Sunday, 13 March 2016

Was I Possessed..?

Was I Possessed..?

Possession by ghosts seems to have been a norm in my ancestry. I've already posted the story of how my mother was possessed. Now I will write about my step-grandmother. My paternal  grandmother’s sister, who was also my step-grandmother, was possessed on or about 1913. ( I cannot get the exact date because none of my relative want to talk about this phenomenon.) My grandfather and his family lived in a place called Madda, in a village called Cortalim, Goa, in Portuguese India. A feudal lord owned more than 10,000 acres of land,  he actually owned an entire hill, like owning a mountain , I suppose. A psychopath, who enjoyed castrating his slaves. Many slaves died at his hand. It is said that one unfortunate victim, a tall brawly slave was castrated, and he managed to break free, and ran down the hill screaming in agony, and dove into the Zuari River, that was adjacent to the property, and he drowned.

So every night at around 3 am, the screaming ghost of that slave could be heard as he ran, down the hill. Some even saw him. My step-grandmother was unfortunately, one of them. One night when she went out to relieve herself,( there were no toilets then) after giving birth to her son. Her timing  coincided with the running ghost, and the collision led to her possession. The ghost decided to jump into her instead of the river. No amount of exorcism, prayer or coaxing, would convince him to leave. He wanted his revenge, ignoring the fact that my grandfather and everyone else hated the landlord  just as much as he did. The ghost insisted on taking my step-grandmother’s life. After that he was never seen there again. I suppose she was the sacrificial lamb that saved the village.

My Godfather, John Fernandes, once told me how he was possessed. He was a young boy going to a wedding party at night, with his family. It was very dark, there was no electricity in the villages of Goa in the 1940s, and so they were not sure of the way. They saw a group of people with fire torches ahead of them, and rushed to join them, thinking that they were going to the wedding too. As they approached them, the people began to fizzle out and then, suddenly vanished. John, a very young child was petrified, and he got possessed! (The secret of not getting possessed is not to be afraid. It’s a miracle if that is possible!)

He began to have very high fevers and babbled consistently, like he was speaking in tongues. They called the doctor, whose medicines did work; they called the priest, whose prayers did not help. They finally called a witch doctor who announced that John was possessed, and the only way the ghost would leave, would be if John’s feet were dipped in fresh blood spilled on the night of a full moon. This was quite cryptic, because the witch doctor did not specify whose blood or what type of blood was needed. I can only imagine, the chaos, with family debating on which one of them  should slit his/her jugular vein, to save John. After a lot of deliberation, pleading, bargaining and even threatening, they concluded that no one was willing to make the sacrifice, so they should take him to a slaughter house instead, which was about 4 miles away.

Only the male members of the family were allowed to participate in this ritual. So, they carried John to the slaughter-house in the middle of the night, and dipped his feet in a freshly slaughtered pig’s blood. John said he felt the heat of the blood enter his body, and travel up to his head, and stream out, taking away the bad spirit and freeing him. John was saved, to live a very crazy life!

I too, have an experience. I was about 3 years old, in Nairobi, Kenya and I would get these really bad nightmares,(or I thought they were nightmares) like someone or something would carry me in the middle of the night and swirl me around very precariously, so fast I felt my limbs would come off. In the mornings the family would find the mirrors smashed and all the picture on the wall turned upside down. They say the house was haunted. Was I possessed?!!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

is it too late to be me

Is It Too Late To Be ME

Hello, old friend,
We've journeyed together around the world;
My cloak and dagger of fear and anger;
 The accustomed sweet pain of despair;
The ungrateful soul searching, waiting for the clouds to lift;
Forgetting all its accomplishment; the battles won;
The happiness and laughter that once was;
The blood spilt for friends and family;
Yet, I see the old familiar self defeat;

What about me!
I cry out in anger, how long should I please you?
 Above the clambers of demands and expectation, called obligations
Am I to be imprisoned till I’m old and aged;
Crippled and bent;
To see freedom only at life’s end?
I’m alive now, look at me;
I cry for help too,
Don’t you see?
I don’t want just platitudes, of how great I am;
Only, freedom, to be who I Am.

I am tired of carrying your pain;
To live the life you could not live, just to appease.
I’m tired of fear imposed by all, parent, churches and all;
Reality all a skewed, to hide behind the vicissitudes;
My dreams dim away.
The existential crisis creeping in, in the quiet moments of despair;
Is it too late to BE ME?

my mother was possessed!

My Mother Was Possessed!

My mother was possessed by a devil spirit when she was 11 years old. She was coming home from school, at lunch time, and she squatter down behind some bushes to pee. Suddenly she saw a pig she got scared, making her vulnerable to being possessed. In Goa, there a myth that sometimes,  pigs with 20 piglets suddenly appearing and then, disappearing right before your eyes. You are not supposed to get scared, because if you do, the ghosts will possess you. Who wouldn’t get scared if a pig suddenly appears as you are taking a pee.

So my mum went home,(apparently possessed) and she happened to be on her period, at the time. Her menstruation continued for 2 months, continuously. My grandmother’s homeopathic  remedies, including trying to scare the blood away, by using very dirty , soot stained pieces of cloth as pads. The doctors could not cure her, and my mother kept withering away. She was in and out of consciousness during that time.

 My grandmother believing in both science and spiritualism consulted a doctor and the most powerful sorceress in the land. The doctor injected my mother with medicines, when the illness had climaxed, and said that if her fever did not break by the next morning, there would be no hope for her. The sorcerer, also, came the same night and did some ritual, which included splashing my other, face with some very stinky concoction of herbs, and putting a red hot sword under my mother’s bed. She said, that my mother had to battle the demon or parish that night. It was a fitful night as my mother battled for her life. My grandparents and the neighbours stayed up all night praying for God’s mercy and help.  By dawn she had overcome the demon of sickness and she awoke, fully conscious. 

The neighbours celebrated her return, by beating my mother with garlic leaves and questioning  her, about who she was, when she was born , the name of her parent, things like that. They then asked her to pray, to recite the” Our Father” and” Hail Mary”, to see if she accepted God. Or whether she would spew green puke at them and start levitating and making her neck twist 180 degrees! She was fine. And no one ever spoke about it again.

Soon after that incident, my grandfather allowed his niece to build a temporary structure on one of his properties and he provides her and her son with food and supplies, for the rest of his life. My mother says that his dead sister had possessed her, and blackmailed my grandfather into agreeing to support her widowed daughter and grandson, or she would take my mother’s soul to hell with her!  Later, after my grandfather’s demise, my mother kicked them out of the property, and no one has been possessed so far!

Interesting as it the story is to me ,I still have several questions about this that I don’t have the guts to ask my mother, because she will disinherit me!

One, do ghosts lurk around during the day? I thought they only come out at night? My mum was coming home from school, when she “met the pig”.

Two, was my great aunt waiting for the opportune time for my mother to pee at that particular spot and got a pass from Satan to possess my mother during the day, instead of night?  My mother would definitely not wonder so far from the house in the night to pee. How long did she wait for? Why would the ghost come as pigs, a snake would be more scary!

Three,  her continuous bleeding. I had that problem about 7 years ago. My period would not stop, and I remember thinking of my mother’s possession, and wondered if I should go to the priest for an exorcism or the gynecologist. I opted for the latter, and thought if that did not work; I would go to the priest. My gynecologist prescribed some hormone tablets and I was fine. did the doctors not know about this in 1946? Why was she not hospitalised and put on blood transfusion or something? Or were her parents so poor that they could not afford to take her to the doctor? It was a period when India was going through a major famine.

Four, if it did happen, how come no one recalls the story it today. I mean, would my mother not be stigmatised by the fact that she was possessed by the devil? Wouldn't the villagers have created myths around her? I have never met anyone, even her peer in the many travels to Goa, who spoke about my mother being possessed. People love to gossip, it’s amazing that this is not one of the legends!

Or, did the ghost threaten everyone in the village to be silent or else she would possess everyone who spoke about it?

Five, or did my grandparents just make up that story out of shame, for not taking her to the hospital, thinking it was hopeless and that she would die Instead, she survived miraculously.

Six, was it the doctor’s medicine that cured her, or was it the sorcerer’s magic?!!!!
What is the actual story here? I wonder.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

The EMO question

To be EMO or Not to be.....

An existential conversation with my daughter:

Me: why do you dress like a Goth.

D: I’m not Goth! How dare you! I’m Emo!

Me: Emo? Like some animal?

D: Huh! (Rolling her eyes) short for EMOTIONAL!

Me: Emotional about what?

D: Everything!

Me: What do 15 year olds get emotional about? Apart from being liked and accepted. What’s everything? Are you emotional about how to earn money to feed yourself, pay the rent, pay the government? What?

D: Why are you asking me this, its weird!

Me: I’m interested. Is that why you like these grays, blues and black clothes?

D: Yah! That is also why I like the bands like Bastille, twenty one pilots, Atlas Genius, Death Cab for Cuties etc. Their song ask the existential questions. It’s not just about falling in love.

Me: Did I fail you in life? Have I not given you everything you ever wanted?

D: Mum stop it, I don’t want to talk about being Emo with you.

Me: Why? I’m being Emo too.

D: What?!

Me: Emotional, about the existential question of parenting.

D: What, you are so weird.

Me: Isn’t that cool?

D: No! It’s weird for you!

Me: I Googled "EMO" and the urban dictionary says that Emo girl like to watch Emo boys make out. Do  you do that?

D: Yuck! Mum. Stop! I don’t like watching anyone kiss, why would I like watching guys kiss. Yuck!

Me; That is what I was wondering? Did you suddenly become “kissing tolerant”?
D: OMG! Mum!... OK. I am not Emo. I just like the bands, and their music. I like wearing grays, blues and black. That is about it. Now leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about this!

And that is how you get your child to stop being a true EMO!

confessions of a crazy mother pt.1

Confessions of a crazy mother. Part1

I have been a mother for 15 years now. I've read many books on how to bring up your child. I swear to god I tried to follow them, until I decided to throw it out the window and just play it by ear. My role model, my mother, just do the opposite of everything she did, and hope that works.
I take credit for my daughter’s intelligence, not because of my genes but rather, I played classical music to her when she was a baby! I had read somewhere that stringed classical music and piano music is good for a child’s logic. After 2 months I found it so boring, that I stopped playing the music for her. I must say, it worked.

 But, the music had its own side effects, on me. Every time my child would wake up for a feed in the early hours, I would play the music while I breast fed her. One night I did that and I suddenly woke up because my baby had rolled down my lap. She had almost rolled down to the floor had she not got caught at my feet. She looked quite confused as to why the breast was fading away from her! I stopped playing the music.

Sometimes I would put her down next to me on the bed and feed her. It was a miracle that I did not smother her with my boob, which was bigger than her face; I really believe the Angels protected her from me, because I would suddenly wake up, to find that my boob had covered her face. Crazy, right?

Another time, I needed to go to the loo, and I kept yelling for someone to come and take her, but no one was there. I put her in her rocker, strapped her in and put the rocker up on basin table. I didn't put her on the floor because I felt it would be too unhygienic. She was very restless; I think she was about 6 months old. She kept moving so much, and the next thing, the strap unfastened and she lunged from the seat and was falling down head –first. I squealed and dove forward, grabbing her just in time inches from the floor. She looked startled at first, and then began to giggle. I was so shocked, I was just imagining her hitting the floor and her skull splitting open. I was so furious with myself. I almost killed my child! I never told anyone about this.

I am the sort of mother that believes in a child sleeping comfortable during a long flight. I used to give her a cough syrup and she would sleep for a good 6 hours. At least the one year old would not disturb other passengers!

I thought that I would be environmentally conscious. I would use cloth nappies, which would get soiled quickly, and sometimes my baby would be in the damp nappy for a long time , causing  rashes. That is when I thought, screw it! I began to use Pampers. So much for the environment!
I wanted my child to be able to read early, so I put her in school at 20 months. She didn't like it, and although we lived 5 minutes away from the school, we were always the last to get there. She would be so unhappy to go, and it broke my heart. A Montessori  School. She rebelled, and refused to learn how to fold napkin and pour water in cups, etc. Till today, she cannot do it, the experience traumatized. She did learn one thing though, was to defend herself against bullies. She learnt to fight back when a boy began to ambush her and beat her. I told her never to allow a boy to hit her, she should hit back. She does that till today!  Yeah! I then changed her to a Waldorf School  when she was 4 and she was so happy there.
To be continued........

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Birthday Blues

Birthday Blues

It’s my birthday today. Wow, am I feeling OLD! 52 years old! This means I am unmarketable, undateable, I should be put out to pasture in the dating front, correction- in all fronts. In my head I still see myself as a medium size 35 year old. With good skin, and pretty, in a bland way. When I walk I imagine myself walking briskly and attractively. In actual fact I walk like I’m carrying a ton of food in my arms, trying to balance it! Having successfully avoided full length mirrors for years, barely looking at the mirrors over the basins, one day I literally scared myself, when I  saw myself in the mirror. What?!! When did that happen? Was I abducted by aliens who did beauty experiments on me, failed and sent me back all wrinkled and fat and grey haired? That is not me! Give me back my face  and body, aliens!

 I then decided to get some cheap black hair dye. The one that is so black that it makes your hair look like a wig, in contrast to your wrinkly face?- I had lost a lot of weight during a very traumatic period in my life.- I bought new clothes, and bought some make up to hide the wrinkles. I have since put on weight and I am less wrinkly! - By the way, that is the solution to not having wrinkle! Put on weight- All the fat in your face makes most of the wrinkles disappear. So if I lose weight I will have this extra   skin under my chin hanging down like turkey skin. That is my dilemma, if I lose weight, I will look old because of the turkey skin, if I stay fat I still look old. Don’t tell me to get a face lift, I can’t afford it. Also, what if, the surgeon stretches my face out so tight, that it seems like I am being electrocuted all the time. No, cannot take that risk.

Besides my looks, what do I do at 52 years? I cannot practice law here, in Goa. I am not an Indian citizen. All I do is ward off potential thieves from trying to steal our properties; and this blog, criticising the Indians. To my detriment, of course,  just waiting to be arrested on sedition, for being anti nationalistic in the so called biggest “Democracy in the world!” it reminds me of the terrible days when, I witnessed my fellow university students and lecturers being detained by the Moi regime in Kenya, on charges of sedition. It only made the government more unpopular, and the people more adamant to be heard no matter the cost to their freedom. The government was ultimately democratically removed, by people voting overwhelmingly for the opposition. This government should learn from the history of other countries too, especially Africa, and not just focus on India’s greatness”.
Another problem is, I am too old to go to a developed country; they will not accept me, anyway. I cannot contribute to their economy as a strong worker; I certainly am not made to work in a sandwich factory in England, with the monotony of packing food I cannot eat! Or, too weak to push trolleys at the airport. Too, stupid to be a teacher. Actually that is not true, I find teaching boring! I tried it once; I take my hat off to all the educators out there. It is truly a calling. Children are scary, always judging you!
I was always interested in doing psychology, I have met so many, who have tried to keep me sane, and when they could not, I went to psychics. Sometimes I went to both. The psychologist tried to make me believe in myself and that I had the power within me to over-come my issues, while the psychics saw all these dark forces around me destroying my life and how I had to turn to the forces of the light to fight them. It was like being on drugs- I think, never did it- either way, I escaped reality! So if I combined psychic practice with psychology, I could make a ton of money. Right? (I want to be a billionaire, oh so bad!-Bruno Mars) The clients want solutions to their problems. It’s all about believing!  I looked up online courses and there are none available in India. Or maybe the forces do not want me to do it!

So, I realise that I have become a recluse. I don’t like mingling with people who give me unsolicited advice about what I should about my weight, or my life. I know I want to do something from home. I need to figure it out, and really quickly, because my daughter is growing up really fast, and she will need to go to university, and I need to find a way to pay for it. She is really talented, unlike me, so I have been trying to get her to make some funny (ha-ha) videos that could go viral and she could pay her own way through college and support me at the same time. I don’t know why she keeps ignoring me! Perhaps if I tell her, it’s my birthday wish, she might listen?

I remember once watching Oprah, and she was talking about her experience of being in her 50s. She said it was the period when one has found oneself, and you are peaceful and calm. That is a load of BS, maybe so only if you are a F...g Billionaire! To “normal” people like me, it’s a time when you are too old to get a new job and too young to retire.

So that is where I am at 52 years old: Fat; old and LOST! HELP!!!!

Stop Calling Me Stupid, Stupid!

 Stop Calling Me, Stupid, Stupid!!

The worst insult you could give me ever, is call me stupid! The next is to call me old and the other is to call me fat. I know I am all those, but only I can call myself those adjectives. I become like a raging bull, -internally- I can feel my eyes turning fiery red and my nostrils snorting out smoke, like in those cartoons. But civility prevails, most times, and I ignore the comment. Not always though.
Why do I feel that way? Aren't we all stupid in some things and smart in others? What do people see in me? Am I wrapped in a blanket of stupidity that make me look obviously stupid? I speak English better than many here in Goa, because that is the only language I know fluently. Does  speaking in English make you seem smart? I have done law, out-smarted con men in Goa, saved my family, and yet people think I am so stupid!  What the F...? Or perhaps I do look so stupid that con men come after me in the first place?

This morning I was at the pharmacy, which I have been going to for the past 4 years. They've decided to go online, and now the customers will be able to order via email, and the drugs will be delivered to your home! Wow! Probably,  the first in Goa. The pharmacist gives me this card to fill out. Then he has the nerve to ask me if I knew how to fill the card, which entails me filling out my name; address; email and phone number. How hard is that?  So I grabbed the pen and filled out the form grudgingly. Then the SOB says,” do you know how to use an email?”  I wanted to flip him, but then this is the only pharmacy that gives me sleeping pills, without a prescription. Does he think I live in a cave? Even a child knows how to use email! I curtly said yes, and walked out in rage. That was so offensive to me!
So, here I am wondering why would he think I was so ignorant. Was it because of the way I look? I am over-weight, and that makes me look older than my 52 years. Then I think that if he thinks I look 62 years old, let’s say- and I probably do, but I do not want to admit it- then does he think that at 62, I would not know how to use a computer? How insulting and biased, is that? Or is it because I am a woman and “I am old”, that he automatically assumes that? Is it the culture here, or do the educated assume that everyone else is stupid? It’s very condescending, I must say.

I've struggled with that image all my life! I've been overweight t since I was 12 years old. I was one of the smartest kids in primary school. Then when I went to secondary school, it was so competitive; my peers seemed smarter than me and socially better than me. They joked about my weight, and I just wanted to hide. I felt shy and stupid. The teachers would favour the very smart students and ignored the others. I was ignored. Yet, I got into university, while some of the one who were not ignored, never made it to university. But by then my self-esteem was so battered that I wondered if I deserved to be there. Worst of all, I did not get in to do law, which was my main goal. I was not good enough.  That is why I am so sensitive  about being stupid, I suppose. So I completed my B.A. and found a way to get into law school, while I articled at a law firm in Kenya. It was tough but I made it. Sometimes I felt I was really good at what did and other times I didn't. I loved the law and the validation it gave me. I loved helping people and the power that came with it. And yet, today someone asks me if I know how to fill out a form?
The reason I am over-weight is - yes, I love food- but I love food more when I am stressed.  I am stressed all the time. Yeah, I know about Yoga and meditation, but I don’t want to do it okay? At that moment I want to eat! Yes, I suppose it’s an addiction! This in turn has resulted in me suffering from Candida, which is a yeast infection, that causes me to become blotted, and I get skin problems, caused by this yeast growth in the small intestines. This also affects me psychologically. I become depressed and moody, and then find it difficult to do things. This leads me to emotional eating, again because of the guilt.  At its worst, apart from the torture of the skin sores, I have joint pains, and sometimes it is difficult to walk, or bend. I tend to forget things at times. Making me stupid!

The only treatment for this is to stop eating sugar completely, no gluten products, no processed food, and no caffeine. I have to exercising. But I am too depressed to do it. There are very few times I have been disciplined enough to go on that diet, and I have seen the weight just shed away. Then something stressful happens and I begin to binge again, and it recurs. It’s reached a point where I am so tired, of all the shit around me that I want to give in to the depression and hide forever.

My Candida has gotten worse in Goa, because I am always angry. I am constantly dealing with men who think that women are stupid and inferior. I want to slap the shit out of them, but I can’t, not if I need to get things done, and stay out of jail! Instead I eat. What makes me even more angry is when some person talks to me about how unhealthy I look because I am over weight and how I should go on a diet and how I should exercise every day. Otherwise I will die and my poor daughter will be alone. Then I wonder how stupid do these people think I am. I am 52 years old, I am educated, why would I not know the dangers of being obese or how to diet and exercise. Why would they think that I have never dieted or exercised before? I want to yell at them, and say “I AM NOT A F...IDIOT, NOT TO KNOW I AM FAT! I AM FAT BECAUSE EVERYONE THINKS I AM AN IDIOT, AND THAT MAKE ME SAD AND ANGRY AND I CAN’T YELL AT YOU, SO I HIDE MY EMOTIONS BY EATING!! HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF THAT YOU BIGOTED IDIOT!!” 

Saturday, 27 February 2016

My Contribution to the Economy
The best way for a company to make money, is to manufacture low quality branded goods. Their life span is short and one has to buy new ones to replace them. In the 4 years I have been in Goa, India, I have gone through, 2 fridges a Bajaj and Panasonic, a Bajaj microwave, 2 electric  kettles, a Philips grinder, 2 chopping machines a Braun, one television , one Prestige induction cooker, one electric plate cooker and 2 mobile phones, Nokia and Samsung, an iball Computer and printer. No, I don’t drop them or take a sledge hammer to them, I use them and they break. Companies only give you a 12 month warranty, and most goods sputter and die after  2 years. Even the companies know the goods will die!
You would say, just get them fixed. How?  When you cannot get a hold of the one service man posted to serve the entire state! For example, when I called the Bajaj service man, the only day he was available, was when I was not. Any efforts to reschedule have been futile. Bajaj has one service person for the whole of Goa. At least that is the impression I get, He is scheduled each day of the week for a particular area. So if you miss him this week, you have to wait a whole week, for him to come, if you are luck! Perhaps it’s a ploy to force you to buy a new item. That is what I end up doing, anyway.
The same applies to Airtel, Tata Sky Plus, where you ask for service, and it takes them 4 days to send someone. They keep saying that they are on their way. Once, the technician asked me to stand outside my gate, because he did not know where the house was, I did, and he came 2 days later! Of course, I didn’t stand outside for 2 days!! The Airtel Dish service people are conmen/women. I sometimes don’t pay for Airtel because I also use Tata Sky Plus. One day someone called me and said that if I paid Rs190 within 1 hour I would get 30 days free viewing and after that I could change my package. So I rushed and paid, only to discover it was for only 3 days! So I did not pay, and w woman calls me and said that if I could pay Rs 1,950/- by 3pm that day, they would give me 6 months free viewing. I told her to F...Off!  Once they even threatened to deregister me, thinking that I would rush and pay. It’s ridiculous!
The call centres! I don’t speak Hindi or any other Indian language, because I am a Goan from Kenya. Of course, that is not an excuse why I should not speak my mother tongue Konkani, but that is another topic to be written later. There are some languages that are spoken very fast, so when they speak English in the same way, it appears like I am the one who does not know English, because I don’t understand them. Sometimes I have the courage to ask them to speak slowly, other times I don’t, so, the conversation ends up having long moments of silence, as my brain tries to decipher what was said to me. By the time my brain hits an answer; it’s normally the wrong one. So the person on the other side feel so good that he is better than me in English, and he continues at the same speed, but only softer in volume, making me squirm.
Then you walk into any clothes department stores in Goa. Like Westside Store.  No one comes to assist you, instead they just stand around like security guard. Basically waiting to see if you are a potential buyer or just browsing. They don’t think that it is their job to convince a customer to buy items, like selling ice to an Eskimo, kind of thing. When you finally go to pay for your items, the cashier is so serious, and slow, that you wonder what goes through his head. Don’t they know how valuable a customer is? Without the customer, the goods will not be bought, the store will not have money, you will not have a salary, and you will be out of a job! Because the store closed down! Then you will complain that there are no jobs for the youth, but it’s YOUR FAULT! IDIOTS!
I take my sister for treatment at a hospital near the Industrial Estate. The small hospital does not own a wheel chair , not because they cannot afford one, but because the nurses say they are not strong enough to push the chairs!-So hire a man who can do it, the hospital is not cheap! So I see, people literally being dragged into the emergency room. –Not by the nurses, obviously- So many industrial accidents! People are not given any protective gear as they work, they come with their fingers cut, or objects hitting their faces or head. I don’t think they have workman’s compensation here. It makes one wonder under what conditions people work in factories in Goa. No one complains, jobs are so scarce that people are willing to work under any conditions. The directors are only concerned about making very high profits.
Don’t even talk about the pharmacies. It takes a good 45 minutes to fill a prescription, because the place is so chaotic. They check the computer, and they know they have the item, but they mostly are not sure where they put them. Then there are only certain pharmacies that keep specific drugs. If you doctor is in one town, you have to buy the drugs from that town, you will not find it anywhere else.
My best experience is buying goods online. No human interaction, except at the time of delivery. It is quite efficient. Maybe that is my problem, the human interaction!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Are We Prepared For Our Children's Future?

Are We Prepared For Our Children’s Future?
What will the job scenario be like in 5 to 10 years time? With technology evolving at such a tremendous speed, and yet, is our education systems and curricula preparing our children for it? Or is it to fill up the jobs that support industrialisation. Does it allow our children to become or rather, remain creative? Is creativity not the driving force behind innovation?
I have a 15 year old daughter, who unlike myself is quite intelligent. She loves to read, write, draw, she is good at sports and, also in academics. Unfortunately, she finds the latter so boring, because some of her teachers are not creative enough to make it interesting. Like most parent, I am guilty of trying to encourage her to do well in her academics, so that she can go to a reputable university anywhere in the world, and become a professional. It’s a secure route. A good education is important for her security, so I tell myself!
But, then who am I to talk? I loved art, and was somewhat good at it, but I dropped the subject so that I could focus on the academic ones to be able to peruse law. This would make my family proud, I needed my mother’s validation. Still do! Yes, I worked really hard and became a lawyer. To me law was interesting only if I could help the disenfranchised   people in our society, pro bono. The minute I realised I had to pay rent , salaries, support the family, it meant taking cases like debt collection, conveyance jobs, sooo boring! I was not happy, and I began to withdraw from the clients, employing lawyers who eventually poached them and the firm spiraled down and I gave up. I have no idea what my real dream , even if I had one, I was too busy surviving to notice them I gave into depression and defeat.
Yet, here I am telling my daughter to follow the academics line! I mean unless you want to be a starving artist, or waitressing until you are discovered as an actor, then go for art, right? On the other hand I want her to be happy, doing what she wants to do, not what will please me. I have to allow her to follow her dreams. I’ve read so many books about people who followed their passion and became successful. Like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. None are graduates. Does one have to be a billionaire anyway? A millionaire is just fine!
My daughter goes to this fairly progressive school in Goa, India. While they claim they area none competitive school, the teachers laud the bright students and basically ignore the not- so- bright ones. The children sit for the  Dehli Board exams, that seem to put so much focus on the science and Mathematics. The Social Science is based almost 95% on India and its greatness. The topics are boring. Art is allowed only once a week for half an hour. The art teacher has no clue about who the students are and how they perform. Yet the school encourages students to decorate their classed for Diwali, or Christmas. They expect students to show their artistic skills for projects, but there is no art lesson, as such.
What if my child wants to be an artist or a designer? Where is her foundation? What if she succeeds? Will the school say, “yeah! She’s a product of our school!” Or will India say “An Indian is awarded the highest honour for her artistic creativity!” When she is not an Indian and probably will have studied art abroad! When in fact, India does not put art, or dancing or drama in the same status as Math, Science or Linguistics!
There was a seminar for students and parents of the school. Only about 3% of us attended. It was about what type of career choices the students could make. There were like 5 people presenting the seminar, to less than 15 people in our group. The presenter asked the students what  they had dreamed of becoming when they were older. Apart from 2 students who wanted to pursue medicine and Engineering, all the rest, my daughter included, wanted to be singers, or actors or writers. The presenter had no clue what to do next! She expected everyone to say they would pursue Science or Engineering, which is the trend in India. So due to the lack of creativity, and the typical way of parroting facts, the presenters continued  with the Power Point presentation on why the children should pursue other careers, other than Science or Engineering! (By the way, they said being a paramedic is one of the highest paying jobs in India!) Really?  Then doctors should become paramedics!
 At least the positive thing was that they emphasised that if you do what you love, the money will follow. (unless you’re a serial killer, of course) I’ve been watching” Hannibal” ,and allowed him to get in my head!)
On the other hand, there are schools in Goa that focus on the art and the academics. My daughter had the misfortune of joining the wrong one. Having experienced 3 years of the Waldorf Education in Kenya, and 2 years mainstream, because I stopped practicing law and could not afford  Waldorf. We came to Goa and were elated to know that there was a Waldorf school here. While it was fun and relaxed, with so much creativity, there were no academics. 90% of the time her teacher was absent, and there was no substitution. My child went to school only to play for 2 years.  For a school that focused on art and creativity, my daughter’s artistic talents regressed.
My daughter is teaching herself how to draw, and she has improved by leaps and bounds on her own. And luckily, my daughter managed to catch up with the subjects when she joined the other school.

This topic is inspired by a book I am currently reading called “The Industries of the Future” by Alex Ross. In which he writes about how technology is advancing so much that robots will be used in the medical sectors, in fact in some developed countries they are already being used. How Big Data will be used for efficient and effective food production, how globalisation of trade will be implemented. Basically the world markets are evolving and if the young generation are not trained for it, they will be unqualified to get jobs and survive. Should all our Governments not keep that in mind? When will they plan for the future of their younger population and how to sustain them! How can it happen, when computer studies are not part of the examinable subjects of the Board in India i.e. it’s not a subject taken seriously, as with art and drama! Wake up! Be prepared! The end of an era is upon us!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

I'm Mad But I'm Functioning!

I’m Mad But I’m Functioning!
Ever wake up wondering what are you going to do with the rest of your life, which is meaningful? I go through that every morning. In a split second, all my mistakes and all my underachieved goals flood in , hitting my like a boulder, and I want to go back to the state of nothingness, sleep. But it’s gone, I can feel it somewhere, but it still evades me, I try to catch it, but it’s like a moving bus, which refuses to stop. You just see it drive away into the distance.
Then I’m left with this heavy stone on my chest, a combination of fear, anxiety, guilt, powerlessness and anger. Then something inside me says pray. But I don’t feel like it. My emotion of love for God or anyone seems dead. I don’t feel anything, apart from my anxiety etc. Then I wonder how can I feel irritation and anger, and guilt, then have no feelings of love, hope, joy etc. I know there must be a psychological explanation or diagnosis for this, but I am wondering if I am the only person in the whole world who feels this was. I think that is narcissistic, right?
I don’t want to get out of bed. I wish I could sleep in the whole day. Let everyone do the chores. But then my cat, my daughter named him Stitch, but I call him Puss, like all the cats before him, it’s just easier to say. Besides this cat is too arrogant to respond to any name. Or so I think. Anyway, my cat has this ritual, of waking me up by poking his dirty paws at my mouth. He knows that it gets a reaction from me. If I turn my face away, he comes to the other side, and continues the prodding. Like a nagging Bitch! Only it’s a cat, and a male. If that fails the stupid creature literally attacks me. At that point I want to throw him out the window , and hope he gets lost. (He is dyslexic, whenever he goes out, he literally gets lost. No sense of direction.)  I but I know I would not be able to explain his disappearance to my 15 year old daughter, Tanya, who seems to have this way of seeing right through me. It’s scary!
So I drag my over weight, aching body, out of bed, every morning at 5.30. Open the door to allow Stitch out of the room, and he is met by our dog Leo at the door. Leo and Stitch, do you get it?  The cartoon...alien...Ok, never mind, I’m not in the mood to explain!
I prepare the breakfast, my daughter’s school lunch, the indoor animal’s food, and the outdoor ones. We have  6 cats outside, who keep breeding. I have to put up with my 80’s year old mother consistent sermon, “You have to get rid of the cats! Their crying brings bad luck into the house! “And I say in my head “if you don’t feed them, they are obviously going to cry! And it’s your negativity that brings  the bad luck, any way!” She’s been after me to get rid of the cats for nearly a year now. I don’t have the heart to do it, so I find ways to avoid it.  I ignore the ramblings.
 I drive 13km to Tanya’s school, avoiding the crazy pedestrians walking in the middle of the road, the dogs and cows that sleep on the road, oblivious of the fact that vehicles can kill them. And worst of all are the motor bikers, who seem to think the road is exclusively for them and they drive at 40km/p/h. Not to mention the on-coming trucks and buses, on this 6 metre wide road. Avoiding all these obstacles, while driving at 70kmsph, to get to school on time, is quite a fete for someone like me! Then I drive back!
I clean the house, prepare lunch, have lunch, go to pick Tanya from school, come back, take my sister to the doctor, come back, sit for a while, prepare dinner. Occasionally, I somehow fit in the official errands and the shopping . I have to travel sometimes 12 to 18 kms to the so called city. When I go to the city, I have to rush back, drop the stuff home and go to pick Tanya.  My escape is when I sit to watch T.V, (especially “Hannibal” what a great chef! That is the best way to get rid of a body, eat it!) Or read a book.
It’s become so routine, and I hate it, but I have to do it, otherwise it won’t get done. Then I go to bed, and wake up feeling terrible again. A vicious cycle of mechanical monotony. Doing the same thing, having literally the same conversations with my mother. It makes me wonder, when one grows old, all you have is your stories of your experiences. And they are repeated over and over again, like your are telling it for the first time. I want to tell my daughter to euthanize me when that happens to me. Oh! Wait it already has! Has it? I try to hide from my mother, sometimes, but it’s not easy. Then I have to pretend I am listening, as I busy myself cooking or doing something else. I do this not out of politeness, but out of shear fear of this petite cute looking, but very loud woman!

 While it appears like I am multitasking, I discovered that I function on the adrenaline of anger, frustration, and bitterness. I hide behind food! Hence my obesity. Hey, I’m mad but I’m functioning!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

confession of a stupid driver

Confession of  stupid driver

I look upon drivers who can reverse in a straight line and navigate the car into tiny spaces, so artfully. How do they know how to do that? Watching them, it seems as though they were born knowing how to drive like that. When women do it, wow! that I admire and truly envy. I feel ashamed that I represent the stereotypical woman driver, who cannot reverse. I apologise to my gender for letting you down. But, to my defence, I blame it on Diamond.
Diamond was my driving instructor, in Kenya. Yes, that was his name, and no it was not given to him because he was the best instructor. I was an 18year old, waiting to go to university, having nothing else to do, but learn how to drive. I hated it! I remember after each lesson, my clothes would be sticking to me from sweating out of fear.

The routine of driving each day was, enter the car, adjust the seat, adjust the rear view mirror , make sure the gear was in neutral, start the car, shift to first , release the clutch slowly, while simultaneously pressing the accelerator. Most times I would forget to put the car in neutral and it would jerk forward, and Diamond would sign in anger. We would leave town, driving in traffic, by some miracle I was doing that! Drive to the outskirts of the city, into this dingy area, stop at kiosk where Diamond would collect bunch of plants called “Mira” which stimulates you to stay awake, and I think is an aphrodisiac.  Then we would drive back to my house, where I would get off. That was the routine every day. I was his chauffer, getting him to his stash!

After a week he began to relax and make jokes. I began to relax too, and I really began to believe I was driving well! (No, I was not High!) In fact I was good enough to go for my driving test. I aced the direction board test. I went to the car, and the inspector said “Start and Off!” What did that mean? I was too scared to ask for clarification, so I started the engine and turned it off. The inspector looked confused. Then realising that I was stupid, he said “Start, Off” waving his hand towards the road. Ohhh!! I start, do the usual, put the car in first gear, and tried to move, I release the clutch too quickly and we jerked, and the engine spattered to a stop. He should have failed me then, but instead, he told me to try again. I did and jerked again but I manage to keep the engine running, and we somehow got onto the main road. It was good, until I had to reverse.  I tried and ended up making the car face right, instead of forward. The inspector had no expression, he just kept scribbling on the paper. Then the Hill balancing, one can only imagine!

So, dejected at my dismal performance, I drove the inspector back to his office. I realise that Diamond did not teach me anything! He was high on his “mira” and he was the one controlling the accelerator and clutch from his side, making me think I was actually driving very well. I was so angry, and I was about to shout at him, when he entered the car, but had to stop when he said that I passed the test! What! How?  I thought I was going to be like my father , who retook the test about 5 times before he got his license.  I then realised that when I paid for the test I had paid for the” License fees” as well.  I could not shout at Diamond.
So, I got my licence and I was one more unqualified driver released on the road , until I rammed into my own gate and did not drive again for many years. Until... I became less stupid, and earned more money, I realised I could circumvent the whole gear and clutch issue, by buying an automatic gear vehicle. I was so happy.

I dealt with the reverse issue by always avoiding places that were crowded, and parked in wide open spaces, even if it meant I had to walk a long distance to get to my destination. I still do that! If I have no choice then I get out of the car, ask any people close by who could drive, to reverse the car for me! What else do I do?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Dishonesty is the only policy

Dishonesty is the only policy

Selling a property in Goa, India, is like making deals with wolves in sheep’s clothing. You might end up winning ,but you come out badly scathed.
Being a Goan- Kenyan, I was oblivious of the way business is conducted in Goa. I thought it would be the same as in Kenya. My cousin had sold his half portion of a piece of land my father and his brother had inherited, to a prominent mining company. So  I approached the company and asked them to buy our portion as well. They offered us about one million rupees more than they paid my cousin. That was not the true value. We agreed thinking that was a fair price. Then mining was stopped in Goa, so the company put the purchase on hold.
After waiting for almost another 1 year,  I decided to look for buyer for the top portion of the property. In my utter stupidity, I approached a young salesman, who also doubled as a real estate agent.(I later learnt that anyone and everyone were potential agents, from a fish monger to a lawyer, be he educated or not). I will call him AJ, who brings me a buyer, BA, who has a factory, allegedly has money. He seems to have done some research on the plot. He makes an offer that amounts to about the same as the company, but for only half the land. I accept. Then a delay and he introduces BB, saying he is his partner, who will pay for this plot. I waited about 4 months, with no sight of any money
BA, seeing that BB is not coming forth with the money, informed BC, who approached me and offered Rupees 1 million more than BB. I accept, he gives me a cheque for the deposit, and he said within 30 days the transaction will be completed. No agreement was signed, on the advice of my lawyer.
After 30 days BC, starts to look for excuses to delay the closure. He alleged that he had top secret information from a government source that the property has been declared a forest. He said he would try to “talk” to the Chief Minister to remove it from the list. He asked me to wait, and not to tell anyone about it. It sounded like a con. And so I began to become suspicious. I gave him 3 weeks, then told my lawyer about it, who said it was not true. I then went to the forest department, and met the commissioner, who said the property was not declared a forest. By then Idecided I would not  sell the property to BC. It appeared like he was delaying  the completion because he wanted to get the price reduced or was looking for a buyer, he would sell it off to.
I informed him about my findings and told him that he could take his money back. I did not hear from him, so I put the property back on the market. At the same time A J introduced me to A L, a woman   who brought another buyer BD. There was full disclosure about buyer BC, yet BD wanted to proceed. When we entered into an agreement with BD, I informed BC that I found another buy and I was returning his deposit. He refused to accept it, and sued me. Seeking an injunction. Then buyer BD decided to cancel his deal with us, he took back his deposit and tore the agreement.
As the case was proceeding, buyer BE , a developer came to us and said he wanted the property and could handle BC and his case. We agreed, and while we expected him to conclude his process within 3 months, it took 8 months, because he was delaying the matter so that he could get his funds organised. Seeing that since there was no injunction with BC, our best bet was to sell the property to BE, and that would determine the case with BC, we had no choice but to wait.
BE turned out to have his own agenda. He apparently was approached by buyer BD to buy the property. He agreed to do so at a very high price. He then told BD he was not interested, and after BD rescinded his contract with me, BE sought us out and offered to buy the property, for much less. I got to know this when BD sued me seeking an injunction stopping me from selling the property to BE. Alleging that I still had his deposit and he produced a photocopy of the agreement, of which we had destroyed the original. In actual fact he was trying to blackmail BE and I tnto paying him a commission. It did not work out because an injunction was not granted  and ultimately the case was dismissed.
We signed the sale deed with BE, and were shocked to see him giving us post dated cheques .BE kept prolonging the payment of the cheques. The cheques were about to expire, and BE stopped taking my calls and refused to see me. I knew he was planning on scamming us, so I banked all the cheques, luckily 2  cleared, while 2 bounced. I sued him under section 138. I was not going to allow another Indian take advantage of me.
In the meantime, BC was informed that the property was sold, and after threats he finally withdrew his case.
BE  dreams of becoming  the top most developer in Goa. He thinks his aggressive nature (a Bully) and his “powerful witchcraft” will do it for him. Typically, he has no respect for women. Not wanting to be seen in court on the charge of bounced cheques he has tried to compromise by paying in instalment.   He tried to convince me to withdraw the matter, and my lawyer had refused. Getting upset, he started to abuse me, saying I am a woman of bad character, and that is why everyone has sued me. His arrogance blinds him from the reality of his dishonesty .  I am still awaiting the outcome of this matter. But one thing for sure that I refuse to be bullied by agent and so called buyer, who pretend to be refined and polished with their big cars and fancy offices. I am yet to meet an honest Agent in Goa. It’s pathetic!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Sorry, I"m Not Black.......?

Sorry, I’m Not Black...?

I am often asked where I am from. It is because I don’t speak Konkani or Hindi. They expect me to say, “Mumbai” or “Chennai”. I then say I am from Kenya, and see the perplexed look on their face. It’s like their brain is scanning for the meaning and the closest it lands on is “Canada”. Then I say, “No, KENYA”. They frown in confusion. I wait a few seconds, allowing time for their brain to reboot; then out of boredom I hand them a life-line and say, “It’s a country in East Africa.” The “East” escapes them, but “Africa” registers! Oh! Kenya! But if you are Kenyan why are you not black?  I feel like saying “I don’t know. Maybe because God made me this way?” Instead I ignore the question and smile.
I have this happen to me quite often, but the most pathetic one was, at the Dabolim Airport in Goa. My daughter and I were travelling to Kenya and our passports and tickets were being inspected by an army guard before we were allowed to enter. He looked at our passports, looked at us, looked again , then finally said: “Why are you not black?” I was worried that that would be a criterion for this gun bearing soldier not to let us travel. What was I supposed to say? Sorry? I just stared at him. He smiled and let us through. I was wondering that if that was his job, would not have met other brown people with foreign passports? I wondered if he asked a Goan bearing a British passport why he/she was not white?

How can anyone not know about Kenya? We have been targeted by Al Qaeda when they bombed the American Embassy in Nairobi in 2008. In 2012 a leading Mall in Nairobi was attacked by the Al Shababs . Killing people randomly, and targeting non-Muslims. President Barack Obama is half Kenyan! Kenya’s main tourist attraction is the great migration of the wildebeests from Masai Mara to the Serengeti in Tanzania. It is one of the wonders of the world.  So, why don’t people in Goa know about Kenya?

Another comment I encounter about Africa is “Africans are so poor. Why?" and I become defensive and say, "90% of Indians are poor, Why?"  This results in a stalemate. If India is not poor, why are so many of their citizens seeking manual jobs in the Gulf and Europe? If India is so rich why do people not have toilets, or adequate water supply? Why does India have slums? (Slum Dog Millionaire)

I almost fell off my seat when a prominent criminal lawyer – not my lawyer, by the way – said that he represents many Africans and other foreigners in Goa, who are drug dealers or rapists. He then said, and I quote: “There is no rape in Africa – even in Europe, everyone sleeps with each other, so how can there be rape?’ What? Did he actually get a law degree? This is the educated echelon of society. I was too shocked, but also afraid to say anything because his son was representing me (not a criminal case). I should have said that no one has a right to force him/herself upon another sexually when the other person is not consenting.

Another lawyer also from Panjim, (I’ve met a lot of lawyers since I’ve been in Goa) said to me that it is in the genes of the Africans to be  hostile and that is why they were violent.
He was representing us in a case, so I did not have the guts to disagree with him. He was the type who bore grudges and did not talk to you. So I betrayed my people in my silence. But my personal opinion is that we all have a propensity to be violent, given the circumstances. Is there no violence in India? Did the Indians and Europeans not go to war with each other? Are the Isis members only Africans or Arab but rather a mixed cross cultural group who terrorise the world? As you can guess I am a coward, and incredibly scared of lawyers who are handling my matters. (Big and fragile egos!)

Another lawyer who took a vacation in Mauritius said: “The blacks working in the banks were actually efficient”. So evidently racist.  If you are black you are supposed to be uncivilised? I have met so many people who call the Africans “negroes”. In which century are you living? I get so shocked, especially when Goans do that. Aren’t our people all over the world? Many Goans work on ships or in the Gulf. They have met and associated with people from different parts of the world. Don’t they come home and talk about their experiences, and enlighten their family?

I wonder if this level of ignorance is because of the education system in India. The curriculum is specifically focused on the country. Children get to learn how amazing India is, and how “smart” the politicians are. India is the largest democracy! While every adult Indian has the right to vote, in most case the vote is influenced by the media, and who paid it more money to publish them. The average Indian basically believes everything that is fed by the media. The media only shows the poverty in Africa and not its wealth, and development. I pick the newspaper and hardly see any news on Africa. By the way why has Modi not gone to Africa yet?

I am a Goan Kenyan, and I am not black because I was born in Kenya to parents who migrated to Kenya a long time ago to earn a living and have a better future. They became Kenyan citizens but their hearts were always linked to Goa. They had two homes and my siblings and I were taught about their life and love for Goa and Kenya.