07 September 2008


Panaji police station decorated for Ganesha ChaturthiPanaji police station decorated for Ganesha Chaturthi

It has been quite a week. Work is as fun as ever. I feel like I'm already contributing to the company. I'm safely navigating Goan roads on my scooter (yes, mom, I do have a helmet and yes, I do wear it). Of course, this doesn't mean the adventure is over. Far from it.


Lord Ganesha is an elephant-headed Hindu deity. To save you a trip to Wikipedia, here's a summary. As a young deity, Ganesha would protect Parvati, his mother, from anyone who would try to disturb her as she bathed in the river. One day, Shiva, Ganesha's father, returned from war and wished to see Parvati. Since Shiva had been away, neither recognized the other and so Shiva chopped Ganesha's head off. It was later replaced by an elephant's.

Anyway, so Ganesha Chaturthi is the annual celebration of Ganesha's earthly reincarnation. The length of the festivals vary from a day to seven or more days. At the end, Ganesha devotees return him to the sea.

Going Local
So around one in the morning, I heard people walking and singing in the streets. I took some video from my balcony and returned to watching anime, when it hit me. I'm in India, I need to get out there!

Ganesha devotees waiting for statues
I drove around for a bit and found the group of people huddled behind the back of a covered truck, waiting. Naturally, I had no clue what was happening, but waited around anyway; trying to get close enough to act like I was in the know, but far enough not to get directly involved.

There were about eight statutes handed out in total. Each one was given to groups of five to ten people. In a very organized fashion, as each group received their statute, they moved down towards the beach. Once everyone had their statues, I was alone in the road wondering what to do next. Just then, one of the participants looked at me and smiled.

I asked if I could follow through awkward sign language. He motioned me to follow, so I quickly ran up to him and said hello. His name was Chris. A friendly, hairstylist from Goa but currently working in Dubai. Chris explained to me what was happening (basically everything I wrote in the previous section). Afterward, we all ate some sweet, coconut desserts. Chris told me that everyone had abstained from eating fish and meat and would now go home and break the meat-fast.

I have plenty more videos which I would love to share, but don't feel like struggling with Blogger to upload anymore. The whole experience was quite interesting and I owe a special thank you to my Che-Guevara-t-shirt-wearing tour guide.

Birthday Bumps
Now I knew my co-workers were as crazy if not crazier than I am, but I was in for a real surprise on Tuesday. Once a month, RZ2 Games has a party for everyone who had a birthday that month. To quote our company president, "In India, on your birthday, you get your ass kicked and have cake smeared in your face." Can't wait til December!

Here's how it works: four guys pick you up by your legs and arms and everyone kicks you. Then, you cut your cake and instead of getting to eat the first piece, it's placed on your face.
What's the number for 9-1-1?
In America, when you are in trouble and in need of help, you call 9-1-1. In the UK, 9-9-9. So what's the fire/medical/police hotline number in India. Ha. Are you serious? No.

UPDATE: Actually, the very next day after making a note to mention the lack of such a number in my next blog entry, Goa announced that it had a number to dial in the event of an emergency. It's 1-0-8. A little harder to remember than 9-1-1, but still, nice to know it's there. Given the ubiquitous nature of text messaging here, I think one can even text HELP to 1-0-8 for assistance. Probably.

Oh, and I added a bunch of pictures to my Picasa Web album.



Blogger Daniel said...

Didn't you read about any of this in the books that strange man from the Vietnamese restruant had given you? I think what you're doing is very cool. I love reading the adventure. Keep blogging. What do they call Native Americans in India?

September 9, 2008 6:06 AM  

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