needs proof of their names, not my information. So, I pointed out that only two weeks ago, they had sent to us a bonafide document with the correct names for our visa applications. Therefore, they obviously have the correct information. By this time, four different departments were linked in with the investigation and demands for paperwork. I, then, took a photo of one of the incorrect names that they had given and one of the correct ones that they had given. I pointed out that they just need to copy the names carefully, that is all. The latest is that, yes, they do have the correct names but could I just send the passports for them to check! GRRR!!!

 Meanwhile, in October, we went away for another weekend, we  spent a tranquil couple of days at the farm again with our friends and dogs. We swam in the pool. We had lovely walks in the forest, great food and watched movies outside.

 Then, last weekend, we went to Goa.  The flight is only 50 minutes and if we get the early morning one, we can be on the beach by 9:30. We went to Palolem again and just sat staring at the sea for 4 days. We had mixed weather with rain and sun, but it was still wonderful and we had a few very relaxed days away.

This bull spent most of his time here

Max doing school online 

It was raining here so we watched it from our room


 Milo football

 Milo had been saying that he wanted to join a football club ever since his Chelsea experience last year. We found out that there is a Barça Training Academy ( it is affiliated with Barcelona football club)  only 15 minutes from us. Milo was asked to go to a one to one training session, he was accepted and invited to join. He was so excited. He must go on a Tuesday night, Saturday and Sunday morning for training and matches. As Andrew is working and has Arjun and the car, I rely on Robert the Tuk Tuk driver who comes to fetch us and take us back on a Tuesday. The road to the football centre is down a dirt track and it is so bumpy in a tuk tuk. But Milo loves going in a tuk tuk and laughs all the way. Being a football mum or dad  is not so bad here as it is warm and very pleasant watching the matches. The other good thing is that the parents are very sporting and do not shout at the kids or the refs. There is just polite clapping and encouragement. Andrew goes at the weekend too. Milo is very proud of his new football kit; he just has to remember to put it in the washing machine and not leave it to go rancid on his bedroom floor.




Rain and Mould

 We have had dreadful rain and several near misses with cyclones coming off the sea near Chennai. This has meant that the house has felt and smelt really damp. I noticed that mould patches were springing up all over the place, behind doors, on walls, in wardrobes, everywhere. Grace was concerned that it was her cleaning and I pointed out that as soon as she cleaned, the dampness just recycled the mould. We tried mild bleach on the things that we could put it on, but currently, it is just a case of constant cleaning. The other problem that we have is that the doors swell and they are difficult to open easily. There is no exiting in an emergency now unless you have the knack of opening the door.


Finn and Solo

 Our friends both had to go to America and so we said that we would have their two dogs for a week until we went to Goa. That meant that Andy had two friends to play with. It was mad! But what made everything awkward, was the fact that it would not stop raining. Typical, we have 3 dogs and the garden is saturated with rain. Usually that garden is heaven for a dog and for us. I had to cover every single piece of furniture with covers as the dogs charged in and out, absolutely covered in the red, wet, mud. The floor was just muddy footprints. Poor Grace would try and mop, the dogs would run outside, run around the garden and bushes, run back in again with muddy paws, run around the house, she would mop, they would run outside and then back in again. It was like a big game, they were having a fantastic time . She would just stare as her hard work was ruined. I told her to give up and not to worry and  that we have a big clean up when they went home. Their excitement knew no bounds. I couldn’t take all 3 for a walk on my own, I struggle with Andy, so walks for them was when we had a full family contingent at night or in the morning.

Having Finn and Solo made us realise just how quiet Andy is. He never ever barks when someone comes to the door or goes past the windows, he just looks quietly and wags his tail. Finn and Solo let us know when every dog went for a walk down our road….



Recent festivals and events


The Residential/orphanage home


It was Diwali and this is the most important event in the Hindu calendar. (The equivalent of Christmas.) We got Swapna to make as many biscuits and sweets as she could, and we took them to the orphanage/ residential home near the factory. Max, Milo and I had not been due to the lockdown rules but now we were allowed.  It was a very humbling experience.

The staff were there to meet us and gave us a coffee.The owner, his wife and two teenage/ young adult children and staff have devoted their whole lives to the care of the residents, aged from 0 to 80.

I do not know how they do it.

 We went to meet the ladies and girls first. A very bright-eyed young lady of about 14 approached carrying a baby that was blind, deaf and who had physical challenges. I held the baby’s hand so that she knew I was there. The young lady just smiled. She was deaf and unable to speak but definitely very intelligent.A few of the other young girls were physically and mentally challenged and so communication was difficult, but they were all smiling. There were about 6 very elderly ladies at the far end sat on the ground.

Amongst these children and ladies there were children that had been abandoned at the gates and so there needs were different. One little girl has online lessons with the local school as she cannot go to school because of the restrictions. ( She will by now though) The girls who are deaf are learning sign language at the home.

We went to see the men and the boys next. They were in a newer building and there were pet rabbits running freely around for them to stroke. There were dogs, cows and a couple of horses too. The girls can go there too but it was raining, so they were not moving out of their quarters until the rain stopped. We saw some teenage boys having computer lessons in a room. The rest of the residents were waiting for the rain to stop too.

The staff there were kind, sympathetic and doing the best that they could in the circumstances. Whereas we expect everyone to be busy with activities all the time that is not the expectation here. As long as people have food, shelter and clothing, then that is a priority. The life skills and education come next. All the residents were clean and well dressed. We saw the food being prepared and it was all fresh. The two teachers that took us round were understanding and keen to explain what goes on. Theirs was such a difficult job.

The home relies on local donations as it gets no government help. If the home goes under then the residents would be on the streets. Their funds are low due to the pandemic and the fact that the local city is much poorer than Bangalore so there is not the same level of fundraising or recognition of their efforts, but they keep on going, regardless.

 I really admired the two young adults of the owner. Both travelled a long way to Bangalore university every day but still, they were there helping with the residents. They lived onsite too. They accepted that helping was their life. The daughter is now looking for an engineering job but was there every day to help. I am full of admiration. In fact, all of the adults there were so dedicated.


At the end, as we were about to leave, we asked them how we could help. One of the teachers paused, took a deep breathe, he couldn’t look us in the eye  ( I don’t think he wanted to ask) and said they really needed donations of money and please could we find a way to help them? 

We have asked them to send us a list of what they need to see if we can arrange anything else to help like bedding or equipment. Above all, they need money to help with the staff and equipment. We will see what we can do.


The factory

After the visit, we went to the factory to hand out Diwali presents to the staff. They are all so enthusiastic and keen. They listened attentively to Andrew’s speech ( which was very inspiring) and were so happy with their Diwali gifts.

 Max loves the food there 



Arjun has Diwali off so we get about on our own or get another driver.  One lunchtime, we decided to walk to one of the local shopping centres, that takes about 20 minutes, to get a pizza. But walking along the path here is like a dangerous game. Instead of “don’t stand on the cracks or you are it, it is- don’t stand on the bare electrical wires on the ground, duck below the wires hanging from the trees and the transformers, avoid the deep holes in the ground, avoid the street dogs, don’t look at the goat that has just had his throat slit on the path at the meat shop and watch for the rats running amongst the discarded rubbish. We managed to get there unscathed but then had to reverse our walk back. It is quite an experience.


Arjun’s new house.


We were invited to Arjun and his family’s new house -warming celebration.They are not like ours. The first part meant all the family getting up at 3 am as this was an auspicious time. They did a Puja. Then for the rest of the day there were ceremonies and visits from the friends and family. We were invited for 12. We arrived and were shown around the house by Arjun and his family. Then, we went outside to have a meal. This again is different to our traditions. There are two long tables set up and two groups of people sit down. The ‘waiters’ bring big banana leaves ( that is your plate), you have a water bottle and wash your leaf with some of the water. Then the waiters come along with a bucket full of one type of food and put it on your banana leaf, the next waiter gives you another spoonful from his bucket. So, you end up with your savoury food on one part of your leaf and sweet food on the other part. We had an array of chicken masala, veg masala, rice, chapati, poori, salad, pickle and another salad. A sweet naan bread with jaggery, a banana and a sweet sticky ball. Basically, as soon as you have your food, you eat it ( with your fingers, of course, but we are good at this now), then you move away from the table ready for the next person. The banana leaves are rolled up with the food residue and fed to the cows.

A parting gift is a coconut, a leaf ( I don’t know which one or why ) and a mouth freshener which requires a bit of practice, as it is quite spicy, so it is NFC ( not for Carla )

We chatted with some people that we knew and then left. Arjun said that most of the people had left by 4.His house is lovely, and he has worked so hard to build it. It is in a beautiful place not far from the local village and has a cool breeze blowing through it. The house overlooks the surrounding countryside and is so peaceful.





Andrew and Max have had colds/ coughs and so they got tested for covid, they were negative. The boys had to be tested for Goa but as we are vaccinated, we didn’t need a test. Both were negative again.

We enjoyed our time in Goa but stayed by our beach hut or on the beach away from other people. We ate either on the sand at our reserved table or in the restaurant at a set table in the corner.

We got back on Monday. On Tuesday, I started to feel unwell. On Wednesday, I ended up going to bed but thought I had got what Andrew and Max had. We were supposed to be going to a party on Saturday, so I thought I had better do a test. I did a rapid test ( well I did 3) and I was positive. We had arranged PCR tests for later that morning for the boys to go back to school. Milo was positive too. He doesn’t have any symptoms though so that is good.

So, we are back in quarantine. We think we hold the record as this is the third time! ( Milo and I are in isolation in our rooms- he’s not bothered, he’s quite happy that he does not have to come out of  his room, it means he can keep gaming !) Andrew and Max can wander where they like in the house . I miss going on the terrace.

The government doctor has been today to check on us. All was ok. 

Andrew has to do all the cooking and cleaning as Swapna and Grace are not allowed , although I can come out on Saturday to help.We have 10 days to go in total ……










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...