The first few days were all a bit of a blur. Being introduced to local people and shops that we would need, finding our way around the local area etc. In a place like this it’s easy to feel like we are on holiday but we have come to do a job. We spent the first 2 weeks house hunting and cruising on the scooter (moped) together and kept comparing it to having to get in the car, put the child seat in for Jay, making sure wherever we went that we parked in a designated bay and so on. In India you do not have this problem. There is a sense of freedom that we were not used to at all and we loved it. You park where you like. If you block someone in then they move your bike out the way. Little things like this that go a long way to just making your life that little bit easier. Things that used to frustrate me so much were gone. That’s not to say they are not replaced by other equally annoying things. It always baffles me with the way of life here and the concept of time. I began to hear the phrase ‘Goa time’. This basically means that whenever you have a meeting or an appointment it will be at ‘about’ that time. There is no rush for anything. Not forgetting the baffling and mystical ‘Indian head wobble’. To this day I have no idea what it means. We could sit in a restaurant, order some food and after 30 minutes or so some food would arrive. It may not be what we ordered and often things were left out but whenever you ask about the food you are presented with this head wobble. It’s almost as if to say ‘it is coming soon’. Or it might mean ‘we don’t have that at the minute as the ingredients are out of season’. There is no way of knowing so you have to just accept.
Wherever I have travelled in Europe there are always things that I can compare to being back home in the UK. All the European countries are pretty much the same. There is a feeling of familiarity in Spain, France, Greece etc. but in India EVERYTHING is different. Going shopping at the local markets and being presented with peculiar looking vegetables that sometimes resemble aliens. When we try to ask what something is the response is often ‘vegetable’, shortly followed by a hand to mouth eating gesture – very helpful indeed but this is in fact down to us just knowing the language. And we should learn. I picked up a few phrases but Hindi is not easy. It’s especially not easy when most of the Indian people like to practice their spoken English with you. Having a grasp of the numbers helps with the shopping. The cost of living is cheap. Food is cheap IF you shop like a local. Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetable are abundant and affordable. However, the imported goods are silly money. I had a craving for Weetabix of all things and knew of a shop that sold it. The rupee equivalent of about £7.50 for a box of 24 that looked as though it had been sat on the shelf since WW2 was not appealing and why should it be?
We came here to work, but mainly to learn. If I wanted Weetabix then I probably should’ve stayed in Weston-super-Mare! We are surviving on a local’s salary so must shop and live accordingly. Lentils, Rice, chapati, some veg and fruits and maybe some eggs. A simple but fairly balanced diet. Fish is pretty big here in Goa but as a vegetarian family we decided to avoid it. It is interesting to see the fishermen land on the beaches in the early mornings with the night’s catch and sell the fish literally from the boat to the local people but I wasn’t tempted. Meat is definitely a no-go for us. There is plenty of chicken here but once we saw the chicken market, we were giving it a wide berth! Let’s just say that animal welfare and hygiene isn’t top of the agenda but we kind of expected that anyway. Anyway, food aside we settled in pretty well. One of the nicest things about living in a place that has lots of western holidaymakers is that we can be tourists for a day. It’s easy to blend in and to remove yourself from work and generally just be a holidaymaker for a day or 2. Best of both worlds.