It’s often the quirky little things in a country that make it either delightful or infuriating. I’ve been nearly two weeks in India and done lots of very ordinary shopping with cash but have not yet handled a coin. When I came a few years ago there was still a one rupee note. Now I think the lowest denomination is five rupees; almost exactly 5p. Small change in shops is given in chewing gum or matches or biscuits. It’s delightful and I suppose means that you can’t deal with vending machines which would never read the dirty, worn banknotes of India, but with real people. More infuriating in Goa, a green fertile area is that green salad in a restaurant consists of thin slices of peeled cucumber (to remove all traces of green), and tomatoes, onions and carrots. I am beginning to think I must be crazy to want lettuce, spinach, watercress, rocket…I’ll gorge on that when I get home. Delightful, is India’s creative ways of spelling English words. Here is my favourite from an earlier trip; If I was setting up a Secretarial Service I think I would check the spelling of the word before having the sign made! Still, there are probably more native, mother-tongue English speakers in India than in England so perhaps we are wrong. Mixed, is the constant power cuts. As I have a laptop; when the power goes I still have a couple of hours left to run and have never run out of juice yet. It’s just harder to see any paper documents and the novelty of candles on the table wears off after a while. Delightful is clichéd or old-fashioned English in the newspapers. A phrase like “the long arm of the law nabbed the ruffians in the wee hours.” is not uncommon.
Monday 11 November 2013
I arrived in India as it launched a rocket to Mars to look for methane. It's just what the half a billion poor here need; to answer the question of whether any life form has farted on Mars in the last few million years (the answer was discovered twenty years ago – it’s no!). The Chinese Mars rocket failed, so this is a chance to get one up on the Chinese. Gandhi would be spinning in his grave if it were not for the fact that he was burnt not buried.
The country is as vibrant, crazy and alive as ever. It is impossible to tell by observation of most roads what side of the road people drive on or the function of constantly sounding the horn. If it is to warn the other road users - it seems to have no effect; but perhaps it is a friendly greeting. If so the country is the friendliest ever as the cacophony is overwhelming particularly at junctions. Where I am, in the beautiful green countryside of Goa there are motorbikes everywhere. Locals seem to be puzzled or offended by the sight of any Westerner walking and will turn their motorbike around to insist that it should be a taxi for you. It is the one thing I dislike most about this part of India; that with so many people trying to make a living from a relatively few tourists, any apparently friendly approach is somehow connected with trying to get you to buy something. I find it hard to steer a course between being pulled in to pointless and mutually frustrating interactions and ignoring almost everyone Indian.
The things I do want, like another pair of socks, are impossible to buy among the hundreds of stalls of bright cotton print dresses and throws and Bob Marley t-shirts and endless offers of “smoke?”. However after half a week I have now found a green salad that contains something greener than a peeled cucumber. The chaos seems to contain a great deal of good-natured tolerance within and among the many ethnic, national and religious groupings. For example the 150 million Muslims here do not produce many of the world’s terrorists or suicide bombers.
Here in Goa, thanks to the Portuguese colonisation it is mostly Christian, with some houses having gruesome portraits of a crucified Christ on their walls. Still no worse than Kali with her necklace of severed heads. As I write this, the electricity has just cut out again leaving only the glow of my laptop screen. Yesterday it was down when a tall coach caught some of the wires. It eventually proceeded with two men on the roof with bamboo poles pushing the live wires up as it drove. Suddenly the electricity is back and my exercise in pure touch typing is over. It’s time for bed.
Sunday 3 November 2013
Here is the recording of a webinar that I have just done with my colleague Cassandra. It has lots of information, particularly directed at women at awakening your sexual aliveness. Do watch it or forward it to anyone.
Awakening Sexual Aliveness Webinar
Awakening Sexual Aliveness Webinar