Wooden spoon

I don’t know about you but I can get by with a fair amount of idleness. But sometimes activity takes over.

Today I punished the stairwell, drilled holes and stuck up more pics.

The cleaning ladies appreciated hanging around, chatting, chai while waiting for my mess.

They now believe we’ve more Gods per square inch than most Hindu houses.

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And sometimes one needs a hobby. Not too difficult you’ll understand. I am from Yorkshire and reached a golden age. Yes, over 50.

The current thirty-second hobby (ie this month’s) is very much Hipster Dad territory. Very Hebden Bridge, or Stroud in this case.

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Wayne of Wayne’s Wood, yes from Stroud (sorry these are English jokes) was at WOMAD music festival.

Will he come here, I wonder.

I’m now into carving wooden spoons and here’s the first two. I have my knives, oil, emery paper I just need to find some more wood, preferably Mango… where’s Satish?

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Credit where it’s due.

I have here a piece of paper….

Neville Chamberlain’s infamous attempt of appeasement with hitler.

Well I also have my own piece of paper.

Here it is….

ok it’s nothing like the first one.

On my return to India in August I was pulled aside by the immigration officers.

It seems that there has been a rule change and I was told in no uncertain terms what it is! (Maybe that’s the link, the current govt is definitely changing things for immigrants, ring any bells?) I’m here on a five year, multiple entry business visa which means I have to leave the the country every 180 days but can come straight back. At first I was uncertain. Does the rule change mean I can only stay a max of 180 days in any one year (in which case I’m very worried) or that if I go over 180 days in one year I have to go register with the police?

Anyway, it seems that if I stay over 180 days in the same year I have to register with the Police. But here’s where the credit comes in….. The FRRO the bit of the Police Commissioners office where one registers were superb. First off, I made a mistake with the form and the documents with an hour to go before the deadline, they sent me off to a chap to sort it out at little cost. Then once completed and an extra letter explaining the situation within a week I got my paper, my residential permit. Hooray!.

I once had to do something similar when I had an employment visa. It was one of those, go to about five different offices, provide duplicate forms, pay different lots of money, fetch receipts, hundreds of photos, wait endlessly…. now just one form and documents submitted online and take copies to the office, nothing more not even a fee, thank you Mr Kumar, job well done.

Let’s just hope the immigration officers are half as helpful when I next try to get in the country.

The price of an ice cream

As a young child in the 1960’s my grandparents used to take the grandkids driving through France to holiday in Spain.

It was unusual for a working class family from Sheffield (grandad was a steelworker) to go on holiday abroad.

What a great experience!

One of the things I noticed changing during these occasional visits over the years was the price of ice cream.

In Spain and England it was at a very low price and affordable on my pocket money. In France it was a little different. You know, more classy with prices to match. 🙂

The price of ice cream was of course significant in my world!

Over the years the prices gradually increased and merged. They became global and consistent. The price (and quality) changed dramatically.

In retrospect I was experiencing from a child’s world view both globalisation and the way products are now priced ie at a level that the ‘market can take.’ Price was increasingly determined not by the cost of raw materials plus the cost of production plus a profit. There was a dramatic shift towards the price-we-can-get-away with charging. There were key stages of this change, including; the increase in international travel especially holidays, higher disposal incomes amongst more people in society, middle class growth, the moving on from the effects of the war, decimalisation, and VAT.

In a few short years the cost of ice cream went way beyond my pocket money, I couldn’t keep pace.

Now, I’m here living in Indya age 61.

I often say that India is a good teacher it illustrates and illuminates many contemporary issues.

Well we’re seeing exactly the same process going on here. Ice cream was and still is cheap but now there’s a whole range of premium quality options so prices differ wildly. There is a massive surge growth of the middle classes so new demands and greater disposable income, India has always been the world leader of flexible pricing (the least local you look the higher the price you will pay). Now we’ve got the addition of the introduction of GST (a General Service or Value added Tax) and the idiotic demonetisation which resulted in over 80% of currency becoming worthless overnight. Yet more reasons for prices shooting upwards! The price of ice cream, not being the only thing that goes up and up.

Think India is cheap? Think again.

We often think that India is a cheap place. That’s both true and not. It can be incredibly cheap and shockingly expensive.

A case in point.

Medicines.

The big box of twenty tablets costs, …….. wait for it……. 1760 Rupees! (That’s one GB pound per tablet) I’ve managed to get a 15% discount and I’m not paying firangi (foreigner) prices. The minimum daily wage here is 250 Rs per day how is someone who is poor, supposed to manage? I can tell you as an exceedingly rich (not) foreigner it’s hard to handle! Imagine what it’s like for poor people, or Manjula for that matter if she didn’t have access to our resources!

So what’s the point?

So, I’m seeing the same process of prices increases at work, here in India over fifty years later.

Prices are becoming more consistent around the world, reflect what’s possible to charge rather than actual costs, are often increased when there’s a convenient policy change such as change in taxation. It also serves to accentuate and polarising difference, it reflects the severe differences in levels of income and wealth, life and death experience in society.

Question

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Check the photos above.

Ice cream gets more of a mention

Mechanical toys

The tour continues

I’m travelling back up north so what to do? Check out the Queen’s mini elephant?

And one or two other things…..

A wonderful exhibition of mechanical ‘toys’ or automata. Some minuscule such as the Queens elephant and some giants such as this amazing train!

In great location, country house with capability brown gardens in Warwickshire. Here at Compton Verney where there’s loads of exhibitions and Capability Brown’s landscape.

My advanced technical skills doesn’t enable me to get the map orientated properly.

muppet! .

More details here in the Guardian article.

It seems there are wonderful examples of these automata dotted around the country. One of my favourites is the little amusement arcade on the pier at Southwold in Suffolk.

Whispering Loudly

I’m a firm believer in listening to the whispers.

It’s not complex.

There’s often a pattern to the things that happen, that we hear or notice, or somehow seem apparent.

They are often messages we can choose to hear or ignore.

Today I’m fondly remembering a friend, my first proper girl friend. I set up home with Tricia at 18 before I even left school. We had a bedsit. It was the downstairs living room of a terraced two-up, two down. The kitchen was shared with the couple upstairs, toilet outside in the yard and ‘slipper’ * baths at the swimming pool down the road.

Well I learned today that Tricia had died earlier this year.

I’d bumped into Tricia again in TK Maxx in Sheffield a few years ago. I’d met her daughters, exchanged stories and introduced her to Manjula over the past two years. I was so pleased we’d reconnected.

I’m sad and sorry to hear she’s gone but grateful for our wonderful times together and that we’d found each other again.

I’m sending positive warmness to her husband and daughters.

The loud whispers ? : people’s deaths, great conversations with the 97 year old and Manjula’s near death experience this year .

The message? : cherish what you have, make the most of it, keep connected to the precious people in your life, be good.

From the Peace Gardens, one of our places in Sheffield

Farrell factoid

* a Victorian swimming pool often had slipper baths alongside. Small bathrooms where you could go for your full wash. Instead of the tin bath in the living room on the fire hearth

I blame my parents

I was there……

In the middle, to the foreground with the wings….

No, not actually in the photo. This is Butlins holiday camp pool in the early 1970’s when I most definitely was or had visited with my family. Take in the photo. Look at how white we were and slim! How things have changed.

So why do I blame my parents? A convenient excuse? A contradictory mix of experiences that helped me prepare for the consistently inconsistent life that is India. On the one hand we’d be pioneers driving through England and France to holiday in Spain. Visiting quaint villages that are now over fifty years later, Temples to package tourism. That was in the early 1960’s when I was a little nipper.

My holiday education did also include ten years later the decided working class holiday at this very holiday camp. Rows of cabins, knobbly knee competitions for the Dads, beauty completions for the mums, activities for the kids, soooo non pc. In terms of my working class upbringing, let’s not forget the ultimate: Charabanc (coach) trips to Blackpool illuminations and Skegness from our home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England., organised by the archetypal ‘Working Men’s Club’

So why am I telling you all this?

It helps make up who I am.

Check the Guardian article that relates to the photo.

Coincidentally Martin Parr, who’s exhibition this all refers to, lived in Hebden Bridge early in his career probably shortly after this photo was taken. In 1986 when Liz, Ben and I moved to Hebden Bridge we bought the very same house where he’d lived.