Birthday

Yesterday (the 30th) I met with 6 good friends to celebrate my birthday; we agreed to meet at be@one beach shack about half an hour before sunset………….I arrived at the beach about an hour before sunset and found this ensemble indulging in a “Trance dance”…………………… in the middle of the group there was a nappy clad baby, barley able to stand, but demonstrating more sense of balance than the rest of the group…………….

 

 

 

Be@one beach shack, just after sunset

 

CHRISTMAS DAY 2012

I spent Christmas day on the beach at a very nice beach shack that is new this year, with friends from France, Norway, Germany and England………..

 

The new shack “Be@one” where I had a wonderful Christmas day…………

Traditional fishing boat in-front of the shack, it would probably be demanding too much of poetic licence to sat that it was the boat that landed my lovely sea-bass!

                                                                        

 Ayuss…….the gorgeous six year old son of the lovely lady that works in the shack

Sun bleeding into the Arabian sea………….and the sky is made vermillion……………

 

That was Christmas day on the beach…………and then there is Christmas day on the roads…………this magnificent beast, cajoled into joining the festivities 

 

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

To all friends, near and far;………………… whatever timezone you are in, I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year.

 

Display outside “Vincent’s” restaurant, Varca

 

Unreserved apologies to those of you that don’t believe in ghosts, but the ghost of Christmas past, the legendary “Jean-Claude Billy”………aka “Billy The Wonderdog”  returns on a one day visa from another dimension, to remind anyone that dares to forget him!

 

 

No Christmas shoppers here; Varca beach 23rd December 2012

Keep shining……….never weaken…………love & stuff Alan (aka   grapes)  XX

12pm………….12………..12……….2012

After the stag night…………. the wedding, at Our Lady Of Gloria Church, Varca; as an atheist I am always reluctant about entering a church, so I was delighted to discover that none of the solemnity that I associate with being inside a church was present. It was indeed a joyous and uplifting ceremony, which started at 12 midday on 12 – 12 – 12, the twelfth of December also being Agnelo’s mum’s birthday…………. a young lad was playing a violin, there was a man playing an old harpsichord and four singers; these were all amplified through six big speakers, and their  volume was easily matched by the 200+ congregation who were singing at the top of their voices………….it was a stark contrast to some church weddings that I have attended in England, where the Vicar and 3 other people have been only ones singing, leaving the rest of the congregation to shift their weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other whilst miming the words…………..

 

The whole ceremony was conducted in the local language of Konkani, which is only spoken in Goa and some parts of Karnataka, so I can only assume that it must have been  at the point in the ceremony when Agnelo and Melissa were pronounced as man and wife when suddenly the huge church bells clanged at a deafening volume, outside, large strings of firecrackers exploded simultaneously, sounding like a burst of automatic gunfire, a couple of dogs started barking and several babies started crying; the smell of gunpowder drifted in through one of the three large open doors, and a scruffy old dog sauntered in and proceeded to lay down on the cold marble floor in the middle of the aisle; I watched as she got up once and walked slowly out of one of the middle doors, squatted down for a pee before returning to lie on the cold marble floor…………..respect!………….It was a memorable ceremony, Agnelo and Melissa were married……… Goan style……….

Our Lady Of Gloria Church……………..Varca…….

 

Agnello arriving at church, best man Frank on one side and niece Rachella (red dress) on the other……last time that I saw Rachella, 4 years ago, she was a shy gangly schoolgirl; she has grow into a beautiful young woman, warm friendly and oozing confidence

Melissa waiting with best man Frank

 

Agnello’s younger brother Peter with his mum and his own wife

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Kind Of Stag Night

Last night I was invited to Agnelo’s family home, for what I thought would be a family dinner………………….. the entire community were there, over 200 people……………It was a traditional last night before marriage ceremony / party; after a speech and prayers by a family elder, Agnelo and his best man (Frank) were obliged to sit on two chairs while the whole community queued  up to take handfuls of coconut milk from a huge bucket and splash it over the two of them; raw eggs were also permitted, and I was given one by one of Agnelo’s chums, which I duly smashed over his head……………….I cannot remember ever witnessing and taking part in so much fun and laughter, that lasted for about 2 hours; that such a simple procedure could produce so much joyous laughter and fun is indicative of the happy disposition of these warm and friendly people.

 

This event is an old Portuguese tradition, which the Catholics of Goa adopted many years ago; the white coconut milk signifies purity and the act is to cleanse and purify the recipients…………….I’m not sure how or when the eggs got in on the act, but it’s a great feeling to smash an egg on someones head and know that they will just smile at you!

When the cleansing was finally over the entire community was given wonderful food and cold bottles of Kingfisher beer or soft drinks ……………….

 

Agnelo, left, and best man Frank, awaiting their cleansing

 

 

 

Just about to enjoy the privilege of smashing an egg on Agnelos head

 

 

 

Frank says thank you to Agnelo for asking him to be his best man

I know that in our society, young men go to great lengths and often great expense to enjoy their stag night / week-end / week, but it is hard to imagine that any of them could have more fun than I was honoured to witness and take part in last night………………. immersed in the sense of community spirit and energy that engulfed the whole evening, I found myself completely intoxicated by it……………………now for the wedding, I must go and press my shirt and tie and hope that I can still remember how to tie a knot………………

 

The Colours Of Goa

 

Back on the beach……………….

Well, I have settled into a fairly predictable routine here in Goa, going to the beach most days, taking a papaya salad on my sun-bed for breakfast, swimming, reading, strolling sedately for miles along the golden sand, feet splashing through the sparkling surf of the Arabian sea…………. and other monumentally strenuous activities

 

It’s been good to spend some time with Nick and Teresa again and their friends Mal and Linda, who arrived the day before them………so I am looking forward to another Christmas day and new years eve on the beach; also looking forward to meeting up with Pledge (Keith Pledger) and heading down to Cochin, in Kerala, for the one day cricket match in January. I have been closely following the exploits of the English cricket team on their winter tour to the subcontinent and they are playing really well having just won the 3rd test match in Calcutta to go 2-1 up with one match to play.

 

When I turned on my laptop for the first day’s play in Calcutta, I was initially surprised to discover that they had started play at 9.00am rather than at 10.45 or 11.00 which would be the normal starting time; in an attempt to apply some logic to the issue, I concluded that Calcutta, given its lack of geographical proximity to India’s west coast, must be in a different time zone………………..but this is India, and I discovered that the whole country adheres to IST (Indian standard time)…………. This vast  country’s east–west distance of more than 2,000 km covers over 28 degrees of longitude, resulting in the sun rising and setting almost two hours earlier on India’s eastern border than in its far western extremities; Inhabitants of the north-eastern states have to advance their clocks with the early sunrise to avoid the extra consumption of energy after daylight hours.

 

Other countries of such land mass volume, America and Australia being good examples, have designated time-zones across their east-west expanse, but despite many research teams in the last 30 years recommending separating the country into two or even three time zones, the Indian government have steadfastly refused to adopt this simple and  logical system, preferring  instead to waste incalculable amounts of (precious electrical) power, lighting its eastern zone as it slips into darkness some two hours prematurely ………….this is really bonkers…………..this is India!

 

It brought to mind a quotation from an old north American Indian Chief, I cannot for the moment remember which one, but when the reason for daylight saving was explained to him, he responded saying “Only a government would think that you can cut a foot off of the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom of the blanket and have a longer blanket”

 

 

Back to cricket; I notice that ex Australian captain Ricky “Punter” Ponting has retired from international cricket; his record stands as testament to his talent as one of the finest batsman of his generation, with only Sachin Tendalker having scored more runs than him in test match history …………I was disappointed to see that he did not bow out in his final test match with one of those belligerent hundreds that were the hall-mark of his brilliant career; a feisty character, he was a  fiercely competitive adversary, but a man that always played the game in the right spirit; he knew how to win with humility and how to lose with dignity, a great captain and a genuinely good bloke who wore the “Baggy green” with immense passion …………..  mud in yer eye Punter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Sila, she is a “Lamani” from the state of Karnataka…………..I have known her for about 6 years and she travels to Goa every winter to sell sarongs and jewellery on the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home delivery service not yet available……………..

 

 

 

 

Out beyond the western squalls, in an Indian land, They work for nothing at all, They don’t know the mall, Or the layaway plan, Dig yourself a beautiful grave, Everything you could want, Maybe those invisible slaves, Are too far away for a ghost to haunt……….James Mercer (The Shins)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am looking forward to attending Agnelo’s wedding tomorrow at the huge church in Varca; and he has invited me to the family home this evening to celebrate his last family meal as a single man!

 

Street Life

 

My laptop seems to have made friends with my internet dongle…………….I am sure this act will prove to be a temporary alliance, so I am taking advantage and posting a few more shots of street life in Bangkok!

 

The business empire of two human beings……………..transported on two wheels

Purple passion…………….available on every street………….. below


  

Painless Pomegranates……………………….delicious and incredibly nutritious juice from these wonderful fruits, without having to endure the laborious procedure that eating one of them necessitates

The huge and remarkable monument inside the massive building that is Bangkok international airport terminal

 

 

Last Day On Koh Chang

I have (hopefully) finally managed to upload some photos of my last day on the lovely island of Koh Chang…………..it is Saturday morning the 1st of December and I am looking forward to meeting up with Nick and Teresa  who arrive this morning.

Waiting in the hotel lobby with Benoit, for the open back pick-up truck to transport us to the south of the island for our boat trip………………..

 

 

 

The starting point for our epic swimming race to the beach……………..

 

We went ashore on the island of Koh Wai and were confronted by this huge map of the island on a billboard that was about eight feet wide by six feet tall; the only marking on the entire map is a red arrow and the words “You are here”……………..and I thought that you could only find that type of disinformation in India…………..

Wild orchids on Koh Wai

 

As I sail to the world……………………………..from an insular life.

 

The ferry terminal on Koh Chang…………heading back to Trat on the mainland for the bus back to Bangkok……………..